One determined little 5 year old.

One determined little 5 year old.

By Marguerite Quantaine

Someday my novel will be optioned by a mainstream publisher, rate stellar reviews, be adapted to film oozing romance through eloquent innuendo, and receive the acclaim of people who’ll prattle over my sudden success.

But they’ll be instantaneously mistaken (about my success being sudden) because I’ve worked hard all of my (remembered) life.

I began my callings at age 5, collecting castoff bottles for return to wooden crates at the corner, single pump gas station with its big red cooler of cola immersed in ice water and a grease monkey teetering on a beat-up stool next to it paying me a penny a find.

At 7 (being small and scrawny for my age), my brother dressed me as a waif to knock on the doors of upper class condos, selling occupants Christmas cards they probably never sent, but gave me my dollar a box because I looked so pitifully poor, like a melancholic mutt on the street corner wagging its tail, twanging their untuned heartstrings.

At 8, I shoveled snow with a spade in the winter (that’s right, a spade), pushed mowers in the summer, and raked leaves in the fall, underpaid with nickels by anyone willing to exploit me.

At 10, I delivered newspapers on my brothers routes, rising before daybreak to cut the hairy nylon twine from big bundles left on neighborhood street corners, rolling and folding each paper to perfection, burnishing and stuffing them into a canvas bag dragged along behind me, pitching the papers towards porches, then hurrying home in time to don a dress and walk 3 miles to school (that’s right, 3 miles).

At 14, I claimed I was 15 to get a genuine job (4 to 9 weekdays, 9 to 9 on Saturday) selling records at a store that only hired boys for the 30 years before I sailed through the door.

“Why should I hire you?” asked the owner, a doddering, Dickens-like character whose bifocals were as thick as block glass and modish flattop belied his desire to appear younger. “Boys bring in girls who like records.”

“Boys flirt with girls that giggle and irk paying customers,” I countered. “Boys arrive late, leave early, take cigarette breaks, and call in sick from phone booths at football games.” I let that set a second before adding, “I have red hair. I’m cute enough to attract boys who’ll talk to me about girls. I’ll sell them records for those girls. Whenever they win one over — and they will (I winked) with my expert advice — they’ll be back to buy more.”

“Expert advice?”

“I have a two-sport-varsity older brother and one bombshell of a sister. I’ve heard all their gameplay. Try me. You’ll see.”

He did, teaching me purchasing, cataloging, product display, inventory control, advertising, and promotion. I was the first girl hired there, then the first girl hired as a research editor for a local trade magazine, then the first girl hired as a proof-runner for the daily newspaper before I finally fled my hometown for the big city beat.

I arrived in New York with $126.00 lining my red-rubber boots, no job prospects, no place to live, and no plans beyond attending The American Academy of Dramatic Arts where I’d earned an entry after winning the regional finals of a television talent search in which I’d been entered (unknowingly).

Being awed and alone in Manhattan was thrilling. I saw all directions as arrows angled upwards.

All I had going for me was attitude on my first day (faking-it) as a graphic artist.

All I had going for me was attitude on my first day (faking-it) as a graphic artist.

Insisting “Oh sure, I can do that” gained me the gig of being the first female hired as a graphic artist at the United Parcel Service (even though I’d never seen a t-square, held a razor knife, or knew how to crop a photograph). After several months of (intense) covert tutelage by the fellow at an adjacent art board, I snagged a (enviable) job at a Fifth Avenue ad agency where I was promoted to management (the first female Purchasing Agent) in 5 months time. Within 3 years I parlayed that into a corporate office fashion industry position where I excelled until being struck by a drunk-driven taxicab. The driver flew the coop and the cab company declared bankruptcy (as did the insurance company holding the cab’s policy), catapulting my career back to ground zero (accompanied by chronic disabilities).

and more

Seriously, Mom, you didn’t know?
by Marguerite Quantaine © Copyright 2019

(If it skips ahead, just tap the left arrow.)

