In my experience, male partners are awkward, middle-aged, sex-starved men who tend to mistake my professional attentiveness for flirtation. So I guess I should’ve been prepared for what followed after I naively began engaging in a “too personal” email exchange with a balding, overly confident, married equity partner.
I’ll let the actual exchange speak for itself:
Day 1, 1:37 PM | From: BEP (Bald Equity Partner) | To: Me (Law Firm 10)
First, assuming we have a strict Confidentiality Agreement, I was in traffic last night, and this is what I thought of:
Present company excluded,
- Top three best-looking men in the Chicago Office
- Top three best-looking women in the Chicago Office
Day 1, 1:46 PM | Me to BEP
2, 3 (tie). ARD and CKS
1. That new corporate associate (name unknown)
Day 1, 1:48 PM | BEP to Me
Again, to re-emphasize, present company excluded . . .
We are of one mind, and I think LAD is who you are thinking of, and I would agree.
Men (I’m a poor judge on the man front, FYI):
I am now off to a meeting. Perhaps we can continue a bit later.
My suggested next topics are:
- Least-attractive men/women in Chicago office;
- When was the first time that you knew that I existed?
Day 1, 3:17 PM | BEP to Me
Day 1, 3:33 PM | Me to BEP
1. That one is pretty mean, so you go first.
2. On my first day as a full-time associate. I think you talked to us about loss prevention.
Day 1, 3:39 PM | BEP to Me
2. We are still of the same mind. I remember that loss prevention thing.
Now, guess the first time that I really knew that you existed. Hint: It happened at the all-firm meeting in Arizona, and you were wearing a bikini. I also have a recollection that you did not think I was cool cool.
We need to talk more about River North drinking. I may have a suggestion for you.
Next topic please!!!
Day 1, 3:57 PM | Me to BEP
I am not good at thinking up topics.
If you could punch one person at the firm in the face, with no repercussions, who would it be?
Day 1, 4:07 PM | BEP to Me
Present company excluded? J/K
VZ. Because he just totally blew off a conference call with my client without giving me any notice or explanation. An attitude thing that we should only discuss over drinks when there is no politically correct roof over our heads.
Who would you punch and why?
Day 1, 4:31 PM | Me to BEP
JD. He is abusive, and, worse yet, he is largely incompetent. Literally cannot run his own cases to save his life.
Day 1, 4:40 PM | BEP to Me
I can see why you would say that, but he has run a case or two for me, and the result was favorable.
PS: We need better topics. May I?
- Did you watch Drexel lose last week?
- Have you checked out the old holiday pictures displayed in the cafe? Some oldies and funnies of yours truly.
- Pippin’s in River North . . . been there?
- Massages—male or female masseuse?
- Boxers or briefs?
Day 1, 5:07 PM | Me to BEP
- No. I like to pretend that I didn’t go to my school in the first place.
- No, I must make an effort to do so.
- Massages—male or female masseuse? Doesn’t matter to me.
- Boxers or briefs? I don’t wear either.
Day 1, 5:11 PM | BEP to Me
- I feel the same way about my alma mater.
- Right now, before they take them away!
- Care to?
- Ask me my view of the reverse of this question?
Day 2, 9:37 AM | Me to BEP
- I have extreme Ivy League envy.
- Probably not the best idea.
Day 2, 9:41 AM | BEP to Me
- I have Big Ten envy.
- Not the best idea? Explain.
- Go ahead and answer.
Day 2, 10:13 AM | Me to BEP
- What’s so great about the Big Ten? I don’t get Big Ten fascination.
- Just doesn’t seem like a good idea.
- What’s the question?
Day 2, 10:22 AM | BEP to Me
- I LIKE BEING ABLE TO CHEER FOR A TEAM THAT IS ON TV MORE THAN ONCE EVERY 100 YEARS.
- NONSENSE. IT’S A DIVE. NOBODY FROM HERE GOES THERE. ANY OTHER EXPLANATIONS?
- ASK ME THE FEMALE-TO-MALE COUNTERPART TO THE MALE-TO-FEMALE BOXERS OR BRIEFS QUESTION.
Day 2, 10:53 AM | Me to BEP
- Okay, okay, you don’t have to yell. I understand. But if that is the rule, then you could equally have ACC envy or SEC envy . . . you could even have Conference USA envy.
- I’m dating someone.
- What is the female-to-male counterpart to the male-to-female boxers or briefs question?
Day 2, 10:56 AM | BEP to Me
- AGREED. I like Conference USA a lot.
- GOT IT. YOU ARE IN DEMAND!!! WHAT’S THE STORY WITH THAT “SOMEONE?”
- Thongs or granny panties? FRENCH-CUT BIKINI. WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THOSE?
Day 2, 1:17 PM | Me to BEP
- I think it would have been really fun to go to an SEC school. Although an Italian girl from the Midwest might have some trouble fitting in with southern belles.
- I just happen to have a rule that if there is a “someone” with whom I have dated for over two months, then I can’t get drinks with “anyone” else.
- I don’t even know what that means. You are more knowledgeable than I about women’s lingerie.
Day 2, 1:25 PM | BEP to Me
Ok, I’m liking this exchange (and have several thoughts and comments on the low-rise issue), but I gotta go to yet another meeting. Can we adjourn for the night and pick it up tomorrow? Also, can I propose a new rule to our email conversations? RULE 1. No leaving the office in the middle of an email conversation without providing notice (it’s kinda like hanging up on somebody). Have a good night. Google French-cut bikinis.
After that assignment of obviously non-billable panty research, we haven’t emailed or talked since. I don’t know why, but we haven’t. He probably realized that he was dangerously close to crossing (leaping) over the sexual harassment line—and that I wasn’t interested.
Would he have hopped over said line like a perky bunny rabbit if he thought I was open for business? Probably. But he’s not stupid. He’s not going to get sued and possibly fired over a long shot. A slam dunk, maybe. But not a Hail Mary.
And what about me? Was I partly responsible for this embarrassing cyber-infidelity?
I’ll admit, I was receptive to his initial “inquisitive” email because, let’s face it, the guy’s a player. His best friend is the managing partner. Why not develop a friendly rapport? But I certainly didn’t think I was encouraging an open invitation to an adulterous affair.
And to be perfectly honest, I didn’t want to alienate him. I need this paycheck. I don’t have a trust fund, and the giant cock-block of billable hours has left me without the high-earning husband I want (and need.) Yes, I intend to marry for money. Sorry.
So I did what any smart, political, tough woman would do: I tiptoed around his fragile, pathetic, bald ego and deflected his suggestiveness as best I could without calling Gloria Allred—or Gloria Steinem—or any other sassy feminist named Gloria.
Why ruin his career and marriage over a few impolitic (okay, lame) emails? More importantly, why ruin my own career over said impolitic emails? I sure as hell don’t need a “victim” or “whistleblower” label on my forehead. If things got really creepy, maybe. But they didn’t.
That being said, the next time some wannabe cool partner looking to reclaim (or reinvent) his college ladies’ man persona tries to strike up a flirty email relationship with me, I’m just going to ignore him. Unless he’s cute. And single.