Culture Blotter

Emmy Blotnick

We’re often warned of the danger of dating coworkers in this week’s cover story about office romance, but I don’t find the office to be a particularly sexy place. It’s where we find ourselves in the disorienting crossroads where your body twitches from gallons of free coffee while your mind descends deep into a pit of dryer fuzz. It’s where the invisible bouncer says good posture and sunlight aren’t on the list. It’s where we pass the day leashed to our computers by headphones, not even hearing our own farts. (If you fart in an office where everyone is wearing headphones, does it make a sound? Stay tuned for next week’s cover story.)So what about the dangers that lurk beyond the workplace? At school, we’re hardwired to admire the professionally accomplished, and it doesn’t take an office for that admiration to get jumbled with romantic feelings. Take my friend, for instance. Let’s not use her real name; rather, we’ll call her Unicorn, because that’s the name of the cafe I’m in right now.Unicorn’s story begins in a dive bar in rural Vermont, where she’s made the Big Ten connection with an older guy. And what a connection it is, as they quickly get into a conversation about magazines. He’s worked for many and, what do you know, she’s a voracious reader. They chat their way through his resume over drinks, and he mentions the now defunct but once excellent Jane magazine.”I was telling him about my favorite article ever,” she said. Here I should mention that Unicorn and I have been friends for a long time, and some four years ago, we fell hard for a Jane article titled “There’s No Such Thing As TMI.” My summary is hazy, but it was about how calling “too much information” on someone imposes a shame-inducing boundary on the conversation and discourages people from opening up to one another. We’re pretty graphic oversharers by nature, so this article came as a delightful affirmation. So the guy in the bar responds, “I wrote that!” To meet the former senior editor at a bar in rural Vermont seemed amazingly coincidental. As she told the story, I had to interject: “You met Josh Lyon?!””Oh. Well, no,” she responded. “His name was Tony Bologna.” (Again, name has obviously been changed.) “Wait, no. That’s…not…him…” I trailed off. “And I went home with him,” Unicorn responded.My brain burned with consternation. I mashed my face into a cup of applesauce I’d been eating without a spoon just to silence myself. Yes, it seems awfully appealing when an older, sort of mysterious intellectual presents you with an opportunity to break away from collegiate tedium, but how can you predict when someone’s going to pull the old “I wrote that” on you? And that brings me to my conclusion: fact-checkers should be the new wingmen.