The Devil Wears Tommy Bahama


Like a thief in the night, Carson quietly disappeared from my life.

He pulled what I call “a fade.” Little by little, he decreased all phases of contact. And then he was gone. Sitting in an office only two floors away, yet altogether outside of my reach.

At least I’ve amassed enough bad experiences with men by now to recognize the fade before it’s too late. I’ve lost track of how many guys have pulled this particular rejection tactic on me, but suffice to say, I’ve developed perfectly calibrated “fade-dar” as a result. Which is fantastic because I would rather suffer through the pain of heartbreak without the added humiliation of being ignored after a last-ditch, desperate-but-I-convinced-myself-it-was-clever-and-reasonable attempt at contact.

I sensed the oncoming fade in its earliest stages, and I withdrew immediately. In other words, I stopped calling, texting, and emailing him. I refrained from popping by his office. Oh, and of course, I now take the (ten billion) stairs to and from the 29th floor to prevent any chance of a lame Grey’s Anatomy-style elevator meeting. Perhaps it goes without saying, but my skinniest jeans fit again. However, I’ve got no one to wear them for.

Now I just sit and wait for the pain to subside. For it to stop hurting so much that I can barely breathe, which is no small feat when I’m climbing double-digit flights of stairs a minimum of twice a day.

In my expert opinion, focusing on developing crushes on other men is the best distraction from break-up depression. And since a big law firm doesn’t necessarily constitute a target-rich environment (far, far from it), an overworked, office-dwelling girl like me has to get creative.

So, ladies and gentlemen, without further ado, it is my pleasure to introduce “The Irrationals.”

The Irrationals are men at work, mainly litigators, on whom I develop absolutely unreasonable crushes. Unreasonable because: (i) they’re usually pretty old; (ii) they’re married, with children almost as old as me; and (iii) I would never, ever act on these crushes.

But in the wake of the Carson disappearance, I’ve started to develop a new Irrational. And this one is different. Troubling. Because my level of interest has been manifesting itself in odd ways. So much, in fact, I’m almost led to believe that somewhere deep inside myself, I might actually wish I could act on this feeling.

The guy isn’t exactly the stuff of fantasy. Rather, he is quite possibly the least attractive man I have ever seen. His skin looks as if it has not seen sun in years. He has these little grayish-blue pouches under his eyes. Oh, plus he has facial hair in the form of the most horrendous goatee ever. And he wears really weird dress shirts, which seem to fall into two categories: (i) those that look like they’re from Express for Men; and (ii) those that look like they’re from Tommy Bahama. The former tend to be black or maroon and very “bridge-and-tunnel.” The latter come in various shades of pale pastel. Nothing sets off a sickly pallor like a pale yellow shirt, let me tell you.

Yet ever since I ended up working on a small case with him, I’ve been noticing the increasing signs of a crush within myself. First off, I am very territorial about him (inside my own head, of course). If I’m on a coffee break with another female associate and she mentions work she’s doing for him, I glare at her (inwardly).  I do not erase emails from him. Perhaps most tellingly, I blush quite a bit when he comes into my office or when I run into him unexpectedly in the hall.

And there’s more. I find myself anxiously awaiting further assignments from him. I come up with all manner of excuses to report to him on potentially relevant legal research. I make totally unnecessary visits to my secretary’s desk because it requires walking past his office. And I always ask to accompany him to court when our case comes up for anything, even if I can’t bill for it. It’s the closest I will probably ever come to going on a date with him.

The first time we went to court together, he wore creepy sunglasses. Oakley knock-offs from BP. I was momentarily crippled with embarrassment on his behalf, but he semi-recovered with a very nice navy pinstriped suit and a modern-looking tie. It’s worth noting that he looks even paler in blinding sunlight. But I noticed he moved out of the way instinctively so I wouldn’t have to walk over the subway grates in my heels.

It gets worse.

As a release for my bottled-up passion, I permitted myself to engage in two of the least offensive forms of online stalking: scouring his firm bio and a cursory Google search. Then I graduated into the moderately bizarre: “Attorney” searches on Westlaw, search term: “AT (his first name & his last name)” to read opinions from cases he’s worked on.

And then it got weird(er). The firm Westlaw rep gave me 24 hours of free access, which I promptly abused by doing public records searches on him. From that, I discerned his age (almost 40), the year he married (2007), his wife’s name (WTF?), and the value of his condo ($400,000).

I’m only a few steps away from a padded room—or worse yet, a visit with Gloria Allred—but I can’t help myself. I’m compulsive. And lonely.

OF COURSE I’m aware my behavior isn’t appropriate. I tell myself I’m not flirting with him when I tease him for his nerdy overuse of e-moticons—I’m just joking around. You know, the way I do with all of my guy friends. Except my other guy friends aren’t as old as my uncles and married.

Up until this week, I was mildly disturbed by all this. But there wasn’t anything too crucial about it. No one knew except for me—and any IT guys who happen to monitor my browser history. I was positive he had no idea.

