Rob’s fears were not unfounded. HR called the next day and said they had received feedback that he was “difficult to work with” from “outside sources” and could not proceed with him on board.
“So you see,” he tells me. “It’s not just women who have to deal with sexual harassment.”
“Is she attractive?” I ask.
He shrugs. “Yes, she takes good care of herself.”
“If you found her attractive, why didn’t you just go for it?” I ask.
“She was married,” he says. “Plus, I never mix my professional life with my personal.”
I like this guy. “It’s strange to hear that men experience the same things we do,” I say.
“It’s worse for us,” he counters. “Yesterday, I told you I thought you were beautiful, what was your response?”
“I said thank you,” I recall.
“Yes, just thank you. Not, ‘you’re not so bad yourself’ or something akin to returning the compliment,” he says. “How is a man supposed to know you also find him attractive?”
I laugh out loud. “First of all, have you looked at yourself in the mirror? What woman wouldn’t find you attractive?” I ask.
“That’s the problem right there,” he says. “If all women found me attractive but never told me, how would I know I am?”
“Is this like the tree falling in the forest but no one is there to see it fall so we have to ask ourselves if it really fell?” I ask, laughing.
“What?” he asks. He’s clearly not into philosophical stuff. I move on.
“But you’re gorgeous!” I protest. “Surely you know this?”
He shakes his head. “You think so?”
“My photographer offered you his business card and asked if you’d like to model,” I point out.
“He never actually said why,” he responds. “People take pictures of people for all sorts of reasons.”
“Well, you really are gorgeous,” I emphasise. “How many times have you heard that?”
He goes quiet. “Never. Can you believe no one has ever said that to me?”
I’m dumfounded. Could it be true? That we never tell the attractive people around us that we think they are good looking because we assume they hear it everyday? When was the last time you paid someone a compliment who really deserved it? We are more likely to tell an average-looking person that they look good, even if they are standing alongside a much better-looking person because we assume the latter knows and the former could do with an ego boost. If we keep reinforcing this, what’s to stop the better-looking person from thinking the average-looking one is the one who won the genetic lottery and not them? And what’s to stop the average-looking one from pursing a modeling career where they never get anywhere but keep trying because you lied to them all their lives?
“Would you like to come over?” Rob asks.
“It’s 2am,” I protest.
“And we’re both up,” he says. “I’d like you to see where I live. I’d like to make you a cup of tea and I’d like to kiss you.”
Read: Come over and screw.
“I could use a cup of tea,” I say.