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About the Author
Born in Los Angeles, Marcia Gloster has lived the majority of her life in New York City, during which time she built a career as an award-winning art director and book designer. She is a member of the National Association of Women Artists in New York City and Studio Montclair in New Jersey and has exhibited her paintings in New York City, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. She is the author of one other book, 31 DAYS: A MEMOIR OF SEDUCTION.
Read an Excerpt
I Love You Today
By Marcia Gloster
The Story PlantCopyright © 2016 Marcia Gloster
All rights reserved.
New York City
The phone was ringing as Maddie unlocked the door. She ran to pick it up, hoping it was one of the employment agencies or even Danny. Either would have been acceptable, but at that moment the employment agencies took precedence. The week before she had quit a job she loathed — one she had only taken because she thought it would advance her career. It hadn't.
As for Danny Gladstone, she had met him at a party a few months before. He was tall with dark blond hair and blue eyes — in other words, attractive. Yet what had drawn her to him was his apparent shyness, unusual for such a good-looking guy. She imagined, in these sexually liberated days, that he could have any girl he wanted. But somehow, to her surprise, he lacked the expected attitude of self-congratulatory arrogance. He was a marketing manager for AW&M, a large and prestigious advertising agency and had expressed amazement that she was already an art editor at what he described as "the tender age of twenty-four."
Maddie liked him; he was fun for movie and dinner dates on Saturday nights, which over several weeks had evolved into the inevitable sleep over. Midweek dates, however, always ended with a kiss at her front door. He explained that he liked to get to the office early and didn't want to bother her on workday mornings. She opted not to tell him it wouldn't have been a bother. What she did appreciate about him, although he was almost thirty, was that he was in no rush to "nest," even though many of his friends were already married and pushing him in that direction. She wasn't ready to take it further and neither, apparently, was he. She had made it clear that her career came first.
* * *
The call was from Mr. Collins, an employment agent she'd met with several times. Although it had only been a few days since she had quit her job, she was very much in need of a new one, hopefully as soon as possible. It wasn't so much that the working conditions had been deplorable — it had more to do with the attitude of the company in general and her boss in particular. The publishing company occupied several floors in an old, rundown building on West Forty-Sixth Street, in a part of the city known as Hell's Kitchen. It took Maddie two subways plus cautious weaving through streets populated with aggressive drug dealers and preening, cat-calling prostitutes just to get to the locked entrance.
She had been hired to design a magazine called HandiWoman, sort of a how-to for the "modern, take-charge woman" who didn't want to wait for her husband to tackle small chores around the house. Articles dealt with a variety of subjects from how to fix a leaky pipe under the sink while keeping your housedress tightly wrapped around you, to articles on efficient floor cleaning and even simple carpentry — as if simple was the only way a woman could manage it. Although she found the writing occasionally condescending and the photography uninspiring, she tried to make the layouts as visually appealing as she possibly could.
Herb, the short, balding, cigar-smoking production director who headed up her division had made it abundantly clear that hiring her — a female — was a joke. It amused him to march through the art department smoking his stinking cigar, smoothing his greasy hair and muttering under his breath that it wasn't a woman's place to unplug a sink; it was a man's job, as was her position as art editor. He liked to sneer, "I guess if that's what women want these days, who am I to deny them? As long as they look nice and have dinner on the table by six." After that he'd give her what he considered a meaningful look, remove the cigar from his mouth and mutter, "Maybe that's what you should be doing." Some variation of that monologue was repeated at least once a week. She did her best to ignore him.
Her editor was another grouchy man in his fifties. He wore tweed suits that smelled of mothballs but was at least polite if not particularly friendly. Her days were spent laying out pages, meeting deadlines and hiding in her small, cluttered and worst of all, windowless cubicle. It was one of many in the large dingy room that comprised the art department, all occupied by men in their forties and fifties and all art editors of insignificant magazines dealing with do-it-yourself carpentry, auto-repair and plumbing.
