"Whenever I go into a restaurant, I order both a chicken and an egg to see which comes first"

Saturday, May 11, 2024

Washington And The Single Woman - Sex With As Many Lawyers As Possible

Fanny Albright thought she had it made when she moved to Washington.  Art, culture, and young men on the way up in law, business, and politics.  This would be the place to find a husband.  She knew that this went against the feminist principles she had been taught - modern women, independent, willful, and in control neither needed nor wanted men. If one happened to come along who could match her in intelligence, wit, and ability she might be willing, all well and good;  but if not she would do quite well on her own. 

Nevertheless, the bit, reins, and halter of her childhood were still holding, and the image of a loving husband, three little blonde children, and a happy home was there every morning.  Let's face it, she reminded herself, she was in Washington to find a man, and singularity of pursuit was far more suitable in this competitive arena than a desultory, maybe, what if, desultory stroll. 

She found a small studio apartment on Dupont Circle, moved in with her roommate, a girl from Omaha who was in Washington for the same reason.  They zoom-called, emailed, shared photos and experiences - cruises to Cancun, hilarious pictures of Wisconsin weddings, the family dog, Dad at the barbecue, and lingerie.  They seemed well-suited for each other.  Ideally each had hoped for their own apartment, but rents being what they were and salaries not what they expected, they settled for next best.  Sharing would not last, for if their hopes panned out, they would be engaged before the year. 

Fanny was a legal assistant at a K Street law firm known for its major victories in the D.C. Court of Appeals, the historic venue in cases against high-profile political figures, shell game investment bankers, Arab money launderers, and tax fraud shysters.  The firm's stable of lawyers was thoroughbred - men and women from Harvard and Yale who had clerked for top-flight judges in Chicago and New York, and who had come to Washington for its legal visibility.  The courtroom proceedings of major trials were on the front page of the Washington Post and if suited to the particularities of the Times' readership, appeared there too. 

The lawyers were not only academically top-of-the-line and battle-tested, but selected for diversity - not the woke variety, but to assure the right attorney for the right defense at the right trial.   There were tough white women, intimidating black ones, Hollywood-handsome men, rumpled Jewish ones, a gay man or two, and above all, Lawnmower Man, one of the most viciously brilliant assault soldiers in the firm's avant garde.  He was known for his courtroom savagery and an uncanny ability to find chinks in personal armor, insert his sword, open a gaping wound and slash and butcher away until the witness was at his knees in contrition and apology, a virtual Clarence Darrow with a hatchet. 

It was not surprising that women were attracted to him despite his reputation for having the same approach to them as he did for prosecution witnesses.  He wanted to make them his and there was no 'ours' or sharing or intimacy involved.  It was all a matter of intimidation, male authority, and irresistible desire.  While it seemed obvious that sensible women should stay leagues away from this manipulative, misogynous man, the opposite was true.  They were drawn to him in droves.  They simply could not resist such a virile, confident, determined man, and his Hollywood looks made the struggle even more difficult. So he went from courtroom to bedroom with notches in his belt for victories in both. 

Fanny's female co-workers had been brought up the same way as she - determinedly feminist in her views of identity, men, and solidarity; but oddly and ironically drawn to marriage.  What characterized them more than any past upbringing or teaching was a hardwired, innate attraction to the very likes of Harlan Phillips - a strong, indelibly masculine hunter who would always kill and provide. 

The other men in the office were no match for Phillips.  Each talented and aggressive in their own ways - after all the courtroom had no room for pansies - they were shrinking violets in comparison to the tall, dominant figure of the handsome lawyer from Butte; and the women in the office left them in the lurch, on the curb, and out of play.  

In the meantime - Fanny, so new at the game, was unwilling to attempt a frontal assault, so she sought other opportunities; and Washington being the very motherlode of predatory, ambitious, competitive men, they were not hard to find.  At the very least she would get combat experience, strategic intelligence, and the lay of the land. 

Everything in life is on a spectrum.  There is a bell curve for everything, and Washington was no different. Stars on one end, clods on the other, and just about everything else in between.  Everyone in Washington seemed to be a lawyer, so they shared a commonality. Lawyers' minds all had a certain doggedness, so there was that; but once they self-sorted into defense and prosecution, and then into corporate litigation, criminal trials, divorces, child law, etc. they were notionally different, with enough wiggle room for a hint of personality. 


She decided to limit her marriage pool to lawyers only for strategic advantage.  Since lawyers were one distinct, recognizable, identifiable herd, then knowing their forage grounds, rutting behavior, and pecking order made vetting, culling, and choosing much easier than if she were to go after, say, doctors. 

Bob Adams was 'a nice guy', the kind of man that mothers like, fathers suspected, men hung out with, and women settled for.  Fanny met him at the bar of the Mayflower, Washington's approximation of the Oak Room of the Plaza, watering hole for the up-and-coming and well-heeled.  She smiled, he moved over one bar stool, and their relationship began.  He had graduated from Yale, Columbia law school, clerkship at....blah blah...and by this point she had gotten his ticket and punched it.  Not exactly one of the lions and tigers she was after, but not a peccary either. 


One of the ancillary benefits of her man-search was a growing confidence that she would make a good trial lawyer.  She could suss, figure, and understand her prey like a seasoned defense attorney.  Within minutes she knew exactly who the man next to her was, what he did, how he did it, and what he would be like in bed.  She made few misjudgments.  Bill or Hank or Joe might not exactly be men who rang her bell, but were adequate enough; and after a while she became more selective and more satisfied.  

Along the way she knew how much money they would be making in five years, whether or not they would make partner, and most importantly which ones would give up the courtroom for the far more lucrative business of investment banking. 

Soon she knew it was time to turn her attention to Harlan Phillips, Lawnmower Man.  He was no longer the intimidating, unreachable uber-macho man she had thought.  Now that she had many months of successful safari shoots under her belt and understood Lawnmower Man's breed, character, and habits, she knew he was just on one end of a predictable spectrum, at an asymptote of the bell curve, only to be corralled and pulled into her sexual vortex.

She was Rosalind, Portia, and Viola, Shakespeare's heroines who ran rings around the sorry suitors that pursued her - women of canniness, savvy, and intelligence.  She would get the man she wanted and run rings around him. 


But once she had driven the Ferrari of the office, stepped in to its hand-tooled leather seats, admired the digital displays, heard the throaty rumble of its engine and then its high, screaming RPMs, she understood it for the simple gears and switches that it was, a vehicle as bogged down on the Beltway as any.  

Lawnmower Man for all his show, horsepower, and classy looks was just a car to be driven. She turned him over and rode him until dawn; and then left him as coldly and indifferently as he had done to a hundred women.  Not in vindictiveness, why should that matter? She had tamed the Beauty of K Street, a notch on her belt, but found it a discouraging moment as well.  There was nowhere to go after him. 

The story has to have alternative ending scenarios because after another year in Washington, Fanny disappeared.  Either she went to law school, became the trial lawyer she knew she could be, hit the New York circuit and left a trail of impaled heads on posts in and out of the city; or she married well, moved to Bel Air, had three blonde, blue-eyed children, and oversaw a household staff of ten; or, in a nod to the spectrum and bell curve, ended up somewhere in the middle.  Never nondescript or ever one of a crowd, she would always be her own woman, just not noticeably so. 

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