Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Buyout Sex, the other severance benefit

Who knew layoffs could be a turn on?

Mary F. Pols, a movie critic who accepted one of the scores of buyouts at the Contra Costa Times, made the best of a traumatic situation by having an affair with a fellow scribe at the California paper, she revealed in Modern Love, the most consistently delectable feature in the Sunday New York Times.

“Buyout Sex,” as Mary (left) dubbed it, affords a journalist the rare opportunity to get up close and personal with a colleague without having to worry about “postcoital workplace awkwardness.”

In Mary’s case, the affair began with drinks with a guy from the office who also was thinking about forfeiting his position in exchange for an enriched severance benefit. After an initial, vodka-propelled rumble in the cramped back seat of the colleague’s car, Mr. Buyout Sex and Mary embarked on a months-long relationship.

“In the following weeks, we continued to meet for long nights of sex and conversation, both of which were more naked than I would have expected,” wrote Mary. “After years of knowing each other, we were finally getting to know each other. He didn’t take the buyout after all, so he could fill me in what was going on at the paper, and the connection felt warm and cozy, especially as I confronted my own undefined future.”

Sadly, the affair ended as suddenly as it began.

“I was miserable and mystified when he pulled his vanishing act,” said Mary. “I decided Buyout Sex deserved an exit interview as well, so I asked him for one. Diminished by one-third, the newsroom still had a thriving grapevine, from which I’d learned that Doomsday had presented him with other drunken opportunities.”

It wasn’t her, Mr. B.S. explained to Mary. It was he.

“Whatever the case, our time together managed to turn a singularly depressing event into something exciting and alive,” concluded Mary. “We all do what we can to get through hard times. And although our escapade may also have borne the stamp of a shelf life, it was, however briefly, far sweeter than a farewell cake.”

Each to his own, folks. But I would have been satisfied with an extra slice of cake.


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