“Damn cops won’t talk. Go see ‘em. Wear the red skirt.”
Wear the red skirt?! What the hell kind of newsroom is this?
It was Gene’s newsroom, of course.
I went home, put on jeans.
Plus, tennis shoes. (Gene had voted for heels.)
Then I went out and got the story. All of it. Every bit.
Next day, I tossed my pad on Gene’s desk.
“Didn’t need the skirt,” I said.
“I know that!” he hollered. “But I sure got you fired up, didn’t I?”
Yep. He sure did.
Gene wasn’t P.C. He didn’t care what H.R. thought. He hated think tanks, big meetings, company check-mark evaluations. He liked typewriters, personal notes, slaps on the back.
He loved … stories. Not just the tales themselves, but the chase.
And that’s why he was utterly unconcerned by the notion that perhaps he should not, if you wanted to split hairs, order a reporter into a red skirt. Hell, it could look bad.
Hell, who cared?
He knew one of two things would happen. Either the skirt would get the story, or the reporter would get it, in her blue jeans, just to show Gene. Not to impress him, exactly. But to buoy him. Because he was best that way, bobbing up and down on a never-ending sea of stories. If Gene sank, the entire newsroom would drown.
I still have that skirt. It’s 15 years old, and I keep it because it’s a classic, and they don’t make them that way anymore.