Throughout the history of civilization, etiquette has been subjected to all manner of indignities, not least among them the accusation that it is a bit of a drag. But “etiquette” is just a fancy word for being considerate of your fellow citizens whether that means not talking with a mouthful of mushy peas, or showering before receiving a rim job. And so, it is with great pleasure that we give you this excerpt from Nerve’s Guide to Sex Etiquette, set to hit bookstores on January 27. (Stay tuned for more excerpts in the coming weeks.) If you choose to abide by these guidelines (for the most part), you should be rewarded with the most vulgar, uncivilized sex of your life.
Sincerely and affectionately,
Em & Lo
neaking to the fax room on your lunch break . . . leaving dirty Polaroids under each other’s keyboards . . . doing it on your boss’s desk while he or she is at the Hamptons . . . Dipping your pen in the company inkwell may not be exactly encouraged in the modern workplace, but most people who consider themselves ladies and gentlemen have dipped at least once. It used to be that love on the clock was for executive married men and their young female secretaries only; the greatest concern was that in a fit of jealousy, said secretary would know exactly how to contact the missus. Nowadays, fortunately and felicitously, dating in the workplace requires a whole new set of etiquette rules.
Before soliciting a coworker, a gentleman or lady considers the matter in the same way he or she would ponder approaching a bartender at their local: Am I prepared to drink elsewhere if it all goes pear-shaped? Chances are, within a few months, your coconspirator will have moved on romantically, or simply will not care. (Do we all not have at least one ex in our circle of friends?) The decision will depend on the happy-hour specials or holiday bonuses, as well as on the potential of the relationship. You risk less for a one-night stand than for a chance at true love, which comes along less often than a charming little watering hole or a decent job offering.
Should you decide the risk is worth taking, then you will most certainly have to set some boundaries and come to a few understandings. For example: What happens outside of work, stays outside of work; there will be no abuse of power, no sexual harassment, and no sexual harassment lawsuits; there will be no special treatment or undeserved promotions; when you meet up after work, there will be a set deadline at which point all shoptalk must cease, et cetera. Of course, as you cannot predict the erratic behavior of the psychotic coworkers you choose to bed, you can only be responsible for your own good behavior and pray for the best. Again, dear friends, that is the risk of mixing business with pleasure.
When it comes to coitus with a cubicle colleague, the secrecy is undeniably at least half its provocative appeal. Obviously, there are myriad reasons not to dispatch a company-wide memo after the first interlude: If it ends within two weeks, you do not want everyone feeling awkward; it is infinitely easier to abscond to the copier room for a quickie if no one suspects your motives; perhaps it is frowned upon by your HR department; perhaps you are new at the company and do not want your reputation marred early on; or maybe you do not want all the office gossips spying on those awkward first few conversations at the water cooler. The most important reason, of course, is that true ladies and gentlemen never kiss and tell in situations in which to do so would embarrass the protagonist of the tale or potentially harm (or at least alter) their professional reputation.
However, you cannot expect to keep the affair clandestine forever. At some point (usually after three to six months), you must acknowledge whether it is just the secrecy that is sexy, or if true feelings have developed in one or both parties. If those involved have conflicting expectations, termination is the only honorable thing to do. If both parties are on the same page, then they may proceed as desired. Should a serious relationship be budding, there is no need to hide the affair. However, when the cat is finally out of the proverbial bag, do not, under any circumstances, make out or — worse — call each other by pet names in front of coworkers. Such familiarity in professional spaces will arouse their contempt, if not their lunch. n°
| Em & Lo (Emma Taylor
and Lorelei Sharkey), former Nerve sex advice columnists and authors of
Nerve’s The Big Bang and Sex Etiquette, are getting into
politics this fall: They’re embarking on a six-city tour called “Sex Ed
for Grown-Ups.” Presented by NARAL Pro-Choice America Foundation, their
hour-long show combines skits, on-the-street interviews, faux music
videos, audience participation and Q&As to cover everything from
anatomy to activism, from safer sex to the Supreme Court, from gay
rights to gadgets. Every show is free, open to the public (18+) and
guaranteed to learn you something new. Click here for tour
cities and dates.