Don't get your honey where you get your money. I had learned that lesson when I was 22 and working in Houston. I dated the nicest guy for a short while. He was lovely, but it just wasn't a match. That's the purpose of dating, right? To find the right fit? But when you don't fit, life is easier if you don't have to see each other at work every day at the 10:00 a.m. donut cart. Yes. We had one of those. And the company gave us each a turkey at Christmas, which did me no good because sheesh, what did I know about cooking turkey? But they also, I think, gave cash to those employees who did not want a turkey and cash is my favorite color of present.
Anyhow. You'd think at the age of 41, which was when the second work/dating event happened, I would have known better. I did know better. But where else was I supposed to meet men? I was at work from 7:30 to 6, then I went home, cleaned the bathroom, cooked supper and went to bed so I could get up at 5:00 to go to my exercise class at 5:30 a.m., and no, except for the instructor of the class, there was nobody there who was 1. single and 2. attractive. I will tell you how I humiliated myself with the instructor later. That rule is don't get your jelly where you get rid of your jelly roll, or something like that.
I had known Dick for a few years. As co-workers, of course. I always thought he was married. It was hard to tell because most of the men did not wear wedding rings. Not because they intended to cheat on their wives, although a significant number of the senior executives were on number two aka former secretary, but because I worked for a manufacturing company and when you are in a factory, you should not wear jewelry. My dad worked on airplanes for his career and never wore a ring.
We had never flirted. I had stopped flirting at work years ago because it brought me nothing but trouble. Even when I thought I was just having fun banter, the man in question sometimes mistook my intention and then you have a headache. Easier just to be professional, cool, slightly distant. Better to be a bitch than a tease. Either way, you're not one of the guys, but it's easier to get things done as a bitch. I think.
It wasn't until I learned that Dick had been a pilot in the navy that I started talking to him about non-work issues. How had a navy pilot, the best pilots in the world, ended up at my company doing what he was doing? Why wasn't he a commercial airline pilot making three times the money with ten times the status? I asked him these questions, although far more tactfully, and he explained that when he left the navy, it was when the airlines had scaled back hiring. He needed a job, any job. But my image of him was changed. Top Gun and all that, although Tom Cruise is not fit to polish a real pilot's shoes.
Then our mutual friend Lucy told me that Dick liked me. Yes, it was second grade. I was supposed to check "yes" or "no" and send the note back.
Isn't he married? I asked.
Divorced, she told me. Recently divorced.
Happily ignoring that red flag, I embarked on a full-scale flirtation that included instant messaging (although not emailing, because I am not that stupid - but maybe I am - do company computers keep IMs?) in the afternoons.
Finally, he took me out to lunch. I insisted that we go where nobody from work would see us. He was a little nervous, but I attributed that to his probable lack of dating in the past 20 years. Or 25. He was older. Bad habit of mine.
I kept waiting for him to ask me out on a weekend date. He had to ask. I was not going to. I was D-O-N-E done with asking men out. If he wasn't interested enough, then too bad.
A few days later, he wanted to meet for breakfast. Stop! Not like that. We met at a Denny's on the way to work. In the parking lot, he grabbed me and planted a big ol' smackeroo on my lips.
Oh. My. Gosh.
Horrible, horrible kisser. I mean, awful. How could anyone make it to that age and be such a bad kisser? I tactfully pulled away, telling him that I had an early meeting and had to prepare.
I asked Lucy about him. Did he like me or not? Why wouldn't he ask me out for supper? I didn't mention that he was a bad kisser because she was good friends with him and that seemed mean. After the kiss, I wasn't that interested in seeing him again anyhow, but I wanted to know what the story was.
"He still lives with his ex-wife," she told me.
What?! I said.
It was something about the alimony and not being able to sell the house and she didn't necessarily want a divorce and drama, drama, drama.
What a mess. Now I really had no interest in getting involved. Bad kisser, drama, so much to not like.
I ended it. Over. And once again, I had to work with someone who wanted to date me.
But then the problem solved itself when I was laid off. Lovely.