Glass of wine and remote in hand, I lounged on my couch unwinding from an intense day at work. I’d been assigned to a project with one of the senior leaders in our company, and my brain felt drained from hours-long strategy sessions about the appropriate communications plan for a highly contentious issue.
The leader overseeing the project made it all the more difficult. In his early sixties, he exuded sexism and seemed to wear a condescending smirk with the same pride as the pants he pulled up to his rib cage.
I’d nicknamed him Skeletor due to his tall and boney stature and evil attitude. Swap out the loin cloth for high-waisted Dockers and you’ve got the picture.
That’s why I flinched when my phone rang at 9:30 p.m. and his name flashed on the screen. I picked up on the third ring.
“Hi, Kim, this is Skeletor. Am I catching you at a bad time?”
“No. What’s up? Has something happened with our project?”
“Oh, this isn’t a work call. I calling to see if you’d have dinner with me? I find you very attractive and think there’s a chemistry between us that I’d like to explore.”
Are you kidding me?!? Not only are you nearly 30 years my senior, your position of power in our company makes this doubly inappropriate, I thought. But I didn’t miss a beat.
“Well, Skeletor, while I’m
repulsedflattered by your request, I have a hard-and-fast rule that I never date in the workplace so I’ll have to decline.”
After a few more awkward back-and-forths he relented and hung up. Ugh!
The ease in which I delivered my Pinocchioed response came from years of working in male-dominated organizations. In fact, my first job in my 30s was at a wildlife agency – a good ol’ boys club packed with gun-toting horn dogs.
Three months in, a group of us traveled to an off-site meeting. One of the older, married law enforcement guys offered me a ride to the hotel after dinner. He seemed like a safe choice for an escort.
Wrong! Halfway back, he placed his hand on my knee. I moved to the side.
“Sorry. I think I have given you the wrong idea.”
“Oh, I thought I’d picked up on some signals from you, Kim. Forgive me.”
“That’s okay. No harm done.”
Whew! At least he wouldn’t push the issue.
Wrong again! As soon as we pulled up to the hotel, he leaned in for a kiss.
“Oh my God no,” I yelped as I whipped the door open and tumbled onto the pavement. Not a graceful exit, but I successfully dodged his puckered lips, dusted myself off and hurried to my room.
He apologized the next day, but I didn’t really care. He now topped the list of men to avoid at work, and this became the first of many encounters that led to my realization: older dudes dig 30-something single ladies and certainly aren’t shy about it.
Take Skeletor. He approached me again several months later to see if I’d reconsidered his offer now that I “had a better idea of how things worked at the company.” Nope, but
f-you thanks for asking. He tried one more time when I turned in my notice. I sent him to voicemail.
Perhaps Viagra should carry a disclaimer:
May cause big-ball syndrome. If you experience delusions of dating women your daughter’s age, cease use, take two doses of reality, and call Dr. Ruth in the morning.
(This post is one of 30 30-somethings I’m writing for the weekly countdown to my 40th birthday. Celebrate with me as I share other lessons or humbling experiences from the past decade.)
This story was inspired, in part, by WordPress’ Daily Prompt “Saved by the Bell.” Tales like this are enough to drive anyone to drink. Join me over at the Yeah Write Moonshine Grid.
May 10, 2014 at 6:35 pm
oh dear lol
May 10, 2014 at 6:54 pm
my thoughts exactly 🙂
May 10, 2014 at 7:02 pm
May 10, 2014 at 8:27 pm
Lol. I love your “awkward responses welcome” too. Funny.
May 10, 2014 at 8:58 pm
Haha! Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting.
May 10, 2014 at 9:49 pm
May 12, 2014 at 9:08 pm
Yep! God love them.
May 11, 2014 at 12:34 am
Ew ew ew! I’m not sure I could have been that polite. It would’ve come out as “horrified.”
May 12, 2014 at 9:11 pm
Oh, I was horrified at the time. I just portrayed a stoic image at the time and walked away with an entertaining story.
May 11, 2014 at 8:36 am
Oh my I wish I could think as politely on my feet as you did – have had more than a couple of similar encounters and after being sorta polite about my NO I switched to sarcasm mode which isn’t the best way to deal with issues especially when some of them don’t get sarcasm and think you are actually being serious. You should publish a how to manual for this sort of thing – you know like a Miss Manners but for the Modern Age.
May 12, 2014 at 9:13 pm
Ahaha! I think I was too polite, especially on the second go around with both guys. Somehow, I think any Miss Manners for the Modern Age should say how to tell them to go shove it the second time. 🙂
May 13, 2014 at 1:43 am
Well that would be handy I must admit. 😀
May 11, 2014 at 12:51 pm
It never ceases to amaze me, how effortlessly some men can ignore their image in the mirror and pursue women who are clearly out of their ball park. Yet women have this habit of agonizing over their image in the mirror while relentlessly pursuing men who are beneath them in every way that matters.
May 12, 2014 at 9:17 pm
Perhaps that’s true, Vanessa, for many women. And it’s sad to think so. In my personal experience the douche bags in this story aren’t representative of most men – on the job and off. But there are enough of them in the workplace to urge caution for women at work.
May 11, 2014 at 2:33 pm
I think (thinking of Vanessas comment above) men of a certain age can ignore their own shortcoming knowing that most women would date a guy with a third eye in the middle of his forehead if he was a good and decent guy…whereas they are looking for sex and something they think is physically hot!
May 12, 2014 at 9:19 pm
Oh, I hope not, in terms of what most women would date. I certainly don’t think that’s true with me, but who knows. Funny cyborgs can be hot too, right? 🙂
May 11, 2014 at 6:18 pm
hysterical! i would say ‘what’s with men?’ but i’ve got a bit of a stalker gene so i won’t judge skeletor and grabby hands:)
May 12, 2014 at 9:20 pm
Ah, I’m making fun of these guys cause I think they were over-the-top jerky in their approach. That said, I’m sure some guy could write a story making fun of my “dating style” too.
May 13, 2014 at 7:12 pm
I work with a bunch of salesmen, and assist various sales meetings a year. it seems that whenever a plane ride away from their wives their wedding rings seem to slowly disappear as if the distance erases their marriage vows. And they seem to think that us women are stupid enough to forget that there is a beautiful family picture burning a whole in their wallet straight through their pants. Losers.
May 14, 2014 at 11:08 pm
Indeed! Plenty of great men out there, but a handful of jerks, like the ones you mention and those in my story, infuriate me.