Dirty Old Man

What is it with dirty old men and their fascination with my marital and reproductive status?

Yesterday at work, one of my (six) bosses confessed that he had run out of regular dog food for his bichon frise and, by way of compensation, filled her bowl with treats instead. I remarked that at least he doesn’t have actual children. Within a fraction of a second, a voice came from behind me, to my left: “Your time will come.”

I turned and found Dave standing there, beady eyes fixed on me. Well, some part of me. Dave is exactly what you would picture a dirty old man to be: sloppy, with a desk hinting at tendencies toward hoarding. Large, bald, rumpled, bespectacled, and an avid fan of wearing suspenders and a belt at the same time. (I always thought it was an either/or thing.) He’s built like Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum.

Image from alice-in-wonderland.net, which is somehow not a porn site.

That’s even how he looks when he talks to me. Hand on hip, eyes closed, trap flapping.

So anyway, he’s all “your time will come” over there with his hands on his hips, out of nowhere and frankly apropos of nothing. Because we were talking about a dog. And I do want a dog. But that wasn’t what Dave was referring to.

Half-befuddled and half irritated already, I responded to his unsolicited comment with a professional, “Huh?”

“For children,” he said.

Oh, go away already.

“Dave, I–”

“But you have to find a man first.”

Great. Because this is a discussion that’s appropriate for the workplace post-1965.

This kind of crap makes me bristle just out of reflex. As a matter of fact, if I wanted children, I would, indeed, prefer to “find a man” first. And given my tendency to shirk medical intervention, it would seem I would have “found a man” in order to conceive, even if he promptly wandered into the woods afterward. But that’s just me. Not everyone does it that way. Some people don’t even like men, but still want children. Including, incidentally, one of our co-workers, who is raising a son with her partner and standing about 20 feet away right now. Oh, and by the way, Dave, it’s none of your beeswax and I’m not quite sure why you think you know the faintest thing about me, my biological clock or my love life.

But the polite and controlled response I gave was meant simply to just end the conversation. “Well, that’s not necessarily true, Dave,” I said, laughing falsely. “Not in this day and age.”

Dave closed his eyes and leaned in, Tweedle-like, spittle spraying from his mouth. “Don’t. Put the cart. Before the horse. Trust me.”

Dude, are you kidding me with this conversation right now? What are you, Babydaddy to five? You’re a bitterly divorced father of two, conceived in exactly the way you’re advising me to do it. Assuming I’d want to.

“Dave,” I replied exasperatedly and uncomfortably, because exactly zero co-workers were coming to my aid even though three of them were overhearing this. “There’s no cart. There’s no horse. There’s nothing.”

“Good,” he said.

Then he told me his part of the project was done and asked me to look it over because he’d tweaked a couple of things since we last went through it, and he toddled off.

“I swear to God, I threw up in my mouth,” muttered my friend Andrea, wide-eyed, from her desk across from mine.

This isn’t the first time Dave has spouted off unprompted about his perception of my relationship and reproductive status. A few months ago, again randomly, he intoned that I would never find a man working in a basement, nights and weekends.

I’m not saying he’s wrong about the assertion. But he’s sure as hell clueless about whether I care to hear his opinion.

Dave is known throughout the basement as a dirty old man. Recently, when he needed help with his new iPad, he asked a co-worker, but forgot to clear the web browser history, and um, let’s just say we know what Dave’s doing with his free time, and we’d like him to wash his hands.

When one of our co-workers was pregnant, he noted aloud to her that the Titty Fairy had come.

I did not make that up.

During a project that involved a discussion on bras (yeah, it was odd – stay with me), he wandered around the basement asking every woman we work with, “Do you wear an underwire bra? Do you wear an underwire bra? Does your bra have an underwire?” He claimed it was research.

One time, in a meeting, the subject of physical therapy and massage came up, and Dave openly stated that he has never been a fan of massages if they didn’t have Happy Endings.

I know.

And most of the time, people are somewhat professional and polite and don’t really tell him that he needs to shut his sexist, idiot pie hole. Even when people try, he doesn’t really take the hint. It’s awkward.

Earlier today, he came over to me. I found myself raising my defenses. What will I say? I had been thinking about options, but one never knows what is going to come out of Dave’s mouth (aside from spittle). Faced with uncertainty, I cringed inwardly.

