Friday, November 16, 2007

Office Crush

In 1993 I was married to my college sweetheart and working for a nonprofit organization when a new staff member took my breath away.

Though my first marriage didn't stick, at the time I believed myself to be happily married.

I couldn't understand why the new guy in the office (who was also married) totally paralyzed me. I mean, I didn't even know him.


Literally, I could barely breathe when he stood near me.

Why does that happen? Is it some sort of scent-related brain stimulus thing?

My friend P.J. says "there's a sex cloud hanging over your heads" when you feel that
bizarre stranger attraction.

[He also says that the size of the sex cloud matters.]


The new guy had dark skin and green eyes.

{{{shiver}}}

His name was Nigerian though he was not.

The day that I mustered up the courage to ask him about it he said it was a Yoruban name.

In an abstract act driven by the mania of my obsession, I did all this crazy research about the Yoruba Tribe of Nigeria.

I learned that when the Yoruban people were brought to the new world as slaves they preserved their faith by aligning the identities of their many Gods with the names of the Catholic saints they were forced to worship.

The new hybrid faith became known as Santería and is still practiced in the Caribbean.

I learned all about this religion and its many deities just to orchestrate a sentence I thought I could say to the new guy in my office.

When I finally delivered my well researched conversation fodder he looked at me as though I was from The Planet Non Sequitur.

"Hey, Jessica! Can you hand me some copy paper?"

"Yesandletstalkallabout-TheGodOrisha-
intheYorubanreligioustradition!"

He had no idea what I was talking about.

He told me that he had never heard of Santería and that he wasn't particularly religious.

He went on to reveal that his Nigerian name had been the name of his mentor who had died.

He told me that, as an African American, he didn't feel any particular ancestral attachment to the name he was given at birth, particularly not his last name, and so he
changed his legal name to his mentor's as a way to honor his memory.

[So much for my conversation starter research.]

I went back to being frozen stiff.

A female co-worker noticed how oddly still and awkward I would become around him and asked me about it.

Like an ASS, I told her that he made me weak in the knees.

What did she do?

She told HIM.

Oh, yes she did.

Then?

She told ME that she told HIM.

Oh, the SHAME!!!

I shifted from paralysis to total avoidance.

I stayed
completely away from him for awhile, but eventually there was this luncheon...

I knew he would be sitting at my table and my cheeks were BURNING red. They were on fire. Blazing.

I remember seeing him enter the room and our eyes meeting.

His face broke into an enormous grin and, although I thought it impossible to do so, I blushed harder.

He sat down right next to me, folded his arms on the table and leaned in close to me.

"T told me what you said," he grinned.

I didn't say a word. I concentrated on my silverware.

"I wanted you to know that I feel exactly the same way about you."

Oh. To. Die.

I'm pretty sure I beamed (like the complete dork that I am), but I can't remember if I said anything.

The most miraculous thing was that his words diffused all the awkwardness.

The consuming electrical charge he inspired simmered down and stilled itself.

I doubt he meant his words, but there was something so full of grace in the way he offered them.

He gave me the gift of equal footing.

We became real and regular friends and still are.

I found it amazing that acknowledging and affirming the looming storm somehow made it blow over.

"Looks like rain..."

"Sure does."

"Better take cover."


If I ever have an irrational office crush again maybe I'll diffuse it immediately by saying,

"Hi, welcome to the office and DAYUM... If I were available we'd be naked already!"



65 comments:

dawn224 said...

One of my best friends is one of these - if we would have both been single I'd've had his shoes parked under my bed so fast ... but since w e weren't single, we kept our pants on and have been friends for nine years. :)

SouthernBell said...

Wow! You're bold, girl!

Chanda (aka Bea) said...

She told him!!! Who says we ever grow out of Jr High. Great story! If they could find a way bottle that kind of sex cloud energy we'd never have a need fossil fuel again.

Scarlett Wanna Be said...

I also like the can-I-put-my-legs-around-you-for-a-minute approach. Maybe try that one.

Zaya said...

Was she jealous or something? or just the type to stir up trouble?

Kaleigh said...

Yikes that she told him! But see, she really did you a favor. Maybe she knew that's what needed to happen. I dunno.

But gah! It's frustrating when I totally crush on inappropriate guys. Most recent is so wrong for so many reasons (his wife, my husband, our respective kids, for starters), but I get all swoony every time I see him.

Anonymous said...

that's one terrific story..you are no geek girl...how amazing, I would never admit to anyone I had a crush...good for you...you've got balls


mauniejames

we_be_toys said...

Oh the shame! Oh the endorphins! Oh to be young again!
Great story!

JoeinVegas said...

Hmmmmmm.

mom said...

