Sunday, November 29, 2009
After working with Tim for the past year, I thought I had a pretty good handle on the type of guy he was (a naughty but mostly harmless scoundrel). We joked around and because I could tease him about his elitist attitude without making him mad or having me demoted/fired, I thought he was fairly inoffensive.
On this trip, fate puts us next to each other in first class and we share a beer and some office gossip. Tim hammers down three beers on the 90-minute flight and I remind him that I don’t care who he is, I’m not carrying him up to his room if he gets too drunk tonight. He laughs at my joke and then says, “We’ll see…You might change your mind later” in a sort of flirty way that I ignore. I suspect that rich and/or powerful people can say these borderline offensive things to each other without consequence all the time, but it is only a hunch since I do not hang out with the rich or the powerful regularly.
From the time we get off the plane and take off in the rental car, Tim has decided to turn it up a notch from friendly/innocent flirting to blatant proposition. While I navigate our way into downtown Chicago, he begins talking about how cool I am and how much fun it would be to hang out with me more. I remind him that he is hanging out with me right now and he should enjoy it while it lasts. This is when I begin to wonder if Tim can’t handle his airplane Coors Light like a regular Minnesota guy could.
We pass a Waffle House and I interrupt any conversation we may have been having, uncomfortable or not, because I love me a Waffle House and just the sight of the outdoor sign brings my sense of smell and taste and life in general alive. I begin a speech on why I love the Waffle House and he interrupts about midway through with a slightly creepy comment about taking me to any Waffle House I wanted to, “Later tonight….After.”
What the huh? After I castrate him and throw up in his mouth? Did I miss a huge chunk of the conversation about deciding to sleep together and eating waffles afterward? I’m pretty sure I would have tuned into a conversation focused on that, especially if a promise of waffles was agreed upon.
I ask him what he is talking about, and from this point on begins his argument for sleeping together, and I begin my argument against sleeping together.
He says, “It’s perfect. Think about it. Noone would even have to know about it, if you choose to opt in, which I really think you should do.”
Hmmm, what is this “opting in?” Maybe he’s talking about opting in to a new and exciting investment opportunity and not wild illicit career-damaging monkey love?
I say, “Noone has to know about anything because there is nothing for them to not know about.” (Since I was confused and also hoping I was mis-reading his signals, I throw out a response that was just as confusing as his comment. Plus, I’m still irked that I didn’t get to finish my Waffle House speech and am hoping this will shut him up long enough to give me the chance to pick up my speech where I left off.)
He says, “This is the perfect scenario – we could get together with no strings attached. I am very discreet. It won’t be anything but fun. Well… unless you want more than that down the road. I guess in that case, we’ll see how it goes and we can talk about it in the future.”
Ahh, romance... Donald Trump style! I picture a point in time in the near-future when we both meet in a conference room with our respective lawyers to hammer out the terms of a mutually exclusive agreement to reserve every third day, one weekend a month, and New Year’s Eve to each other as part of our ongoing relationship. The agreement includes a Sexy Panty Clause (His) as well as a No Third Parties Clause (Mine). It would be grand.
I say, “Well, I’m sure your girlfriend will be glad to know whatever it is you’re proposing with me isn’t going to amount to anything serious. Did you forget that I heard you on the phone with her not more than 15 minutes ago making plans for this weekend?” (Not to mention hearing about the bitter tale of his upcoming divorce on our flight out here.)
He says, “Oh, Jennifer, you are thinking way too much into this; you are totally taking this the wrong way and making it into something far different than what it should be.”
My inner monologue says, “Jennifer Marie Cresap, you crazy lady! He wasn’t asking you to have a secret affair! He was probably asking you to write a speech for him or help him pick out a birthday present for one of his sons! Keep your dirty tramp mind out of the gutter and into talking about waffles and other things you know intimately!”
I quickly apologize for misunderstanding him and hope that we can turn the focus of conversation back to work (or better still, the Waffle House) and away from any confusing sexual overtones that don’t actually exist.
He waves off my apology and clarifies that there is no need to be sorry. I breathe a sigh of relief and hope we are back on solid, non-career-limiting topics of conversation. I park the car and before he gets out, he turns to me and says, “I want to be clear. This would be nothing but a night of great fun. We are both attractive and single so why not see what happens? Noone will ever find out. At least, not if you don’t want them to.”
After a brief moment of nausea and panic, I decide it is time to make myself clear. “If you want to know if I am opting in, then the answer is no. I am going to do the opposite of opting in, which I guess is opting out, but it sounds cooler to say it the other way. But, it doesn’t change what I am saying: No to opting in.”