Turned out he just wanted to check a date.

Dodged him for now. But I’ve got to be ready for next time, when he tells me maybe I’m single because of my choice of underwear.
Featured image from freakingnews.com


26 thoughts on “Dirty Old Man

  1. Nobody should have to put up with that much douche-baggery in the work place. Especially in a basement workplace. Your description of him made my skin crawl. A lot.

    • The thing about working in a basement is that it morphs your perspective. I call it the Sensory Deprivation Chamber. Spend enough time in it and you don’t know whether it’s day or night. A little more time and you forget your own name. With these as the side effects, maybe Dave figures he’s got a shot in hell.

  2. Ewwwww! That surpasses dirty old mandom and goes right into advanced level creepiness. The next time he tells you that you need to find a man, look him in the eye and say, “Well, there certainly aren’t any in this vicinity.”

    • That’s certainly one of the options. I told another coworker friend about it (he’s witnessed such declarations from Dave in the past) and he said, “Is he just waiting for you to say, ‘Well, you’re single, let’s go?'” I shudder at the thought. And by the way, it’s completely true. There is no one to impress at work.

  3. That’s just gross, but pardon me because I did laugh. I know I am uncouth, but I’ve never heard of the titty fairy. 🙂

    You should not have to put up with that. Do you have sexual harassment policies at work? I think that definitely falls into that category.

    • Well who wouldn’t laugh at that particular fairy? That’s why nobody says anything really… because you can’t help but laugh even as you’re wide-eyed and slack-jawed with astonishment. As for sexual harassment policies, sure we have them. But frankly, we’re all inappropriate from time to time because we work in an environment that’s pretty collegial. Also, HR is universally regarded as the worst possible place to go even when you’re trying to solve world hunger, because they will invariably handle it in precisely the wrong way. So he who lives in a glass house does not throw stones. Some of us just have more glass walls than others.

  4. OMG. This is a very painful post for me to read. For a large part of my life, I used to be “Dave”. I felt wronged and I was seeking justice. I know it probably comes across as sexual, but, at least in my case, it was not sexual. It was retaliation.

    The pattern is so much like my past. There is something about you I admire. Your work is really great or I really like how you handle certain situations. There is something that really impresses me. i decide I would like to be your friend. I make overtures to be your friend and you make it clear to me that we will only be work associates at best. In my mind that means you don’t think I am good enough to be your friend. I am “less-than”. You have now become “bitch” in my brain.

    I am not confrontational. My weapon of choice is a passive/aggressive mode. I am waiting for you to say anything that looks like you are putting yourself above me or the topic at hand. Once you do, I am there and ready to snipe at you. You say/infer you are better than “x”; snipe. You don’t like “y”; snipe. On and on it goes. I savor those moments of sweet revenge, although the joy is very short and not truly rewarding. That is why I cannot stop.

    I don’t think I really realized just how ugly and offensive it was until I read your post today. Truly disgusting.

    Due to changes in my life some years ago I am a markedly different person today. I no longer view my worth in how others see me, but how I adhere to a certain set of principals. If you like me that is great. If not, that is OK too. If we are not friends I don’t see you as better than me. I have no reason to “get even”.

    As I read your post I realized that I will never be able to make proper amends to many I have wronged this way in the past. But thanks to your post I will certainly enhance my living amends for now and the future. I really needed to hear what you had to say. Thanks.

    • I think part of the reason most of us leave Dave alone when he says stuff like this is because we know it comes from a place of insecurity. He’s inappropriate, for sure, but he’s also just awkward. I don’t know if he’s retaliating, but it’s an interesting perspective. I’m glad you got something out of the post. Thanks!

