Short Story: The Epithalamic Career Move?

Source. Pexels.

by LJ Frank


A few days after replying to an email on Seeking Awareness I received an invitation that read, “Let’s chat”. I reread it. That’s what it said, “Let’s Chat” with attached directions.

Adaptability was and is my modus operandi.  I say that as it’s essential for the times in which we live. Rigidity to me is a form of intolerance. It’s also the slow creep of death. I have a body and mind holistic approach. I try to keep my mind lubricated with ideas and information that allows for fluidity – a kind of spiritual sensuality.

Upon memorizing the directions, I headed to a building mentioned in the email. It was located near the center of the Main Campus of a research university in the Midwest. The building was a converted private residence with ivy growing up the exterior red brick siding. The house looked like it had been built in the earlier part of the 20th century.  

I was told to walk in upon arrival. I did just that. Once inside I noted the sound of a piano in the background.

As I stood there a young woman appeared. “Good morning. I’m the professor’s assistant and student intern. You must be the candidate.”

 “The candidate? I…guess so.”

She nodded and led me to an office to the rear of the house.   

A woman stood up from her desk and greeted me. She reminded me of someone’s eccentric and independent minded aunt. She was wearing a short skirt, and a white shirt with a few buttons undone. She was also bare foot with toenails painted black and with high heels situated next to the desk, all of which was set on top of a large rectangular Persian rug. Degrees were stacked up on the edge of her desk and books were piled up on two separated tables, and bookshelves in what I perceived as being in no particular order. She came across as educated, thoughtful and distracted.  She gestured to an overstuffed wingback chair. 

“Thank you for being on time. My assistant retrieved your resume among other information off the Internet. Are you familiar with the term Epthalamic?”

“No.” For some odd reason I felt like I was in the wrong place. That is the email was perhaps meant for someone with the same name but was a different person. And so, I said, “I’m unclear as to the meaning of the Epthalamic.”

“Oh, but you do. You know very well. You’re educated though you might be unorganized. Be that as it may.  Just a few questions.”

“Unorganized? Seriously?” I asked glancing around the room. “I mean…”

She interrupted me. “Is there anything in your background that might prove to be an embarrassment?”

“What? An embarrassment?  To whom? What’s this about?”

She held up her hand. Adjusting horned rimmed glasses that she picked up from the desk she politely stated, “well, to our stakeholders.

“I’m bewildered. Who are your stakeholders?”

She laughed. “I guess you could ask in this situation, who isn’t a stakeholder?”

“I don’t understand.”

“The answer is…the entire family.”

I could feel my face getting flush. “What family?”

“Well, you see we heard through the rumor mill that you might have a risqué photo in some magazine. We have to know if this in your blood so to speak.”

“My blood? Risqué?” My mind gyrated reviewing my life. “Are you referring to my photo in Playgirl magazine?”

“That’s good. Get it off your chest.”

“Get what off my chest?”

“Well, we do have standards.”

“Standards? Did…you see the photo?”

“I have a research assistant.”

“Then she must have seen that I was modeling for a mustache wax company.”

“But you’re clean shaved.”

“I had a mustache.”

“Oh? Did you shave anything else, other than your mustache?”

“What? You’ve got to be joking. Your email stated you need input in your research on social behavior with no experience necessary.…I thought you were seeking someone to test a new social media product and…”

“Sir! I represent the bride’s side of the family. We want to assess any genetic flaws before any nuptials take place…if there is anything we should be aware of and that might cause the family unneeded exposure…and…”

“Wait! Genetic flaws? Nuptials? As in marriage?”

“Correct. You were dating…well you know who…”

“I thought the woman I was dating was…we had a blind date and then went out twice afterwards…I mean really…it was wonderful…but…”

“I heard you were climbing in a taxi of sorts as she was climbing out…”


And by the third date…you didn’t propose? Or something along those lines?””

“Good grief.”

“Today social behaviorists have a term for your dating profile and habits…remember you’re not marrying one woman…you’re marrying a family. Think of it as a career move.”

“I think I might be…”

“Don’t say another word,” she interrupted again, “you’re in deep enough…thank you for coming in…we’ll be in touch if there are other developments that warrant us meeting again.”