Respect the Ring?

June 5, 2009 by  

lt-ringfist-fullQuick question: When you think of the average married, middle-aged guy slogging his way up the Big Law partner track, what’s the first thing that comes to mind?  A pasty, bloated puppet?  A bald head?  An over-worked, under-stimulated robot, bunking in at the office while the wife lies safely, if not securely, back at home?  Well, if the state of affairs in and around my firm is any indication, you’d be off the mark—way off the mark.  Because as far as I can tell lately, when it comes to  Big Law romance, a wedding ring is the new corporate aphrodisiac.

Just last Thursday, I was at a happy hour with a few guys from work when one, a married finance associate named Carson, suddenly came back from the bar, flushed and jittery.  He claimed that a woman had just sidled up next to him, put her hand next to his, fingered his wedding ring and cooed out of the blue, “I think married men are sexy.”  Carson, a sweet, former engineer and admitted card-carrying nerd, was so flustered that he took off without even taking the drink he’d just bought.  So, obviously, the woman was a hooker…right?  Who else would come up to a skinny, bling-free dork at a bar and lay down a line like that?  Why not target the group of buzzed, Brioni-bearing bankers two feet down?  Or could it be that this woman actually just had…a thing for nerdy married lawyers?  A niche fetish, if you will?  Sort of like those women who only date death-row inmates and convicted arsonists?

I chalked it up to a random anecdote and put it out of my mind.  But then, just a couple of days later, at dinner with my friend, Kirsten, a single, fourth-year Big Law employment litigator with a lawyer’s brain and a stripper’s body, I started to wonder.  I was telling her about my latest experiment in humiliation—one that found me crushing on (and then promptly crushed by) a charming, flirtatious client who turned out to be covertly engaged—and she actually put down her watermelon mojito mid-sip, shot me a look and told me I should’ve just “gone for it.”  When I asked what exactly there was to “go for” in this situation, she shrugged and looked down.

“I don’t know.  It’s just easier.”  She then told me that she was in the middle of a “successful” affair with a married associate at her old firm.  She explained that she wasn’t particularly head-over-heels, but the arrangement worked just fine because, after working insane hours week after week, she was able to get what she wanted and knew where she stood.  And in case I was wondering, yes, she was the one who targeted him.  My thoughts shot back to Carson and his fingered wedding ring.  It was my turn to put down the drink.

Now, let’s be clear for a second: I’m not one for moralizing.  If you want to play in the married end of the pool, have at it; it’s just not my particular scene.  When I meet a new guy at work and notice that he’s sporting The Ring (or its close relative, The Fiancée), I immediately place him in a new mental league of potential romantic partners—a league that includes gay guys, straight girls and convicted sex offenders.  I’m just not interested—not, I admit, because I have such a deep and abiding respect for the ring, but because, frankly, what’s in it for me?  What’s the upside for me of being the “other woman”?  I don’t particularly need a sugar daddy and if I’m going to have a no-strings, go-nowhere, sex-romp “relationship” with a guy, well, that’s what 25-year-old bartenders, aspiring actor-writer-musicians and the occasional summer associate—not puffy, middle-aged, overworked lawyers—are for.

Then again, maybe I’m just scarred.  Because, despite Kirsten’s strained endorsement, I can tell you first-hand from my one disastrous experience with (dis)respecting the ring within the halls of Big Law: It’s not easier.  And if you’re not careful—and are anything like me—it can also leave you sitting in your office, exhausted, listening to the hysterical, slurred sobs of an unhinged lunatic calling you from a coat closet in the middle of the night.

Recall for a moment Ben, my fellow Big Law drone and sort-of-friend from law school who’s best remembered around these parts for his star turn in the night of vodka-inspired debauchery that played out on the floor of my office several months back.   After the unexpected night of office sexing, Ben surprised me the next day with a stunning bouquet of whore flowers, complete with an equally stunning note.  In the days that followed, he called every couple of hours, confessing his affection and desire to see me again and…the fact that he actually was “technically” engaged to a girl he’d been dating since college.

