February 28, 2008

Hot Dog in Puff Pastry?

Posted in Keeping Up With The Cients, Lessons Learned at 8:26 pm by devilwearsbrooksbrothers

I have a deep, dark, ugly secret. Sometimes, on the weekends, – come a little closer.

Closer.

Closer.

I cater waitress.

I know what you are going to say. What is a smart, well-educated, well-employed (don’t forget pretty) person like me doing catering on the weekends? Well, sometimes I do it because the company needs me to, but mostly I do it to justify spending $300 on a pair of sunglasses.

And never did I think there was anything wrong with this dirty little habit of mine until I ran into a vendor on the other side of the dim sum station.

There I was standing over a steaming wicker basket filled with shrimp dumplings, wearing a tuxedo shirt and tie and there was Super Guy II, wearing a tuxedo shirt and tie (and jacket) and somehow his shirt and tie and my shirt and tie, while almost identical, were worlds apart.

As is almost always my reaction when something like this happens, I wanted to duck beneath the station until he went away. Recognizing that wasn’t an option, I crossed my fingers that he wouldn’t recognize me.

Of course all hope that he wouldn’t remember me vanished when a startled look of comprehension crossed his face. I fake-smiled (which you all know was not pretty), “Oh my gosh, Super Guy II. What are you doing here?”

“Hey there Devil? How are you?”

“I’m fine. Shrimp Dumpling?”

“No, actually I’m just looking for the bar.”

“Oh, it’s right behind you.” I may have cocked my head a bit as I said this last part as I am a big fan of cocking my head when I am faking confidence or enthusiasm.

“Great, well, see you tomorrow.”

Crap, I thought with my fake smile still firmly planted across my face. I had a meeting with him tomorrow.

I turned to my sister, who was also manning the dim sum station because she needs help justifying her purchases of way overpriced jeans, and asked, “Was that awkward?”

“Yes.” She shook her head plainly. Sometimes I wish my family wasn’t so frank.

The next day I had to tell New Boss as he would be in the meeting with Super Guy II.

“Oh my god, well did you explain to him that you were filling in for someone that got sick?”

At first I thought New Boss’s reaction was a bit disproportionate to what I was telling him. Okay, Super Guy II saw me wearing a tuxedo shirt and a bowtie and next to no make-up serving hors d’oeuvres to his family and friends. It could have been a lot worse; I could have been attending the party as a paid escort to one of Super Guy II’s married uncles.

Still, I was embarrassed when it happened, and I knew enough that I had to tell New Boss about the chance meeting before our scheduled, afternoon meeting. So clearly there is something dirty about me catering and not just the part at the end of the night when we have to clean up. I wasn’t ready for this ancillary benefit of taking a higher profile position at a bigger law firm.

So, I gave it up. I don’t cater on the weekends anymore and I hate it. Partly because it reeks of elitism, but mostly because I had my eyes on a really nice pair of black, oversized Chanel’s.

Advertisements

December 20, 2007

Happy Holidays Big Law Firm Style

Posted in Happy Hour, Lawyer Lifestyles, Lessons Learned at 7:09 pm by devilwearsbrooksbrothers

So, I had a big grand plan to not drink at the firm’s holiday party. A practice I have stuck by since my first party back when I was still a wee project assistant. How does the old saying go – the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

In all fairness, it was a pretty bad day. Not that I drink every time I have a bad day; just some bad days. And I don’t drink to get drunk, just to unwind. Man, it is starting to sound like I might have a drinking problem. But I wonder if it means that because I can recognize that it sounds like I have a problem I obviously don’t have a problem; may need to check in with a friend of Bill W on that one.

Back to the topic at hand. I had to sit through a meeting with A-hole. Worse, when I came in he gave me a look like he knew me and so I sat there afraid that if I looked in that direction we would make eye contact and he would nod or something. Then what? Would I have to nod back? Smile? Pretend that I didn’t do a celebratory dance around my cubicle when I thought he was homeless and living in Suburban Station?

Now the meeting itself didn’t make my day bad, and maybe I should stop saying I was having a bad day. It was more like I was on edge and the meeting didn’t help. I still had a lot of shopping to do, I was wearing a skirt that was cutting into my rib cage, it was Imelda’s last week for a while and I had just written a column promising to socialize at the very holiday party that was looming.