I worry that I might have embarrassed him, and then I remember that he embarrassed himself by:
1. talking about hooking up with a subordinate in a poor man’s version of Don Draper;
2. doing so in a rental car in the middle of the day after three Coors Lights; and
3. making this offer while on a work trip that has just begun and will continue for two more days.
I decide to play it cool and pretend that he is really drunk and probably won’t even remember this conversation. He decides to play it as he always planned to and act like it’s no big deal and happens every day. We go to our respective rooms where I ram my head into large objects in the hopes it will erase my memory of the past two hours.
We are supposed to be meeting another one of our coworkers who traveled on a different flight in the lobby in an hour for dinner. I’m just praising the heavens that I no longer have to spend any time alone with Mr. Walking HR Violation. When I get to my room, I notice there is a blinking light on the telephone and I am hoping it is our coworker Theresa letting me know she has touched down and is on her way to the hotel. Instead it is Theresa letting me know that her flight has been delayed and she may not make it into town until midnight. I call her back and leave her a CliffsNotes version of what is going on with Ron Jeremy’s twin Tim and tell her to call me as soon as her plane has landed. Then I head to the lobby to tell Tim the news and hopefully eat the fastest, most sober, non-sexual overtoney dinner in history.
He takes the news of Theresa’s delay in stride (much like any self-respecting serial rapist, he had probably master-minded an elaborate plot to somehow tamper with Theresa’s plane’s navigation system and was thus only outwardly surprised that her flight would be late.) He suggests we have a drink in the hotel lobby and talk about where to have dinner.
I will readily admit that my choosing to stay with him and have a drink, and then accompanying him to a nearby restaurant for dinner, could possibly be seen as consent of some sort. To be honest, I just thought he had been drunk earlier and since this was my first true sexual harassment experience, I wasn’t sure of the protocol or next steps. In the imaginary alternate universe where I preside most days, I imagined that we were going to follow the path of our honored Midwestern ancestors and pretend like nothing had ever been said or done that could be construed as unpleasant or awkward and just go on in a business-as-usual manner. Much like the time in college when I experienced an unexplained burning sensation for several days during Finals Week, I was going to choose to ignore it until it went away.
For the most part, the topics of conversation remained neutral, and if Tim happened to veer off toward Tasteless Town, I would correct him and divert him back on the road toward Appropriate Village. Looking back, I did have to maintain a constant vigilance during our conversation to make sure the borders around Appropriate Village were secured and remained immune to any sort of attack. Occasionally Tim would still manage to sneak past my defenses, which I attributed to his years and years of concentrated Harasser Training at the Rich Jerk Academy. Clearly Tim had been honing his craft and aced many an exam on the art of weaseling a girl into compromising positions before I arrived on the scene so I was at a pretty large disadvantage from the outset. I was actually confused at the amount of effort Tim was expending on getting me into bed. The bar was flush with several slutty options that would take minimal convincing to go to Tim’s room and tag team him ‘til the cows came home. I am sure Tim thought my “no” was just a challenge and that I would eventually fall prey to his irresistible charms, but I’m also sure there was at least one person on the Titanic who believed they were all going to be rescued alive.
When we finally arrived at a nearby restaurant, somehow the host ignored my requests for a table near the front and instead put us in a Tim-requested booth that was secluded from the rest of the world. When he ordered a bottle of $100 wine and remarked that he would be using it to get me really drunk and into his bed, I began texting everyone in my phone book to let them know I love them and that I could possibly need help. I frequently got up and went to the bathroom and called my friends to let them know what was going on and ask for help. Most of them told me to leave the restaurant immediately but I didn’t do it. I think I believed a true preppy rapist wouldn’t do so much talking about the act itself and instead would be focusing more on the ruffie process or a kidnapping-type scheme. Plus I was now getting 18 calls and texts every 15 minutes from concerned friends so I kept excusing myself from the table and generally ignoring Tim’s attempts at getting me to drink some of the (tranquilized) wine and (Xanaxed) potatoes.
I had exactly one sip of wine with dinner and spent most of the time alternately searching my food for blue or red pill residue and explaining to Tim that just because I was single didn’t mean I was desperately in search of a Fuck Buddy. I was just starting to think about how to get to my hotel room within the next 10 minutes unscathed, when Theresa called. Sweet Theresa! Calling from the airport! The airport located a mere 15 minutes from our hotel!
I didn’t hear a word she was saying because I had my own conversation with her for Tim’s benefit.
“Oh, no, I forgot about the gift bags! Oh, that’s okay, I can help you assemble them. No, no, of course I don’t mind. I’d rather we get them done now versus doing them in the morning. What is your room number? Okay, I’ll see you in about 10 minutes. No – really, it’s no big deal at all. Talk to you very, very soon!”
