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January 24, 2008

I Was the Boss of Him

It's dangerous, often dirty, and everybody's doing it. MC looks at the state of the office affair.

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man in suit with woman behind him nuzzling his neck

Photo Credit: Valentin Casarsa/iStock

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When I was 24 years old, I grabbed my intern's ass.

It probably won't come as a shock to learn that the music industry can be very casual. Super-casual. Über-casual. People don't think anything of hooking up with subordinates, bosses, the musicians — it's cool as long as the two who get together agree on the rockingness of at least one band. Harassment? Lawsuits? Huh?

When I met Scott, I was the editor of an industry tip-sheet on college bands, and he came in a few days a week to answer phones. At first all I noticed was his long blond hair, so long he could belt it. Then I caught on to his quick wit, deep, throaty voice, and crazy long legs — not to mention that bum. I invited him to my housewarming party, and when he arrived, I was already on my way to blotto. So when he reached into the fridge for a beer, I took the opportunity to grab his ass.

As we both climbed the ladder, our mixing of work and sex — we would do it in two different offices — never seemed to be a problem for our coworkers. But for Scott and me, it wasn't always so breezy. In fact, once he moved into my apartment, it felt relentless — living, working, commuting, sleeping together. And when we ended up at cross-purposes, it was difficult. Like, really difficult.

For starters, it's hard to maintain authority with your staff when your hotheaded boyfriend has just slammed his office door in your face. It's also sort of challenging not to fire his ass on the spot.

Or how about when he calls your product "substandard"? Or points out mistakes you could have avoided in sloppily written reviews? Try going home and cuddling on the couch after he says you're too wimpy to fire inept staffers.

It's true — I'm not always the most assertive manager. But Scott has stratospheric standards for his colleagues. I can't say he never heard bad things about me, but I know I was often asked to mediate when his demands exceeded others' abilities. I would listen to their complaints, nodding and making noncommittal noises — to sound sympathetic but not appear a traitor. Still, there's nothing like hearing your boyfriend is a prick. Especially when you kind of agree.

Sometimes it got especially rough — like during an office renovation, when we were asked to share an office and a phone, considering we already lived together. Not a happy few weeks. But other times it rocked — when we played off each other's strengths, challenged each other to work harder. It was enough to keep us at it for 10 years — the job part, that is. The relationship is still going; we've been together for 18 years, married for 12, and I've never regretted that I violated all sorts of professional codes when I grabbed his ass that night.


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