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42 thoughts on “AS GOOD AS GAY GETS

  1. confidentlesbian

    Wow. As a new blogger and recently realized lesbian,(I came out about a year and a half ago) it’s so inspiring to read this heart-warming entry! I am generally positive and passionate about who I am and it’s honestly a drag to hear people hate on who they are. Some of my friends have known that they like women their whole lives and are still not out to their families or the public. It must be exhausting living your whole life in a lie.
    I’m new to this blogging thing but I’m really excited about it and now I’m even more excited about following your blog! Thank you for your feedback on mine! 🙂

  2. Noora

    Very inspiring post! Thank you for sharing. I’m just stopping by to thank you for the comment and follow. Have a beautiful day. – Noora

    1. margueritequantaine Post author

      I sure am glad you snuck in under the wire, Noora, since I post a new essay every two weeks and this ones time is up. So, you made the day beautiful FOR me. Thanks, and right back at ya!

    1. margueritequantaine Post author

      Jennifer, you couldn’t have read this and encouraged me at a better time. After 155 WordPress readers liked this post on Facebook, Facebook decided to tag my site as possibly “unsafe” by blacking this essay out unless the reader – who has voluntarily clicked onto my link – tells Facebook that it’s not spam. So THANK YOU for letting me know the trip was worth it. I so appreciate it.

  3. Inspirational Muse

    I always enjoy reading about your adventures, Marguerite. Your incredible gumption is definitely the reason you succeed in all endeavors! Even more impressive is your continued loving relationship of 43 years. Great advice: “focus on loving living and the person you’re living it with.” Can’t wait to read the book. ~Michelle

    1. margueritequantaine Post author

      Well, I certainly like the tag of ‘gumption’ and can only hope it sticks with me until the final curtain goes down. Am so glad we found each other, Michelle. Your opinion carries a lot of weight with me and I’m grateful for it.

  4. Shawn Cady

    Oh my dear friend! How I would love to sit down and have coffee with you and just talk the day away. Then, I would ask to read a lot more of your writing. I love how you make . . . no, INSPIRE me to look at my own life, thoughts, actions, and deeds. I hope I can be inspiring like that someday. Thanks fir sharing, but more importantly, thanks our friendship. That is the best gift of all.

    1. margueritequantaine Post author

      Don’t kid yourself into thinking you’re not an all-star in your own right, Shawn, because you are. And even if our coffee klatch is only vicarious, you should know your current life goals have served to inspirit me to walk a little further and climb a little higher in an effort to feel better and be stronger. See that? We each go through our days without a clue that our actions might be serving to encourage others. I should have told you so. And that it means a “nickel and a heap and a kiss upon the cheek” to me.

  5. Carol Schofield

    Oh my friend what a talented and interesting writer you are…….this contribution had me wanting to read more and more about your trials and tribulations through life…….really good stuff…..Thanks for sharing Marguerite.


  6. maite1015

    Dear Margerite, thank you for another amazing blog. I love your witing because it comes out right from the heart. Thank you for sharing with us about your fears and dreams and thank you because from your wise words I’m learning to know myself a bit better. Thanks for being such a brave and amazing woman.

  7. Kieran York

    I love your line about life not getting any better. With every blog you write, you certainly make my life better. Thanks. You’ve written another beautiful, and loving blog, Marguerite. The above comments say it all!

  8. Mary Anne

    You were born with a lot more than your fair share of chutzpah! You were daring when daring was not the thing to be. You were tenacious. That is a potent combination. I’m only glad you did not decide to become some sort of evil overlord. If you had we’d all be paying you homage about now.
    Your story is wonderful. It illustrates just how far hard work and determination along with love can take one in life. Good for You!!!
    (When they make your life into a move who would you like to play you?)

    1. margueritequantaine Post author

      Egad Mary Anne, there’s a thought I never had more than a thousand times. Back in the day I’d say Sally Field. I think we’re even the same age. But of the young talent out there for a young us? Take away the money and put them in the real working girl world of 1970’s+, I’d say the brown-eyed/blue-eyed best friends on Gossip Girl. Or, much better yet, Amy Poehler and Tina Fey.

    1. Sue

      You are a consistently brilliant writer. You grab ’em and hold ’em like a terrier on a rag. I like your style, your perspectie and your unfailing optimism. THANK YOU, sister! You (continue to) make me proud.


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