The Work Widow
I’m sure you’ve heard the old adage don’t shit where you eat. I learned this the hard way. And by that I don’t mean that I came down with hepatitis after eating a muffaletta on the toilet. I mean that it took me three mildly embarrassing incidents, as well as observing the heartache and sometimes even the firing of multiple friends, to learn that dating coworkers is just not a very wise idea. Some people pull it off seamlessly, and some of the women I worked with when I lived in Dallas had very happy courtships and subsequent marriages. But that is not how things worked out for me.
I’ve told the story of the WORST DATE EVER, and I’ve also relayed the anecdote of Vern. Here comes Strike Three. I’m a slow learner, but I do learn. Strike Three happened when I was working for the trailer company in Dallas. I did retirement plan administration in the human resources department of the trailer company’s corporate headquarters. This is how I met Damian Carson. No, that’s not his real name. And no, he doesn’t bear the mark of the devil. But I like that alias. It’s pretty close.
Damian was the personnel coordinator at a plant in Buda. Buda is a kind of suburb of Austin, but bear in mind that I was living and working in Dallas at this time. Damian had some kind of business at the corporate headquarters, and he and one or two of the other personnel coordinators were there for some kind of meeting. It wasn’t related to me, but we were usually curious when personnel coordinators came to town because we spoke with them on the phone constantly, and because they were located all over America, we rarely got to see them in person.
I was buddy buddy with all the women I worked with in the office. We hung out together outside of work and genuinely liked each other. There were even a couple bachelorette weekend getaways when two of the women got married. I was the only single woman in our little department. The rest of them all had husbands or significant others or boyfriends. I hung out with my friends and dated occasionally. So, when we had a cute, single guy in the office, naturally, the buzz reached me.
“You heard that [the personnel coordinators] are in the office, right?”
“So, Damian Carson is pretty cute. And he’s single.”
Now, secretly…okay, not secretly, because Amanda faithfully reads this blog. Dammit! Okay. Not secretly or privately, I was kinda excited about this news. Damian and I got along on the phone okay, but we didn’t have any kind of special rapport until just a few minutes later. I will give myself credit for not skipping across the office like some boy crazy sycophant. I sat at my desk, and I made him come to me.
It was apparent that he thought I was attractive. I mean, you know, I knew he wouldn’t kick me out of bed for eating crackers. And in no time we’re both grinning like loons. It’s amazing how looks will change your opinion of someone because before that moment I’m pretty sure he thought I was the 401(k) Nazi, and I just thought of him as that idiot I was always sending the forms back to because there was some i that wasn’t dotted or t that wasn’t crossed.
How to describe Damian Carson back then? Well, he was just a little younger but probably a whole lot more worldly than I was. He was sort of baby faced with very thick dark hair and a slim build. He was just a tad long waisted and short legged, with broad shoulders. He had a Tom Cruise smile. I wouldn’t have kicked him out of bed for eating crackers, either.
He travelled back to Austin. I stayed in Dallas, and we flirted like mad by office telephone until the next time there was some personnel coordinator’s meeting…yes, on the company dime. I remember very few conversations we had outside the office. Also, his 401(k) forms got flawless overnight. When Damian knew he was flying to Dallas for this seminar thing, he immediately asked me out. I immediately said yes. There was no coaxing necessary that I remember. It was a two-day thing, and they flew him and all the other personnel coordinators out and paid for one night at a hotel.
It was my city, and Damian didn’t have a rental car, which meant I had to pick him up at the hotel lobby, in front of all the other personnel coordinators and some of the people who worked in my office. It also meant I got to pick where we went since he didn’t know my city. And I really was never much of a party animal kind of girl, so I’m almost amazed that we managed to have a good time. But we had a hell of a time. At one moment he carried me across Lovers Lane on his back. Cheese factor very high. I got a little tipsy, but not so bad that I couldn’t drive later. We went to a jazz club, and I sang along with Frank Sinatra’s rendition of, “I’ve Got a Crush on You,” and then promptly started making out with my date in public.
I would say that we were sitting in a dark corner booth, and we were. However, I should still be ashamed of myself because I remember that when Damian scooted out to use the men’s room some guy told him that he got a hard on from watching us. This was really the only bad part of the evening, waiting for Damian to get back from the restroom with Creepy Hard On Guy still standing there. I’m such a hussy.
We left pretty soon after that, and it was late, but I don’t think it would have been after midnight since we both still had to work the next day. We must have spent at least 45 minutes necking in my car in the hotel parking lot. The windows literally got a little steamy. He was a really amazing kisser.
The conversation in the car went like this.
Damian: Why don’t you come up?
Gooseberry Bush: Um, I don’t think that would be a very good idea.
Damian: All I want to do is just kiss you in that big king sized bed.
Gooseberry Bush: We have to work tomorrow.
Damian: You know you want to.
Gooseberry Bush: I don’t think all you want to do is kiss me.
Damian: I promise.
Gooseberry Bush: What if someone sees?
Damian: We’ll sneak you out.
Gooseberry Bush: I don’t think it’s a good idea.
By then I think the buzz was killed, and I wasn’t born yesterday. So, I went home and he went up to his room…alone.
That weekend he called right after he got home. We talked about maybe seeing each other again. I said I’d think about it. It wasn’t that I didn’t like him. It wasn’t that I didn’t have a great time. It was two things. One was the distance. I knew that it was going to be impossible for us to have any kind of serious relationship with that much mileage between us.
The other reason was that there was just something too, well, slick about him. He was a little too perfect, too good looking, too charming. And I guess you could sum this up to the fact that Damian Carson struck me as a player. I thought he’d probably see me and some other girl or girls in Austin, too. And I wasn’t sure just how long he’d be interested in me if he ever actually got into my pants.
We didn’t have much in common. He would never have understood me, and worse yet, he would have wondered what I meant by “understood.” You see how we haven’t even gone on a second date yet, and we’ve already broken up…tragically? I actually am pretty good at reading people, but that kind of thinking is a little messed up.
By the time I called him from work the next week he made up my mind for me. The hold music for his plant was all Rat Pack all the time kind of stuff. He placed me on hold. The song was Bobby Darrin’s “Mack the Knife.” When Damian came back on the line I complimented him on the hold music, and he said, “Yeah, I love Sinatra.” And I decided right then and there that there would be no second date. It was like an episode of fucking Seinfeld.
All this doesn’t sound very traumatic, and even the end isn’t very traumatic. I did go out with him and the Austin personnel coordinator the next year to play pool. It wasn’t a date. We went as friends. But I did make sure to wear my shortest shorts. I’m such a hussy.
And a little after that outing, word spread through our little department. Damian Carson was no longer employed by our little trailer company. Damian Carson’s roommate got caught selling pot out of the trunk of Damian’s car…in the parking lot of the Buda plant of our little trailer company. And Damian Carson did not show up for a required drug test by the next day.
All over the next week I was barraged with phone calls of condolence from all over the nation from personnel coordinators who knew that Damian and I were “close.” I’m surprised that they didn’t send flowers. I can only imagine how this would have gone down if I had actually gotten caught sneaking out of his hotel room at some ungodly hour of the morning. As it was, I became Damian Carson’s work widow. It was embarrassing then, and I used to bitch about it. But now…I just think it’s funny. Here’s to Damian Carson…wherever you are.