Virginia Ironside's Dilemmas: Drunken Christmas party kiss


Dear Virginia, I feel so ashamed - I went to our office Christmas party and got drunk, and a bit out of control. Worst of all, I ended up snogging my boss - a married man I don't fancy at all. If I were a secretary, it wouldn't be so bad, but I'm an executive. I haven't seen him since, as he was on a business trip and then there was the Christmas break, but how can I face him when we go back to work? Yours sincerely, Zara



Virginia writes:

Oh, God, if I had a pound for every ... and so on. My past is littered with ghastly encounters. The worst was recently, when I went into a club, and the most enormously drunken man came weaving over to me and put his hand lasciviously on my knee. Shoving his red, boozy face into mine, he said, in a voice dripping with lust: "I remember your body!" The ghastly thing was that he did, too. I'd had one of those frightful encounters, like yours - only it had happened so long ago that I could hardly remember it. When I got home the shame and humiliation poured over me as if it had happened yesterday.

There is only one answer, however, to this situation and that is something that you, as an executive, should know more about than me. Don't, whatever you do, faff around trying to avoid this man and blushing when he comes into the room. Take control. Seize back your power.

Of course if he were a boss worth his salt he should have sent you a large bunch of flowers with a note reading something like "Happy Christmas - all best wishes, yours with a guilty and roaring hangover, Ron" or whatever his name is. Or perhaps simply "Oh, dear, oh dear, oh dear! - but Happy Christmas, anyway, Ron."

But this wretch hasn't let you off the hook like this. So it's your chance to show you that even if he doesn't know how to handle a tricky situation, you, at least, do.

How do you think he's feeling? There are two options. Either his eyes are bulging with delight at the prospect of a burgeoning affair with you - but then by now wouldn't he have taken steps to woo you with intimate texts, to show you he's thinking of you? Or, more likely, he's feeling just as frightful as you, and panicking that you might be hoping for more when you all get back to the office.

I suggest you write him a New Year card which says something on the lines of "Whoops! I'm sticking to water next year! All best to you and your family for a great 2008." You make it quite clear, in a friendly note, that you made a mistake, and that you have no wish to disrupt his home life one jot.

If that's not your style, you could always go up to him in the corridor with a laugh and say: "What got into us? I'm trying to draw a veil over the whole party! I gather I behaved appallingly! Thank God my boyfriend wasn't there!"

Raise the volume, but lower the timbre of your voice slightly when you say it, keeping the tone totally asexual - or, if you have to, erring on the side of masculinity, so you let him feel as if it was all a silly incident that two boozy blokes got up to on a night out.

Prepare, too, a follow-up sentence so you're not both left dangling after this pronouncement. Launch into business right away. "Now, I'm glad I bumped into you, because I want to discuss that board meeting in February ..."

Show him you're not only not interested, but that you're far more capable of taking control of the situation and making things alright, than him.

Readers say

Clear the air

As a "senior" member of staff, Zara should have realised that the place you do not let your hair down is the office party. This is the kind of situation where one really needs to be on best behaviour - especially if you have a mixture of different levels of staff present. However, there are tensions in a work place that tend to get released on such occasions and perhaps this was what happened. It takes two people to snog and I suspect he is as embarrassed as she is.

She should speak to him about it to clear the air and get the incident behind them both. If there is any evidence, such as photos, Zara should ask for them to be destroyed. I am not a secretary - but if I was her third sentence would offend me greatly. Hopefully a "secretary" will do this comment of hers justice.

Suzy Singh

Birmingham

Have a good think

Wow, you really don't care about the little people do you? It would be equally embarrassing if you were a secretary and it is offensive that you think your predicament is worse because you are an "executive". The issue is that you have acted irresponsibly and put yourself in a potentially dangerous situation.

Instead of thinking about yourself (and your career, by the tone of your email) you should think about the families you've hurt and secretaries you have offended. You should also consider your own personal safety - if you don't fancy someone you should not get so drunk that you'll go to bed with them.

I recommended you eat some humble pie this Christmas and have a good think about your attitude, and for goodness sake stay off the sherry.

Anna Jones

by email

Act nonchalant about it

Surely 'tis is the season for snogging your boss/secretary. Everyone knows that boozy office parties are the perfect time for that kind of thing. I'm surprised you haven't been to his wife, told her he's marrying you and moved in! He's probably wetting himself thinking that he's going to come back to find he has a sexual harassment lawsuit on his hands. Just act normally - if you start being awkward then he will too, and it will become a big deal - be nonchalant about it and professional in your work and then there is nothing more to say about it. Just remember this, though, next time you're drinking and working: there's a good reason why a lot of office parties now don't have alcohol - because it makes some of us act like idiots!

Shirley Field

Tiverton, Devon

Don't worry

Don't spend a second worrying about how you'll face your boss. He'll be so busy avoiding you, all you'll see for some time is the back of his head!

Elizabeth Graham

Aberdeen

Don't apologise

First of all I would not mention it or show any sign of having remembered what happened. He is probably as embarrassed as you and if he's a bloke he won't want to talk about it. I would certainly not apologise as then he might wonder what was wrong with him. If he, or a colleague brings it up, I would say in a mock-threatening manner that I know I was very drunk, I don't wish to know what I did, and if anyone tells me any more about what I did that night I may have to kill myself - or them. I would ask if I had made myself clear and move on to work related matters.

name and address supplied

Next Week's Dilemma

Dear Virginia,

My son, his wife and two sons came to stay last autumn when they were waiting to move into their new house. The deal fell through and though they're frantically looking, it's getting too much for me. The kids wear me out, I can't cope with the cooking and ironing - they work, she part-time - but we can't kick them out because we love them. What can we do?

Yours sincerely, Ailsa



Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Birmingham

    £18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment C...

    Recruitment Genius: Interactive / Mobile Developer

    £40000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This digital production agency ...

    Recruitment Genius: PHP Developer - Midweight

    £40000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This digital production agency ...

    Recruitment Genius: Junior Front End Developer

    £20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This digital production agency ...

    Day In a Page

    Giants Club: After wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, Uganda’s giants flourish once again

    Uganda's giants are flourishing once again

    After the wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, elephant populations are finally recovering
    The London: After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

    After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

    Archaeologists will recover a crucial item from the wreck of the London which could help shed more light on what happened in the vessel's final seconds
    Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

    Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

    The invention involves turbojets and ramjets - a type of jet engine - and a rocket motor
    10 best sun creams for kids

    10 best sun creams for kids

    Protect delicate and sensitive skin with products specially formulated for little ones
    Tate Sensorium: New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art

    Tate Sensorium

    New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art
    Ashes 2015: Nice guy Steven Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

    Nice guy Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

    He was man-of-the-match in the third Test following his recall to the England side
    Ashes 2015: Remember Ashton Agar? The No 11 that nearly toppled England

    Remember Ashton Agar?

    The No 11 that nearly toppled England
    Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

    US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

    Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
    VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

    'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

    VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
    Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

    Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
    The male menopause and intimations of mortality

    Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

    So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
    Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

    'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

    Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
    Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

    Bettany Hughes interview

    The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
    Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

    Art of the state

    Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
    Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

    Vegetarian food gets a makeover

    Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks