Pleasure in Hand
I hesitated to wear Palma the first time I took her out of the box. It was a gray day, and I’d hit snooze so much, I didn’t have the time to pull together anything cuter than a blah gray cardigan and jeans. Her box, on the other hand, is extra special, made in rich Miami Vice colors. The top opens up and there she is Palma, an imposing ring seated in a charging base that also doubles as a display stand. I was not worthy.
Still, it was time for a test drive so I slipped it on. I kept it in the vertical position on the middle finger of my right hand because that’s where I wear most of my statement rings and because I thought that’s where I’d want it should I suddenly get excited and need to use it ASAP. Not on myself, mind you. I’ll be honest; my first thought when I opened Palma wasn’t following the mantra “feelin’ myself” printed on the inside of the box (in that same dreamy 80s Miami color scheme), but that I would drag my sweetie into the nearest bathroom and get him off. Palma is perfect for me since public loving is something I’ve always been into–even the police catching me and my high school boo in the backseat of his Volvo wasn’t enough to curb that desire. Thankfully, my current boyfriend likes that kind of playtime, too, so I knew we’d have an adventure soon, and no one would worry about getting grounded.
That’s not what happened. The gloomy day I first took Palma out, she and I sat unnoticed at my day job. The graphic designers didn’t notice, the project manager didn’t care, the cashier at my local coffee shop, who’d complimented by outfits in the past, had nothing to say. And I fully expected them to! I was prepared for it. I imagined someone saying, “I like your ring” and me keeping a straight, angelic face as I said thank you and implied it came from a little boutique they definitely hadn’t heard of. And I would pat myself on the back for being cool as a kinky cucumber, my little secret still safe. Still, it was exciting to feel the heft of Palma on my hand and the comforting weight of my in very visible secret; it made typing my boring emails a little more exciting. There were moments I caught myself feeling a little sexy, in spite of my gray cardigan.
The next day, I took Palma out with me again. I met a friend for a glass of wine and I was so sure she would ask me about the ring. I was prepared to go into show and tell mode with her but she didn’t. As she filled me in on her day, I secretly switched it on under the table and I let it buzz on the first setting for a few seconds, unnoticed by my companion. It’s something that I’m used to, though, this hiding of sexy in plain sight; and in fact, I enjoy it.
I work in offices. Dozens of offices, since I was 16. And even those corporate fashion offices that consider themselves creative and open require that I pack away my personality until after 5 pm. But for my own sanity, I can’t let that extend to my clothes. I wear what feels good, and good for me is often a particular brand of sexy that might need a second look. A favorite fall or winter look: a leather pencil skirt (it must cover my knees!) and a sweater, usually with stockings and a garter belt underneath, and pumps with a heel that isn’t high but does just enough to accentuate my calves. Or I might wear a full, midi-length skirt with my tiniest panties underneath. They’re outfits that would stand up under the scrutiny of just about any HR department, but I feel as though I’m setting the hallways on fire walking to meetings. And I know people are left wondering if I like leather or if I like leather.
It’s never to impress a work crush and only rarely for the benefit of someone I plan to meet after work. It’s me putting my pleasure first, a habit that starts with soft fabrics on my skin and eventually makes its way to the bedroom. Those styles, that wicked, vibrating ring, give me the power, to walk to my most boring meetings feeling unstoppable, even at a job that’s slowly draining the best of me. Sometimes the only way for me to continue forward is to dress from the outside in, using my wardrobe to feel put together when so much in my world seems to be falling apart
Desiree Browne is a writer and cat parent living in Brooklyn.
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