That Thing He Did


Lately all the news was focused on sexual misconduct. One woman after another was going to the press. “He forces himself on me. I pushed him away. He fondled me. He told me he liked my figure and that I should show more leg. He grabbed me and kissed me and stuck his tongue in my mouth. I ran out of his office. He offered me a promotion and put his arm around me. I was confused. He raped me!” Most of the accusations seem legit but some just sounded like guys, joking around. He didn’t know what to think. He might have done some of this stuff when he was just fooling around and flitting. Not the real bad stuff, just a hug that lasted a little too long or a suggestive comment, intended as a compliment. Tony had girlfriends but nothing too serious. He liked keeping his options open.

He respected women and didn’t pushed them. He was not that kind of guy. He paid for dinner, opened doors, and looked for signs of willingness before a kiss or the next move. He had even started asking permission, though he found it awkward.

So the subject was on his mind a lot. How was a guy supposed to know what a woman was thinking? But here is the thing, he had crossed a line with someone who will remain nameless. She worked in his department and she had been in his training sessions. She was pretty and she was smart. Most of all, she was married. Her husband sometime stopped by the office and took her to lunch. When Tony handed her files and when they discussed an account, she made eye contact in a way that suggested something was going on. She was attentive and he liked that. He found himself creating excuses to talk with her. He wanted her to see him as a mentor. In addition to the fact that she was a work associates, he reminded himself that she was married - two good reasons to keep it cool.

She had a dead battery once after work and he used jumper cables to start her car. She thanked him and gave him a bit of a hug! After that, it seemed that their relationship became more casual and familiar.

The situation that was on his mind occurred during the audit when he several other associates worked on a weekend. There was pressure, everyone felt it and yet there was a camaraderie and a sort of party atmosphere. Maybe it was just a way to deal with the stress. The guys dressed in casual jeans and t-shirts. She was wearing a sexy sweater dress that really showed off her figure. When it happened, it was just the two of them in the break room and they were talking about work but he was thinking about her body. He said something like, you are a real asset to the company. She smiled then and said, “I really like working with you.” They were standing next to each other and as he remembers it, he turned towards her and said something like, I love working with you, and he hugged her. Everything might have been ok if he would have stopped there because what he did next was - he kissed her - on the lips. She pulled back and said, “Tony, what was that? He might have laughed and said something like, come on, but it was so awkward that he’s not really sure what he did. She just walked out.

After that, she clearly avoided him and a few weeks later she left the company. He asked someone where she was working but no one seemed to know. He had crossed a line, a line that he could see in retrospect. It was stupid and he wished there was some way he could have fixed it. He decided to put it behind him. Tony knew what it was.

11/17/2017 © Don Lehman