So when Double Tall Espresso (so named for her always perked personality) asked if I wanted something from the bar, I said yes, hoping one glass of wine would help take the edge off.

And before I knew it, I had more than one glass of wine, had only met one new co-worker and had agreed to go to the after party.

Fortunately at the after party I made the switch to light beer which is really like drinking water, except without water’s hydrating qualities. Still I did manage to find myself in a conversation with a male partner about men who stare at women’s chests (while Angel stood back and laughed on the inside); a place Sober Sarah would have never gone. If she did go, she would have been better, more articulate about it.

Then there was the moment when I lost all internal dialogue when a lawyer I never met addressed me and my response (out loud) was, “that’s weird.” Yes, I find it odd that people I don’t know, know me; especially when you consider that people I have met half a dozen times don’t remember my name. Still, I would have rather kept that exclamation on the inside or at least just on my face.

Despite that I did wake up the next morning with my wallet, my cell phone and most importantly almost all of my dignity.

And the night wasn’t a complete loss; there was one Festivus miracle. Angel and I decided that we are essentially the same person but different (something I realized the day I came in wearing white wide leg pants and a black turtleneck and she was wearing black wide leg pants and a cream turtleneck) which would make her more my bizarro as opposed to my nemesis. And just like in the comic books when the hero and the bizarro team up for good (or in this case most probably evil), I think Angel and I are going to try the ally route for a while.

Now, if I could just stop thinking improper thoughts about a lawyer I really shouldn’t be thinking about at all, 2008 could turn out to be my best year yet.

August 2, 2007

I Think Cowards Are the People that Stick it Out

Posted in Lessons Learned at 1:42 pm by devilwearsbrooksbrothers

When I was younger, my mother had a rule about not quitting anything we started.  Okay, let’s be frank, the woman had a lot of rules; but one rule that never changed and was often repeated was that we weren’t allowed to quit.   

This is why in the third grade the bridge on my cello broke and could not, mysteriously, be repaired. 

It is also the reason I was a cheerleader well into high school.   

However, sometimes quitting is the hardest, gutsiest thing to do.   

You know that I recently got a new job.  What you don’t know is that at the same time New Boss was conspiring to lure me away from Old Boss, I was out looking for a bartending job.   

I had my fill of feeling useless and underutilized and not very smart.  So I took a random Tuesday off, put on my cutest, most respectable looking white pants and booby top and headed to Old City in search of a serving job that would pay my bills and afford me time to get some writing done. The long-term goal was to either a) become a world famous author or b) get into a good MFA/PhD program and then become a world famous author.  Or at least teach others to do so.   

And I have to tell you, this plan scared the crap out of me.  What if I couldn’t make ends meet?  What if I didn’t get into a good program?  What if I did get into a good program, but it turns out I am a lousy writer?  What if I start teaching and a couple years into the whole thing, after I get married and have a mortgage on my home, I get sacked because it is against university policy to sleep with hot, male students in exchange for passing marks in freshman composition?

Those are a lot of “what ifs?”  But in the end, the idea of staying somewhere, doing something that I knew didn’t make me happy, scared me a whole lot more than what I didn’t know.   

Fortunately for me (and bar patrons everywhere, as I am a lousy, miserable server) New Boss called that very day with an offer of more writing, more growth, more freedom and more money. 

Puppy called me a couple days ago to tell me she had quit law school.  For those of you who don’t remember, Puppy was an original member of the editorial committee, a co-hort and a co-worker at the old job.  She had decided, long before she started with the firm, that she wanted to go to law school.  She took an LSAT prep course, she took the LSAT, she wrote essays, got letters of recommendation and sat quietly, waiting for letters of admission. When she finally found out where she could go, she packed up her belongings and moved to Michigan. 

After a year of lectures, study groups and law school exams, Puppy realized it wasn’t for her.

I told this to New Boss, not that he knows Puppy, but he does like to gossip, and he mentioned that after his first semester in law school, a professor advised his class that it wasn’t too late for them, that they didn’t have so much invested that if law school wasn’t what they had hoped, they could still walk away.   