I love the idea of the sex cloud. It's such an odd thing -- not really related to phyiscal attractiveness alone. I wish I had magic eyes and could see other people's sex clouds. I kind of thought my husband had it with one of our old sitters, but didn't want to embarrass the hell out of him and ask.

Loved the old post on your divorce too - thanks for the link.

Your writing rocks. No wonder you have so many adoring fans. (admiration cloud overhead)

mom said...

PS When you get that weird electricity chemistry thing with a stranger -- does that mean they have it too (most of the time)? Or would that just be waaaay too easy?

witchypoo said...

I'm pretty sure that the weird attraction cloud is mutual by definition. Magnetism and all.
Heh. This post brought me back to high school. Loved it.

Julie Pippert said...

What a story! Just...wow, love how you described it and expressed it.

Julie
Using My Words

Janet said...

He really did handle that well.

Now *I* have a bit of a crush on him. Thank goodness you can't see my cheeks right now. ;-)

suchsimplepleasures said...

when i was first married to my ex, my sister worked for a local rabbi as his secretary. one day, i went to pick her up from work and...having never met her boss before, we were introduced. he was THE hottest man...EVER...that sex cloud you talk about, it was so there, hanging over both of our heads. a few years later, i called him...i was going through a divorce and i needed to talk to someone. we met for dinner...and the sex cloud came too. we dated for a bit. it was way more exciting when that tension was there...after that, the cloud burst into a downpour, i got my umbrella and ran off with a teacher.
loved the post! can bigtime relate!

The Hotfessional said...

Excellent story! And excellent telling of it.

But Oh Mah Gawd, that co-worker..... hee.

ImpostorMom said...

OMG She told! I would have been mortified. Sounds like it all worked out though. What a good story and I bet he meant it.

furiousBall said...

you know what? that guy totally could have been Darth Vader. the whole not being able to breath thing... feeling paralyzed... he could have been using the dark side of the force and slowly strangling you.

Amy said...

Oh I just love your idea of meeting the new guy with that "daymn, if only" line! Hilarious!
We had a new COO coming once, known to be ungodly gorgeous and extrememly married. When introduced, not wanting him to see me swoon or anything (which I'd heard he was accustomed to) I shook his hand, glancing at him, and IMMEDIATELY (way too fast) turned away and began talking animatedly to the person next to me. It was, well, rude.
Oh well.

motherbumper said...

That feeling is the best feeling in the world - even if it does seem like your cheeks are going to burst into flames and you'll never get any office work done again (btw I found SB in my office - by the photocopier actually - with his then girlfriend who uh.. introduced us).

meno said...

I've had a few crushes since i have been married. I learned to enjoy them all to hell too.

Most of them have ended up being men i liked, after the cloud dissipated.

Bon said...

your interaction with hott-dude-with-Yoruban-name describes so many of my painful early encounters with men that i actually feel kinda traumatized just reading this. :)

what a gracious response, though. wow.

and i love the comments! now i'm all set with cool things to say in case anyone delicious ever shows up at work. ha.

QT said...

Oh yes - the crushing on the crush is almost always more exciting than the actual contact with the crush.

Kelly said...

Did the flirtation continue? Do tell...

Nancy said...

That's a great story.

I've had some of those great chemistry things before -- it's weird how they just hit you sometimes and you can't say why they happen.

PT-LawMom said...

Hilarious! And awesome that you guys were able to get past it and be friends. Sounds like a funny guy.

slouching mom said...

If he didn't mean it, it's certainly the most gracious way of handling a situation I've heard of in a long time.

But would it be so strange to imagine that he meant it?

painted maypole said...

oh! this hits home! ;) (sexy italian director, anyone?)

Jamie said...

And then you'd be jobless... :)
But seriously? WHO does THAT? (Your office lady friend who ratted you out). I never understood that mentality.

Karen Forest said...

Great story!

~JJ! said...

"Hi, welcome to the office and DAYUM... If I were available we'd be naked already!"

I say that to most cute boys I meet.

Am I doing okay? said...

I found out my "office crush" recently came out as a gay bear. I'm devastated and seeking a replacement.

Amanda said...

My last office crush became my husband, since then I've worked with a series of intellectually, physically and morally unappealing bunch. I like it just fine since the sex cloud at home never disipated (she says ripe with child number 3).
And with that I'll conclude my comment-that-should-never-have-been.

Dayum!

Phat Phannie said...

Oh, the cloud. Yes, I have experienced that. I'm half out of a marriage, and he's happily married, but when he's around...*Swoon* and *poof* I become a bumbling idiot. I'm sure he thinks I'm strange, but he's super nice to me. It really annoys me to no end, because it's not something I would ever want to actually happen. Maybe it's pheromones. Who knows? But the first time I met him he was already familiar, does that make sense?

