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April 10, 2008

Sleeping My Way to Rock Bottom

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

man and woman making out between shelves of files
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There I was, skirt hiked up, shirt unbuttoned, atop my boss's desk. Across the street, the building workers were getting an X-rated show for free.

Not that I was having sex with my boss — too clichéd. It was my coworker, the one I'd spent hours with, working on projects and bitching about company politics. We'd snuck into our boss's office one slow Friday afternoon to act out our oft-shared fantasy of a quickie in the inner sanctum.

Fluorescent lighting aside, offices are the new meat markets. Unlike other forms of dating, workplace affairs guarantee you'll never endure painful setups or spend your evening trawling Websites that list the contents of strangers' bedrooms. In the office, you have a prescreened pool of eligibles. You know loads of the same people and have approximately the same interests. You're assured he's gainfully employed and reasonably bright, working as he does in a place smart enough to have hired you.

But the real point is about companionship. Americans work their asses off. We don't take lunch (scarfing a veggie burger while scanning cnn.com doesn't count), and our dog has forgotten what we look like. We spend more time with colleagues than anyone else; it's natural they become our friends — and sometimes our lovers.

Not that things always go smoothly — my first office romance proved that. A charismatic rising star, he dumped me after a whirlwind three-week "relationship." I was just out of college, with a big crush that ended up crushing me. I sobbed silently in the office bathroom stalls; I alternately suffered and seethed while having to endure his presence every day. Though business and pleasure can mix, so can business and raw, murderous hatred.

But I'd hazard that dating at work is inevitable. As corporate America insists on a workforce of hyperproductive automatons, we're rebelling. We steal paperclips, surf the Net, and have a quick fling to affirm that we're more than just another cog in the machine. My risky interlude on my boss's desk might not be everybody's idea of a perfect date. But it sure beat an anonymous grope in a mirrored room at some trendy loser mecca with a cover charge. Besides, with my schedule, I'd never have made it there anyway.

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