Close Encounters of a Sexual Kind
Back in my early twenties a boss of mine told me he was sure I’d eventually end up shot to death by a jealous wife. (This was the same boss who could always tell when I’d been out drinking the night before by the giant cup of icy Coke sitting on my desk at 8 a.m.)
His prediction never came true, or at least it hasn’t yet, but it occurs to me I’ve had some strange encounters of the potentially sexual kind.
I don’t think I ever had an office job where a man didn’t hit on me, or at the very least, respectfully indicate his interest. In fact, it occurs to me, I met my husband on one of those jobs, although he had enough class not to hit on me during business hours.
My first serious love affair was in fact, with my then boss. I was young and foolish and when it ended it took me a very long time to get over it.
Another boss, much older than me, kissed me full on the lips one day after I gave him a birthday card and a small gift. (It was, after all, his birthday.) I was married at the time, with two small children and I have to say I was completely grossed out by his advance. I almost quit. Instead, I made it clear to him that he was my boss and would be treated as such and if he ever stepped over the line again, I’d be gone. I daresay he valued my administrative skills more than he wanted to get in my pants because he kept his hands and lips to himself after that.
After my second book was published I got to know the public relations representative at a local chain bookstore. A nice guy, a little older than me, who I realized after first meeting him had trouble with boundaries. Bob asked inappropriate questions that I declined to answer, but I figured I wouldn’t have to deal with him too much, so what was the harm? But I started teaching a writing class at that store and facilitating a book discussion, so we became a bit more friendly. I learned a female coworker of his, Karen, lived with Bob and his wife. Call me naïve (I admit it; I am) but I still didn’t get what was going on.
After an evening book signing event Bob and Karen invited me out for a drink and I accepted. It seemed harmless enough, right? After the three of us ordered drinks and chatted for a few minutes, Karen left the table. When she returned, Bob left the table. That’s when Karen propositioned me. For a three-way. Me, Bob and her. I was, and I don’t use this word lightly, flabbergasted. I hadn’t seen it coming, though I probably should have. I told her I wasn’t interested and when Bob returned to the table she gave me this sort of pitying look and informed him, “She won’t go for it.”
We left shortly after that and I drove home in shock and not a little disgusted. I had to wonder what it was about me that made those two think I’d be interested in such a scenario? Come to find out, Bob’s wife was regularly part of the three-way action. A few weeks later, I realized she was also a cantor at the church I attended!
I called one of my best girlfriends that night and told her what had happened. She listened attentively and then giggled apologetically and said, “I know you’re upset about this, but you should be flattered. Evidently, you appeal to both sexes. Most of us have trouble getting interest from just one.”
I went into the book signing the next day humming M.C. Hammer’s “Can’t Touch This.”
I’ve worked at Starbucks for the past six years and one of their defining principles is “We embrace diversity.” I’ve certainly worked with a diverse number of individuals. One memorable evening, a group of us went out together to a local gay bar featuring a drag show. That’s where I got my first kiss from Trisha, a heterosexual who liked to “make out” with everyone. A raging heterosexual myself, I have to say, kissing another female didn’t do much for me. But it didn’t stop Trisha from bragging that she’d made out with me.
Trisha socialized with another coworker quite often and only occasionally was I included One evening Trisha, Joelle and I went out to dinner. This particular evening for some reason I was trying to figure out how physical intimacy works in lesbian relationships, and kept the conversation revolving around that subject. When Trisha excused herself, Joelle looked at me and said, “I’m gay.” I responded with, “Oh, okay, then maybe you can explain it to me.” (She didn’t.)
After Trisha moved away, Joelle and I started hanging out more often. I’d never given much thought to Joelle’s sexual preference before she came out to me. If I’d ever thought about it I figured it could go either way. Joelle refers to me as her “buddy.” I know she values our friendshipt, but I haven’t figured out why she always insists on paying for drinks or dinner and invites me on weekend getaways. I’m married, but is it possible I’m dating her?
A few months ago another co-worker, Nancy, informed me she has a crush on me. Do I need to put a label on my forehead that reads, “Thanks anyway, but I’m not gay”? I’m actually quite fond of Nancy. She’s got a lot of personality and is fun to be around. But I have to watch myself. I don’t want to encourage her and I don’t want to hurt her. Even if I were gay, I don’t think she’d be my type.
Nancy gets a bit huffy if she thinks I’m flirting with male customers and sometimes I wonder if I even know what flirting is. If you ask a guy how his day has been (which we’re supposed to do with customers anyway) and that initiates a conversation, does that translate into flirting? I’ve been teased that I flirt with everyone, male and female. I don’t think so. That’s just me be friendly and interested. Maybe that’s all flirting is. But there are guys who think if a woman talks to him it means she wants him.
One of my favorite co-workers is Jay. He’s thirty years younger than me and there is absolutely no sexual chemistry between us. Yet our dialogue is filled with ridiculous sexual innuendo and repartee. Jay “gets it” and he gets me which is what makes him so much fun to work with. He’s super smart. He grasps irony, sarcasm and facetiousness. Our back and forth isn’t flirtation. It’s silliness and fun and puts a smile on my face. When he accompanies his comments with a solo eyebrow wiggle, I crack up.
Sexual energy surrounds us all the time so how can we not respond to it? Remember when Harry told Sally that men and women can’t be friends? I think what he meant was that the possibility for a sexual encounter always exists between them, and that makes it more difficult. Apparently this theory holds true for same sex friendships as well. I think we all like the possibility of crossing those lines. But what can also be fun, and definitely safer, is reading about other people crossing that line. How else to explain the enduring popularity of romance novels?
Originally from southwest Missouri, Barbara Meyers now lives in a posh southwest Florida community filled with golf courses and country clubs. She is still married to her first husband and her two children survived to adulthood in spite of her inept mothering skills. Her latest book, the sweet and spicy romantic comedy, A MONTH FROM MIAMI, is available in both digital and print formats. Her previously published work includes a short story and two squeaky clean romantic comedies. She spends her non-writing time working on her goal of becoming the oldest living barista at the local Starbucks. She may also be found sneaking into a nearby gated community to walk her dog or meandering along the beach having conversations with her fictional characters.
(For the truth about Barbara Meyers, check out www.barbmeyers.com)