Another of her problems stemmed from a photographic machine called a "Lucy." Basically a black vertical coffin, it had lights and knobs that allowed one to enlarge or decrease the size of a photograph in order to fit it into a layout. It was a useful piece of equipment but, in order to access it, she had to step up on a small platform, bend over to see the image and then trace it into her layout. It had been designed sometime in the dark decades before the sixties, long before miniskirts were ever a thought, much less a reality. After the first couple of times, she realized the office had become unusually quiet. Looking behind her, she saw all the men had stopped working and were grinning as they stared at her ass.
Exasperated, she went to Herb, asking sweetly if he might consider turning the "Lucy" so it faced the wall. "I don't think I can do that," he said with a nasty leer. "Why not give the guys a little thrill? After all, you should be grateful you even have this job. You could have been hired as a secretary." Feeling a quick stab of anger, Maddie turned her back and walked out of his office. Better than calling him an asshole to his face. She later found out that he had indeed objected to hiring her, the first female in the art department, but had been overruled by the somewhat more enlightened owner of the publishing company.
* * *
It wasn't the first time she had experienced discrimination. After graduating from college and in search of her first job, she had what she considered a successful interview at a prestigious Madison Avenue ad agency. Stan Marks, the creative director, was anxious to hire her, but it had to be blessed by one of the senior partners, a Mr. Harper.
A few days later, at her second interview, Mr. Harper strode in, the perfect image of the Madison Avenue ad man: flannel trousers perfectly pressed, blue and white striped shirt perfectly starched, the perfect red and blue rep tie with coordinating suspenders. She expected him to crunch when he sat down. He didn't; he remained standing.
After looking through her portfolio, he was complimentary. "You're quite talented. You'll make a good art director one day," he said, nodding at no one in particular. Although she should have been optimistic at that moment, she had a feeling that less than positive news was coming. "But, I can't hire you. You would have to work in the bullpen. All our art assistants start there. They follow up the art directors on layouts, but they also spend a good deal of time cutting mats for presentations."
She stared back at him, undaunted. "All the layouts in my portfolio are matted. Most, in fact, are double matted. I cut every one of those myself. I can handle a mat knife as well as any man." She hoped she hadn't sounded too indignant.
He indulged in a smile. "But, my dear, the boys in the bullpen swear like longshoremen; it's part of the tradition. I'm afraid that having a girl in there would inhibit them and their work might suffer. We wouldn't want that, would we?"
"I can swear, Mr. Harper. Would you like to hear a few words?" she asked without thinking. Inside she cringed a little. But why not? We all swore like crazy in art school; especially after accidently cutting ourselves with our mat knives.
She glanced at Stan but he didn't meet her eyes. With a forced smile, Mr. Harper summed it up, "I understand, but I'm afraid it just won't work. You see, we've never hired a girl before in the art department." After shaking her hand, he wished her well. With a quick glance at Stan, he left. She was speechless; I can't be hired because boys won't want to swear in front of me?
Stan shook his head. "I had hoped to make you the exception, Maddie. I'm sorry. I thought we had a shot at this. This agency will have to face reality someday, but unfortunately today isn't it."
Taking a breath, she said she understood. She was disappointed but not all that surprised; throughout college and even into her first months in New York she had been repeatedly warned that as a female in the testosterone-controlled land of advertising meant she could be trapped forever as someone's secretary.
The only nice part was that she and Stan became friends. He took her to glamorous restaurants such as Romeo Salta and The Twenty-One Club where, over several glasses of wine he explained how difficult it was for women, particularly creative women, to break through the long established male dominance in advertising.
"Maddie, even if this new feminist movement lasts, I think it will still take several years, maybe even a decade for women to become accepted at agencies. Although Mary Wells is making a name for herself at Jack Tinker, most women are still destined to remain as secretaries or at best, low-level assistants. I'd hate to see that happen to you."
"I can't even type. The problem is that at almost every interview I'm asked if I've had any experience working in an art department. But don't I need that first job in order to get experience?"
