Love & Sex

Five Stories: Office Affairs

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Our readers dip their pens in the company ink.

Hard to Tell

Kevin was the first editorial assistant I was allowed to hire. He was twenty-three; I was just twenty-nine. I interviewed six candidates, but never thought for a minute that I was going to hire anyone else. In his suit, he looked like a college lacrosse captain dressing up as a business man for Halloween. You know how, when you first really have a crush on someone, it's hard to tell if they're a really great person, or if you just want to fuck them? That's why everyone should have to interview with a bag over their head — if someone tells you they can be completely divorce talent from looks and charm, they're lying. 

After that, things progressed like clockwork. I assigned him a desk near mine so I could look at the side of his head when I got bored. On Friday, I asked him out for a drink with a couple of co-workers, "to celebrate your first week." No one else stayed longer than an hour.

While he was blowing me up against the wall of my bedroom, I thought, "What a suck up," and almost laughed aloud.

As we sat, I realized I wanted to figure out if he was into me, or just being nice to his boss after his first week of work. At ten, I looked at my watch and said, "Wow, it's late. Do you want to get one more, or head out?” so he’d have a polite out. He said, "Let's get one more." Again, hard to tell. We were talking about work projects, and he was obviously an eager, ambitious kid. 

At eleven, we walked out, I followed him to his car, and then, surprising even myself, pushed him up against the door and kissed him. He kissed back. We went back to my house, and had very fun first-time sex. While he was blowing me up against the wall of my bedroom, I thought, "What a suck up," and almost laughed aloud.  

We kept having sex for about six months, usually just on Friday nights after work, only once in the office — on a Saturday when it was just him and me, under deadline. I recommended him several times for promotion, always glowingly, and always a bit guiltily, since as far as I could tell, no one knew we were boning. After six months, he got a bigger job in a different imprint.

And that's kind of the tricky part. I can definitely say that I didn't hire and promote someone who was unqualified, just because he was fucking me. But would I have been so nice to him, so quick to help him learn stuff, so unabashedly positive in my reviews? Would he have gotten promoted so fast? Hard to tell. — Jason

Submit to our next round-up. 15 Stories: Biggest Courtship Blunders. Remember that time, when you were certain you had it made with the man or woman of your dreams? And then you ruined everything with one ill-timed quip, spilled drink, or sneeze? Tell us about it 75-100 words, on our Facebook page or to submissions@nerve.com

I Was A Feminist

It was the early '70s and I was working at a very hip and happening ad agency in Toronto. I was a very hard-headed feminist — I was there for work and work only. I didn't really care about making friends or socializing. Anyway, I played enough in my time off. And if guys were making eyes at me, I was too focused to care. I certainly wasn't there to find a husband.

It was beautiful — real gold — and a completely inappropriate gift to give a coworker.

But there was this one guy, Adam. You'd have to have been dumb, deaf, and blind to not notice how attractive he was. We got along well professionally; he never tried to hit on me or ask me out for drinks, and I always felt respected and like he responded well to my ideas, not how great I looked in my bell-bottoms. 

Things started out innocently enough, just a lot of looks, smiles, and small talk. Then, at the office Christmas party, when everyone was liquored up, he took me aside and presented me with a gift, out of the blue. It was a small gold pendant to put on the gold chain. It was beautiful — real gold — and a completely inappropriate gift to give a coworker. But I loved it. After that I wore it every day. 

Somehow nothing happened that night — I think even then I felt it would be too cliche to have a post-Christmas-party fling.

Weeks later, after one particularly good day at work, he asked me to drinks. I was elated by my business success, and turned on by his Warren Beatty-esque smile; we barely made it to the elevator before ripping each other's clothes off. Drinks never happened. 

After one amazing night, it was gone. Everything felt awkward on Monday. Gone were the flirty raised eyebrows and shared smirks. Neither of us tried to follow-up, and he transferred shortly after. — Janess

Submit to our next round-up. 15 Stories: Biggest Courtship Blunders. Remember that time, when you were certain you had it made with the man or woman of your dreams? And then you ruined everything with one ill-timed quip, spilled drink, or sneeze? Tell us about it 75-100 words, on our Facebook page or to submissions@nerve.com

The One Who Got Away

I was working on a humdrum account in an advertising agency that exposed me to plenty of personality types within different departments. Early on, I fancied a taciturn, platinum-blonde Midwesterner, but nothing much seemed to be happening between us. On the other hand, she was great pals with her cube-mate, Mary. She was constantly telling me that Mary was such great chick (and I'll admit, she looked great too). But, I wasn't sure I was feeling it — for one, I was almost a decade older than her twenty-three years. 

But when a bunch of us went to a club to watch a live band, equal parts beer and footsie escalated, and I invited her to my humble abode to smoke a jay. I quickly learned that Mary was a responsible every-day smoker who knew how to use what God gave her. While initially not my physical type, she was absolutely beautiful.

We fucked all the time. I would like to say that we’d steal away from work to get it on, but we were in different departments in different accounts, so it was hard to schedule. But she was game every other time, though she did like to enhance the experience with weed. I don’t think that anyone in the office knew, but I’m sure someone must have suspected —or been told. I don't have too much faith in the discretion of twenty-three-year old women.