. . . Until he said something in an e-mail.

It stemmed from the time we were in my office debating a damages calculation from a Northern District of Illinois decision that would likely apply to the case we’re working on. He offered an impromptu hypo to illustrate his interpretation of the calculation and was struggling to come up with a business activity for the hypothetical commercial lessee. Suddenly he said, “Okay, uh, let’s say the lessee uses the space to sell Barbies.” I looked at him strangely, but we continued the discussion without missing a beat.

After he left, I felt a little flush of excitement and e-mailed him.

“Barbies? Really?”

After an eternity of two minutes, he responded.

“Certain people remind me of Barbies.”

Blatantly flirtatious and suggestive? A tentative invitation to escalate our banter into a more suggestive realm? Never before had he outright complimented my looks. My stomach started flipping around. God, I’m a sucker for compliments. After all, I was a late bloomer. I recently lost 4.5 pounds. And Carson’s rejection was still eating at me.

I couldn’t suppress the smile spreading across my face as I concocted a reply.

“I suppose I could pretend that was somehow some sort of a strange compliment.”

Seconds later: “You do not have to pretend.”

Et voilà! Here I stand on the edge of a dangerous cliff. One I’m not altogether unfamiliar with. But this time, I actually kind of like the flirtation.

It’s not like I’m considering having illicit trysts with this guy. I mean, I wouldn’t mind if something other than me wrecked his home, thereby leaving him free to take me on dates to places more exciting than the Dirksen Federal Building. But until then, I’m just going to enjoy the tiny thrills of my new workplace friendship.

If nothing else, it beats crying over Carson. Doesn’t it? DOESN’T IT??

Law Firm 10 may lack the dazzling, magnetic charisma of a girl from the hottest sorority in school, but she (arguably) makes up for that with her wit, humor, and low-maintenance-ness. Read more from Law Firm 10.

23 Comments

  1. Henry

    April 21, 2010 at 2:37 am

    Ugh.  This broad has big self esteem issues.  She wants what she can’t have, and when she has it, she doesn’t want it.  For now, she looks at some new dork, and he appears desirable.  Why?  Because the man she longed after, “Carson” has already dumped her, after he banged the bejesus out of her.  So, trying to get over Carson, she has found this married and unavailable dork to moon after.  But none of this would have ever happened had this woman not given out BJs to begin with.  Had this been the case, Carson would still be yearing for it rather than moving on to another dame willing to put out, as the sex with this broad was probably not worth the grief of all of the neuroses.  I suppose she will start riding the elevator, and soon will be packing on the pounds again.  As she puts the pounds back on she will be heading for a fall as this latest dork gets to sample the merchandise, and already can smell it..  Who’s next, the Janitor on the 29th floor?  When will this dame that once you give it up, men stop worshiping you?

  2. BL1Y

    April 21, 2010 at 5:37 am

    Henry: Read it again, Carson didn’t dump her.  She got the slightest hint of waning interest and, instead of stepping up her game, she decided to abandon ship.

  3. Bitter Overseas

    April 21, 2010 at 5:57 am

    Poor thing. Assuming any of this is real, I was rooting for her and Carson to last. Now she’s…broken.

  4. Craig

    April 21, 2010 at 6:35 am

    Well done on this one.  Really enjoyed it.  Happy to see you are back in your usual misery, ha (sorry, but it is just more entertaining for us readers).

  5. KateLaw

    April 21, 2010 at 7:37 am

    One day she’s going to think back on this time random crush/distraction and feel nauseous.  I think most females have fallen victim to this sitch & it’s the direct result of a bruised ego.

  6. Evil Lawyer

    April 21, 2010 at 8:33 am

    If the thing with Carson was meant to be, it would have been. It wasn’t. And if she were head over heels with Carson, she’d have pursued him. Left notes at his apartment. Called him by “accident.” She didn’t. He was after all, another problem-ridden man.  Full of things that needed fixing.  Finding temporary solace with someone barely 40, someone that obviously likes her, and who would value her, is not at all bad. He’s probably wanted her from a distance and now she’s given him “permission” to move. Good for them both.

  7. LB

    April 21, 2010 at 11:20 am

    OH NO! Poor LF10! I was really rooting for her and Carson too. But props for having the self-respect and dignity to withdraw before engaging in desperate but somehow justifiable attempts at contact.

    My suggestion: get yourself on match or some other dating website. I’m sure you’ve explained before why this not a desirable course of action, such as seeing guys from work on there. Remember though that if male coworkers are on these sites too, they have no grounds for looking down on you.  Going on some dates with random, non-law guys would at least distract you from Carson-misery and prevent you from flirting with a MARRIED MAN.  Whatever you do, don’t be a homewrecker.  Good luck.

  8. Cheryl

    April 21, 2010 at 11:40 am

    Best in a while!  Congrats….and sorry.