"It's a vicious cycle Maddie and we've all been there. I think you should try the big magazine publishers like CondéNast, Hearst or McCalls. Shelter, family and fashion magazines are where women are making the most inroads." He took out a business card and wrote down several names. "These are my contacts. Use my name and don't take no for an answer. Just keep calling. Something will open up. It always does."
She looked at the card trying not to be intimidated by well-known names at Vogue, Mademoiselle and Holiday. "Thank you, Stan. I'll start making calls tomorrow."
That was the last time she saw him. He called a few weeks later to tell her he was fed up with the restrictive policies of his own agency and was moving back home to Minnesota where he planned to start his own graphics company. She wished him well and asked him to stay in touch, but she never heard from him again.
By the time he left New York, she had finally landed her first job at Today's Bride. When the stone-faced personnel director questioned her on her skills, Maddie did her best to maintain a cool exterior. In answer to, "Can you do mechanicals as well as paste-ups?" she said, "Yes," at the same time wondering if there was a difference. To the question, "Do you have experience in specifying type?" she responded, "Of course," thinking, as long as it's Bodoni or Caslon and wishing she had majored in graphic design instead of illustration. When the woman questioned her about her typing ability, she answered simply, "I typed my papers in college, but it's not my strong suit."
When the woman finally cracked a smile, saying, "Well, in an art department it may not be so important," Maddie relaxed, knowing she was home free.
She was fortunate that her art director, Joan Kendall, had the patience of a saint. Whenever a very nervous Maddie asked her a tentative question, she went out of her way to explain in detail. Over the next two years Maddie worked her way from apprentice to assistant art director without ever having to type more than a simple photography schedule.
The magazine was run entirely by women and while she found it a welcoming and nurturing environment, there was an underlying current of sniping and bitchiness. The only male was the publisher, an older man with white hair who wisely hid in his office most of the day. The editor in chief and the managing editor ruled and everyone who worked there, especially the assistants, herself included, marched to their beat. Meetings in the musty pine-paneled conference room were frequent and not to be missed, and all layouts and artwork had to be presented and approved by deadline. Lunch could be taken, but not for one minute over an hour.
Never a morning person, she barely made it to the office at nine. More often than not, she stashed her coat with the receptionist (whom she had made it a priority to befriend), grabbed some papers and walked in as though she had indeed arrived on time. Occasionally the managing editor, a dour woman who wore calf-length dresses buttoned to the neck and had a handkerchief eternally pushed up under her sleeve, would catch her, giving her a stern look along with a small shake of the head. And yet Joan didn't appear to mind; especially since Maddie was always willing to work late and they never missed a deadline. She was sure the presence of a man or two in the office might have tempered it all.
Today's Bride was considered a glamour job and while she was fortunate to have gotten it, she was aware that the more prestigious the magazine, the less it paid. Although the first stirrings of feminism were beginning to be felt and more opportunities for women were opening up, the concept of pay-equality was barely a whisper in the wind.
She accepted the job at HandiWoman because it paid more and gave her the title of Art Editor. It was only her second job and she wasn't an assistant; she had her own, albeit small and somewhat obscure, publication. Despite her unpleasant boss and the grumpy men who worked there, the final straw was the time card that had to be stamped in a machine as she entered and left every day, just like in a factory. (Hours were strict: nine to five or pay was docked.)
After only a few months, finding it intolerable, she quit and decided to freelance while looking for another job.
* * *
The call from Mr. Collins was good news: there was an opening at a magazine called Status.CHAPTER 2
By the time Rob arrived at the Cattleman it was 12:45. As he made his way around the unfortunates huddled impatiently at the entrance while vainly attempting to catch the maître d's eye, he inhaled the aroma of charred meat blending enticingly with whiskey and tobacco smoke. Across the room Ken and Evan were already seated at a corner table working on their first martinis. Ted, one of the waiters, caught Rob's eye and nodded: his Johnnie Walker Red was on the way. Wednesdays had become a welcome routine with the three of them meeting for a moderately wet lunch and catching up on industry gossip.