But, dolt that I am, I had to end it. I actually had a girlfriend at the time. She was in the U.K. for three months, and we kept an open relationship. Mary knew I was being casual, but she had fallen for me. I liked her tons, but I had an obligation to my other casual relationship (which, of course, didn’t last much longer). After I told her, I wanted us to have a "final night," but she shot me down. 

But, dolt that I am, I had to end it.

That’s where Herma came into the picture. She was a new hire in a cube only ten paces away from Mary. She was, uh, full-chested and a slightly bratty disposition, which was the perfect foil for my repartee full of retorts. I had initially resisted taking an interest in her because, after all, I was a professional, but it didn't last long. We were only together twice, but it was the most primal sex I've ever had — like a National Geographic special. Mary never found out about us.

Now that it’s been a few years, Herma just got married, and Mary is older, wiser, and still sexy. We manage to have a drink once or twice a year, and each time I’m reminded that she’s the one who got away. — Diego

Submit to our next round-up. 15 Stories: Biggest Courtship Blunders. Remember that time, when you were certain you had it made with the man or woman of your dreams? And then you ruined everything with one ill-timed quip, spilled drink, or sneeze? Tell us about it 75-100 words, on our Facebook page or to submissions@nerve.com

Blackjack 

During the summers of my university years, I earned money as a croupier in the gaudy new casino my hometown had built itself. In my third summer of slinging cards and separating old ladies and working-class gentlemen from their money, a new batch of trainees arrived, among them a whip-thin, razor-witted, sunburnt Quebecois girl who immediately caught my eye.

Our mutual attraction was obvious to all of my co-workers, but I had always had a strict “No dipping your pen in the company ink” policy. A fairly empty principle, given that I’d never had any previous opportunity to challenge it. It wasn’t until we were on a midnight boat ride with some co-workers that we found ourselves huddling together under a blanket. Shivering clutches turned into soft caresses and an invitation to her apartment for dinner the next night.

It’s a little eerie, making dinner in the middle of the night in complete silence.

Since we worked at a casino, our shifts didn’t begin until six in the evening. Dinner time meant midnight — if it was slow and we got off early. It’s a little eerie, making dinner in the middle of the night in complete silence, so as to not wake up roommates with more conventional hours. We retreated to her room with our food and talked until dawn. For the next few months I ended up at her apartment almost every night after work. She was adventurous and a rock-climber; taut muscle on a tiny frame. A few weeks in, I came over to discover she had smashed a mirror and glued the pieces to the ceiling above her bed. I could look up and see fractured glimpses of our sweaty, intertwined bodies. I barely went home after that. We were both young and insatiable and it was a very, very hot summer.

Sadly, we always had an end date. I was going back to school on one side of the country; she was returning to her family on the other side. She decided to write me a poem (in French!) that was a prelude to a discussion about staying together, and how she’d come to visit me in the city where I was going to school. I was brash and cold and refused the idea outright and had to spend a very uncomfortable three more weeks working with her, sometimes side by side at adjacent blackjack tables, until I left. I’ve never slept with a co-worker since, but I do still have the poem. — Michael

Submit to our next round-up. 15 Stories: Biggest Courtship Blunders. Remember that time, when you were certain you had it made with the man or woman of your dreams? And then you ruined everything with one ill-timed quip, spilled drink, or sneeze? Tell us about it 75-100 words, on our Facebook page or to submissions@nerve.com

The Intern

When I was twenty three, I had just started as an intern at a website. There were a bunch of good-looking women there, but to me, the most alluring was also the quietest and most mysterious: Lauren, the photo editor. I rarely had any cause to interact with her, but I made excuses to chat with her when I delivered her mail, and when no one was looking, I’d often gaze longingly at her picture on the site’s “about us” page.  It turned out one of the designers had a crush on her too — he’d secretly Photoshopped her headshot to a lustrous glow. But she was pretty glowing on her own.

My heart was aflutter, but I still was four years younger than her and an intern.

One night I brought my roommate to an office party that Lauren was hosting, and the moment we walked in the door, that same designer, who’d barely said a word to me, greeted me and blurted, “Hey, what’s up? I’m really drunk! I have such a crush on Lauren! She’ll be on the market soon, she’s on the outs with her boyfriend!” At this my heart was aflutter, but I still was four years younger than her and an intern.

But when we were leaving, standing in the hall outside the party, Lauren came out, seemingly to catch us, clearly a little upset. She said some nice things to me about my work, fixing me with her big eyes, but there was an edge of desperation in her voice. Eventually I said, “How’re you doing? You look a little stressed out,” and she said, “Yeah, just stressing about this party” — clearly not the case — and I said, “Well, we’re going to this bar — you’re more than welcome if you need to escape."

She looked me in the eye and said, “I would love to escape with you, Leo.” We ended up dating for two and a half years. — Leonard

Submit to our next round-up. 15 Stories: Biggest Courtship Blunders. Remember that time, when you were certain you had it made with the man or woman of your dreams? And then you ruined everything with one ill-timed quip, spilled drink, or sneeze? Tell us about it 75-100 words, on our Facebook page or to submissions@nerve.com