When I hang up the phone, I give Tim a sad face and tell him that I have to head to Theresa’s room immediately so we can get the gift bags together. I ask if he can put the meal on his corporate credit card (I would bet he’ll have his admin categorize it as “Rape: Meals with Group” on his Expense Report next month) and begin gathering up my purse and coat and heading for the door. Unfortunately Tim has maybe already planned for my abrupt departure because he beats me to the door and lets me know he can escort me to Theresa’s room because the bill has already been taken care of. I begin to practice my version of Lamaze breathing all the way to the Theresa’s hotel room and pray that she will come up with a way for us to ditch this loser. I also pray that there are actual gift bags to assemble since I had made that part of the conversation up.
She greets us in the hallway and I give her a hug that suggests she has just given me a kidney or $1 million instead of just a reason not to jump out the window and run for home. There are indeed gift bags to assemble which Theresa and I work on while Tim looks on and whines that we could complete this task in the morning. We both mention to him approximately 15 times that he can scurry on back to his hotel room at any time, especially considering he isn’t helping in any way except to tell us this work is “below him” and that we should all go down to the lobby bar and have a drink.
We ignore him and I work very, very slowly at assembling the gift bags in the hopes that he will just get bored and leave, and on his way accidentally fall into a deep, dark hole.
When we are finally finished, I begin to get a panicky flop sweat because I know I have one final Tim encounter to endure before I can finally just go to bed. By now he has thrown 1,000 different propositions at me and not even the ones involving food sound remotely appealing. It is time to give him the heave-ho.
Which is how I land myself in a deserted elevator with this creep at 12:30 in the morning. I was lucky in that I did escape his disgusting advances and ultimately did not have to have bony creep sex with him. I was also lucky, or unlucky, in that he pretended like none of it had ever happened the next day. I was expecting a half-assed apology using the economy or alcohol as an excuse, but I forgot that the Rich Jerk Academy had to discontinue its 3-part series on Remorse and Consequences due to budget constraints and low attendance. Which, ultimately, is actually all my fault, isn’t it?
© Copyright 2009, Jennifer Cresap.
Friday, November 20, 2009
It is midnight on a Tuesday and I am trapped in an uncomfortable sexual harassment kind of way in a Radisson Hotel elevator with Tim, a coworker I have traveled with before but never alone and never with this high level of sexual ickiness. He has used the past three hours to suggest relentlessly that we should have a romp in the sack, while I have used the past three hours to suggest that there is no way his penis will get anywhere near me, even if my vagina was on fire and he could shoot powerful streams of water from one of his extremities.
Tim is a few years younger than me and attractive in a preppie rapist kind of way (really only due to his thick mass of swoopy hair. But, now also because of the story below). In high school I would be willing to bet he was the popular rich kid who tormented others but got away with it because his parents were off heli-skiing in the Swiss Alps or scuba diving in the Maldives and never got around to punishing him or even hearing about the infraction in the first place. They see their young, attractive son as something of a lovable scamp who will grow out of this stage once he goes off to the Ivy League college his father/grandfather/great-grandfather attended.
I’m the first to admit I’ll do anything for my career and have thus far been proficient at sleeping my way to the middle. Well, lower middle. And I’ve traveled enough to know how lonely it can be on the 2nd floor of the Marriott overlooking the parking lot with only the periodic sound of the ice maker and Donnie Deutsch or Bill O’Reilly to keep you company (Note to hotels: Just because I travel for business does not mean that I want 26 versions of CNBC, CNN, CSPAN, and FoxNews as my only source of entertainment. No matter where I am in the U.S., I still care deeply about celebrity gossip and would like to be able to check up on them at any hour of the day so I can find out about their divorce/drug overdose/botched plastic surgery before their loved ones do. It’s the American way.)
While this could be my chance to sleep my way to the upper middle, or at worst, the middle middle, I still have no interest in taking Tim up on his offer of unrestricted sex in the bed of my choice. But because he has seniority over me (and because for some odd reason I actually have developed a moral compass and feel like sleeping with him would be wrong), I am caught in a tricky situation. It’s not that I have to sleep with him or risk getting fired or being painted as the brazen hussy of the office (although I’ll be honest, there is always a slight chance that these things could happen to me and not for anything to do with servicing/not servicing him). I have to work with Tim on a regular basis and I’d prefer not to have to karate chop him in the nose or cause a huge scene and have him arrested in the lobby of our hotel and then have to work with him and try to get him to do what I want him to do while he lords my virginal behavior over my head.
I’m trying to think of a semi-natural way to ease myself out of the elevator and into my hotel room alone without having to perform any acts of flirting, screaming, or fake-orgasming and come up with four possible options.
