Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Cindy Crawford of the Confederacy

“How does it go? If it bleeds it leads?” I asked, trying not to blush, nervously twisting my blonde ponytail into a bun. I stood in the doorway of the hair and makeup room watching D.—the resident femme fatale and alpha anchor—as she sat cross-legged in the barber shop-style black leather chair examining her jaw line in the magnifying mirror. An errant pimple had dared to mar her flawless complexion. The last time I had seen her look so concerned was during the Florida recount.

“Not quite,” she said, shooting me a look of pity in the mirror, as if I’d watched Holly Hunter in Broadcast News one too many times. “There’s a long approval process, darling. Blood and guts alone don’t cut it with the guys on ‘17’.” D. stopped dabbing liquid foundation on her miniscule blemish and swiveled around. “I’m sorry, I know you haven’t been here long. Look at me—it’s been two years since I left CNN and I still haven’t adjusted to the office politics.”

D. had been poached from CNN’s Atlanta affiliate by the News Channel execs for her stunning looks and perfect teleprompter delivery. They could care less about her reporting and writing abilities, though. “She’s got ‘fuck me’ lips—that’s the reason we put her on air,” I heard one of the producers say in the editing room while I was cutting D.’s Ramallah footage. “And, those big, blue eyes—what’s she doing, pleading with the camera to slip a hundy in her thong?”

It was as if the newsroom trenches were a high school cafeteria, everyone loudly casting their votes for the year book superlatives. D.—hands down—would have won Best Looking; Most Popular, however, was way out of her reach. The blonde bombshell and native Southerner fluctuated between pleasant and insufferable like the temperature in the Mojave desert come nightfall. Everyone despised her. But, hell, I didn’t care, I was in awe of her--I wanted to be her. Everyone back home called her the “Cindy Crawford of the Confederacy,” a beautiful product of our Georgia soil.

“I’ll learn my way around soon enough,” I said, turning away from her reflection, stepping into the overly air-conditioned linoleum hallway. I walked down the corridor toward the newsroom ticking off our similarities, wondering how long it would be before I replaced her in that chair.

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