Then, New Boss buried his head in his hands, shook his head and mumbled, “if only I had listened.”

I think this is something we all need to be reminded of every now and again.  Not just when we are sitting somewhere we really don’t want to be, but are still there because it is familiar.  I think this is also a good thing to remember when we are thinking about taking a big step and our fear of failing or making a mistake prevents us from doing it.   

Because while quitters may not always prosper, I don’t recall anyone getting very far sitting around doing nothing.  I mean, I had fill out three whole bartending applications before my dream job was handed to me. 

June 22, 2007

So People Actually Read This Site

Posted in Lessons Learned, Office Hijinks at 6:39 pm by devilwearsbrooksbrothers

Last week I wrote about 57 Hottie feeling pretty confident that it would be almost impossible for anyone to know who I was talking about.  I mean first you would need to know where I worked.  Then you would need to know where the 57 ran, what time I rode it, who else from my firm takes it, and on and on.   

So there I am, standing on the platform of the blue line, rocking out to Gwen Steffani when I should be listening to my French lessons when I notice that 57 Hottie has joined me, standing a bit closer than usual.  At that moment it occurs to me that he is the only other person who could possibly know his true identity.  This fills me with dread for a moment, then I smiled.   

When I am writing these posts I assume, despite all evidence to the contrary,  that the only people who actually read this blog are my family, my friends, my editor and now the two people that don’t think I’m funny.  All the other hits are from people who found this by mistake. 

I let out a big sigh of relief and started to wonder if anyone has a secret nickname for me along the lines of 57 Hottie.  After all, there he was, innocent to all my secret, private thoughts that I share with all my readers, but never him.  Maybe he has secret thoughts about me.  Or about that other girl that rides the bus with the way cooler haircut.  And maybe, while I am wondering what he is thinking about, and he is wondering what she is thinking about, some else, someone I haven’t even noticed yet, is wondering what I am thinking about.       

And just as I start to shake these crazy thoughts from my head and turn my attention back to my iPod, I saw it.  Our eyes met, and he smirked at me.  A definite, honest to god smirk and the whole platform started spinning and the vision at the corners of my eyes started to get fuzzy.

I managed to get on the train, with 57 Hottie right behind me.  It was simple, I would just tap him on his back and tell him that what I write is in character and that it isn’t so much that I think he is hot as it is just that, compared to everyone else on the bus he’s hot.  Not that he’s not hot.  I’m just trying to say that it would obviously never work out for us.  Not that there is anything to work out.  It’s just that he is short.  Well, no, not short.  He is exactly as tall as me, maybe an inch or two taller.  But I just bought these really great platform wedges and since those would make me taller than him, plus the whole working together thing and then the he’s an attorney thing, you can see where I am going with this, right?    

I sucked my cheeks in and bit down on my tongue until I tasted blood fearful that I would start to try to explain myself and not be able to stop.  That I would say things completely inappropriate to say on a crowded train to someone who may or may not know that I not so secretly (anymore) refer to him as 57 Hottie.  I closed my eyes and convinced myself that either a) I was mistaken and he didn’t smirk at me or b) his smirk did not necessarily mean he reads my mind.     

I got off the train, walked behind him all the way to the office and because god hates me, got in the exact same elevator as him.  By the time it stopped on my floor my face was tomato read, clashing with the peach sweater I choose to wear that day, and sweat was pouring down my back.  

It’s a good thing I don’t have a crush on him anymore and that I have this blog to flush him out.

May 31, 2007

A-Team

Posted in Lawyer Lifestyles, Lessons Learned at 6:37 pm by devilwearsbrooksbrothers

I have a very ugly, competitive side.  I don’t know if it is the middle child in me, or having heard my father say, “Show me a good loser and I will show you a loser” so many times, but I will admit, I am competitive.  I like to win.  Or, more to the point, I hate to lose.  

I didn’t realize just how ugly my need to win (er, not lose) was until my last year of college.  It was the fall racing season and my crew coach put me in a four for an unimportant regatta.  At the last minute one of the clubs joined the race and in their boat, a former teammate and three girls I absolutely could not stand. 

