The other day, I ran into my Republican co-worker at the coffee cart in the lobby of our building. We made small talk, and I made small talk with Amy, the cute red-headed coffee cart girl, while my Republican co-worker bought an energy bar, and I bought a coffee and donut.
Because I have had to tell him that we should stop talking politics, every new conversation he strikes up with me fills me with dread. Is this going to be the conversation that will finally break the taboo? Will he bust out some crazy story about how the Clintons were actually responsible for Watergate and the Vietnam War? Or will his insanity spill over into some new topic, like cooking or basketball or high definition TV? So I hoped for a largely silent walk through the building.
Sadly, no. On our way back to our office area, my Republican co-worker turned to me and leered. “So, you’re single, right?”
I had no idea where he was going with this but a chill went down my spine.
I kept what I thought was a normal look on my face, though, considered not answering at all or asking him why he wanted to know, and finally just settled on a direct answer. “Yes, I am.” Did I want to know why? “…why?” I added, finally.
He took no notice of the lengthy pauses in my response (he never seems to pick up on any but the most blatant body language, like turning completely around and walking away, for instance) and, still leering, said, “She was flirting with you.”
Who? Oh. Amy. The coffee cart girl.
I quickly reviewed the conversation in my head. Nothing obviously romantic or sexual stuck out in my head. The topics covered were coffee, payment of coffee, the weather, and my favorite kind of donut (of which she seemed unaware).
But my Republican co-worker seemed to get a kick out of it.
I shrugged and said, “No. No… no. Amy’s got a boyfriend.”
My Republican co-worker chuckled. “Well, how’re they doing?”
I shook my head. “I have no idea.”
“I’m just sayin’… maybe she’s lookin’ for something else.”
This conversation annoyed me on many levels. “That was just a normal, everyday conversation.”
My Republican co-worker shook his head in disbelief, as we reached my cubicle. He leaned in for one last comment while I dropped my bag, took off my jacket, and began starting up my computer. “Just think about it,” he said, still leering – over what, I was not sure. I silently hoped he wasn’t picturing me in an intimate situation with Amy, the coffee cart girl.
I remember when I thought that normal everyday conversation with women was actually flirting and foreplay. It wasn’t that long ago, actually.