Ken Henderson was a senior art director at Time-Life. His division included a new group of so-called "coffee table" books. Some of them, hugely oversized and mostly on art or photography, fit the bill; all they needed were legs. Ken and Rob had been friends for seven years, since the day Ken had hired Rob for his first job. After working as Ken's assistant at Time-Life for four years he moved on to become an associate art director at The Saturday Evening Post and McCalls and then to Cavalier, where he finally achieved the title of art director.
Cavalier was considered a cooler version of Playboy and, while it attracted some of the best writers of the day, in Rob's opinion you couldn't beat several photo shoots a month with barely clad, voluptuous and, more often than not, friendly girls. He had left over a year before after being recruited to redesign the format for Status. Although he considered the magazine to be somewhat frivolous — the very name reeked of exclusivity — he viewed it as a significant career move, one that would be his stepping-stone to the glamorous and more lucrative realm of advertising. He had been gratified by the mention in the New York Times, a write-up with a photo in Advertising Age and, perhaps most importantly, an invitation to join the elite Art Director's Club.
Evan Breen, their more recent acquaintance, was a printer's representative. He continually wined and dined Ken and Rob, making sure they used his services as frequently as possible.
After ordering the London broil, they BS'ed about who had just gotten or left a job, if they had resigned or been fired and why, and most important, who was sleeping with whom. Publishing in New York was a small, inbred community and news travelled fast. By the time they finished it was almost two thirty and Evan asked if they wanted a Drambuie or Anisette before returning to work.
Rob shook his head. "Thanks, Evan, but I have to get back. I'm interviewing someone for the assistant's job at three."
Excerpted from I Love You Today by Marcia Gloster. Copyright © 2016 Marcia Gloster. Excerpted by permission of The Story Plant.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
In I Love You Today, author Marcia Gloster transports the reader back to the mid-1960s pre-feminist Mad Men era in Manhattan, where twenty-four year old budding art director Maddie Samuels is a woman ahead of the times, driven to pursue her career passions. When Maddie starts a new job at Status magazine as an assistant to art director Rob MacLeod, there is no denying the chemistry between them. Even though Maddie knows that Rob is married, they engage in a five year intense and all consuming illicit affair that inevitably leads Maggie to falling in love with Rob, while maintaining a strong determination to climb the career ladder in the male dominated advertising and publishing world on Madison Avenue. While I thoroughly enjoyed following the intense affair of the heart between Maddie and Rob, I found myself more intrigued by the utilization of the author's past professional experience to interweave a richly vivid and powerful description of the 1960s time period, and the inner-workings of the advertising and publishing industry. This evocative women's fiction tale easily draws the reader into Maddie's journey, you can't help but get caught up in the drama, challenges, choices, and surprising twists and turns that she faces along the way. Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author / publisher in exchange for my honest review.
This was the first time I read anything by this author but really enjoyed her descriptive writing style. Maddie, a strong, career oriented woman of the late sixties meets handsome and charming Rob at her new job as an art director. As the synopsis states, it's the decade of free love, and even though Rob is married with 2 children, an illicit affair begins. One they can't stop and it doesn't. (vague to not include spoiler). The characters are well developed. The story fluid and kept my interest from the very first page to the last word. I found myself not liking either character. Rob was, when he couldn't control his drinking, an emotionally abusive, arrogant, lying, entitled man that continued to give idle promises. I rooted for Maddie, however, even though she was a strong and talented career woman, her love for Rob was so overwhelming that she became complaisant with matters of her heart. I enjoyed the reminders and norms of that time. The fashion, pay phones, smoking cigarettes in offices/restaurants, the Viet Nam War, the Beatles, the landing of the first astronaut on the moon. I definitely recommend this compelling novel, however, there is some adult language and content that may be distasteful to some. I didn't find it offensive because I felt it was true to the time frame that the story takes place in. An intense and powerful read!!!