Darlene Lilley, who was married and the mother of a large-headed toddler whose photograph adorned her desk and hutch at Team Δy, had, three fiscal quarters past, been subjected to unwelcome sexual advances by one of the four Senior Research Directors who liaisoned between the Field and Technical Processing teams and the upper echelons of Team Δy under Alan Britton, advances and duress more than sufficient for legal action in Schmidt’s and most of the rest of their Field Team’s opinions, which advances she had been able to deflect and defuse in an enormously skillful manner without raising any of the sort of hue and cry that could divide a firm along gender and/or political lines, and things had been allowed to cool down and blow over to such an extent that Darlene Lilley, Schmidt, and the three other members of their Field Team all now still enjoyed a productive working relationship with this dusky and pungent older Senior Research Director, who was now in fact overseeing Field research on the Mister Squishy-R.S.B. project, and Terry Schmidt was personally somewhat in awe of the self-possession and interpersonal savvy Darlene had displayed throughout the whole tense period, an awe tinged with an unwilled element of romantic attraction, and it is true that Schmidt at night in his condominium sometimes without feeling as if he could help himself masturbated to thoughts of having moist slapping intercourse with Darlene Lilley on one of the ponderous laminate conference tables of the firms they conducted statistical market research for, and this was a tertiary cause of what practicing social psychologists would call his MAM* with the board’s marker as he used a modulated tone of off-the-record confidence to tell the Focus Group about some of the more dramatic travails Reesemeyer Shannon Belt had had with establishing the product’s brand-identity and coming up with the test name Felony!, all the while envisioning in a more autonomic part of his brain Darlene delivering nothing but the standard minimal pre-GRDS instructions for her own Focus Group as she stood in her dark Hanes hosiery and the burgundy high heels she kept at work in the bottom-right cabinet of her hutch and changed out of her crosstrainers into every morning the moment she sat down and rolled her chair with small pretend whimpers of effort over to the hutch’s cabinets, sometimes (unlike Schmidt) pacing slightly in front of the whiteboard, sometimes planting one heel and rotating her foot slightly or crossing her sturdy ankles to lend her standing posture a carelessly demure aspect, sometimes taking her delicate oval eyeglasses off and not chewing on the arm but holding the glasses in such a way and in such proximity to her mouth that one got the idea she could, at any moment, put one of the frames’ arm’s plastic earguards just inside her mouth and nibble on it absently, an unconscious gesture of shyness and concentration at once.

David Foster Wallace, Mister Squishy, Oblivion (2004)

Added to diary 28 March 2018