  5. oh wow. he’s a creeper for sure.
    Spent a few weeks one summer in University counting parked cars. Yeah, it’s as exciting as it sounds, but at least I was outside and wandering around small towns all day. However, at age 20, with the appearance of “could be anywhere from 14 to 18”, the number of creepy old men who felt the need to come up and say “Why don’t you write my number down in your clipboard, honey/sugar/darlin/girlie” was… ridiculous. The first day, when I was dressed business-casual, I had an offer of “I’ll pay for your order, and you can join me for lunch” (the clerk said, “oh, he’s just like that, don’t mind him” when i shot the guy down), and general cat-calling from the mostlyretired same-age-as-my-grandpa crowd. The rest of the car-counting days, I dressed in my old highschool gym clothes. Far fewer creepers (but not all eliminated… seriously, ‘pedo say what?’), and I just smiled and shrugged when people asked me if I was excited to start highschool in the fall.
    Workplace sexism = aaaaawesome. And I mean that in the most sarcastic way possible 😉

    • Isn’t it amazing what those types get away with? I’d say “what they think the can get away with,” but they actually do get away with it. Because we’re polite or don’t want to make a scene.

  6. There are just people in this world who have no idea how they appear to other people. And there are some that do and don’t care.

    Hard as it is to do, I really think the best policy is not to engage this guy. Don’t even turn around and look at him. Don’t acknowledge his creepy self. Certainly don’t ask him to repeat it or what he meant by it. Anyway, you know he’s just going to say something else infuriating. Why put yourself through more? At the very least, don’t acknowledge things that are not said directly to your face (like the behind the shoulder comment you mentioned). The less you have to hear out of his mouth, the better. If he follows you and won’t shut up, still don’t acknowledge, don’t respond. Your personal life is not his business.

    Of course, I know this is easier said than done, and maybe you’ve even tried it and it doesn’t work. But it’s the best suggestion I’ve got. You’ve already said you are unwilling to throw things at your co-workers, so…

    • Heehee… well, I appreciate your thoughts! Dave is harmless, though he is also offensive. Ignoring him may not always be an option, but from time to time I do like to just stare blankly and silently back. Maybe if I can make him as uncomfortable as his questions make other people… 🙂

  7. I’m sorry to say I laughed all the way through this post. Men like that still exist?! Thank GOD I work in the cultured environment of theater, where it’s all unicorns and rainbows all the time and we all know each other’s business whether we want to or not… (And I have to say, I *have* asked about the benefits of underwires and so on. And it was actual job research. My job is awesome.)

    • Child, please. Don’t be sorry. I meant for it to be funny, because it is… in that “does this really happen?” way. It’s just so ridiculous, it’s hard to believe it’s real. And you’re supposed to ask women about underwires. It’s your job to dress them. Dave, not so much.

  8. Well, you knew I couldn’t skip a post with a title like that! It just took me a while to get here. I think I’m with skippingstones … the Daves of the world are better ignored if possible because challenging them, even gently is unlikely to do anything more than bring forth an another annoying comment. But I have to admit, there was a time I’d have ripped him a new one and thought about consequences later.

    I once had an office mate who was quite prejudiced. The truth is, if the subject stayed away from race, religion, politics and nationality, I liked working with him. One day he began explaining to me how we had to “Jew down” a supplier to get a better price, We had done a few things socially with him and his wife, so I said, “So, would you like me to call Muri so you can get some advice on how to Jew somebody down?” He stuttered and tried to apologize but I walked away. It never happened again.

    What amazes me is that he can get away with that the workplace. In my last ten years in the defense industry, that sort of thing frequently led to a trip to HR … unless, of course, the offender was high enough in the company to be immune or had a Get Out of Human Resources Free Card (usually meaning they were a member of another minority and untouchable).

    • I’ve been waiting for your comment. 🙂 I was stunned by your former co-worker’s comments. Astonishing what people will think is acceptable to say. Dave is not a minority, no… but HR is a hostile place where I work. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. Plus if you report someone to HR, you wind up on the radar, yourself. It’s bizarro.

      • I was just telling Dan Bain that I’ve learned about other things Dave has said to female co-workers:
        As one pregnant co-worker was preparing to go on maternity leave, he brought her a gift, gave her some “sage advice,” turned to a single female co-worker and solemnly said, “One day…”
        And right after another co-worker got married, he told her that she had better start having kids right away, because she was old. (I’m pretty sure she’s still in her 30s. Her oldest child is 5, I think. She has three.)
        Too bad I’ve never seen him drink coffee.

      • Btw, Bud, I like the way you think. Ipecac might more effective than Ex-Lax, though, and would have a nice, ironic link to the “babies” theme. But it’s also hard to come by these days, as they no longer give it to new parents. Pity….

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