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Melanie's Guide To Men

A best friend guide to office romance

By Hyacinth AndersenPublished 4 months ago 42 min read

Melanie was not allowed to date when she was younger, or to be out after dark. As soon as the sun began to set in the west, Melanie had to be inside the house. Her mother, a strict disciplinarian, would say, “There are two types of women who are out after dark; those required to be for a job, like a policewoman, and those of a disreputable nature, like a hooker. And, since you are neither one of those, you had better be inside before dark.”

Needless to say, Melanie was a late bloomer in the dating department. She was dateless throughout high school and into her first year of college before she gathered up the courage to be seen with a boy. This put her at a disadvantage where men were concerned, as she was extremely naïve and a sitting duck for any half-witted lothario who wanted to feed her a line. And, since college is filled with half-witted lotharios who want to feed girls a line, Melanie was pretty well doomed.

And this leads me to the subject of Melanie’s first boyfriend, Rusty. Rusty’s sister and Melanie’s sister were best friends in college, and he thought it would be nice to show Melanie around campus since she attended the same school. He stopped by her dormitory the first evening she was there and had the person at the front desk call Melanie over the intercom to come to the lobby. Now, that should have been clue number one for Melanie to stay away from Rusty, as a gentleman need not summon a girl over the intercom like one ordering fries at a drive-thru.

Clue number two should have been evident upon seeing Rusty’s attire that evening. He was wearing a sleeveless green t-shirt and matching camouflage pants, despite there being no deer in sight. Now, I don’t know how expensive shirts with sleeves were in his neck of the woods, but a gentleman should be able to afford to buy one prior to meeting a girl he is interested in dating.

Yet, none of that mattered to Melanie upon seeing Rusty’s smooth complexion, green eyes, and perfectly white, yet horse-like, teeth. The second he smiled at her with those oversized choppers, Melanie was a goner. No man had paid much attention to her before then, and she clearly did not know how to act. So, she followed Rusty around like a lovesick puppy for four months before handing her virginity over to him on a silver platter.

Now, one would think Melanie having given Rusty a gift of that magnitude would have earned her some loyalty on his part. Not so, she would learn upon seeing Rusty play tonsil hockey with a big-haired bimbo outside of his dormitory one evening. This hurt Melanie deeply and made her angry because a gentleman would have cherished her thoughtful gift, not swapped it the first chance he got at the nearest gift exchange.

Of course, Rusty’s behavior led to histrionics on Melanie’s part and the demise of their relationship. This, in turn, led to Melanie eating a bag full of Fritos while scarfing down a pint of ice cream and wondering if she was enough for one man. So, her best friend, Angie, brought her home for the weekend in a vain attempt to cheer her up. And this led to Melanie meeting Angie’s uncle, Scott.

Uncle Scott was a married male who piloted a Cessna for fun on the weekends. He was also a sadistic pervert who wanted to play grab-ass with Melanie whenever Angie’s back was turned. He would torment Melanie with dirty phone calls during the week, and upon being rebuffed by her, would use his Cessna and pilot’s license to stalk her on the weekends. In short, the man was a menace. Luckily, his wife and children were unaware of his activities, so Melanie used that information as leverage to stop him from harassing her. Now, Melanie should not have resorted to using blackmail to get her point across to Uncle Scott, but a gentleman should not harass a lady.

Once Uncle Scott was out of the picture, along came Mitchell. Mitchell was a tall male with copper-colored hair and blue eyes. He was soft-spoken, sweet, and gentle and Melanie took to him immediately. They were taking a Sociology class together one semester when he professed his undying love for her. Unsure of returning his affection, Melanie opted to meet his mother instead. Yet, she should have saved herself the trouble, as his mother was a drunken hag who loved to yell the word “bitch” at the top of her lungs. Now, I do not know about you, but nothing kills romance quicker for a girl than a woman shouting insults to her face. So, in spite of Mitchell being a complete gentleman, Melanie made him pack his baggage before showing him the door.

A few weeks later, Melanie would meet Jared on the sidewalk near the dormitory. Jared was an exceptionally handsome male who was tall with sculpted cheekbones. He also dressed like a model and was charming and debonair. Melanie practically swooned at the sight of him, as did most of the females on campus.

For some odd reason, Jared was interested in dating Melanie. I suppose her ample bosom had something to do with the equation, but who was I to judge? She began dating him in earnest and everything was going along swimmingly until she found out about his predilection for slutty females when she wasn’t around. In addition, he broke his best friend’s legs in a night of drunken revelry by running over him with a sports car while playing a bizarre game of chicken. Needless to say, Melanie was not impressed. Jared may have looked the part of a gentleman, but he certainly did not act like one.

Melanie would later date Thomas. Thomas was a newscaster for a local affiliate and he was popular with viewers. Melanie met him through his cousin, Corinne, and found him to be attentive and charming. But she would soon realize she had a rival for his affection in the form of his reflection. Thomas was incredibly vain; he could not stop staring at himself in a mirror. His constant preening would cause the demise of their relationship, for he was clearly his biggest fan.

