Keep in mind that she was not in my department, and had no involvement with the work that I was performing. My sister Dawn, who was in the sales department got me that job as a temp. Being nervous at my new ‘real’ job, I was excited to get some experience in the office. (Come on people, minds out of the gutter!)
Karen, who was the flirtatious woman that worked there, often stopped by my desk, which was located on the other end of the building. My office was across the hall from the mailroom, so every morning she would pick up her mail like clockwork, and then make a beeline straight for my office. She would linger and talk to me for a while. We started to get to know one another. She would ask me about my personal life, what I did on the weekends and who I dated, etc…and I would ask her about her life. She was quite the ‘club’ girl, single, and dating. Yes, her dates were men, but there was something different about her, and a certain vibe she gave off telling me, “Come hither!” Hmm. Maybe I’m just making this up in my mind. I started crushing over this woman big time.
Months passed by, and Karen and I frequently took trips out of the office for lunch. It became a ritual. On my birthday, she came into my office, shut the door behind her, and I noticed she had a wrapped up little box in her hand. A gift! Wow. The mailboy Joey walked in to give me my junk mail, and Karen immediately took on a defense and yelled at him. “Joey! Can you give us a minute please! Shut the door on your way out!” She said in such an agitated tone. I was even taken back a bit, because it was so out of line.
“Wow, a present for me?” I asked.
“Yeah…..” She said; blushing and smiling from ear-to-ear.
As I opened up the little box, my thoughts rushed over to, “Oh Lord, why is this box looking like an engagement ring box…What is going on? Why is she giving me a present?” A card would have been more appropriate, yet I was appreciative.
It was a ring. No, not an engagement ring, but nevertheless, a ring. It was a silver ring with little stones in it- very pretty actually. What finger do I put it on though?
Do I kiss her? Do I hug her to let her know I was grateful? What is the ~awkward gift~ etiquette in this case? Oh God, I’m going in for the hug! As I went in for the hug, she managed to steal a kiss from me, right near the corner of my lips. Close enough to the point of, hmmm…..yeah she’s gay. This could have been totally innocent in most cases, but the way she looked at me, I felt like I was being raped. Literally.
She then asked if we could meet up later on that evening to grab a bite to eat. We did. We had a nice dinner, over a bottle of wine…and then she took me back to my car, which was parked outside of the company’s parking lot. Now this is where the awkward moment starts. The ‘loud’ silence after the car has been parked. You think it gets awkward there? She turns her car OFF! Does she plan to go in the office to do a little overtime? Or does she expect some sort of romantic encounter to take place?
“Well thank you so much for the ring, and dinner, I really appreciate this, Karen.”
“You’re welcome.” She says, quietly, as she smiles and stares into my eyes a bit too long.
“Uhh, yeah, well, I guess I’ll see you 8am bright and early tomorrow.” I suggest, hinting that I wanted to go, but I really didn’t, I was trying to feel her out. (not up) ha!
She leaned in for the kiss. It was not the same kiss she gave me in the office for my birthday. This was my very first kiss. Even though it was nothing else, my heart was speeding like a roaring engine. I’m in love.
I clumsily make my way out of the car. I felt like Erkel at this point—all in love and feeling so dumbfounded over this new feeling I had. I drove forty-five minutes back home with this euphoric feeling.
My thoughts were wandering over to, “What if my sister finds out—she’ll be so appalled by this! She’ll disown me as a sister! I can’t have her know this! What did I get myself into?” It tormented me. Well, that week, we had a going away lunch for one of our co-workers. We all headed to this restaurant that was really nice. Karen was sitting next to me---she always managed to get a seat where I was, even if it was a meeting in the conference room. Dawn was right across from me. During lunch, I had to make my way to the bathroom. As I went inside the rest room, I noticed that Karen was right behind me. I was so worried at this point that my sister would find out just by the mere glimpses that Karen and I were exchanging. Even though Karen and I were only talking in there, pretending like it was no big deal that the two of us entered the rest room-- at the same time, I had this gut feeling that my sister was going to think something else.
We came back to our seats, and my sister smiled and went on with her conversation. She had no clue! I’m in the clear. I was so paranoid of being ‘outed’, that it nearly consumed all my thoughts of how to prevent that from occurring.
Karen and I continued our ‘little dates’, nothing went beyond anything other than a little romantic dinner and a kiss goodnight basically. She then popped the news to me that this is ‘just what it is’, dinner and dates, and if I wanted more, she would oblige, however, she is not looking for any type of relationship due to her position in the company. She can’t afford to have her career in jeopardy due to an affair she was having with some peon that worked as a data entry clerk. (She didn’t say it in those words—but that’s basically how I took it) My heart broke. She sat there in my car, after a nice lunch telling me this.
~Please get out of the car now, please get out so I can cry!~I thought to myself-------I couldn’t have her in my car, I was ready to burst into tears. She gave me a kiss goodbye, and we both headed off to our separate offices on the opposite sides of the building.
I was so depressed over this- literally heartbroken. No one knew why I was so upset. I couldn’t tell anyone. I was aching to tell someone about my heartbreak, but who? I finally told my sister Dawn about what happened. I thought she would totally be repulsed by my encounter with Karen. They were friends, and professional co-workers. I remember telling Dawn about it, explaining the episode of why Karen always followed me to the rest room at luncheons, and why Karen was always in my office –when she had no business to be.
Dawn took the information as if I just told her I got a bad haircut. No big deal. You’ll get over it. She didn’t think differently of me. She still loved me, whether I was straight, bi, gay or whatever—she loved me for ‘me’ and not who I loved. That meant a lot to me, and it was at that moment that I decided I was coming out.