Hooked Up_ Book 1(3)

By: Arianne Richmonde

THE CONFERENCE CENTER was all a-buzz. There were placards filled with names and seminars.

Deep Dive: Best Practices for Wireless and Mobile Management, Operations and Security.

Selecting the Right Platform Solution.

Cloud-based Convergence of Desktop, Communications & Social Apps.

Social Media as the Top Malware Delivery Vehicle – How to Protect Your Network.

I scanned the list to find out what I was looking for but couldn’t see the French sibling duo anywhere. I made my way to the ladies’ room and checked myself in the mirror. I observed a blonde woman staring back at me with her flecked blue-gray eyes, wearing a tight gray pencil skirt and fitted white T-shirt, her bra making her breasts seem larger than they were in reality.

Cheating. That’s what we females do whenever we can, I thought.

The woman was familiar yet, every time I saw her, it shocked me that she was me, a person who only yesterday was climbing trees and asking her mom for more ice cream. A cliché, but true: where did all that time go? Who was this woman looking back at me? This seemingly self-assured lady with marshmallow insides, who hid her insecurity with designer clothing and a bright smile—who was she?

I opened my old, oversized, leather bag and took out some high, nude, platform pumps, slipped off my sneakers and put on the shoes, one foot at a time, leaning against the wall to balance myself, swapping comfort for extra height. My five foot seven frame was now several inches taller.

I needed a sweater but didn’t have one; the air conditioning was up high, my hair soaked from the rain—no wonder people got summer colds in New York City. I inspected my face in the mirror and wished I could magic away these crow’s feet that had nestled themselves so comfortably on my face. I put on another layer of mascara, which brightened me and made me feel younger. I never wore foundation; the beauty of getting older was the absence of pimples. Reading novels on my co-op’s shared roof terrace had given me a golden, sun-kissed glow—no need for blusher at this time of year. I dabbed on a touch of pinky-red lip gloss, let down my damp, wavy blond hair from its pony tail, and considered myself ready to enter the world of I.T.

I made my way back to the lobby, to stand in line, waiting to collect my nametag.

“Ms. Pearl Robinson,” I said to the man behind the desk.

He handed me my badge, and I pinned it on my T-shirt. I read a banner that said: “THE #1 meeting place for the global business technology community,” and for some odd reason, I felt nervous.

I cleared my throat. “Um, excuse me, but I’ve never been to one of these business technology conferences. I’m trying to find one of the speakers today. Two of the speakers, actually.”

“Yes, ma’am, how can I help?”

“Can you direct me to Alexandre Chevalier and Sophie Dumas?” I was aware of my voice. I felt ridiculous trying to make the ‘Alexandre’ come out with a French accent. My French was limited, to say the least. Restaurant French. Directions French. It occurred to me that if I took the ‘Alexandre’ and the ‘Dumas,’ and put them together, I had Alexandre Dumas, the French author who wrote the swash-buckling adventure, The Three Musketeers. But this Alexandre was a recently graduated college kid—a geek who wore a hoodie and probably kept pet rats in his bedroom.

“One moment,” the man replied, “let me see . . . the HookedUp guys? I believe that—”

All I could hear was a booming voice behind me, chatting excitedly. “Everybody was talking about Data Center last year. This year, did you notice that hardly a word was spoken? Did you not notice that? I mean, dude, the buzz instead is about software-defined networks, decoupling the network control plane from the data plane and using the OpenFlow protocol to give servers, which inherit network control, access to devices such as switches and routers.”

I turned around and glared at the nerdy guy behind me speaking double-dutch. Then I said to the man at the desk, “I’m sorry, I couldn’t hear you, what were you saying?”

“That the seminar is over ma’am. The HookedUp guys? It finished, like, twenty minutes ago.”

“But my schedule said 11: a.m.”

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