Karen, the would-be boss


karen3Karen would have hired me. My experience in documentary production, the academic study of culture, small business operation, and my fluency in Spanish, German and Hindi made me a perfect fit to run the video-ethnography unit of Karen’s global trendhunting firm. I was coming off a rough year, too. My last divorce had bankrupted me. Between the alimony payments and the closure of KD Publishing, I was pretty much ruined, so I badly needed the job.

Then I met Karen in person. We’d charmed each other on the phone, sure, but I’d assumed she was unavailable. Or unattractive. I don’t know. Something about her voice on the phone made it seem like I wouldn’t be interested. But when I came into the office for the first time, I was dumbstruck. This incredibly intelligent, sharp-witted, entrepreneurial woman was drop-dead gorgeous.

“Knox,” She said, as she warmly wrapped both her hands around mine. “So pleased to meet you in person.”

“Y-y-you’re telling me,” I stuttered.

After giving me a tour of the firm’s trendy warehouse workspace and introducing me to some of the principals, Karen took me out to an upscale eatery filled with other powerlunchers.

“Listen, it’s a foregone conclusion that you’re completely qualified for this position,” Karen told me, as she moved her arugula salad from one side of her plate to another. “And you seem completely well adjusted over the phone. Your references are good. I just want to spend some time with you to make sure you fit into the culture of the company. Tell me something that’s not on your resume.”

“Well,” I said. “I’ve had my heart broken a couple hundred times. At least.”

“At least?”

“I mean, I’ve never bothered to count before, but yeah, I guess I’ve been a man of faith when it comes to women. Despite continually getting knocked around, I always step back into the ring.”

“That’s funny,” Karen said, carefully considering her point, “because almost all successful people I know have never really been in love.”

Looking Karen dead in the eye, I asked, “Have you?”

“Not yet, but I’m all faith, Knox.”

Once we had finished our meal, Karen ordered an expensive bottle of white wine. Business talk had devolved into back-and-forth confessionals. I admitted how my failures in love had affected my various careers. Karen confided in me how she had leveraged her looks to gain power, since she was a college intern at some PR company, and had kept all men at a distance ever since.

After our second bottle of wine, we switched to Martinis. “Sometimes, it’s better not to come back to work after lunch. Especially when I’m out with a potential new executive,” she told me.

“Got to maintain that air of mystery,” I slurred, wondering in the back of my mind if this woman was outdrinking me.

When we left the restaurant it was pouring outside, so we both had to crowd beneath my too-small umbrella. About a half a block down, I turned to Karen and said, “Listen, I don’t think I can take this job.”

Stunned, Karen asked, “Why not? It’s yours if you want it”

“Because I wouldn’t be able to contain my attraction to you,” I said, and then lifted her chin to kiss her in the rain.

It was among the best starts to a relationship I’d ever pulled off. The type of durable how-we-met-then-fell-in-love anecdotes that people make you repeat at every dinner party until you die.

Karen dumped me five weeks Later. Over email.

She wrote:


I can’t continue with this. I guess you should have chased the job instead of the boss. I’ve already spent to much of my imagination on you, and it’s a waste, especially when it’s clear that neither of us are capable of pulling off a relationship. Maybe in a couple years I’ll be ready, but I can’t lose focus from my business right now. Feel free to list me as a reference.


Fuck, I thought, I really should have chased that job.

One Response to “Karen, the would-be boss”

  1. Yes, you should have chased the job.

    I get the weird feeling sometimes that I’m the woman version of you with all this love and loss and getting back into the ring drama. Tell me, does it ever end?

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