After college, Melanie dated Evan. Evan was tall, dark, handsome, and spontaneous. He was fun-loving and romantic and would often bring her flowers and letters, or go for long walks in the rain. He seemed to be a perfect gentleman until Melanie found out he tripped and fell into whatever vagina was available.

She would learn of his philandering from an unlikely source; Evan himself. It seems he impregnated a girl he was sleeping with and felt compelled to marry her. This news did not sit well with Melanie, as she had dreams of marrying him herself. And, one can imagine my joy at seeing her tear-streaked face across the lunch table from me this Tuesday afternoon.

“Why does this always happen to me?” Melanie moans.

“Perhaps if you were less gullible and stopped believing every word men say, you would spot the liars in the bunch.” I offer.

Who am I, you wonder? I am Sara, Melanie’s long-suffering roommate and co-worker at the world’s worst workplace, Office of Boring-Boring.

“Perhaps I should give up on dating altogether.”

“Stop being dramatic. You’ve had a bad run. I’ll give you that. But you shouldn’t give up on love.”

I grab another napkin from the table dispenser and hand it to Melanie just as Ruby enters the break room. Crap! Here comes Miss Know-it-all.

Ruby is the office troll who has worked at the Office of Boring-Boring for many years. She is a snitch and not to be trusted. Anything said in her presence is repeated to management. Not to mention, she has to have the last word on all subjects. If I say I recently took a vacation to Florida, Ruby will tell of the time she went to Haiti – ten years prior. If I say I bought myself a pair of shoes, Ruby will say she bought five pairs recently. If I say I am getting over a cold, Ruby will tell of the time she had double pneumonia and lived to tell about it. The woman is the office plague, and she is a bible thumper. She takes every opportunity to chat up her religion even though people in the office could care less.

“Ruby’s heading this way.”

“I am not in the mood to chat.”

“Don’t worry. I’ll get rid of her.”

“Good morning ladies!” Ruby chirps.

“Morning.” I offer.

“Did everyone have a good weekend? I certainly did. I participated in a church retreat this past weekend and I am positively revived!”

I see Melanie’s eyes roll at the mention of the retreat.

“Well, my weekend was bad.”

“How so?”

“I had some vaginal itching and I went to the clinic to have it checked out. The doctor told me I have Chlamydia and he prescribed me some antibiotics.”

Ruby’s face turns red at the news. Top that! I think to myself.


“Vaginal itching is so uncomfortable, isn’t it?”

“I wouldn’t know about that. I think Millicent is calling for me at the next table. I’ll catch up with you ladies later.”

Upon Ruby’s departure, Melanie says, “Aren’t you afraid she’ll tell everyone you have an STD?”

“Nah. Miss Pious can barely talk about sex, much less an STD. I kept waiting for her to one-up my story by saying she had a bad case of crabs, but she is speechless. Go figure!

“You are crazy.”

“You aren’t crying anymore.”

“Who can cry after that?” Melanie said, between fits of laughter.

I glance at my watch and note that we have ten minutes remaining on lunch. “Come on. We had better get back or they’ll send out a search party.”

We gather up our trays and return them to the cafeteria conveyer belt. Out of the corner of my eye, I see Ruby chatting animatedly with Millicent, who also works in our section.

Melanie and I return to the Office of Boring-Boring just as the office tyrant, Sharon, returns from lunch. We sit down at our respective desks, which are separated by cheap partitions that are low enough to see over, and begin to work on our assignments. The area we work in would be referred to as the steno pool in the good-old-days, but nowadays is affectionately referred to as the pit of hell.

Sharon approaches my desk and relays to me in her typical fashion, “I needed this report done yesterday, but I am a self-indulgent megalomaniac who loves to bother you at the last minute, so I am giving you this to do today. Enjoy!”

That is not what was actually said, but it may as well have been. The woman is the most inconsiderate, self-involved person on the planet. She thinks everyone should be at her beck and call twenty-four hours a day. I actually owned a cell phone at one time, but Sharon kept calling me on it after hours so I got rid of it. Sheesh!

She stands there until I acknowledge her rightful place in society. “I’ll work on this right away, Sharon.”

“Good. And, don’t forget to fetch my car from the company pool. I have a work conference this afternoon.”

Sure thing! I think to myself. The tyrant returns to her office and shuts the door. At which point I say to Melanie, “What did I do in a past life to deserve that woman?”

“I don’t know, but it must have been bad.”

“You hear about people dying in car wrecks every day, yet Sharon lives on.”

“What’s the old saying? Only the good die young?”

“Then we’re screwed. She’ll live forever.”

The office door swings open and Lydia, the tyrant-in-training, enters. She is our immediate supervisor and Sharon’s number-one stooge.

“Hello, ladies.”

“Hi,” we reply.

She enters her office, which is kitty-corner from the pit of hell. Her telephone rings and she picks it up. There is a moment of silence before we hear her scream into the mouthpiece, “Tiffany, you and Amber had better have the house clean from top to bottom by the time I get home. Do you hear me? And, the dishes better be done and the laundry folded and the car had better be washed, or so help me!”

Melanie shoots me a look that says, poor kids.

