AC Buzz

How to have a secret office relationship (and get away with it)

‘There is no mythical stationery cupboard you can both retreat to.’ Photograph: Harrison Eastwood/Getty Images

The girl I ended up seeing – let’s call her Chrissy – was just marginally superior to me: she was full time, and in her 20s. We did our fair bit of sneaking around, probably because it made the job at hand – mostly shelf-stacking and checking the best-before dates – more interesting. Here are five rules I have for those embarking on a work romance.

1) The toilets are now Valentino’s bedroom

Where do young hearts run free? Well, sadly, your choices are very limited. There is no mythical stationery cupboard you can retreat to. Really, the sole place of privacy is the toilets. You’ll have to deal with the fact you have some dusty old cans of Febreze and a rusty mirror for company. And you’ll have to train your eyes to not look at the floor tiles too much in case you vomit when you see the state of them. Chrissy and I also had the “cold room”, where all the frozen meats were kept. It was dark and not particularly populated, but also freezing. I found this romantic until I thought I had arthritis in my immobile knuckles from the cold.

2) Accept that everything becomes euphemistically loaded

Linguistically speaking you become your idiot brother. Tragically, your language descends into the kind of desperate euphemisms you only get in panto. The most common-or-garden phrases become filled with heavy double entendres. In our relationship there were lots of unrepeatable, cringe-making comments involving various fruit, vegetables, three-for-two meal deals and, for some reason I can’t quite remember now, taramasalata.

3) Make cigarettes your new buddies

Previously a nonsmoker, I took it up when I was seeing Chrissy. Necessity dictated that we spent as much time together as we could, and there was no better, more acceptable time to do that than the fag break. We held hands as I took the occasional puff, secretly hoping I wouldn’t cough my guts out and the ruse would be up. Long-suffering asthma condition be damned!

4) You are living in cheap romantic fiction. Roll with it.

At the beginning of my office relationship, I was filled with an exhilarating sense that I was living a grownup life for the first time. I felt rebellious but also strangely alive. There was also a sense that my life had turned into the plot of a limited-release romcom. I was living cheap fiction, and I loved it.

5) Prepare for loneliness

Source: The Guardian.

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