Vintage Business #15: How to Have an Office Affair

Here, in its entirety, is a wonderfully un-PC guidebook to banging your secretary.  Fans of Mad Men may enjoy this delightful (albeit misogynistic) glimpse into the office spaces of 1957.  As usual, I've peppered it with illustrations; there's nothing I hate worse than a book without pictures.  Enjoy.

The Dude magazine
November 1957

The very first rule, of course, is to select the girl. Obviously, it's pretty difficult to have an office affair without one. I bring this self-evident point up because a lot of dreamers trick themselves into thinking they can enjoy the game without the central character. But we don't want to waste our time with these people: for them, there is organic therapy. Perhaps that's why it was born.

It is fatally important to case your quarry carefully. You cannot just see some likely confection floating down the corridor on the way to the mail room and throw yourself upon her. However romantically attractive this frothy fang method may seem to direct- action lovers, it inevitably leads to disaster. A close and canny scrutiny is the first step to successful adultery. Familiarize yourself with the jade's thought and behavior patterns before putting the arm on her. Find out whether she is a Rip or a Florence Nightingale, and proceed accordingly.

My own experience with flips has left its horrendous mark on me, and consequently I tend these days toward the more predictable, middle class quail. What I'm trying to say, is that however delicious they may be, Rips can crucify you. However, for those amongst us who like to scale the heights and soar down the slopes, here are a few notes on having an office affair with these female James Deans.

First of all, get one who labors in some highly remote cranny of the organization. Don't pluck one from your own little front yard. Whenever she gets the urge to communicate some aspect of her neurosis to you, she'll think twice when those three and a half miles of corridor loom ahead of her. In the case of these naughty ones, distance psychologic and cultural is pretty desirable too. Ideally, she should be a member of some far eastern sect who would regard you with terrified awe; short of that, it's nice if she is from the far reaches of Brooklyn and lives in what could be called a different world.

Try to cultivate these cultural and social differences. You might. with luck, convince her that she actually has no civil rights in your world, and that therefore, it would do her no good to call the police and scream rape, because she would be deported post haste. Or something like that.

Flips have a pash for intrigue, drama and mystery, or anything that confirms their notion that life is, after all, a three dimensional movie. So when you are on the make, and after you've scored with the minx, play this knowledge for all it is worth. When you call her on the interoffice phone, put a handkerchief over the mouthpiece to make it sound as though you are in a booth in the subway station. Just when you are on the verge of saying something important, hang up abruptly. Or ask her to spy on somebody in the office for you because you are convinced they are out to give you the heave-ho. Every fiber of her sick being will luxuriate in this kind of jazz, and she will repay you in spades.

Once you have selected your nightmare girl, there are various ways of approaching her and letting her in on your dreadful desire (as if she didn't know already). If she is the literary type, for instance.- that is, if she is quite aware that the New School for Social Research is not a relief agency- there is nothing more apt than letting her know that your favorite reading is the Book of the Dead. You can do this by slipping her a note while she is waiting in the morning coffee line. Or you can loiter around the coke machine until she shows in the afternoon, and very nonchalantly inform her, "Guess what- I've read the Book of the Dead two hundred and eleven times." This should break her up.

But let us suppose that she is not the literary type. Let us suppose that she can barely read. Let us imagine that she gets her kicks out of feeling her way through picture magazines and old copies of Confidential. OK. (Let us also assume that she has the unconsciously delicious figure of a girdle model and the strangely gripping style of a renaissance somnambulist.) There are a couple of methods of getting to this one. Hint around, for instance, that you are a close personal friend of Elvis Presley's psychoanalyst. Or, ask her if she would have a spare moment to type a rather long letter to a friend of yours named Mickey Jelke.

But sometimes, of course, this particular kind of office ocelot will respond only to the most violent, brutal, and uncompromising kind of approach. If this is the case, simply walk by her desk, one fine day, give her a glaring open look, throw down a piece of bubble gum, and walk grandly off.

Once the ball has begun to bounce, one of the biggest hurdles you have to hump--or vice versa- is the behavior of the captive in the office. It is the Rip's instinctive desire to play this sexual conspiracy like Bernhard in a potato race with Callas. ( I'm not straining- the comparison works.) You must not allow this, of course. Tell her under no circumstances is she to rush into your office first thing and scream "Big Daddy, what a simply fantastic animal you were last night!" You must be very firm with her.

At the coffee line-that morning gauntlet of modern times- she must not breathe heavily and lay her eyes on you like two saucers of chilled madrilene. She must play it very cool so that every stud in the joint won't know that you are shacking. Meeting for midday chow often presents many an itchy problem if you are to preserve your liaison and privacy.

The most obvious solution is to meet in a Chinese lunch counter near the Hudson where there is practically no chance of anybody from the office catching you. The further away from the office you are, the more liberties you may take with her walking style (short of exhibitionism that may land you in stir ) . You ran even laugh boisterously if you want to. But as soon as you rome within four blocks of the old office, you should split up like a bifurcated mollusk. Be sure that you don't miss your timing. otherwise you'll wind up bumping into her in the revolving door.

Let's suppose you want to eat in a nicer, nearer place. How should you swing it ? Should you boldly meet her there. in full view of possible exposure, have a good time. and face the risks like a red-blooded man?

Or should you act like a sneaking coward, meet her at a darkly lit table, huddle behind those huge menus, and then, like a whipped dog, crawl back to the office by some devious route?

