Ageism

It was the fourth time this month he showed up at my office. “I had a meeting in your conference room so I thought I’d swing by.”

It was the fourth time this month he uttered those words in exactly that spot, one foot on the linoleum of the reception area, one foot on the carpet of my cubicle. I too felt myself straddling the line between professionalism and allowing him inside.

He’s got at least twenty years and five titles on me. We don’t even work in the same department. But he still feels like my boss. I’m unsure where this imagined authority is coming from: the linoleum or the carpet.

I’m also unsure whether it’s pure desire or the thrill of the game that makes me continue to engage him for an inappropriate amount of time. As I’m thinking this he’s moved inside my cubicle, to the left of the door, as if hiding from view of our “colleagues”. I fucking hate that word. When I call someone I work with my “colleague”, it means I would never get a beer with them.

But this guy, my new boss who doesn’t even work here, I would totally get a beer with. Except I wouldn’t order a beer. I’d order a “dry martini with a twist”. An older woman once taught me how to order a martini and I’ve been charming middle aged men with my uncharacteristically superior taste in and knowledge of after work cocktails ever since.

I don’t need to drink cheap gin anymore.

The door isn’t closed and this is a cubicle. It’s not like this guy is some lothario ready to lunge at me at 2 pm on a Wednesday. I’m glad of this because the fluorescent lighting doesn’t do us any favors. I did mention he’s got like 20 years on me, right?

No, it would have to happen in the dark, and not only for aesthetic reasons. He stopped referring to the mother of his child as his “wife” after our first coffee together. Every time he refers to his “spouse” I feel like I’m a fly on the wall of the law office of a divorce attorney. Except he never brings up a separation or a divorce, which indicates that neither are actively occurring, but that he’s not really into it, either. I guess this is what justifies his amorphous body language shifting into the territory of every man 20 years my senior to buy me a martini.

He likes to watch me talk about the very 20-something things I do. There are two elements of this performance that excites him. The first is my mouth moving at dick level when I’m sitting in my office chair and he’s standing against the wall of my cubicle. The second is the accumulation of a great many references to precisely how much younger I am. He writes down the names of all of the bands I’m excited to see over the summer at whatever music festival I decide to attend. I never know if he’s actually going to listen to them. I don’t think he wants to impress me in that way.

He is my boss, after all. I’m the one who needs to impress him.

I do the obligatory dance of inquiring about the well being of his children. He understands this means the conversation is over for the afternoon.

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