The minute his flimsy admission dribbled out, I felt so pathetic.  I should’ve known.  Of course.  Of course he was too good to be true.  I told Ben not to contact me again, threw his goddamn flowers in the garbage and chalked the incident up to temporary insanity (and boredom…and a desperate need for human contact…).  I figured I’d never hear from him again.  And then I woke up the next day to 21 missed calls on my cell phone—all hang-ups, all from Ben, and all left between midnight and 7 a.m.  He must have finally passed out at that point, because the phone didn’t start ringing until about four hours later.  The next time he called, I picked up.  He sounded drunk.  At 11 a.m.  On a Tuesday.

He told me that he couldn’t stop thinking about me and insisted that I had it all wrong when it came to the “situation” between him and his fiancée.

“It’s just that, she’s kind of…zaftig,” he offered.


“She’s…you know, big.  She’s a big girl.  Like heavier, I mean.”

“Jesus Christ, Ben, I know what ‘zaftig’ means.  Why— why are you telling me this?”

“It’s just that, I know it sounds weird, but she actually wouldn’t mind.”

“Wouldn’t mind…?”

“Wouldn’t mind if you and me, you know.  She’s actually a lot more understanding than you’d think. You’d be surprised.”

Hm.  You bet.  After about 10 minutes of this (un)amusing (non)banter, where Ben tried to convince me to see him again, and where I tried to pretend that my life was something I was watching on TV instead of actually living, he finally dropped the bomb.

“It’s just that, well, I think I’m maybe 25% in love with you.”

And there it was.  Just when I thought my capacity for pathetic loserdom couldn’t get any bigger, I found myself sitting in an office I hated, wasting a good .3 billables of my life listening to the sputtering ramblings of a delusional, soon-to-be-married baby lawyer who apparently never got the memo that when you drop the “L” word to a girl you’re trying to convince to engage in an affair, try to limit the expression of devotion to just one qualifier.  At the very least, try to bump the in-love-ness up to 49%.

“Ben, I have to go.  If you—“

“No!  Look, it’s just that…“  He sounded like he was starting to hyperventilate.


“It’s just that…”  His voice was almost twisting into a shriek.

“OK, look, I’m going to hang up now—“

“It’s just that my dad could have just kept banging his secretary forever instead of leaving us and my mom wouldn’t have cared, you know?  He could’ve just had his piece on the side and everyone would have been happy, you know?”

Oh, I know, Ben.  I know.

I hung up and exhaled.  So, is this really all that’s in the cards for a single girl working in Big Law at this point—an invitation to be someone’s mistress?  Is this why I went to law school?  I thought the cliché of dating married lawyers was reserved for gold-digging secretaries and maybe the occasional paralegal—is that really the league I’m in?  The “piece-on-the-side” league?  Then again, maybe Kirsten had it right.  Maybe dating a married guy isn’t as taboo as it feels.  Maybe this whole respecting-the-ring thing isn’t worth the trouble when you’re the only one doing it.  Maybe I should’ve just swallowed my pride and had a go with Ben.

I still don’t know the answer for sure.  I do know, though, that any doubts I had about pushing Ben away were put promptly to bed the next morning when I listened to my voicemail.  This time, he’d only called once.  The message was hard to make out, mostly because he was slurring his words—which made sense once he told me that he was sitting in a coat closet in his fiancée’s apartment while her girlfriends were over for a pumpkin-carving party.  Not to worry, though, he told me—he had a box of wine in there with him to keep him company.  After telling me he “hoped I was well” and repeating his name about six times in between a few muffled slurps, he lowered his voice and paused for a good ten seconds. Then:

“Full discloshhure: I’m in my boxers right now.  So, you shhuh— you shhhould call me.  OK, bye.”

