It's not often I hang with the corporate crowd. But I was invited to lunch at a trendy boutique bistro, and tried playing it cool. My friends, Jim and Hank, two advertising giants, never waste time, but get right down to the biz at hand.

"So, how's it going?" Jim asked me.

"Can't complain," I said. "Trying to complete my next novel. How about you?"

"I've got all my ducks in a row," Hank said. "Just trying to stay in the ball park and not make waves."

"Yup," Jim agreed. "Climbing the corporate ladder and staying in the loop requires survival strategy and thinking outside the box. At the moment, I'm tri-tasking on a few epic deals."

"Huh?" I said, hoping not to appear too lame.

"Doing three things at once," Jim explained. "But it's not easy having an Alpha-nista for a boss. I go the extra mile for her, but she's a sharkette, who pulls out all stops, swims the deep end of the pool and does some deep diving. Core competency is her thing. When I get off the runway, my pain point is on overload. No rest for the weary."

"Taking this off-line," Hank leaned in, "Bottom line: I need an exit strategy and a vacay badly. I can't find the time to minergize my angst and push the envelope forward."

"It's a tough world out there," I said, empathicly.

"Lucky you," Jim said. "You're wrapped up in your cushy digs, writing all day, while we have to advertain and break through the corporate clutter. Life on the fast track is a brick-and-mortar existence where you need to keep your eye on the big picture, or risk losing the low-hanging fruit."

Hank pulled out his Phablets (smartphone and iPad). "Let me show you this week's game plan. Like shoot me now."

I surveyed the agenda, and realized that these guys were two Wantrepreneurs who were trying to come up with the best Bizmeth to make the grade. Not an easy task. They needed mental guard rails just to exist.

"I don't mean to wail," Jim said, "but my synergy stream is running on empty. I'm working on an ad campaign where I need to peel back the onion and make it pop. I'm just saying."

The waiter arrived, asking if he could bring us drinks.

"Hit me with a Glenlivet/rocks," Jim said.

"A deep dish olive pie for me," Hank said. "Shaken not stirred."

"What's that?" I dared to inquire.

"A martini," Hank said. "The booze brigade back at the office put me on to it."

I settled on Pellegrino. The guys laughed and told me I could "walk the chalk" meaning I'd pass the sobriety test with no prob.

Looking over the menu, Jim and Hank enlightened me further with their erudite culinary questions they posed to the waiter.

"Is the cheddar in the omelet aged or immature?" Hank wanted to know.

"It looks like it's reached adolescence," the waiter said.

"Are the beans in the bean soup, kidney, lentil or lima?"

"They're black beans."

"What kind of black beans?"

"Dark ones."

"I'll have the grilled salmon," I said.

"But make sure it's wild, not farmed," the boys simultaneously jumped in. "She doesn't eat farmed salmon."

"I don't?"

"Come on, babe, are you drinking the Kool-Aid? Everyone knows that," Jim said.

After an hour of shooting the breeze with these tycoons, my head was spinning.

"So?" Hank asked me over dessert. "At the end of the day, what's your takeaway from our conversation? Did we leverage your business acumen?"

"Empowering," I said, dipping my spoon into a mousse au chocolate.

"Oh you writers,” the boys said affectionately. "You bring to the table a nice sea change. As for us, we need to tee-off and get back to the silo.”

"Thanks," I said. "Lunch was great."

"Where you headed?" Jim asked.

"I'm ramping-up and hitting the street for a little downtime, unleash my wallet and upgrade the economy. My closet consumption is low, and I'm in serious need of a paradigm shift. My shoes need realignment, too. I'm ramping up my inventory and going for broke.

"We don't dig that lingo," Jim and Hank said. "Can't you speak our language?"

"I'm going shopping," I said. "Hey guys, get with the program.”

Judith Marks-White is a Westport writer. She can be reached at or at