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:
First, assuming we have a strict Confidentiality Agreement, I was in traffic last night, and this is what I thought of:
Present company excluded,
2, 3 (tie). ARD and CKS
1. That new corporate associate (name unknown)
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:
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.
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!!!
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?
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?
JD. He is abusive, and, worse yet, he is largely incompetent. Literally cannot run his own cases to save his life.
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?
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.