Shockingly, I didn’t call him.  And I never heard from him again.  Last I heard, he’d been fired from his Big Law job right before the first waves of layoffs started crashing through law firms a few months ago, had moved across the country and was enrolled in an LLM program.  Oh, and is getting married this July to the same (zaftig) (infinitely understanding) fiancée.

So, no, friends, after all that, I still can’t say whether the Bens, the Kirstens, the happy-hour-ladies-on-the-prowl are right—whether the almighty ring is worth any respect, in Big Law or beyond.  The one thing I am sure of, though: It sure as hell ain’t worth the trouble it takes to find out.

An excerpt of this essay is also being published today on everyone’s favorite legal tabloid, Above the Law.  Make sure to check it out here!


33 Responses to “Respect the Ring?”

  1. anony on June 5th, 2009 9:50 am

    of course its not worth the trouble — what did you think would happen?!!! “married men are sexy” women are the reason no one stays married anymore, doesn’t matter if you’re a lawyer or not.

  2. Stephanie on June 5th, 2009 10:41 am

    Respect the ring? You better respect the mfing ring!! And i’m single. One major cause of infidelity is skanks who have no respect for the ring who just think if they want it, they should be able to have it. F that! I want my own. I cannot tell you how many times i’ve met the [married] man of my dreams who also was feeling it. But I see the ring and I walk away and that’s how it should be. What goes around comes right back. So you f with a married man, then one day find your own, then one day wonder where he’s at and why he smells funny and is always working late? Remember when you were a ho who didn’t respect the ring. I am a lawyer, but I will not hesitate to give a skank who goes near my man [when I find him] the beatdown.

  3. Anonymous on June 5th, 2009 11:12 am

    ben is a pig

  4. Beenthereexperiencedthat on June 5th, 2009 11:27 am

    Thanks for the laugh! I loved your story… I was in big law environment for 25 years and I learned one thing: married men are extremely attentive suitors because they have nothing to lose. You turn them down? Fine, they move on to the next de-humanized, overworked single female until they strike gold or, alternatively, go home to their wife. The single of the male species is usually the one who is afraid to talk to you and runs in the other direction.

    I see the makings of a new book…

  5. Just Wondering on June 5th, 2009 11:32 am

    “Now, let’s be clear for a second: I’m not one for moralizing. If you want to play in the married end of the pool, have at it; it’s just not my particular scene.”

    Just curious…is there something passe with thinking that it’s actually wrong to mess around with someone who’s married, even if you’re not? I don’t think you’re going to go to hell for having an affair (even if you happen to the married person having it) but isn’t it okay to say there’s something wrong with facilitating someone’s betrayal of their fiance, husband or wife? Does that make you a fuddy-duddy these days?

  6. Southern Lawyer on June 5th, 2009 11:42 am

    ” A niche fetish”?? Hilarious!!

    BFW, I do not think its okay to “disrespect the ring.” I see it ALL THE TIME in various law firms around town…it never end well…ever. I mean for christ’s sakes if you dont want to be married, have the balls to get up and leave.

    As for the trashy girls at the happy hour…hmm…maybe I need to drop 25cents in the vending machine and pick out a ring..may up my game!

  7. SF 5th Year on June 5th, 2009 11:56 am

    This Ben guy was obviously a major loser/alcoholic. But it’s not implausible that his fiancee would have been fine with him playing on the side. Some couples have understandings and/or even get off on that. The “zaftig” comment is a total non sequitur though unless I’m missing some fat=open-to-open-relationships connection there.

  8. El on June 5th, 2009 12:22 pm

    LT, please find a new job or start hangning out with new people. You deserve better than this!!!

    Thanks for the morning laugh, though. Good stuff.

  9. Chai on June 5th, 2009 1:35 pm

    Haha great laugh, but trust you are completely right for respecting the ring. Why mess with a married man when you can find a single free wheeling mimbo in this fair city of ours, who will definitely NOT call you 21 times between midnight and 7am.

    Poor loser Ben , and worse yet, poor woman he is marrying.