Admit that I have untreated Herpes. This option is weak conceptually because it is very possible that Tim is already living with Herpes and will only see my admission as some sort of unbreakable bond between us and/or a sign that we should have sex now more than ever because we won’t even have to use protection. This likely goes for any sort of ailment or STD I could come up with on short notice. In addition, if I tell him that I have the Herp, I then have to live with the fact that he could “accidentally” let this factoid slip to the people we work with, whether I sleep with him or not. I’m guessing that this guy’s moral compass only points south toward his nether region so I can’t risk planting any seeds of information about myself that he could use against me later.
Kick him in the crotch. This option is not the most subtle, but is definitely the most appealing because it seems to work 100% of the time in movies, television, and once when I saw someone do it at the mall. Although the timing would have to be perfectly orchestrated because I will have to kick him in the crotch and then turn and wait for the elevators doors to open so that I can make a smooth getaway... which could be several seconds or several minutes, judging by the age and speed of the elevator. I would also have to be sure that he didn’t enjoy a knock to the ‘noids and consider it as some sort of foreplay. I put this one on the backburner for now solely for logistical reasons beyond my control.
Sleep with him and get it over with. On the one hand, he is an attractive guy who can be charming and possibly funny at times. On the other hand, I imagine that underneath his impeccably tailored suit lies the body of a young Mr. Smithers. I estimate that he is 5’10 and weighs 145 pounds and that the cut of his designer suit disguises his awkwardly bony features. The thought of that bony pelvis coming at me and then jabbing into my fleshy middle over and over and over instantly triggers my gag reflex and I rule it out as an option.
Pretend to faint/die and hope he leaves me for dead in the elevator.This is an attractive option as it is already 12:30 in the morning and I am exhausted and could reasonably pass out at any moment due to the sheer stress of the situation. I imagine he would want to distance himself from me as soon as I hit the floor and would just wipe his fingerprints off every surface of the elevator and be on his merry way. But I can also imagine him trying to prop me up and violate me 400 ways to Sunday while I try to continue pretending to be dead or just actually die due to complete disgust with myself. It is too risky to assume that he isn’t a necrophiliac so I take this option off the table.
When the elevator does finally arrive at my floor, I give him a push-off maneuver not uncommon to a wide receiver against a defensive end at the line of scrimmage (and silently thank my dad for making me watch all those years of football). I pray that it is enough to keep him off-balance so I can get out while the doors can close.
I realized (much too late) that this approach would have worked IF Tim had not suddenly developed the grace of a gazelle and leapt to my side, grabbed my hand, and said, “Which way to your room?”
Again, I start thinking that I will have to just get on with it and have sex with this guy despite my now very strong repulsion. On the plus side, I am starting to think that he must either have a huge penis or some other fantastical sexual trick up his sleeve to continue to try and sleep with me despite my refusals (“You just have no idea how mind-blowing this sex is going to be for you, Jennifer!”) On the flip side, I catch a glimpse of us in the hallway mirror and I look tense, worried, and unhappy and he looks sweaty, pale, and confident. If my life were a movie and he were in it, he would play the part of the attractive creep who has money and thus feels he is above the rules the rest of the world follows (which is really a part I had been reserving for Martha Stewart, but you have to play the hand you’re dealt).
Despite my delusions about his sexual prowess and motivations, I know that I am at Defcon Threat Level Orange and cannot see myself going through with it. Even if I submit to his whim, we’re talking a minimum of one hour from making out to undressing to sex to goodnight, and that is only if I can get him to leave my room directly after the deed is done. At my age and physical limitations, I don’t have that kind of time on a school night when the man in question is someone I want to get naked with, so I can't imagine I would waste my time with this guy.
This is when I hatch my next plan, which isn’t really a plan or a scheme or even a really clever idea, but it’s the only thing I have that will keep me from trying to find the Morning After pill at 3 a.m. I grab his hand and head right back onto the elevator. This time I press the button for his floor and look straight ahead at the doors, silently praying that I can get rid of him without losing my job or my underwear. He has taken this new elevator ride to come at me across the elevator with his mouth in the “open wide and say ahhhh” position. I manage to pull a Matrix-esque backbend to avoid making any sort of contact with his lips and wish I would have stuck with my Billy Blanks kick-boxing videos because I would have loved to have been able to transition from a backbend into a scissor kick right about now.
At his floor I give him a juke and a jive and break free from his grasp, while leaping into the elevator next door and slamming on the “Door Close” button 23 times so that I get my point across to this piece of machinery. The door closes and I can see in his face that he has conceded.
Unfortunately, as soon as I reach my room, my cell phone is ringing and it is him. I let it roll to voicemail and wonder, how did I let myself get into this mess?
Tune in next week to find out how exactly I got myself into this mess.
© Copyright 2009, Jennifer Cresap.