Back in December, when I was still living with my long-term, we're-going-to-get-married-as-soon-as-I-can-bully-you-into-it boyfriend, I started having an affair with a female co-worker.
2009! I'm turning 30! My Saturn's Rising! So what, who cares?
This was the first time I've ever been with a woman, apart from a few drunken, attention-grabbing teenage make-outs, precociously sexual childhood role play, and that summer before college when a gay friend stayed with me for a month and we slept in a bed together and held hands.
It started, as every office romance does: with a happy hour. The next week there were emails and more emails and a lunch; then coffee, a field trip to the drugstore. I bought her a Diet Mountain Dew (lesbians!) and she bought me a pack of gum.
Like a Victorian courtship, our romance was chaste, and I took my cues from her gentlewomanly behavior -- small tokens of her affection left at my desk for me to find in the morning, offers to walk me to my psychiatrist. The more time we spent together, the more I found myself making excuses and rationalizing our burgeoning relationship in my head: It's not like I'm cheating. She's a lady!
By January we'd talked about our feelings (my favorite move: "Let's talk about our feelings"), and our platonic yet smoldering dates took a physical turn.
Our first kiss was outside a Wendy's, our second in front of an anonymous bar, our third and fourth and fifth in the public atrium across the street from our office building. Because we both were still in our LTRs, we had nowhere to go get busy and we had to sneak around like a couple of creeps so as not to get caught. After a few lifestyle changes, we were able to bang freely at our apartments -- my new studio, her bachelor pad -- but we were trying hard to keep our romance hidden at work, particularly from my pervy-ass boss, and also because secret affairs are just so incredibly hot. Herewith some strategies we've developed over the past few months:
Grow an Office Beard
Every closeted or confused gay needs an attractive, down-to-earth, easily duped, pretend lover. Like an office husband, an office beard is a completely platonic pseudo-relationship. Mine is a finance guy who works far enough away (he's in another elevator bank which may as well be Mars) that we never have to see each other apart from making empty passes wildly and publicly at large company meetings. There's no occasion to be alone together, so there's no chance of actual intimacy. And every time he sends me an email of any kind I immediately forward to my co-workers with a note like "IT'S SO ON!" or "WE HAVE A VIBE!" Generally I like to play up my boy craziness, and constantly lament the lack of "good men," though not so much that people will assume I'm horny enough to switch teams
Recruit a Decoy
It's helpful to have a third friend around to camouflage all the time you spend together. Ours is a lovely, blond, Christian sorority sister who is prim and devout, but not outwardly disapproving of blowjob jokes or doing shots during work hours. She has a fine sense of humor, though apparently no sense of sexual chemistry because she remains totally oblivious to our secret affair despite our outrageous flirting. The three of us go to meetings, eat lunch and take coffee breaks together; all the while I'm stroking my lady friend's leg under the conference room table, and our friend is communing with God. Everyone gets loved. Especially Jesus.
Send out a Scout
Once you start looking, there are plenty of good, public hook-up spots to French in. Some of our hottest clandestine kisses were in movie theaters! It's a cliché for a reason: Once it gets dark in there, you can pretty much put your hands anywhere without people knowing. Furniture stores work well for a quick lie-down snuggle on a loveseat, or a little humping on the sectional if you're especially daring. And where would we be without public transportation? The rocking of the train, the boring eyes of strangers, the thrill of exhibitionism -- just make sure you wait until you're at least two stops away from your office.
Cultivate a Shared Hobby
How many hours can two women talk about "American Idol" by the water cooler (literally, her desk is next to the Poland Spring station)? A lot. Standing around at work discussing TV shows is a national pastime, and it's the perfect excuse to bury innuendo in your analysis: "How great was that rendition of 'Secret Lovers' last night?" "You really do look like Ellen!" Watching videos together on YouTube will allow you to lean in close and sniff each other's necks. A shared office pet is a great reason to be seen together, but don't get ambitious here, you don't want to attract excessive attention with something too cute. Sea monkeys are small enough to live on your desk, disgusting enough to deflect sexual suspicion.
Climb the Corporate Ladder
There are plenty of great opportunities for super-secret sneaking around in the office. The stairwell to the mailroom seems to be the only place in our building that isn't under camera surveillance, so I make a point to mail UPS packages at least twice a day. Abusing work privileges is sexy in itself, so make sure to take advantage of romantic meals on the corporate card, steamy car-service rides, interoffice mailed panties and inappropriate Outlook-meeting requests: "3:20 p.m., My tongue in your mouth, location: basement near the vending machines." Invite yourself to work-sponsored conferences even if it means begging and volunteering for more responsibilities, as these really are the best occasions for fooling around on company time. Nothing is more exhilarating than running down the hotel hallway past your V.P.'s room in yesterday's business casual at 6:30 a.m.
Now that you have the tools, it's time to close out of Excel (seriously, you're not important, no one cares) and spend a little time hunting for an office romance of your own. Also, if you're interested in a threeway by the copier, shoot me an email -- I'll check my schedule.
Beth Brennan is the pseudonym used by Lemondrop bloggers and contributors when we want to write naughty stuff but keep our jobs/boyfriends/girlfriends/dignity. You can email her here.