I have a knack for finding the lowest of the low in the trash piles of human existence. Being too nice and having low self-esteem has meant that I’ve dated a long list of losers. The most recent loser works with me. Without my knowledge, he took photos of us having sex, and e-mailed them to men at our workplace. I’m totally embarrassed. I wanted to press charges, but miraculously, no one claims to have seen these photos — unless they don’t want to humiliate me by saying so.
If a man’s going to make your dream come true, it’s best it isn’t that one where you suddenly find yourself naked in front of everybody at work. The good news is, on the humiliation front, there’s no place to go but up: Toilet paper on your shoe, tuck your skirt into your pantyhose? You’re having a good day!
You could consider legal action. Unlike in sexual harassment cases where somebody claims “After he said I had pretty hair, I could no longer do my job as an accountant,” your experience sounds like textbook “hostile workplace.” According to law prof Kingsley Browne’s “Biology at Work,” that’s a work situation that’s “permeated with sexuality or ‘discriminatory intimidation, ridicule, and insult’” severe enough to change the conditions of the victim’s employment and create an abusive work environment. If you talk to a lawyer, you may find that you could have a pretty good case. After all, what could the guy’s defense possibly be, “I don’t have a kid so I thought I’d celebrate ‘Bring Your Girlfriend In A Compromising Position To Work Day’ “?
But, even by winning a case, do you actually win? Just by filing suit, you’re probably setting yourself up for “The Streisand Effect” — which, unfortunately, doesn’t mean gay men will drop everything and fly across the globe whenever you sing anywhere but the shower. The term was coined after an aerial photo of Barbra Streisand’s Malibu home was one of about 12,000 included in an online database documenting coastal erosion. These still shots of land eroding weren’t exactly garnering TMZ-style traffic — until Babs filed a $10 million lawsuit against the photographer to get the shot of her house removed, driving more than 420,000 people to view it in a single month.
In other words, even by talking with co-workers about what happened, you could end up, well … making a mountain out of a thigh mole. Try to remember that the maggot who did this to you is the one who’s gotten naked in the ugliest way — exposing himself as somebody who gets off on doing violence to a girl’s reputation. What happened, was he no longer getting the same thrill out of Xeroxing his butt?
Barenaked Saturday didn’t show up on Bagel Monday because you’re “too nice,” but because you’re too willing to accept losers as your lot in life. Having low self-esteem isn’t the problem, either — it’s having it and not doing a damn thing about it. You can have a nice guy in your life — if you develop yourself into a person who feels she deserves it, and actually demands it. In the meantime, hold your head high. Time will pass, and eventually, feeling naked at the office will once again mean knowing that they can all see you forgot to wear earrings — not that you forgot to make an appointment at the waxer.
I’ve been dating my boyfriend for three years. His wife of 30 years died six years ago, but he still calls her “my wife,” talked about her in the bedroom until I got mad, and still mentions her constantly. When I got angry about that, he blew up and said he’d talk about her whenever and however he wants. I love him, but is this normal?
— Sad Heart
Three’s a crowd, even if one of you is dead. Now, after 30 years, it’s normal that he’d still talk about her. To a point. Yet, there you are in bed, enjoying the afterglow, and he rolls over and says, “Betty and I went to the Ozarks one time. Had a great time. Doubt you and I could ever match it. Might as well stay home and talk about Betty!” What he really needs to talk about is whether he wants a new life or just an audience for the old one. In a neutral moment, tell him you know he loved her and had a wonderful life with her, but it hurts to always be hearing about her — and in a way that sounds like he’s married to her and getting some on the side from you. If he wants to be with you, he needs to act like he accepts that he lost his wife — and not just somewhere between Spencer’s Gifts and Cinnabon.