Letterman’s Laws of Love

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Question: What’s the absolutely best reason to work by yourself?

Answer: You don’t have to worry about office romances.

Or, to be brutally honest about it, you don’t have to worry about the other person in your tawdry workplace affair rejecting you, or worse, complaining about you to Human Resources. If the only person you have to sexually harass is you, chances are you will not be offended, unless you know yourself really well. Then you can object about being propositioned by someone as unworthy of your affections as you.

For the rest of the working world, it’s not so simple. Just because you and the object of your affection work side by side 14 hours a day doesn’t mean you have carte blanche to launch an affair. And if you doubt it, ask Blanche. She’s busy reporting your sorry self to her HR representative, her lawyer, your spouse, and the Drudge Report.

The dangers of an office romance were recently revealed to the host of CBS’s Late Night, David Letterman. Apparently, Dave has been turning his monologue into a dialogue by meeting with comely young interns in a secret love nest in the Ed Sullivan Theater. Given Letterman’s fame and fortune, it’s not surprising that he could be blackmailed. What is shocking is that no one turned him in to HR.

Clearly, Letterman’s organization, Worldwide Pants, did not have the benefit of Dale Carnegie Training. If they did, the boss’s pants, worldwide or local, surely would have stayed on. According to a timely email I received from the Carnegie crew, when it comes to sharing workplace romance etiquette, the CEO and president of the company, Peter Handal, is definitely hot to trot.

“Avoid dating someone in a higher or lower position” is one of Handal’s homilies, a suggestion you may find extremely limiting. After all, who in your company is in a lower position than you?

As far as dating above you, Handal suggests this could “dramatically affect your salary or movement within your company.” Probably for the better, I say, at least, until you and your upper echelon honey bunny have a fight and you find yourself offered a great growth opportunity opening up the company’s new office in Antarctica.

“Maintain decorum and professionalism” is another piece of wisdom. “If there’s evidence that an office romance is affecting work,” advises CEO Handal, “one or more or both of you may be asked to end your romance or, worse yet, find another job.” Personally, I think true love is worth it, especially if you see to it that the person you so deeply and devotedly love is the one to get the ax, and not you.  Yes, it’s sad to watch someone you care about being fed to the wolves, but it will be an excellent test of your love. And being unemployed, your love interest will have lots of time on their hands, so they’ll be free to pick up your dry cleaning.

“Absolutely no public displays of affection at work,” is another piece of excellent advice. “Maintain proper distance and save the romantic acts for locations that are not often visited by co-workers.” Or, in other words, save the smooching for the public library or the art museum. No way will the morons in your company ever find you there.

Handal’s suggestion to “never have or bring fights or arguments to work” may not be easy to accomplish. One can always manage to put off the urge to snuggle, but a good fight is hard to resist. If you and your workplace honey must fight, do it in public. Just keep the epithets and invectives vague. That way, you can explain that the reasons behind the name-calling and coffee mug throwing were business related. You and your partner were so emotionally vested in the corporate mission statement that you couldn’t control yourselves.

By turning your domestic donnybrook into a demonstration of your deep sense of caring, you’ll probably get raises.

“Consider leaving” is the final tip from the Carnegie CEO. “If the relationship does get serious, one member should consider a new position outside the company.” This seems awfully harsh – not for the person who has to leave, but for the person who has to stay. Besides, when you no longer work in the same miserable workplace, what will you have to talk about?

Ask any of Dave Letterman’s girlfriends. Without all your dirty little secrets to hide, all you have is love


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