Marriage & Life Partners · Relationships & Dating

Valentine’s Day: A Little Office Romance

3091946712_8be81318c6_zPhoto by Jessica Diamond via Flickr (Creative Commons License)

In 1987 (was it really that long ago?), I was working as the associate creative director for a major cable TV company’s in-house ad agency. In many ways it was my dream job; basically, I was marketing entertainment, my favorite thing in the world. I wrote commercials and print ads, newsletters and direct mail packages, and once a year I got to write a parody musical for an annual meeting, replacing classic Broadway show lyrics with inside jokes about cable television.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Our offices were on the waterfront in Boston’s famous North End. As the corporate headquarters, we often hosted visitors from the company’s different regions across the country. One day, a department head brought Jim into my office and introduced him, and for some reason, I thought he was “the marketing manager from New Hampshire.” But, after seeing him again the next day, and the next and the next, I realized he must be a new coworker. Our paths didn’t cross too much, though, until it was time to prepare for the meeting.

In years past, I had written spoofs of shows like The Wizard of Oz and Grease. Essentially, I rewrote all the lyrics (think of me as our company’s answer to Weird Al Yankovic), adding all sorts of references to the cable business. It was silly, but I loved it. The year Jim joined us, I had penned a version of Fiddler on the Roof, which I called Installer on the Roof.  Along with two of my fellow managers, I’d be performing “Dr. Ruth, Dr. Ruth, Find Me a Man” to the tune of “Matchmaker, Matchmaker.” You get the gist.

I had also rewritten “If I Were a Rich Man” as “If I Were Ted Turner,” and Jim had gamely agreed to sing it. At our first rehearsal, it became quite clear that while he was personable (and attractive, I might add), he was never going to succeed in a life on the stage. Frankly, he could neither sing nor dance, but he was so very agreeable and game that he won my heart. As the author and co-director, I found myself encouraging him at every turn. “You were a dance major,” I joked, “C’mon, admit it.” It didn’t really help, but it made us both feel better.

Jim, whom I began to count as a friend, was most definitely not my type. He was easygoing; I was a workaholic. He spent weekends driving up the coast in his red sports car; I spent them at the Museum of Fine Arts. I was enjoying his company more and more (despite his inability to hit or hold a note), but I thought he was a party boy. He was the kind of guy who came back from every business trip with a tan.

The infamous annual meeting finally arrived and we all headed down to Sandusky, Ohio. At the very first event, a cocktail reception, I was cornered by one of our clients (who was married, but that may not surprise you). At first, his attention felt like harmless flirting; then his comments became decidedly creepy. “I’m sorry for your generation,” he told me, dropping his voice to what he must have thought was a seductive purr, “You’re so pent up. In my time, if we felt sexual chemistry with someone, we acted on it.”  To say that my skin crawled is an understatement.

I went to my supervisor later that night and explained what had happened. She told me that I was exaggerating and that he was my client; it was my job to make him happy. She certainly wasn’t suggesting that I actually sleep with him, but it was very clear that I was supposed to welcome his advances, to a point. Read More »

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  • Andrea February 13, 2016 at 7:53 am

    Lovely story. Wishing u a happy V day!

  • Mickey February 12, 2016 at 2:06 pm

    This is a beautiful and touching story. I love it and love its continuation into a beautiful future together. Thank you so much. Happy V day to you both!