  10. mandalay on June 5th, 2009 3:32 pm

    I get so happy when a new post of yours comes out, because it’s basically my exact life. Oh, and this was the money quote: “I don’t particularly need a sugar daddy and if I’m going to have a no-strings, go-nowhere, sex-romp “relationship” with a guy, well, that’s what 25-year-old bartenders, aspiring actor-writer-musicians and the occasional summer associate — not puffy, middle-aged, overworked lawyers — are for.” EXACTLY.

  11. Wing Fat on June 5th, 2009 4:26 pm

    Very Interesting. I think sexing with fat woman is not fun for man; and that his fat woman want her man enough so she let him sex with you. But you deserve more then slobbering married man’s spunk once a week. So go and find man who not married who wants to sex with you, and then not worry about fat girlfriend any more.

  12. Eileen DeBonis on June 5th, 2009 8:33 pm

    Wow, at least you managed to avoid sleeping with a turd this time. The best thing to work on is to preserve your morality and virtue, and expecially not with a married man. (Adultery is one of the ten commandments). I think I do not like that the men disrespect women. You don’t see married women doing this.

  13. Anonymous on June 5th, 2009 11:47 pm

    Ben is a moron. Don’t let him get you down, not all marrieds are like that actually (speaking as one….).

  14. Jessica on June 7th, 2009 8:59 am

    I totally was here, too. 5 years ago, I came to a new job at a law firm of 31 people, and was immediately pounced upon (figuratively) by 3 of the senior partners all of whom were married. You could imagine how I felt. Be attentive to them and be labeled as the firm slut, or push them away and maybe lose my job. Since I was only 3 years out of law school, I was concerned about how my resume would look with too much job hopping. But I made the right decision. I told each of them that I was dating a guy out of town (a little fib), and that I was not available for anything extracurricular. Each of these men were VERY disappointed because they had great hopes with a “single girl” like me (and I am considered very attractive). But I held my ground, kept my knees together and am still at the firm.

  15. Guano on June 9th, 2009 6:59 am

    Rings mean nothing unless man willing to keep wiener in trousers. Often double standard–wife only to have sex with husband, but husband not limited to wife for sex. Wife not like husband to visit with other women, and wife find other wiener, which make husband angry. Best to have rule apply to both–either no wiener or many wiener, but rule is to be for both. I believe writer of article here should not take man’s wiener because he is not husband and will go to other women later.

  16. Ava on June 19th, 2009 6:20 pm

    Just don’t indulge in the opposite sex at all. There are so many other things to do. No, I am not a nun or a prude. Just exhausted with the drama of dating. The author is right. We independent women do not really need men. And getting involved with someone at the office . . . way too complicated — married or not married!

  17. Bill on June 20th, 2009 1:39 pm

    Ava, you might think differently after you’ve had a monster O with the right man. Most women learn to respect the man afterward. You will too.

  18. Guano on June 22nd, 2009 6:19 am

    I knew a girl named Eva. We all loved Eva because, like the energizer bunny she was always “Eva-Ready “(for loving). This Ava above sound like the opposite of Eva, and never get the benefit of dhong.

  19. El on June 25th, 2009 7:42 pm

    That last comment is so incredibly stupid and immature, it makes me want to never read the comments to this otherwise welcome blog again. Almost a new low, really.

  20. Tobey on June 26th, 2009 9:04 am

    What is this? I enjoy these posts, and that one was funny. To each, her own.

  21. El-Gebrawney on June 26th, 2009 1:17 pm

    Poor El, she finds this website beneath her dignity. Well perhaps she will think twice when she reads this finance website, containing a host of Michael Jackson references:

    Think twice, El-Gebrawney

  22. Li Yuan on June 27th, 2009 6:24 am

    Women should never be fooled by mild mannered married men, who often use their wife, marriage and family as an opportunity to lure us into a sense of complacency until, when we are completeley off-guard, they pounce, literally, and have their way with us. The experience is awful, and even assuming there are no complications (pregnancy), we are also too embarrassed to say / do anything about it and are again forced face these lecherous losers in the hallways and cafeteria, if not across the table on a business transaction.

