My boss tried to kiss me while we were both drunk. Should I confront him?

Advice on manners and morals.
July 8 2010 7:01 AM

Hollywood and Wine

My big-shot boss tried to kiss me while we were both drunk. Should I confront him?

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Dear Prudence,
I landed a dream internship in the entertainment industry and on my first day on the job got to be part of a fabulous evening-long project that culminated in a victory party at a bar. Due to pressure from my supervisors, who were buying the drinks, and poor decision-making, I wound up too drunk to drive home. One of the bosses took me home with him, and when we got there he repeatedly tried to kiss me. This confused me, because I had been certain that he was gay. When I rejected him, saying, "I don't understand," he told me that he found me incredibly beautiful and sexy. Twenty minutes later, I was throwing up in his living room while he tried to play nurse and let me sleep it off on his couch. The next day he begged me not to quit, although he didn't apologize for putting the moves on me. I intend to stay at this internship, because it's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Do I write the incident off as a crazy, drunken night and nothing more, or confront him about it? Harassment on my first day, though committed under inebriation, is a pretty heavy issue to just sweep under the rug. What should I do?

—Harassed and Hungover

Dear Harassed,
Get the full DVD set of Entourage and discover that yours could be considered a tame first day on the job in the entertainment industry. Certainly your supervisors should never have encouraged an intern (or any employee) to get drunk. But if you are old enough to have an internship, you should be old enough to know your own limit. Now you do, so that was a valuable evening. There is no Most-Powerful-Man-in-the-World exemption for hitting on an intern (even if the intern flashes some thong); and there's no Hollywood one, either (especially if the intern is inebriated). Your boss gave you a revolting welcome to the industry, but at least he backed off and got all Florence Nightingale after you ralphed in his living room. Although I'd love to be there, as would any reality-show producer, when you clarify your surprise and horror at his unwanted advances by explaining, "I was certain you were gay, so I couldn't believe you were trying to kiss me!" there are some things that are best left unsaid. His begging you not to quit indicates that he knows he behaved terribly. Now that you've both showered, sobered up, and returned to your desks, you need to show your boss that you have the good judgment to forget about your unfortunate start, and instead spend the rest of the summer showing that you are great at your work.

—Prudie

Dear Prudence,
When my son was 5 years old, he wanted a $250 gaming system. My husband and I told him that he would have to save up to buy it. He saved every penny of birthday, Christmas, and any other money he got. After many months, he had half of what he needed. We were so impressed by his strength of character that we pitched in the rest. Two years later, my husband's uncle asked to borrow the system for the night. He had so much fun that he offered to buy it for $180 to be paid in weekly $20 increments. My son saw this as an opportunity to get enough money to purchase the latest system, so he agreed. The uncle's payments were erratic, but he eventually made most of them, and my son bought his new system. Then the uncle lost his job and has not given my son the final $20. I understand money is tight, but I think it's unacceptable not to pay what he owes to a boy who isn't even 8 years old. How do I get the uncle to make this last payment without causing a scene?

—Mama Bear

Dear Mama,
I have every confidence that your son will be undamaged by this breach of contract since he sounds as if he's on his way to being the next Warren Buffett. Your son made a good enough deal on his used system that he is now enjoying a better gaming system. His great-uncle is probably hoping that he can just keep on playing Grand Theft Auto instead of having to actually engage in the crime to try to stay solvent. Since the uncle is surely juggling many creditors, it seems unlikely that even for the sake of family unity, the $20 debt to your son is going to be at the top of the list. Yes, promises are important, but so is compassion. Tell your son that "Uncle Charlie" is now in a bad situation, and since your son has already gotten his new system, you think your family should tell Charlie that he shouldn't worry about that last payment. After all, Warren Buffett himself is planning to disperse much of what he accumulated to those less fortunate than he.

—Prudie

Dear Prudence,
I am a proud gay man and for the last several years have worked in a high-ranking position for a company where my homosexuality has never been an issue. Recently, while a group of us were having lunch, the topic of two straight female celebrities kissing on an awards show came up. Everyone agreed that the kiss was a stunt, but one co-worker, with whom I've always been close, called it "trash." She ranted about how it was indecent and that children were watching. It made me very uncomfortable that she displayed a hateful side I'd never seen before. She later apologized, saying that her comments were in no way directed to me. I accepted her apology, but I'm still very bothered by it because there was a tone of disgust toward gay people. I've changed around her and no longer talk to her about my personal life. She's noticed and keeps asking me whether I'm still upset about that conversation. I say no, even though I am. I have great memories of the fun times we shared as friends, and I don't want to bring this up because it could have an impact on our professional relationship. How do I tell her how I feel and finally put this behind me?

—Out

Dear Out,
When Joseph Biden declared his candidacy for the presidency, he evaluated his opponent, Barack Obama, by calling him "the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy." It was the kind of compliment that required an apology for its racism, yet presidential nominee Obama selected Biden to be his running mate. Which means you should let go of an ill-considered remark by someone you know to be a decent, nonhomophobic person. It's possible your colleague's ire was more about the slobbery, in-your-face nature of the kiss than a commentary on homosexuality. Surely, how she treats you is more indicative of her true feelings than her reaction to celebrities being deliberately provocative. It's a mark of how comfortable she is with you that she could express her unfiltered opinion (which she won't do again). When she saw you were upset and realized she may have been out of line, she apologized. It's churlish and even mean-spirited on your part to accept her apology, yet behave in an obviously cool fashion. There's nothing to be gained by re-airing the whole episode.  I think you should tell her that she's right—you've been letting the lunch incident eat at you, but you're over it now, and you look forward to resuming your close relationship.

—Prudie

Dear Prudence,
My younger sister is expecting her first child this fall. She recently completed her baby registries at two stores and told me to check them out. I was stunned. She has seemingly put every item in both stores on the list. She is having four showers thrown for her (all by eager, happy hosts), so I think that's the reason for all of the excess. I have kids of my own, and I know that they require a lot of stuff. But she's registered for just about everything that this child will need until he or she turns 3 years old—including a toddler bed. I'm embarrassed for her, and I think this looks greedy, especially since they are comfortable financially. I love her dearly, and I don't want to upset her, but should I speak up about this?

—Excited Auntie-To-Be

Dear Excited,
I'm not sure someone who thinks expelling a small person entitles her to receive everything in the warehouse at Buy Buy Baby is going to be amenable to being instructed on the value of holding back. I agree she is embarrassing herself, but showers can make some people's judgment mushy, and you need to be very sure of your relationship with her before you wade into this one. It's ludicrous for her to expect her loved ones to furnish all the furniture and everything else she'll need for the first years of her baby's life. More than that, she should be pulling the plug on at least two of the showers. If she has four separate guest lists, then she's hitting up people who aren't close enough friends; if she is inviting people to more than one shower, then she's going to get a reputation for avariciousness. You can gently try to tell her all this: "Kristie, everyone is so excited about your pregnancy, but maybe your friends should consolidate the celebrations into two events, so it doesn't seem as if they're going over the top." But be prepared for her to blow her top and accuse you of being a cheap, jealous sister and lousy aunt-to-be.

—Prudie

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