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.