  23. poop on June 27th, 2009 6:28 pm

    “I’m going to have a no-strings, go-nowhere, sex-romp “relationship” with a guy, well, that’s what 25-year-old bartenders, aspiring actor-writer-musicians and the occasional summer associate—not puffy, middle-aged, overworked lawyers—are for.”

    An attitude like this is actually why no sane man would ever want to be in a relationship with someone like you. You’re basically admitting to be a slut. Guys aren’t going to invest in something so easy for others to grab.

  24. Andy on June 28th, 2009 9:06 am

    Heck, I’d bang her, maybe 3 or 4x, as long as she was clean. But youre right, “poop”, no bona fide LT relationship with this beeotch would be in the cards for me. Her crotch is just too used for a guy like me, except, that is for a few major dickbenders. Now that worm, El, is going to pop in with some nasty comments, but face it, she’s a prude.

  25. Vixis on July 25th, 2009 6:29 am

    poop is well named and Andy, you prove our point. Poop doesnt think there is anything wrong with male sluts but has an issue with women having single sex with a consenting (attractive) partner?

    Andy – from the sounds of it, your criteria for women is the same as your criteria for a car – good luck with that. Both amusing posts, but you are both probably very bitter about women knowing you are not worth a tumble.

    LT love the article, Im married and although we have other sex partners its all above board and everyone knows everyone else – sex at work or behind someones back is a complete no-no.

  26. Greg on July 6th, 2010 3:18 pm

    When I was married, I got hit on a lot by women who were ten years or more younger than me, mid twenties to early thirties. I came to the conclusion that I represented safe non-commital sex to them and stored it away because that was not what I was into. I am now divorced and the offers have dried up. Now that some of that would sound good . . .

  27. Guano Dubango on July 6th, 2010 8:38 pm

    I would like to get in on some of Greg’s left-overs. Greg do you have any old telephone numbers for us?

  28. Anonymous on July 10th, 2010 4:16 pm

    Let’s get some fresh material here. Where is the legal tease today? How about sweet hot counsel? Are the two hooking up, and if so with who? What are they doing?

  29. Anonymous on July 12th, 2010 5:23 am

    For all we know, they both may have become lesbians, given the lack of quality male dhongs worth impaling.

  30. Emily on September 14th, 2010 12:36 am

    I’m appalled by the pathetic comments from self-hating women on this site who blame everything on the other woman. Maybe you’ve been cheated on, I’m sure at least 80% of us have been, but do you have so little self-respect that you still believe the man is blameless and that it is this other woman who is at fault. He had as much of a choice as she did, and he was the one who didn’t give a rat’s a** about you enough to actually … I don’t know, be FAITHFUL. This article’s author mentioned women propositioning men because the concept shocked her, as well it should. I don’t think married men propositioning single women is even shocking anymore. It’s become commonplace. Needless to say, women are hardly the ones ruining the institution of marriage.

  31. Anton on September 14th, 2010 5:53 am

    Emily, take it easy. I am sure you will be able to find a man.

  32. hhhhhhh on March 2nd, 2011 4:10 pm

    your a hosebag

  33. The Peanut Gallery on May 10th, 2013 5:06 pm

    This is funny. Women blaming other women, getting all upset because their husbands/fiances/boyfriends cheat on them. Look, if you all are supposed to be lawyers, use your brains for a change. If you’re the one sleeping with someone else’s man, you’re a cheap hobag. End of story. No $10,000 pantsuit is going to change that fact, because essentially you’re handing out for free what real hos charge money for. If you’re the woman being cheated on, you need to suck it up and get even. Give your man a taste of his own medicine. Sleep with a bartender or two. The worst thing he can do is file for divorce/ break up, which was where your relationship was headed anyways from the moment he cheated on you. Don’t respect a ring that’s not worth respecting.

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