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Never date where you work! I had heard this bit of wisdom in various forms at least a dozen times. However, when faced with the decision, I didn’t heed the warning. Of course, the people who had offered me that advice had never seen Susan.

Susan was beautiful. No. Susan was lovely! Everything about her was lovely: her skin, her eyes, her voice …She smelled lovely! Her body was flawless. Amazingly, she seemed completely unaware of how lovely she was. The men on the set were aware, however. In fact, they were extremely aware. It was my understanding that more than a few of the guys had attempted to date her, but had gone down in flames. At one point, Malcolm approached me and whispered, “I heard you were dating Susan.”

“Yeah,” I responded.

Malcolm smiled wide and just shook my hand.

Susan was trying to be a writer, putting her time in as an assistant in the production office until an opportunity opened in the writing department. She was also exactly the type of woman that, prior to being on the show, I would have simply admired from afar. I would have begged and prayed for the nerve to speak to her, and cursed myself for cowardice. I would have wished that she bless me with a look and a few words. However, now, with my new-found confidence spurring me forward, I began to woo Susan with a boldness that surprised me. I buttoned up my charm jacket and determined to win her. I always made sure to smile and speak to her when she was on the stage. I stopped by her office to say hello. I cut roses from the bush in front of my building, wrapped them in a damp paper towel, and presented them to her. I was playing for keeps. One day, she told me that her last boyfriend had not called her very often, nor had he taken her out. I recall thinking at the time that this was a perfect example of the axiom that one man’s junk is another man’s treasure. Here was this absolutely stunning woman, and some knucklehead had just finished using her and tossing her aside. I shook my head and said, “If you were my girl, I would sweet talk you every night! I’d take you out just to show you off. ‘Yeah, she’s my girl.’” In the moment, I was quite serious. If she would be with me, I would treat her like treasure.

When I first asked to call her, she hemmed and hawed, but I was gently persistent. Following soon on the heels of the “treat you like treasure” conversation, she came to the stage to make a delivery. After chatting with a few people, she made her way to me. Feigning some business, she put a piece of folded note paper into my hand. She had the softest skin I had ever felt!

“Don’t open that here (on the sound stage),” she said.

When I had a moment alone, I opened the paper to find her phone number.

We began seeing each other and I soon discovered that she was, without a doubt, the only person I had ever met MORE depressed than me. She was also very shy, sometimes painfully so – or at least she was around my friends. There were a couple times the two of us got together with friends of mine and she didn’t talk — not that she didn’t speak very much, but that she simply didn’t speak at all. One day I was talking to a college friend on the phone. Susan and I had eaten dinner at my friend’s house the previous evening. As we spoke, her husband called out in the background, “We want Corey back!” My friend laughed and agreed that while Susan was absolutely beautiful, she didn’t have much personality. Susan was a bit guarded, but she also had her playful moments, like when she surprised me at the yearly Christmas party.

The party was held at a club in downtown Manhattan. We didn’t go to the party together, but had agreed that we would venture into the Village for a bite to eat afterward. As we prepared to leave, she excused herself to go to the ladies’ room, telling me that she would meet me outside. As I was hailing a taxi, she arrived by my side and slipped something into my coat pocket. I didn’t look at it until we were inside the cab. I put my hand into my pocket and pulled out a pair of her panties. Merry Christmas to me!

Mixing work with a relationship was more of an issue with her than it was for me. She was consumed with the fear that someone would find out that she was spending Thursday nights with me. I was also concerned that our relationship would be discovered, but for entirely different reasons. You see, I had my eye on three other women at the studio and I was worried that if word leaked that I was dating Susan, it would hurt my prospects of romance with those other women.

To my great discredit, my boorish behavior simply stoked her fears and insecurities. For instance, I had this mad idea that it would be fun to have sex in my dressing room. Not only didn’t she think it would be fun, she was aghast that the idea would even cross my mind. I did even less to make her feel secure in our relationship in the way I treated her. I was just not a very nice guy. Alas, I didn’t treat her like treasure. Our dates tended to end up with the two of us in bed. Susan needed something more – something she obviously wasn’t getting from me. One night after making love, she accused me of just using her for sex. I was so out of touch that her accusation didn’t register with me. Men, a woman lying naked in your bed should only feel that she is the center of your world. That Susan would lay beside me and believe that I was only interested in having sex with her was a testament not only to what a poor lover I was, but also spoke to how self-centered I’d become. Susan was a lovely woman. I mean, she was not only lovely on the outside, but as I had come to discover, she was also lovely on the inside. She was tender and sensitive and gentle…and guess what? She really liked me — not the guy on T.V. but the bumpkin from Denver. Had I been even just one touch less conceited and two touches less obtuse, I would have heard her and really begun to pay attention to her need to feel desired and respected outside of the bedroom. Instead, in a moment that is sure to earn me induction into the jerkdom hall of fame, I replied, “Well, if you really believe that’s true, you are either a masochist or a fool.” I am ashamed to even retell this story. I can’t believe that something so asinine and insensitive actually came out of my mouth. But it did. And it did without hesitation or shame.

Even more unbelievable is that she didn’t get up at that moment, tell me to go fuck myself, and walk out the door. To her credit, she would eventually tell me to do just that, but it took her a few more months of dating a jerk, and of knowing that her jerk was dating other women, for her to finally tell me to get lost. When she finally did find the words, she gave it to me but good.

Next…Things begin to unravel.

About Author

Joseph C. Phillips

Joseph C. Phillips was born on January 17, 1962 in Denver, Colorado, USA as Joseph Connor Phillips. He is an actor, known for General Hospital (1994), The Cosby Show (1984) and Strictly Business (1991). He has been married to Nicole since 1994. They have three children.

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