“I wouldn’t want her as a mother. Didn’t someone tell her Lincoln freed the slaves?”

Lydia’s diatribe continues for two more minutes. “Remind me never to have kids,” Melanie says.

Lydia eventually shuts her office door, much to Melanie’s and my relief. “Ah, blessed silence.”

The office door opens and Millicent returns from lunch. “There goes the silence,” Melanie says.

Millicent clears her throat. “Uh-uh, uh-uh!”

Melanie rolls her eyes at me over the partition. Twenty seconds later, Millicent clears her throat again. And, twenty seconds after that, she does it again.

“Would someone get her a cough drop, an allergy pill, or sinus surgery, please? She is driving me crazy with that crap.” I hiss over the partition.

“Uh-uh, uh-uh.” Millicent continues.

I look at the clock on the wall. Three more hours until we are released from the pit of hell. I can hardly wait.

Millicent goes to her desk to retrieve some paperwork. She starts to approach me with an item but thinks better of it and heads toward Melanie’s desk.

Score one for fake STDs! I think to myself.

Millicent stands over Melanie’s desk talking and clears her throat of loogies every thirty seconds or so. Melanie is turning green as she speaks. Poor thing.

The office tyrant’s door swings open, causing Millicent to clear her throat of whatever loogies are remaining before dashing to her desk. Melanie looks relieved that Millicent is no longer hanging over her shoulder until Sharon calls her name. “Melanie, you got a minute?”

I can see from the look on her face she would rather have her teeth pulled without anesthetic than enter Sharon’s office. She dutifully rises from her chair and reports to Her Highness.

“Yes, Sharon?”

“I’m having a dinner party for some colleagues tomorrow night, and I need you to arrange catering for thirty.”

“Sure. “

“And, make it nice, you hear? No chicken or fish, preferably steak.”

I am not surprised by Sharon’s choice of entree, as carnivores typically devour the flesh of their young.

“Chop, chop. Time’s a-wasting.” Sharon says, before dismissing Melanie from her office.

Melanie returns to her desk and begins calling restaurants in town to arrange for catering. The restaurant managers all know we work for Sharon, so they take pity on us and accommodate our requests. So, Melanie finishes making arrangements for her stupid dinner party and I continue working on the report.

Once the office clock registers 5:00 pm, Melanie and I gather up our coats and purses and head for the door. Ruby stops by the office at that exact moment to chat about religious matters, but we are having none of it. “Got to go, Ruby. Bye.” I say upon shoving her aside and dashing out the front door.

Melanie quickly follows suit, and we make our way to the parking lot to climb into her battered Chevy for the short ride back to the apartment. We arrive there twenty minutes later, and upon entering the apartment, I say, “God, I need a drink. What about you?”


“Let’s go to Mason’s, around the corner. It’s ladies' night.”

“Okay. Did you notice the sulfur smell in the office today? ”

“Fire and brimstone, I reckon.”

“Funny. Let’s talk about something else please, because work is depressing. ”

“Much like your love life. Seriously, Mel. Your picker is off when it comes to men. From now on, I am picking for you.”

“What makes you such an expert?

“Uh, hello. Been in a stable relationship with my boyfriend of three years.” I say, definitively.

“Okay, Sara. You got me there.”

“So, consider me your guide to all things men.”

“God help me.”

“I heard that.”

We retreat to our respective rooms for some rest before getting ready for the evening. Three hours later, after showering, dressing, and applying war paint, we emerge from our rooms looking glamorous.

“You clean up well.”

“You too, Sara.”

“Come on. Let’s show the men at Mason’s what they're missing.”

We lock up the apartment and walk around the corner to the bar. It is fairly crowded here tonight; plenty of men standing in line to get in and a bouncer who is admitting ladies by the dozen.

I glance at the line of men and say, “It’s like shooting fish in a barrel.”

The bouncer admits Melanie and me, and we make our way through the crowd to find a couple of seats at the bar. We sit down and survey the scene just as my boyfriend, Richard, makes his way over.

“You ladies look amazing,” he says to the both of us. I treat him to a dazzling smile just as Melanie greets him. “Hi, Rick.”

“Hey, Mel. How goes it?”

“Work was hell today, and we both need a drink.”

“My treat, ladies.”

Richard takes our drink order and bellies up to the bar. Melanie and I use this moment to glance at the men in the crowd and discuss her options.

“He’s not bad.”

“No way, Mel. Metrosexual all the way. Too high maintenance.”

“Okay. What about him?”

“Uh-uh. Too low maintenance. He dresses like a slob and has a beer gut. Do you want to compete with sports on television?”

“Well, what about him?”

“No way in hell.”

Melanie throws me a look of irritation before saying, “At the rate you are going, I will be single forever.”

“Shush, let me concentrate.” I scan the crowd before spying someone familiar. I point to him and say, “What about him?”

Melanie takes one look at him and says, “You’ve got to be kidding!”

Richard returns with the drinks, and after taking a sip of my amaretto sour I say, “What’s wrong with Brady?”

“Just look at him!” Melanie says.

I look at Brady. He is tall with dark hair, dressed in chinos and a polo shirt, and is wearing dark-framed eyeglasses. He looks like a sexy Clark Kent. He is the perfect man for Melanie; an information technology guy who is cute, smart, and a bit of a fixer-upper.

“Mel, he’s cute. You’ve got to admit.”

“I admit no such thing.”

I wave at Brady and he returns my wave. I excuse myself for a bit and make my way over to him.

“Hi, Brady.”

“Hi, Sara.”

“Want to join us at the bar? Mel and I are hanging with Richard tonight, but we would love to have you join us.”

Brady glances at me for a bit before saying, “Sure.” He follows me back to the bar and takes a seat next to Melanie.

“How goes it, Melanie?”

“Fine,” she mumbles. I jab her in the ribs with my fingers. “How are things with you, Brady?”

“Awful. We are working on a project and it has been frustrating. I need to write a program to help fix the problem, but it will cause a bit of a delay. And, you know how much they like delays at the Office of Boring-Boring.”

Melanie and I grimace at the news. “I’m glad I am not in your shoes,” Mel says.

I offer to buy him a beer. Brady smiles at me and takes me up on the offer. While standing at the bar, I ask him what he wants to do in the future. He admits to being close to starting his own computer consulting business. “That’s great!” I say. I hand him the beer, as I know a slightly inebriated man will not notice how bitchy a woman is acting toward him.

I pull Melanie aside and say, “Stop acting bitchy to Brady. He’s a nice guy.”

“I know. He’s just not my type.”

“Has your type worked out for you so far? Any successful relationships?”

Melanie winces at my words. “Okay, I’ll be nicer to him.”

“That’s all I’m asking.”

We return to the bar, where Richard and Brady are patiently waiting, and spend the remainder of the evening laughing and talking with the two of them.


The next morning, I awake with a raging hangover. Unfortunately, it is a weekday, which means I have to put in eight hours at the Office of Boring-Boring. The thought of working a full day in that place is enough to make me sick. But I am forced to work today, as I foolishly used up my sick leave the other days I played hooky.

Melanie emerges from the bathroom looking like death warmed over. “You look like hell,” I say.

“I wouldn’t talk if I were you.”

Clearly, booze and single women do not mix. I brush what feels like fur off my tongue with a toothbrush before gargling with mouthwash. My head is pounding like the steel drum section of a marching band, and I am silently wishing for death. I finish dressing in my expensive-looking but clearly knockoff suit and slide shades over my eyes before meeting a fully-dressed Melanie at her car.

“Kill me, now,” I say to her.

“Shut up and get in. And, no talking.”

We make the twenty-minute drive to the Office of Boring-Boring in record time. Melanie and I brace ourselves for a hellish day at work before venturing inside. We are immediately greeted by a perky Ruby. “Morning ladies!”

Melanie and I grumble a reply.

“Sara, I want to invite you to church with me this Sunday. We have a wonderful new pastor who I think you will find enlightening. Afterward, there will be lunch for the congregation and a social hour. What time shall I pick you up?”

Thank God I am wearing shades or else Ruby would see my eyes rolling. I have absolutely no intention of attending her church, as I have a church of my own. Granted, my church hasn’t seen me for nearly a decade, but I have one of my own. So, stop recruiting already!

“Sorry. I have other plans.”

“I can pick you up as soon as you are done.”

Think fast, Sara, think fast!

“I have company coming this weekend. Sorry.”

“Your company is welcome to attend too.”

Where is a fire alarm when you need one?

“Thanks, but I have a funeral to go to.” I can see Melanie startle out of the corner of my eye.

“Who died?” Ruby says.

“Whiskers, my cat.”

“I didn’t know you had a cat.”

“Melanie and I kept him a secret because it was against apartment rules to have a pet.”

Ruby, being the PETA-loving activist she is, accepts my story at face value and decides to leave me alone. “Well, okay then. Some other time.”

She mercifully disappears from my sight and I say to Melanie, “How come she asked me to go with her and not you?”

“Perhaps your STD has something to do with it.”

“I forgot about that. It seemed like a good idea at the time.”

Melanie and I arrive at the pit of hell and maneuver to our respective desks. Before we have a chance to hang up our coats, the office tyrant’s door bursts open and a crying colleague emerges. That can’t be good.

“Sara, you got a minute?”


I approach Sharon’s door as though my feet were made of cement. The only thing worse than an impromptu chat with Sharon is a boiling-hot enema.

“Yes, Sharon?”

“Take a seat.” Sharon shuts the office door, and I sit in a chair that is adjacent to hers and await my fate.

“It is time for performance reviews. Lydia and I met earlier today and discussed your job performance. While we agree you have performed exceptionally this year, you will not be receiving a raise. There is no room in the budget.”

No room in the budget, huh? I distinctly remember your getting a raise this year.

“So sign here, here and here acknowledging what I have said to you today.”

I sign my performance eval and beat a hasty retreat into the pit of hell. Melanie shoots me a questioning look upon my return before hearing Sharon scream, “Melanie!”

I don’t have time to warn her of our chat, so I watch as she enters the office. Five minutes later, Melanie emerges from the room with the same look on her face I had earlier. Sharon shuts the office door and Melanie takes a seat at her desk.

