boss/CEO lives and works in a different city, but most of
her mail arrives at my office because it is the company’s
official address. I routinely open mail and packages addressed
to her. Usually they contain documents for me to handle or
software for me to install, but today I opened a package with
her name on it to find something completely different: a pair
of vibrating panties.
Both the billing address and shipping address are the same,
so I’m guessing she purchased them on her company card.
I know this is more of a business- etiquette question, but
do your amazing sex-advice skills provide you with any ideas
on how I should handle this? It will be very obvious that
the package has been opened, even if I try to tape it back
up and send it to her home address. But if I do nothing, sooner
or later she’s going to wonder where her shipment is.
We’re a small, casual company and she’s a pretty confident
and outgoing person, but I can’t really predict how she will
react to this. Would it be weird for me to just be up-front
about this situation? Should I just throw in a sticky note
that says, “Whoops! Have fun! J” and send it on? Or should
I pretend this embarrassing thing never happened?
are never the right answer, ATA. Please make an emoticon-free
note of it.
Now here’s what my amazing sex-advice Spidey sense is telling
me: Vibrating panties are not a sex toy, ATA, they’re a gag
gift. Check your boss’s schedule: Any bridal showers coming
up? Bachelorette parties? A friend holding a bash to mourn/celebrate
a recent divorce?
There’s a small chance that your boss doesn’t know much about
sex toys and purchased a pair of vibrating panties for herself
and intends to wear them on long flights (if she can get them
past security). But you should nevertheless treat this pair
of panties like a misplaced gag gift, ATA, and not an existential
workplace crisis. So no notes, no emoticons, no being “up-front
about this situation,” ATA, because this isn’t a “situation.”
It’s a shipping error.
Tape up the box and send it off to your boss and forget about
it. If she feels a need to bring it up—if she wants to apologize
or let you know it was, in fact, a gag gift—she’ll bring it
Yesterday I was finishing a work conversation with my
boss via instant message from my home computer. I meant to
send her a legitimate link, but because I used the wrong combination
of keys, I accidentally entered a several-day-old porn link
that was still in the memory and hit send before I noticed
my mistake. I’m a 30-year-old male, my boss is a few years
younger and female, and she’s generally cool. Once I realized
what I had done, I immediately told her not to click the link
and I sent the right one. The URL left little to the imagination
about what kind of link it was.
We work in a very professional environment that’s careful
about maintaining a respectful and harassment-free workplace.
I’m horribly embarrassed. How should I handle it? I’m inclined
to never speak of it again unless she does first.
power dynamics being what they are—bosses can fire employees,
employees can’t fire bosses—you do need to put something in
First, no emoticons.
Second, send a brief e-mail to your boss detailing
just how that happened—IMing from your home computer, not
your work computer (making it clear that you weren’t looking
at porn on your work computer without using the word “porn”)—apologize
one more time, and state that you’ll take care that it doesn’t
happen again. You could still get in trouble with HR if your
boss decides to make a case of it, but you’ll be able to point
to a contemporaneous e-mail that details your side of the
story, i.e., an accident, you weren’t rubbing one out in front
of a work computer.
In somewhat related news: Today I sent my straight boss a
picture I found online of a guy with a wine bottle stuffed
up his ass—I did it on purpose. ;)
I wanted to thank you for drawing so much attention
to Sex at Dawn. I am going to get it as soon as possible so
I can better understand myself. I have always felt a certain
amount of shame because I’ve never had a monogamous relationship.
Having been married 14 years (married at 19, which I know
is a no-no in your book), I’ve had plenty of temptation and
only given in a few times. Those events felt like they were
saving my sanity; they never had anything to do with me loving
my husband any less. It wasn’t until I started listening to
your advice that I realized that maybe I wasn’t the problem.
For all these years, I felt like shit because I couldn’t be
monogamous. Thanks for clueing me in to evolution, reptile
for the nice note, M, now go forth and cheat no more, i.e.,
don’t be a CPOS (cheating piece of shit). If you’re incapable
of being monogamous, don’t make monogamous commitments that
you’re damn well going to break.
And to all the outraged folks writing in to ask if I’m seriously
suggesting that no one should ever be monogamous: That’s not
what I’m saying—and it’s not what the authors of Sex at
Dawn are arguing either. The point of Sex at Dawn—and
my point in drawing my readers’ and listeners’ attention to
it—isn’t that no one should attempt to be monogamous or that
people who’ve made monogamous commitments have a license to
cheat on their partners. For the record: I’m happy to acknowledge
that there are lots of good reasons to be monogamous and/or
very nearly monogamous, e.g., children and other sexually
What the authors of Sex at Dawn believe—and
what I think they prove—is that we are a naturally
nonmonogamous species, despite what we’ve been told for millennia
by preachers and for centuries by scientists, and that
is why so many people have such a hard time remaining monogamous
over the long haul. I’m not saying that everyone everywhere
has to be nonmonogamous; the authors of Sex at Dawn
don’t make that argument either. (Lots of monogamists, however,
do run around insisting that everyone everywhere should be
monogamous—and proscriptive monogamists get a pass because,
hey, they mean so well and wouldn’t it be nice if everyone
The point is this: People—particularly those who value
monogamy—need to understand why being monogamous is so
much harder than they’ve been led to believe it will be. In
some cases, this understanding may help people find the courage
to seek out nonmonogamous relationships and/or arrangements
and/or allowances that make them—gasp!—happier and
make their relationships more stable, not less, as a routine
infidelity won’t doom their marriage/civilunion/commitment/slavecontract/whatever.
But understanding that monogamy is a struggle for most people—and
being able to be honest with our partners about experiencing
it as a struggle—may actually help some people remain monogamous.
I usually end the column with a plug for my podcast. Not this
week: Anyone who’s ever struggled with monogamy—and any honest
person who ever attempted it admits to struggling—needs to
read Sex at Dawn. For more about the book, and how order it,
go to www.sexatdawn.com.