The Stetson man and I had been dating for about a year and half when he made a foolish move that outed us as a couple to his company, while he was still married. He owns a very large company and once a year, all the employees come together to share ideas and celebrate their successes and the very best of the best in the company. The Stetson man always looks forward to that time of year, with its schedule full of meetings, awards ceremonies, guest speakers, dinners, dancing, and camaraderie. And this particular year, he invited me along.
It was exciting to see how much the Stetson man’s employees admired and respected him, which I was able to witness because I went to several of the ceremonial functions. I attended as the guest of a friend of mine who was around my age, which helped me blend into the crowd. These ceremonies were my first experiences in seeing the Stetson man give public speeches. I was surprised at how emotional he was; he truly loved these people. And I quickly understood why he was so successful: his passion had created prosperity.
The trip was going well, and I was learning so much from this older man. Plus, I was able to stay with him in the Presidential Suite, while still maintaining my incognito status. However, several evenings into the convention, things changed.
On this particular evening, a famous country singer was providing entertainment, and there would be food, drinks, and dancing. The Stetson man asked me to attend this function under the disguise of being the guest of my friend, and so I showed up at the ballroom not knowing what to expect. Well, he strode right up to me and grabbed my hand and walked me the length of the ballroom to the dance floor, where we stayed for several songs. And although these were our first dances together, on which I would ordinarily be focusing, I was instead focused on the stares the Stetson man and I were getting from just about everyone in the ballroom. They knew him as a happily married man, and yet here was their mentor dancing with a woman many years his junior. And it appeared that he did not want to let go of this young blonde. Surely they were wondering about our story—and where his wife was.
Later, when I was back standing with my female friend, she grabbed a beer from off of a passing tray, and after she had chugged the entire bottle, she informed me that she was committing professional suicide. Most women are notorious for causing drama, and this company’s female population was no exception. My friend told me that she had already encountered many such instances. In fact, the female employees were already questioning why she was so buddy-buddy with the head honcho. And now her blonde friend had been on the dance floor with their beloved married boss. I felt awful for her. It was then that I understood the uncomfortable position I had put her in, and that her reputation with the company would never be the same.
And, indeed, after that evening, the female members of this organization stigmatized her. I ended up staying hidden away in our suite for the rest of the trip—there were too many questioning eyes at that point to venture out. The Stetson man and I were ill-prepared to provide our story to the public, but my friend ended up being interrogated by just about every person she knew at the convention. Of course, hindsight being what it is, that work trip—the dancing—was not the way to introduce me to his company. The introduction left a negative impression, which was made worse when, a few days later, it came out that his wife was at home moving her things out of their mansion.