“She could have at least bought me lunch before she screwed me.”

“No lube or anything. Surprise!” I say, jokingly.

Millicent enters the office and makes the way to her desk. She immediately clears her throat of loogies. “Uh,uh, uh, uh!” Millicent’s cell phone then rings. She answers it and finds it is one of her ten foster kids calling with an update on their day.

Melanie and I look at each other over the partition. It is going to be a long day at the Office of Boring-Boring.

Sharon’s bursts through her door and hollers, “Millicent!”

Millicent clears her throat of remaining loogies before joining Sharon for an impromptu bend-over-and-take-it session.

Melanie and I enjoy five minutes of loogie-free silence. Thank you, God.

The office door swings open again and Lydia, the tyrant-in-training, enters. She is less than a welcome sight after the meeting we just had. She makes her way to her office and settles in for the day. A few minutes later, she emerges from the office and hands me a plainly-wrapped package.

“Do you need me to mail this for you?”

“It’s for you, Sara, for your birthday.”

Crap. I forgot it was my birthday. Melanie and I agreed long ago never to celebrate birthdays in this place. I carefully unwrap my package to reveal the present underneath. A crochet blanket.

Lydia took up crocheting as a hobby and decided to make blankets to sell. She initially avoided selling to coworkers, as she felt it was a conflict of interest. But having since realized the power she wields over her employees, now sells them at work. What underpaid and overworked employee at the Office of Boring-Boring can resist buying a blanket from Lydia? None, I can attest, as she writes their performance reports.

As for blankets that don’t sell? They become birthday and Christmas presents during the year. Yay, me.

“You really shouldn’t have.”

“It was my pleasure.”

I ooh and aah over the blanket for the requisite five minutes before Lydia returns to her office. Once she is out of the earshot I say to Melanie, “Your grandma or mine?”

“Mine this time. We gave the last one to your grandmother.”

I fold the blanket neatly and stuff it under my desk for safekeeping.

Millicent returns from Sharon’s office; looking fairly shell-shocked. For once, we are kindred spirits in the fight against evil. But then Millicent clears her throat of loogies again, and the kindred spirit thing goes right out the window.

The office door swings open and Brady enters. I perk up at the sight of him, as he is looking fine in his chinos and polo. Melanie barely looks at him though. I am going to have to talk to that girl.

“Hi, Brady.”

“Hey, Sara. How’s your day going?”

“Don’t ask,” Melanie says.

“That bad?”

“Yep. No raise and a birthday blanket.”

“Well lucky for you I brought this.” Brady hands me an envelope.

“What’s this?”

“Open it, silly.”

I rip open the envelope like a kindergartner on Valentine’s Day. Inside are tickets to a feminist play I wanted to see this weekend.

“One’s for you and one’s for Mel. Happy birthday.”

I am speechless. Brady single-handedly turned this crappy day into a fantastic one. Take that, tyrant and stooge!

“Thank you, Brady. That is thoughtful of you. Isn’t that thoughtful, Melanie?”


I thank Brady again for the gift, and he leaves the office. Thirty minutes later, the office door swings open again and Ruby enters with a tray of bars.

“Anyone want to try my God’s Gift apple bars?”

Millicent and Melanie try one, but I defer. No telling what’s in those bars. If the people in Guyana had been a bit less trusting of Jim Jones, they would still be alive today.

“No thanks, Ruby. I have a touch of diarrhea.”

Ruby makes a face at the news before heading into Lydia and Sharon’s offices.

“What a suck-up,” Melanie says.

Ruby returns with the tray of bars and stops at my desk. “I am sorry about Whiskers. Pets are like family to most people, so I can imagine how much you are hurting. Why I remember when my cat, Fluffy, died thirty years ago, I was virtually inconsolable.“

I pinch my thigh hard under the desk to generate tears. “Yes. Melanie and I are very, very sad.”

Ruby consoles me a moment longer before returning to her office with the bars. Her departure is a welcome relief to me.

I look at the clock on the wall. Barely an hour has passed, and I still have a hangover. Somebody help me, please.

Melanie and I buckle down at work, and before you know it, 5:00 pm arrives. We grab our coats and purses and make a dash for the door. Ruby arrives at that moment to chitchat, but we shove our way past her to freedom.

We return to the apartment, and Melanie informs me she is unable to attend the play tonight as she has a date.

“Who is it? Is it Brady?”

“No.” That is all she will say.

I place a call to my boyfriend, Richard. He is a trooper in times like this. He has grit his teeth through many a chick flick.

“Sorry, can’t do it. I have to work.”

“Are you kidding me? You have to work on my birthday?”

“Yes. Why do you think we went out last night?”

Oh, yeah! I knew there was a reason for the hangover.

“Happy birthday, Sara.“

“Thanks, honey. I love you and will talk to you later, okay?”


I hang up the phone and say, “Crap!”

“Let me guess, Richard can’t go either.”


“Why don’t you call Brady? He bought you the tickets. Maybe he can go with you?”

Melanie is a genius. I place a quick call to Brady.

