The day before I left for my meeting, I stopped into Natalie's office to touch base. Shel was there, as was a co-worker from another department. I wanted to see both Natalie and Shel so I could verify whether either of them needed anything from me before I left for five days, so I took advantage of both of them being present. But, as is altogether too common of an experience, I came into a conversation mid-cycle and got blindsided.
As she saw me approach, Shel raised her voice so I could hear her say, "Dana will freak when she hears that!" It was a joke, of course, said because I was approaching, not because the conversation merited.
Somehow, the subject had turned to the boys. Shel likes the boys, Dan in particular. Maybe not the way I like Casey, but to the casual observer, her behavior toward the gang and mine are pretty much the same.
"You know, we were talking at lunch about how Dana has a special thing for somebody," Shel teased.
"What's that supposed to mean?" our co-worker inquried.
"Everyone in the marketing department has noticed that Dana pays more attention to Casey than anyone else, that she treats him differently!" Shel explained, turning to me. "Isaac even said that you don't flirt with anybody else."
"No," I countered, "Isaac said I didn't flirt with anyone at all. Which made both Casey and Dan wonder who he's has been observing all this time."
"Well, we've all seen it. Nobody's upset by it," Shel continued, seeing my confused look, "but we all know that you act totally different with him, right Natalie?"
Shel backpedaled. Madly. But the damage was done. And the conversation turned...slightly tense.
"How come it's OK for you to flirt with Dan, but I can't flirt with Casey?" I asked, not in an accusing manner, just an inquiring one.
"I don't flirt with Dan!" she protested. "We talk about his girlfriend, and the baby and and the restaurant near his house and stuff! We don't flirt!"
"I talk to Casey about my husband, and his wife, and work stuff, and sports. What's the difference?" I asked innocently.
Shel didn't have an answer. Natalie had one later, though. The difference is clear. Shel and I both flirt with the boys, and she even does so more than I do (dropping mentions of when she's going to lunch with "the boys" and such). The difference is, only one of us rock the Hot Wife t-shirt and it's not the one who raised the accusation in the first place.