Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Long Deep Sigh


Actually I admit that I read a piece by Zoe Williams today, who I normally regard as everything bad about journalism, and I almost cried with pleasure. A very, very astute piece on office romances.

"1. The Unpindownable Fillip
Absolutely nothing has happened between you and Person A. I'm guessing you know one another's names, oh go on then, maybe A has told a saucy joke and only you got it, or maybe he said something about a third person (Person B) that was so devastatingly true, and so acute, and unleashed such depths of perspicacity and sagacity, that your eyes met over the brow of the perfect-remark (it was probably something quite bitchy) and there was a flash of fathomless understanding and togetherness, like that episode of Buffy where she accidentally swaps selves with someone by touching hands. So when I say "nothing's happened", I don't really mean that; everything has happened.
Person A occupies all your waking thoughts. You would no more get yourself a cappuccino without getting one for A than you would lash yourself to the mast of a ship in a storm and watch your family drown. If I can be completely honest, you are not a terribly good employee at the moment. If you're in any position of power over A, your favouritism will be almost embarrassing to watch, and even if you aren't, your concentration is shot. But you haven't had sex or snogged or touched, you might not yet have even ever left the building at the same time. You wanna hear about it now, Mr Boss Man? Huh?
2. The Pre-Event
Right, now you have Person A in some kind of conspiratorial, metaphorical hug; you still haven't actually, you know, done anything, but you have established without words that you both want to. Or perhaps you've just worn the poor bugger down with speechful looks and milky coffee, so that now you are regularly out together, sniggering, chatting in low voices and going out for lunch together every day. Sometimes you tacitly enlist the chaperonehood of a third party beliked of you both, and this brings a peculiar frisson, where you play-act being a Real Couple, Accepted By The World, which wouldn't be exciting at all, except that that's the exact opposite of what you are, a Non-Couple, Shunned By The World, What Hasn't Even Had Sex Yet.
And the chaperone doesn't mind, even though she knows you'd both rather be having sex than chatting to her, because frankly she fancies going to the pub, but if she were on her own it'd have to be Pret A Manger, otherwise she'd look like an alcoholic. Right now, you and A are both good employees in so far as you're really looking forward to going to work, but in terms of your actual productivity, you might as well be monkeys or goats."

Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. Sublimely observant.

Show me the person who hasn't been there and I will show you a granite statue or a poorly-drawn character in a bad novel. My worst case was six years ago, when I got halfway through stage 2 when I found out that person A, despite appearances to the contrary, was actually only 20 years old, making her young enough to be my, er, much younger sister.

I think the coffee motif helps here. I was coffee gofer and bought her her favourite cappucino just in time for her to get in two hours late cos of a security alert at Paddington. The blinding smile and look of gratitude on her face and the 'you are a star!' and the slightly too-long exchanged look is still beyond price.

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