“Brady, this is Sara. My plans with Melanie fell through, and Richard has to work, so would you like to go to the play with me?”

There is a moment of silence on the other end of the phone, but he eventually says, “Sure. I would love to.”

“Great. Pick me up at the apartment at 8:00 pm. You know where we live, don’t you?”

“Of course I do. I’m a tech guy, aren’t I?”

I don’t know what that means, but I am hoping it doesn’t involve stalking. I am determined to get Melanie and Brady together.

“Great, see you at 8:00 pm.”


I eat dinner and shower before standing in front of the closet. “What to wear, what to wear,” I say to myself.

Melanie enters the room and suggests a simple red dress. “Thanks, Mel.”

I hurriedly throw on the dress as the doorbell rings. “Would you get that?”


Mel answers the door, and I can hear her and Brady talking. I take my own sweet time getting dressed, as I want them to get to know one another. Pretty sneaky, huh?

A half-hour later, I appear in the living room and see that Melanie is sitting on a bar stool in the kitchen and Brady is sitting on the couch. Brady takes one look at me and says, “You look nice.”

“Thanks. We had better be going. See you later Mel.”

I head downstairs to Brady’s car but he suggests we walk instead. “You want me to walk in these heels?”

“Sure. It’s not that far.”

Clark Kent clearly does not understand women. But, anything for Melanie. We take off walking toward the theater and chat as we go. Brady is a pretty funny guy; he makes me laugh about the absurdities of life. And, Lord knows, I need a laugh. Working at the Office of Boring-Boring is draining.

We arrive at the theater and make our way inside. An usher shows us to our seats and Brady follows closely behind me in the crowded, narrow aisle. I occasionally feel him bump into me, and to tell you the truth, it is a bit disconcerting. Clark Kent should not affect me this way.

We take our seats and await the performance. I can see out of the corner of my eye that Brady is studying me as if he doesn’t know what to think. I ignore him, as I am wondering how I can be attracted to someone who is clearly right for Melanie. We make it through the two-hour performance without losing our minds. The play was pretentious but enjoyable. Two hours of women bitching about bras and vaginas. What more can a girl ask for?

Brady muddles through it somehow, and he begins escorting me back to the apartment. But, halfway there the skies open up and rain begins pouring from the clouds. We make a mad dash for the apartment, but we arrive at my doorstep soaked to the skin.

“Come in, Brady. I’ll fetch you a towel.” I open the apartment door and note that Melanie is not around. I walk into the kitchen and see that she has left me a note saying she will be out late. My matchmaking effort is foiled again.

I make my way to the linen closet and grab two towels; one for Brady and one for me. I hand him a towel; only to spy my reflection in the hall mirror. I look like a hot mess. My hair is plastered to my forehead and there is makeup running down my face. I say, “Have you ever seen such a sight?”

Brady observes me for a moment, and then leans over and kisses me.

I am shocked and delighted by the kiss, even though I know it is wrong of me. My arms involuntarily snake around his neck, and I kiss him back with equal passion. But sanity somehow intervenes, and I tear myself away from him. “What am I doing?”

“You’re kissing me.”

“I know that, but I shouldn’t be. You’re supposed to be with Melanie.”

“Who says?”

“I say. You’re perfect for her.”

“I’m not interested in Melanie. I’m interested in you.”

“I’m taken. Remember?”

“You don’t kiss like someone who is taken.”

“Get out. You’re a complication, and I don’t need complications in my life. I’ve got enough on my hands with work.” I open the door and stand near it, waiting.

Brady retrieves a towel from the floor and uses it to dry his hair, face and arms before making a move to leave. He approaches me as I stand next to the front door and says, “What are you afraid of, Sara?”

I stand there, refusing to answer or look at him. He raises his right hand and gently brushes the hair from my face. His touch electrifies and terrifies me at the same time. I must resist him at all costs.

He eventually sighs in frustration before leaving the apartment. I close the door and sink in an armchair in relief. I had a horrible moment of weakness, but it passed. Melanie’s future is intact. Brady belongs with her.

I race to the phone and dial Richard. His phone rings but he doesn’t pick up. I guess he is still working, so I hang up. It would be nice to hear his voice, but I know he still loves me.

I grab some dry clothes from my room and head for the shower. I figure Melanie will be home soon and I should turn in for the night. I wouldn’t want her asking too many questions about my evening, as I might not know how to answer them.


The next morning, I awake refreshed and face Melanie. “How did it go?”

“Fine. And you?”

“Fine, Are you going to tell me who your mystery man is?”


“Why not?”

“Because it is new and I don’t quite know where I stand. Did the evening with Brady go well?”

“As well as can be expected.”

Melanie and I note the time and begin preparing for work. Once we have finished getting ready, we head into the office. Upon arriving at our desks, I hear my name called. I look up and see Sharon waiting patiently by her office door.

I excuse myself and report to her. Upon entering the office, Sharon shuts the door and says, “I lost the report you did for me last week and I need another copy. And, what’s this I hear about your having an STD?”

Ruby! You little snitch.

I take a deep breath before saying, “I was talking in the cafeteria about Lydia the other day and someone must have thought I said Chlamydia. This is how rumors get started.”

