Opposite Sides of the Broom

This isn’t even the first or second time that it’s happened.  I just know I don’t like it.  I don’t like feeling like I’ve done something either consciously or subconsciously to attract such a man.  It feels wrong, I’m not the kind of girl who could ignore the big picture, and it makes me wonder how the outside world perceives me for this to happen so often.

He’s married.

Now you may or may not have the right idea about me, especially after my last post, but let me say this:  I have no interest in ruining a marriage, being a homewrecker, breaking up a family, or catching feelings for someone that has sworn vows to someone else.  I might see a married man and think he’s attractive, sure — I’m a flesh and blood woman.  I’m human.  But I’m not going to take it further than a glance.  There could never be more than that.

Last night, I was hit on by a work acquaintance that I’m still getting to know.  I’m still getting to know everyone at my job… I travel so much for work, people barely know me.

Let me give you some background:  I’m genuinely a warm person.  I smile a lot — so much so that if I’m not smiling people think something is wrong.  I love to laugh, and I love the warmth and friendliness of New Orleans because my personality fits here.  It was lost on many in Los Angeles because you can smile and greet someone there, and they’ll look at you like you’re carrying the plague.

Anyway, I’m warm, I’m smiley, and I care.  I want to know the names of the security officers and the cleaning ladies, I want to be able to ask them about their weekends and their families.  I like building a rapport because I don’t like feeling like I work with and around strangers.  It’s just a part of the fabric of my personality.  I won’t say I’m a social butterfly; rather, I would say I choose to be familiar with those that cross my path on a regular basis.  And familiar doesn’t mean close, necessarily.

Anyway, a work acquaintance joked around with me and some of my other co-workers about being huddled up in the cold (the weather has been weird this week).  Perhaps it was innocent, or maybe there was purpose behind it.  I don’t pay any mind, especially if I see shiny metal on the third finger of a left hand, so I was completely oblivious of any connotation.  I smiled at him the same way I smiled at the woman next to him.

Because of a safety concern, we all exchanged information.  I’m notorious for working late, and when my ground floor office is lit at night, I can’t see anything at all… Even if someone is standing directly outside my windows.  It’s creepy.

About 2 hours after the office closed, I was still working.  It’s not unusual, and often co-workers will check on me or offer me a ride home (I walk to/from work).  I decided to leave, and I walked out with the same work acquaintance, who happened to be right outside.  We chatted for a minute, nothing flirty or anything, and I left to go grab some soup to take home for dinner.

When I got home, he called me.  He joked about random things, and then he said something that raised a warning signal for me.  He said he wanted to find a reason for me to come back to work so that he could see me again.  Mind you, I know he’s married, so I stopped him.  Don’t let the smile fool you, I can be extremely serious and I tend to be very blunt.  I asked him what he was really asking of me, what his intentions were, and the obvious question. Aren’t you married?

I think he was surprised by how direct I was, but it didn’t really phase him.  He said all of these things, that he thought I was cute and funny, and that he wanted to get to know me better.  That one time I patted him on the shoulder, and he had wanted to react to it but didn’t.  That he didn’t see anything wrong with an innocent hug or kiss, and that we should hang out.   He didn’t see anything wrong if things went further than an innocent kiss, but he understood why I might.  He said he wanted to hang out with me before I left for my Christmas vacation; we could have breakfast or take a drive somewhere, hang out by the lake.  Said we could always talk about things if I felt uncomfortable.

Except I was already uncomfortable.

I do believe that people can be friends and be of the opposite sex.  However, you have to set boundaries, and you have to be willing to determine those that can’t stay on their side of the line.  I didn’t want to shut out someone that I’d just met, especially someone that I worked with, but I had to set some ground rules.  Namely, uh, we’re not hanging out, you’re married, and I’m uncomfortable.  We’re cool in the context of work, but that’s all it can be.  Friend zone.  If you’ve ever been a fan of Kevin Hart, this would have been a perfect opportunity to say “Pineapples.”

What he proposed made me feel sullied and cheap — like my friendliness had been taken for granted or skewed into something unbecoming.  I may be missing closeness and affection, but I’ll never be that desperate.  I could never cross the line drawn by the broom he jumped with someone else.

I just don’t have it in me.

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