A New Day Job

by Miranda Perry

Further Adventures in Marketing.

In Los Angeles, many adventures begin with a long drive through desolation. My life’s latest chapter opens with traffic dripping sluggishly onto the 101 N at Western Ave., then speeding up the 170 and slamming the brakes among the I-5’s fleet of tanker trucks and big rigs. In my rear-view mirror, the traffic comes like an endless metal ocean, crashing down and sweeping me along.

The route to Santa Clarita cuts through vast beige shopping centers and scrubby hillsides, crudely sutured together by industrial development and the countless truck paths. Driving there takes less than an hour but feels longer.

KCRW pledge drivers urge me along in masturbatory tones, talking about free T-shirts and lobster dinners. And a New York man, they say, who has filled his apartment with over 600 empty pizza boxes and, of course, received a book deal for it.

I arrive for my first day at my new job. A friendly factory worker waves me in. For all I can tell, she’s nothing but a smiling face mounted to a swath of sterile white fabric. She peels back a plastic curtain and disappears.

I’m not allowed to follow. There are FDA guidelines.

But I get a fleeting tour of the shipping warehouse, a micro city of towering shelves and tightly sealed blue drums bearing labels like Chocolatey Kiss and Acai Berry Shimmer. I feel a euphoric dose of pure black-tar absurdity shoot into my veins. Will anyone believe me? Is this really where I work, or have I suddenly transcended into a Christopher Guest movie?

In the office upstairs, there are giant sexy models smoldering at me from just about every wall. Boxes sit in one corner full of empty glass tubes and jars and spritzer bottles. Samples of all the different containers available to us.

My coworkers are cheerful. My new boss is Canadian. Her subtle accent on words like “house” and “sorry” brings me back to summers at the lake in rural Ontario, and the long dead paternal grandfather I’ve sometimes imagined. It’s a bit weird to think of family while I flip the pages of a sex toy catalog at my desk.

After lunch, I begin studying a more literal language of love. I start a Word doc that grows impossibly long with adjectives. Sensual. Flirty. Spicy. Fun. Scintillating. Tantalizing. Alluring. Seductive. Irresistible. Steamy. Wild.

I open Dictionary.com, too, and finally learn what “essential oils” are. Turns out they aren’t essential to anything but ad copy. Later, most of my words will be translated into six different languages for EU compliance.

In the bathroom, the soap we use is aphrodisiac-infused lingerie wash for the sensual TLC your intimates deserve and the hand lotion is scented with the arousing tropical fragrance of camu camu. It smells a little like play-doh.

As I return to my desk, I pass coworkers flipping pages on a clipboard, verifying inventory SKUs in flat serious voices. “Seduce Me, Tease Me, Kiss Me, Lay Me Down.” “Check, check, check — wait, hold on, okay, check.”

I realize I’ve come a long, long way from the nervous virgin who trembled at the thought of simply kissing someone, and my drive home feels shorter.