Sharon looks at me as if weighing whether or not to believe me before saying, “I can see how that might happen. But, next time, be careful about what you say and whom you say it to.”

I nod in agreement before being dismissed from her office. Upon arriving at the pit of hell, Melanie says, “What was that about?”

“That bible-thumping snitch told Sharon I have Chlamydia.”

Melanie laughs at the news.

“That’s not funny. Where in the bible does it say, ‘Thou shall gossip like crazy?’ She is a hypocrite if ever there was one.”

At that moment, the office door opens and Ruby enters. “Hey there! How’s it going?”

I count to ten upon seeing her, as I am still steaming from the encounter. When I am done, I say, “Fine. And, you?”

“I am glorious! My best friend is putting on a religious play for our church and I have a small part in it. Would you like to see my acting debut?”

“How much are the tickets?”

“Ten dollars.”

“Put me down for twenty.”


“Yes. Family and friends who came to Whisker's funeral are still in town and I would like them to see it.”


“Where can I get tickets?”

“I’ll have them waiting for you at the door of the church.”

“Great. I’ll pay for them then. What time should we be there on Sunday?”

“8:15 am.”

“Okay. See you then.”

“See you!” Ruby says, before returning to her office.

The second the front door shuts behind her, Melanie says, “You’re going to stick her with those tickets, aren’t you?”

“Yep. Payback is a bitch.”

The office door swings open and Millicent enters. She instantly clears her throat, “Uh-uh, uh-uh!” Melanie and I look at each other over the partition.

The door swings open again and Lydia enters. She is holding a giant thermos of coffee while yelling at someone on her cell phone. She immediately goes into her office and shuts the door. Five minutes later her door reopens, and I hear the familiar click, click, click of toenail clippers.

“Gross! Can’t she do that at home?” I say to Melanie.

The office door swings open once more and Brady enters. He smiles at me and says, “Hi.”

I am immediately on the defensive. “What are you doing here?”

“Sharon called me about a problem she is having with her computer. So, I am here to fix it.”

“She probably forgot her password,” Mel says, wryly.

The office door bursts open and Sharon emerges. “Good. You are finally here,” she says to Brady. She goes into Lydia’s office to chat for a minute. I hear her say her daughter is engaged and she has yet to meet the fiancé. I also hear her say her daughter rarely visits; she has to fly down to Florida to visit her.

“If I had a mother like her, I wouldn’t visit either. Can you imagine how fast the engagement would end if he met Sharon?”

“3.2 seconds,” I say to Melanie.

Sharon finishes chatting with Lydia and collects Brady for the job of fixing her computer. Brady gives me a look that says, “Wish me luck!” before entering her office. Once the office door closes, Melanie says, “Did something happen between you and Brady?”

“What are you talking about?”

“Your face became flushed when you saw him and you barely said a word. If I didn’t know any better, I would say you are attracted to him. Oh, my God! You kissed him!”

Who is she? Edgar Cayce? How could she know that happened?

“We got stuck in the rain and were both drenched from head to toe, and it just happened,” I say.

“How romantic!”

“It’s not romantic.”


Well, there’s Richard, for one…”

A pained expression crosses Melanie’s face. “What is it?” I say.

“Nothing,” she replies.

Sharon’s office door reopens and a smiling Brady emerges.

“You are the first person ever to exit that office smiling,” I say.

“That’s because I get to see you afterward.”

My heart flutters at his words. I am ridiculously attracted to this man and I don’t know how to resist. Not to mention, Melanie is no longer interested in him since she learned we kissed. What a mess this is!

Brady takes me by the hand and pulls me into the hallway. “I need to talk to you.”

“Can’t this wait?”

“It’s waited long enough.”

He places an arm on either side of me and pins me against the railing. I am face to face with him and nervous as hell. He looks me in the eyes and says, “Repeat after me: I will go out on a date with you.”

“I can’t.”

“I will go out on a date with you.”

“What about Richard?”

“I will go out on a date with you.”

“Would you stop it?”

“Not until you say it with me.”

“Fine! I will go out on a date with you. Are you happy now?”


Brady is so close to me, I can count the whiskers on his chin. He leans down and whispers in my ear, “Until tonight.”


“Yes. And, wear something sexy.”

I can barely function once he leaves. Brady has tied my libido and brain in a knot. I eventually regain my senses and return to the office. Melanie takes one look at me and says, “You are a goner.”

“What am I going to do about Richard?”

The pained expression returns to her face. “Okay, out with it.”

“Richard is cheating on you.”

“What makes you say that?”

“I went to lunch at Bebe’s last week and I saw him in a booth with his secretary.”

“That’s nothing new. Richard’s secretary helps with clients.”

“The only thing she was helping herself to was Richard. They were carrying on like lovers.”

I am dumbfounded. I never suspected him of cheating. Richard has been my rock for the last three years. How could he do this to me? Worse yet, how could Melanie keep it from me?

“Why didn’t you tell me he was cheating?”

“I tried to several times, but I just couldn’t do it. It would have broken your heart.”

“Why tell me now?”