  9. nn

    April 21, 2010 at 12:23 pm

    Wow.  I feel really sorry for you.  Don’t take this the wrong way.  I know my previous comments have been on the harsh side, so I might come across as disingenuous now.  But, I feel really sorry and bad for you.  Not in a “I pity the stranger” kind of way, but in a “my friend is in a predicament” kind of way.  All I can say is, please don’t continue this.  Office romances and flirtations usually end one way.  You must find some time to go outside and meet a real person.  Right now, you’re surrounded by people who are unavailable to you, not just unavailable in the sense of being married, but unavailable in the sense that they work with you.  Don’t shit where you eat.  Not unless you’re the boss, which you aren’t.  Hang in there.

  10. Evil Lawyer

    April 21, 2010 at 12:55 pm

    “Henry,” I think you’re Alma posting under another name.  The comment is too strained (“broad”?  Who calls a woman a “broad”?), and anti-sex (“give it up”?  Its what adults do: its called consensual sex you moron) to be from anyone else.

  11. Ace in the Hole

    April 21, 2010 at 1:08 pm

    Evil is right – Alma = Henry.

  12. Guano Dubango

    April 21, 2010 at 6:50 pm

    LF10 is available again?  I would like to throw my hat into the ring.  I am single and available.  Why is it that she is going after a married man when eligible single men like me are available?  I will never understand American women who do this.

  13. Anonymous

    April 21, 2010 at 7:44 pm

    “Imagination is worth more than knowledge” said a smart man.  So lady lawyer stick to your imagination, play with it as you like, but don’t touch the married man.  You will be sorry.

  14. DHD

    April 21, 2010 at 7:48 pm

    “Imagination is worth more than knowledge” said a very smart man.  So stick to your imagination and leave the married man alone.  If you pursue you will be sorry.

  15. Alma Federer

    April 22, 2010 at 3:04 am

    That is not me.  Fooey on you men.  Sexist jerks.

  16. TaxxxGirl

    April 22, 2010 at 5:51 am

    Creepy goatee? Tommy Bahama? Grey-blue skin patches? Girl, really? Breakups suck. Breakups where you work suck worse. But this new interest sounds so nasty. I can picture him exactly. As long as it’s just in your head, it can be a helpful way to get over someone, to focus your attention on another target while you’re healing. It’s better than going on dates to “prove” to Carson and yourself that you’re over it, because you never are if that’s how you rebound. It could be worse. You could have tried to revenge-screw someone he works closely with. Don’t get any ideas though…

  17. esqsss

    April 22, 2010 at 10:17 am

    I was also rooting for this to work.  My suggestion would be for LF10 to divert her interest to meeting new people, even if its through a matchmaker or online dating service.  From experience, go in with an open mind and someone who just might not be your “type” can surprise you.  I found a partner AND best friend that way and you can, too!!

  18. Guano Dubango

    April 22, 2010 at 4:52 pm

    I could easily solve this woman’s problems, but she lives in Chicago, and I barely can take NY’s cold winters.  So unless LF10 wants to move here and live with me, she will be out of luck.  Per my Aunt Ooona, she must be tested and be free of any STDs before I let her move in.

  19. Hank G.

    April 24, 2010 at 6:30 pm

    Some one should give this LF10 the type of serious sex she needs.  This will calm her down and allow her to appreciate men for what they bring to a relationship—companionship, good sex, and someone to lean on.

  20. Alma Federer

    April 25, 2010 at 11:12 am

    This is sad.  Another pretty girl reduced to having to settle for a married (and likely homely) partner who will not give her what she needs; marriage and a family.  I feel for this poor girl.

  21. London2010

    April 26, 2010 at 10:35 am

    Whatever – you’re single and you’re free to do whatever you want.  You’re not his moral gate-keeper by virtue of being female.  All you’re responsible for is making sure you don’t screw up your career.  Go get yours, girl!

  22. Mrs. Federer

    April 28, 2010 at 8:36 am

    Alma, she’s not ready for “marriage and a family.” Every man she meets is like a used Silver Ghost, full of promise, but needing endless work to touch up paint, stained leather, to say nothing of the expensive parts those expensive mechanics put in.  Like the used Ghost, Carson was fun to show off and drive sometimes. But he was so to speak “always in the shop.” Now she’s met a man that has a combination of some power over her and unalloyed desire. He has imperfections but they facinate her–she sees them NOW not later.  All the downsides of this one are in the open right now. If she moves beyond them (as she has), there’ll be nothing casual about this encounter if it happens. The man will swoon over her.  He may leave his wife. If not, she’ll at least see what real love is.  Sweetie, this by the way is what you should consider: an older man, one who would value you as men your own age cannot yet do. I don’t mean the desperate Mr. Dubango, decent though he might be, but someone old enough to know your value.  Someone you could love –not someone you run a white glove over and pronounce yourself satisfied.  Good luck.

  23. CC

    May 7, 2010 at 12:04 pm

    Honey, you need to get OUT of the gd office.  Being called a “Barbie” and taking it as a compliment by a married guy (whose taste and looks you excoriate) is a sign that you need to branch the eff out.

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