Cocoa, FL – Jim Stephens, a sales admin at a plastics manufacturing company, is uncomfortable with the metaphors bandied about by his female bosses and co-workers. Jim is one of two men who work at Fallow-Paean, Inc., a female-owned and operated company serving the aerospace and exercise equipment industries.
He was comfortably wearing a wine-colored open neck shirt, his chest hairs curling suggestively over the bottom of the gap. The fit of his Chinos were tighter than the ideal, but gave a clear outline of his well-shaped thighs which transitioned nicely to his sculpted buttocks and smooth curvature of his back.
“It started on my first day,” he said with some trepidation. “At first I didn’t quite know what they were talking about. I thought it was some engineering lingo.”
“But after awhile, I realized that the metaphors they use are all to do with female stuff, like sewing and fashion. But then sometimes they use expressions I don’t understand at all. I just nod and pretend I know what they are talking about.”
They Call Them ‘Quilting Bees’
“Here’s an example. Our strategy meetings are called ‘quilting bees’,“ stated Jim. “The engineers say things like ‘basting the concept for a good fit’ and not having to ‘rip out stitches to try again.’ It’s confusing to hear ‘you’d better sew some seam binding on that project before it unravels’. What is that even supposed to mean? All the women seem to understand, but I’m at a loss.”
The Other Male Speaks Up
Todd Rathman, the other male at Fallow-Paean agrees.
Todd is a junior engineer who is often required to take notes and make coffee for the senior engineers and executives at the firm. His cleanly shaved head hinted that he was a man not afraid to reveal it all. His button down short-sleeved shirt clung tightly to his torso, just at the verge of bursting open in a flood of manly sweat and muscle. I could clearly see why he was selected for his position.
“I think they might be talking about some very lady-specific stuff. It’s uncomfortable for me, but like Jim, I just try really hard to follow the context.”
“I have to admit, some of it makes me feel a bit queasy sometimes,” he added, his limpid hazel eyes looking straight into mine.
“In some of my ‘quilting bees,’ they use some pretty unusual business language. Here, I’ll read you some extracts of notes I took at a bee two days ago:
GM: I think your idea is only 5 centimeters in diameter when it should be a 10 at this point. We need to get this task fully dilated and ready to move to the next stage. So, compress that timeline like an overdue mammogram. Otherwise, we might resort to episiotomy and a budget cut.
AJ: We thought we had closed the deal, but it was just Braxton-Hicks contractions. If we need to, we’ll Pitocin the client to induce them to sign.
GM: That concept is as bad as rick-rack on a ball gown. Can’t we find an alternative design that will be on time and not require a scheduled C-section to complete?
KF: So, about the project scope… would you say it’s a heavy flow, medium flow, or light flow?”
ER: Even the best run projects are covered in a little meconium. Just clean up the plan and move forward. Sometimes you might need to add some darts and a few gussets to get the right fit. Our team is standing ready to tack that binding on and give this project a clean hem.
GM: I’m glad to report that the project we code-named “Clamped Gonads,” is crowning and should be delivered on Friday next week.”
“I have to say that last one made everyone laugh, but I got nervous and felt a somewhat threatened when I had to record that,” Todd said with a faintly pained expression, his deep, hazel eyes beseeching me for help.
The CEO’s Take
I then had a chat with Karen Fallow, the founder and CEO of Fallow-Paean, Inc. to get her take on the controversy.
She shrugged when she heard about the mens’ feeling of exclusion in discussions.
“Here at Fallow-Paean we have our own culture. Why should they feel uncomfortable? For Pete’s sake, they should just get with the Lamaze plan, take deep breaths, just suck it up, and push it through like the rest of us do…”
As Jim escorted me from the building, he said with a sigh of resignation, “I just wish they would just use sports and military metaphors… you know, something that we can all understand.”
Cecilia Ravenscroft is so tired of this shitty reality that has replaced satire.