“Because you like Brady. And, I wanted you to give him a chance.“

I look at her and realize I do not know squat about men. Guide to men, my foot! I am no better than Melanie at picking men. Some guide I turned out to be.

I begin to feel sick to my stomach. I knock on Lydia’s door and tell her I am sick and am going home. She glances at me and says, “Fine. But, it is without pay.”

I gather up my belongings and bid Melanie adieu. I take the elevator to the building’s lobby and ask the receptionist to call me a taxi. The taxi arrives in short order and drives me to the apartment. I open the door and spy the bracelet Richard gave me for my birthday on the table. I fling it into the trash before falling into bed and crying myself to sleep.


Several hours later there is a knock at the bedroom door. “Go away!” I yell. Two seconds later, there is a knock again. I am really annoyed now, so I yank open the door to scream at Melanie. Only, instead of her, I see Richard.

What the hell is he doing here?

He looks at my tear-streaked face and says, “What’s wrong?” He attempts to hold me, but I elude his cheating grasp.

“Don’t touch me! You’ve been cheating on me for months.”

Richard turns pale at the news and has a deer-in-the-headlights look on his face. “I’m sorry, Sara. It just happened.”

“That’s bull and you know it. Things like this don’t just happen.”

“I never meant to hurt you.”

“What you mean is… you never meant to get caught.”

Richard stands there looking helpless. He doesn’t know what to say to me.

“Get out, Richard. Just do us both a huge favor and get out of here.”

Richard gives me a look of frustration before walking out the bedroom door. As he is leaving, there is a knock on the apartment door. Richard opens it and comes face to face with Brady. “Hey, Brady. What are you doing here?”

I rush to the apartment door to run interference. “He is here to see me if you must know.”

Richard looks first at me and then at Brady before stomping angrily from the apartment. Let him think what he wants.

Brady enters the apartment and says, “Are you okay?”

“I guess I am.”

“He looked pretty angry. He didn’t hurt you, did he?”

“I found out he cheated on me with his secretary. How cliché!”

Brady gives me a pitying look before saying, “I’m sorry.”

“What do you have to be sorry for? He’s the cheating bastard.”

“I’m sorry you are hurting. It is obvious to me you are not in the mood to chat right now, so I will go.”


“Yes, Sara?”

“Rain check on the date tonight?”

“Sure thing, Sara. Anything for you.” He smiles at me and caresses my face with his right hand before leaving.

As soon as he exits the apartment, Melanie returns. “Why is Brady leaving?’ Mel says.

I explain what occurred during the last fifteen minutes. “Sheesh! You’re lucky it didn’t end in a brawl.”

I give her a half-hearted smile before telling her I am exhausted. “Tomorrow is a new day. So, I am going to bed now.” I then excuse myself and turn in for the evening.


The next morning, after Melanie and I dress and eat breakfast, we head into the Office of Boring-Boring and run smack into Ruby and Millicent.

“Hey, ladies! Beautiful day, isn’t it?” Ruby says.

“Hi, Ruby. What’s new with you?”

“Oh, nothing,” she says, unconvincingly.

It is clear to me that she is hiding something. “Spit it out, Ruby. You know I am going to find out eventually anyway.”

Ruby looks around to make sure no one in management can hear her before saying, ”I received a promotion today. I am not supposed to say anything about it, because I am forbidden to, so keep it under your hat for now.”

Melanie's eyes widen in shock at the news. But, I am not in shock, I am angry.

How could this two-face, bible-thumping, office troll be promoted over me, someone who has worked her butt off for the company and has the performance evaluations to prove it, for more than a decade? Those miserable, ungrateful bastards! There are more jobs in the sea and I am about to go fishing!

I walk over to my desk and place a sheet of bond paper into the typewriter.

“What are you doing?” Mel says.

“I am writing the mother of all resignation letters to the tyrant-in-chief and her stooge.”

Millicent attempts to reason with me, but I am having none of it. “Millicent, you can stay here and continue to take crap off these people if you want, but I’m out of here.”

Ruby’s face turns red at the news, and she immediately disappears from my sight. “Good riddance to bad rubbish,” I say, upon her departure.

I finish hammering out the best letter of my life as Sharon and Lydia enter the office. “Good morning ladies,” they both say, cheerfully.

I hand my resignation letter to Sharon and say, “It is now” before walking out of the office for good. I walk to the elevator with Melanie trailing closely behind me.

“Sara, please. You can’t go like this.”

I turn to her and say, “Good luck, Mel. Because you are going to need it.” I enter the elevator and press the button for the third floor and watch as the doors slide closed in Mel’s face.

The elevator opens again on the third floor, and I step out and walk straight into Brady.

“Sara!” Brady says, with delight. “What brings you here?”

“You,” I say, happily. I pull him aside and say, “Remember when you said you were going to start your own consulting company?”


“Well, how would you like a new secretary for cheap?” I say, laughingly. Brady gives me a puzzled look before I fill him in on the details.

“So, what do you say?”

He pulls me close and plants a warm, inviting kiss on my lips. “I say, yes. A thousand times, yes.”


About the Creator

Hyacinth Andersen

I write poetry, fiction, and nonfiction.

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