I think your (office crush) guy is a real gentleman for handling your embarassment the way he did. Is he taken? I kid, I kid!

Jennifer said...

Seriously, what is it with the not breathing thing? I've felt it, too. Truthfully, I love it. But, it does make little things like...functioning...a bit of a challenge. Hooray for still being friends!

Worker Mommy said...

I LOVE it! I shall implement that technique immediately!

BusyDad said...

Thank you for that! Now the next time some attractive female mumbles something incomprehensible about the Ming Dynasty, I’ll smile graciously and save that warm fuzzy feeling for a rainy day.

Heather, Queen of Shake-Shake said...

Funny how it works that way.

Theresa said...

Best opening line ever. DAYUM. I may have to steal that. Of course, my "office" only exists in my brain. But it could be a multi-purpose scene-stealer.

Mamma said...

Oooh! Good tip. I'll have to use that if there is ever anyone else but me and the three other folks around here. If you met them, you'd understand.

Nice people, but...

Diane said...

What a great story! I just love this blog...

Ruth Dynamite said...

I just love how you did your background research and it backfired.

Weep weep wowwwww.

Still - I think it's very cool how he handled the compliment and how the truth set you free.

Amen.

mothergoosemouse said...

Oh, the cloud.

I swear to you, that cloud can find you even when you think you'd be completely immune to it.

Em said...

Yeah, if he starts picturing you naked from the very first day, that will make things less awkward. Oh sure...

Mommy Bits said...

Sounds like it ended up being a blessing that your friend told him about your fellings. You never know where a great friend will come from.

Hetha said...

You slay me, OTJ. I love this entire story, but that last line is gold! And of course he meant it, you're a total babe!

alimum said...

WOW!

That was beautiful.

Mama en Fuego said...

I once dated a man who was black and japaneze and to this day he is the most beautiful man I have ever seen. He was so amazingly beautiful that I felt that same paralysis when ever he was near me. *sigh*

He was a damn good kisser too...

Lawyer Mama said...

"Hi, welcome to the office and DAYUM... If I were available we'd be naked already!"

That sounds like a great ice breaker. I think I'll try it out!

He sounds like a sweet guy. And I'm a sucker for green eyes. Don't tell my hubs.

notfearingchange said...

LOL....ummm....i may advise you to keep that line until at least day 2... *wink*

Sugarplum's Mom said...

How nice that he was so kind about it and it diffused everything for you.

BTW - TAG!

Sarcastic Mom (aka Lotus) said...

When you get blushy like that, don't you LOVE the heat you can feel in your cheeks and ears? It always just drives the blush even hotter for me.

The more I feel it the worse it gets.

I have hated my stupid capillaries since I was a kid.

Deb said...

You brought back that rush of feelings I'd get whenever I had an office crush. Oh, those are fun!!

JCK said...

Very funny tag line. I do believe in those sex clouds. Large or small.

Staci Schoff said...

Oh that woman is the most awful of the awful women!

And I am so totally the kind of dork who tells people about their own culture as if I actually know anything.

And dark skin/green eyes -- I mean that just has sex clouds written all over it.

Staci Schoff said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Van Goat Ranch said...

I love your blog...........you are such a good writer. Ya crack me up!
How eloquent am I?

Karen Ross Smith said...

I'm not sure if I have ever posted a comment before or not, but I wanted to let you know how much absolute, rolling on the floor, laughing my fool head off I do when reading your blog. I believe that it is good for your health, so thanks for making me a more healthy person!

acumamakiki said...

the older i get the more i have these crushes...and the crushes are young enough to be my son, eep!

Queen of the Mayhem said...

I don't think it's the having these feelings that are the problem....it's the acting on them that gets people in trouble! :)

I may try that the next time I see a handsome man! Like...in the grocery store! (hee-hee)

Alpha DogMa said...

The line If I ever have an irrational office crush again maybe I'll diffuse it immediately by saying,
"Hi, welcome to the office and DAYUM... If I were available we'd be naked already!"
is funny to me, but probably the thing of nightmares for HR hacks.

imaginary binky said...

My marriage is the result of an office crush. Because of him, I would show up early to work (the horror!), sit outside to eat lunch with him and the cranky old men, and go to the same places he said he'd go to see bands. We were like gravy on biscuits. Meant to be. Ahh...

Jo Beaufoix said...

I would have been just like you with the blushing. Sounds like he was a really nice bloke too.
:D

Kevin Charnas said...

Is he still single?

Umm...do you have his number? I think I need a spanking.

Shannon said...

Great story. And, the "sex cloud," what a great way to describe it. Says so much in just two words. Nice ending too.