Don’t go on a date with a co-worker. It’s obvious advice, but it bears repeating because I know you’ll end up doing it one day. “But this guy is different. It’s worth the risk,” you’ll say. No, he is not and no, it is not. And even on the off chance he is The One, the best case scenario is that you two get married and he only takes less than half in the divorce. I don’t know anyone that hasn’t been either divorced or in a miserable marriage. Don’t put yourself through that. Especially with someone you work with.
So here I am. On a date. With a co-worker. He asked me out and, on a whim, I said yes. I work as a receptionist at a sheriff station; in other words, I work with with a lot of men. A girl is bound to get hit on every now and then working around so many stressed out, horny, power-tripped men. I usually politely decline, but I said yes to this particular co-worker because he seemed to genuinely want to date me rather than just get me into bed. Plus, he’s a crime analyst which means he’s at a desk which means he’s not a vulgar, tough deputy.
We’re here at some very avant garde restaurant in Pasadena. The place is literally covered in plastic tarp but somehow they can get away with twenty-dollar entrees. There’s bread on the table that looks so good but I’m too self-conscious to reach for it. Here comes the wine. Thank god. I take a drink.
He says, “You’re not supposed to drink before we’ve toasted.”
I apologize and we touch glasses. He swirls his glass and smells it before taking a drink. I sense an awkward silence coming so I ask him how his recent trip to Spain was.
He replies, “I loooovvved it. Oh my god, it was just so beautiful.”
“I bet. I heard the beaches are beautiful too. Did you go to the beach?”
“Yeah but, to be completely honest with you, once you’ve been to Fiji no other beach can compare.”
Here comes the food. He has ordered scallops and I have ordered pasta. He knows I am a vegetarian but he’s offering me a scallop anyway.
“It does look good, but no thank you,” I say.
“Come on, I won’t tell anyone.”
“I know you won’t, but that’s not the point.”
“Okay. Okay. I really admire that you’re vegetarian. I think it’s great that you have those ideals. I could never do it.”
I mumble thanks. Silence. I take a bite out of my pasta.
“Holy fuck this is good!” I say, “You wanna piece?”
“Oh no no. That is way too much starch for me.”
“Come on, I won’t tell anyone.” I give a mischievous smile that he’s probably interpreting as a flirtatious one.
As he’s laughing, he’s taking off his jacket which, to my shock, reveals arms covered in tattoos. I notice that there are even tattoos peeking out from above his collar line. It hits me that this is the first time I’ve seen him out of a suit and tie. The tattoos are so colorful on his pale, smooth skin; I’m mesmerized. There’s a detailed skull, a colorful sunset, a frog wearing sunglasses… to name the ones I can make out from across the table. They flow and collide, drawing my eyes from his neck down to his wrist. I’m annoyed at his t-shirt sleeve for interrupting the pattern. I want to ask why he got them but I know he’ll say something pompous and ruin it. I think he’s noticing me looking. I look up and, sure enough, he’s looking at me. I look back. Even as I pick up my wine to drink I keep looking. He breaks the silence:
“Are your eyes hazel?”
“No, they’re just brown. A lighter brown but still brown.”
“They look like they have a bit of green in them.”
“It might just be the light.”
Here’s that intense eye contact again. A smile is creeping upon his lips and, as he’s reaching for his wine, he says, “Beautiful.”
Goddamnit. I know I’m going to end up kissing this snob. Word will go around the office, and when he’s asked in the locker room how it went he’ll smile and say, “Now guys, I don’t kiss and tell, but let me assure you that she is a very nice girl, if you understand me.” But I’ll kiss him anyway because he’ll say more sweet things. He’s probably the type of guy that’ll gently brush the hair from my face before kissing me.
Don’t go out with co-workers. Just don’t do it. You’ll latch onto the stupidest of details and ignore all the huge red flags. You’ll think of all those details as you kiss him because he did in fact brush the hair from your face. You’ll even let him take you to his house. You’ll internalize the little things so much that you’ll dismiss the fact that a condom was already on the bedside table when you walked in. Worse yet, when you attempt to take off his shirt to see the rest of his tattoos, he’ll grab your wrist to warn you about the huge surgical scar he has on stomach, and when he tells you about the medical condition he’s had since birth, well, you’ll latch onto that too — even if he does follow the story with, “Please don’t put your feet on the duvet. It’s from France.”
M. Martinez is a Cal State Long Beach student studying English with an emphasis in Rhetoric and Composition. She does not go on very many dates.