The latter, of course. What if you are accidentally spotted by some wandering, fishy-eyed nember of your office staff. just as you are about to slip her a piece of buttered melba toast ? What do you do then, eh ! Put a hood quickly over your face and act like the Masked Marvel ? Dive under the table and yell Fire? Of course not. Don't do any of these absurd things. Calmly leave the table, go directly to the men's room, and stay there for the rest of the afternoon.

If by chance, some office cohort snidely says "Didn't I see you with Asphodel Kirschner in the Armpit Arms Bar yesterday ?'' You must answer, .. You're damn tootin' you did! We were waiting for my wife. They went to school together and I was chaperoning them to their class reunion at Schnitzler's Grove." Of course, he won't believe a word of it. but you have successfully brazened it out, and you feel cleaner for it (don't you, old bean ?).

A truly horrifying pitfall facing anybody having an affair with an office-neurotic is the inevitable office party, which you must attend or be dismissed without a penny's severance pay. First of all , sec if you can't talk her into faking extreme colitis so she won't have to come. lf you fail here, then plead with her not to touch a drop of the hard stuff if she cares for you at all. Naturally she is going to tell you to go straight to hell. Asking her not to do these things would be roughly like asking Terry Moore to start dressing in gunny sacks.

Once you are at this Gethsemane, keep your wits about you. 1) Don't sit within eighteen tables of her. 2) Don't make any inexplicable sudden gestures that she could possibly interpret as signals of acceptance. 3) Whatever you feel, don't-if you value your life-get on a dance floor with her when the band is playing anything that has the faintest Spanish beat to it. 4) Don't talk to any other female if you can possibly avoid it. If she sees you and she's had a couple, she'll begin dismantling the decor. 5) Leave as soon as possible, via the servants' entrance.

Having given you a grammar of behavior for the office sickie, I feel that I should now give you a rundown on the straight chick. The Appian Way to this one's main artery is Sympathy and Understanding. Practice walking around in a daze to give her the idea that you have a soul. Forget to pay the Schrafft's girl for your coffee in the morning, and make a point of having her see you stir the coffee with your fountain pen. She'll go mad for this. Every now and then, when you pass her desk, work up a strange, anguished smile. When- in the course of your promotion- you get around to explaining your wife, say that she spends all of her time listening to old Bessie Smith records and eating pigs' feet. The only time she talks to you, is to ask you to turn off the bathtub faucet because it's dripping.

But one thing you've got to beware of with this straight, sympathetic, understanding-type is her generosity. Don't get disturbed when you find odd little presents waiting for you on your desk like lost Arab children. Just play it cool, save them up, and throw them away at the appropriate moment. Then explain to her that the boss's secretary is spying on the two of you, and that her surreptitious acts of generosity arouse her suspicions. Tell her that if she wants to give you something, she might deposit her weekly pay check in your account. This is sure to give her a feeling of participation.

The eating out problem with this one is solved quite easily: just don't take her anywhere to eat. Instead take her for walks in the zoo where practically nobody from your office is apt to be unless they are child molesters- and let her toss peanuts to the baby yak. Or stroll her through the Museum of Modern Art, and try to explain modern painting to her. (It's as good a way as any of keeping her con fused.)

When you part, to wind your separate ways back to the old treadmill, explain to her that you really despise this kind of dissembling. That if you had your way, you'd send out a special office bulletin announcing just how great you swing with her. (Don't say this too loud though; some snipe-hunting office boy might be skulking nearby.) She'll understand. She'll secretly think you're crazy as a bedbug and therefore should be mothered.

All things considered, it is quite possible to have a fine, rich, fulfilling, devious, oedipal, and thoroughly dishonest but satisfying affair in the office with our good middle-class girl. Ultimately of course, all good affairs must come to an end, and any adulterer worth his hassenpfeffer knows this. But the quail doesn't. Abandoning the good middle class item is more arduous than bouncing the flip, mainly because you have to tell more complicated lies.

I would advise this approach: First off, subtly suggest that she throw herself off the George Washington Bridge because life is patently not worth living anymore. However, if you like a more labryinthian method, tell her your analyst has just discovered that she is a sister substitute, and what kind of a girl would dream of going to bed with her brother?

Getting rid of the flip is very simple indeed. Inform her, as blithely as you can, that your internist has just turned up a smidgin of our old spirochete friend in your blood, and hello Mayo. She'll understand. lf she doesn't, if she wants to get revengeful, or any of that kind of gook, tell her that if she doesn't blow, or hang up, or stop bothering you, that all the Blue Shield coverage in Dutchess County wouldn't cover half her injuries if you went to work on her. At this point, you are free and ready for more adventure.

P .S. Many of my correspondents have written in for my golden words on how to have two affairs simultaneously in the same office. I am working on a new directive for this kind of delectable double dealing. Meanwhile, my words are these : any real, first class stroker can swing two at once. However- it is absolutely essential to stay away from that coffee line.




  1. A lot of plus sized gentlemen in the drawings...too many 3 martini lunches at The Chophouse? I'd also recommend Kovacs' "Zoomar" novel for 1950s butt-slappin office hijinx.

  2. Cold metal cabinets...warm skin. Wow!

  3. *Sigh* Let's bring back the good ol' days. The days when screwing around was a good thing and when you could use references like hasenpfeffer, Chinese lunch counter, and Bessy Smith records.

  4. Convince the submissive foreign girl that she has no civil rights here, and that if she cries "rape" she will be deported. Ugh...

    On the other hand, what is a "flip"?