I won’t bore you with all the details of the race.  You really just need to know this; we lost.  We lost big and I blamed our freshman coxswain.  And then I made her cry.  A couple weeks later she quit.   

It is this mean and nasty side that keeps me from joining the Philadelphia Sport and Social Club, or RSVPing yes to invitations to girls’ game nights.  I know my limits and I know I don’t want anyone else seeing Sore-Loser-Sarah.

This is also the reason I love running so much.  I like entering races, but I know I am never actually going to win one.  I get to set goals and meet them, and sure, sometimes during the races I will pick out other runners and decide I have to beat him or her.  But more often than not the races are big enough that I don’t know for sure who I beat or, more importantly, if they beat me. 

Of course this running utopia came crashing in on me when the firm announced its teams for the Philadelphia Bar Association Run.  I was on the “A” Team. 

Our firm typically fields two teams.  A-team consists of those members of our firm that consistently rank well in their age group, thus giving that team the advantage in the overall rankings.  B-team consists of everyone else that signs up.  Due to the absence of a crucial member of A-team, yours truly was slipped in to fill her shoes. 

Now, at first, I was excited about this exaltation among the runners in the office.  But then the reality set in; while our firm never wins, at least two of the members of our team take this run pretty seriously.  Plus, Boss suddenly took interest in the results.  And damnit, I already had plans to be out late the night before.   

Sore-Loser-Sarah had Trying-to-Take-it-All-in-Stride-Sarah terrified.  What if I finished behind my time last year?  What if I finished behind a member of the B-team?  What if I didn’t finish? 

“It is just a silly race,” I tried to tell myself.  I wasn’t going to lose my job if I didn’t run it in under 20 minutes.  Even if that was firm policy, I was already on my way out.   

To placate all my selves, I set a secret goal (which would make those of you that run laugh out loud that I considered this a good time for a 5k — but whatever, shut up) while telling all those that would listen that I was sure to have the crappiest run of my life.  I even let everyone know just how late I was out the night before, without letting them in on the fact that I was working, not partying.  I was able to run a good race, I didn’t throw up (which was part of my secret goal), I beat last year’s time and didn’t finish behind any members of the B-team.  I was even so good as to cheer for my co-workers as they finished the race.     

Now, had I not run well, would I still have stuck around and cheered for the rest of my co-workers?  I really want to say yes, but I also really don’t want to lie to my readers.   
 

May 17, 2007

Dead Legal Assistant Walking

Posted in Lessons Learned, Office Hijinks at 4:37 pm by devilwearsbrooksbrothers

Boss is very fond of saying, “You are dead to me.” 

I think this phrase first reared its ugly head in Colorado when spoken to a pizzeria owner that didn’t have the dessert Boss was fond of.  Since then, it has taken over our office; a joke that if you disappoint the one in charge, he will no longer know you. 

I expected this very reaction from Boss when I told him I was leaving.

That’s right kids; I am saying good-bye to the world of the midsized law firm and heading towards greener pastures.  And the night before I told my boss, I had the craziest dream.  When my alarm finally went off, I went down stairs and joined Lauren for a cup of coffee.  I told her about my dream.

“That is a classic anxiety dream.”

“I know.”

“But you conquered your anxiety in the end,” she offered.

I nodded and bit my lip.

“Who is Mike in the dream?” 

“Just some kid I went to high school with.”

“I see, and did you like Mike?”

“Of course, all the girls did.”

“Do you think Mike represents Boss?”

“No.”

“Interesting, and what do you think the lion represents?”

Okay, so she didn’t ask those last few questions, but I know everyone out there thinks that is what living with a therapist is like.  And I hate to disappoint an audience.  However, I assure you she is not like this at home.

So I got dressed and managed to get to work early.  I sat at my desk, letter and copies in hand.  As if toying with me, Boss stayed on the phone for the next hour.  At one point I wanted to march in, take the receiver from his hand and hang up on whomever he was speaking to. 

I refrained.

When he was done and my announcement made, I was shocked by his coolness.  He took it all in stride and I think he was genuinely happy for me.  Best of all, he never uttered those five dreaded words. 

The news disbursed slowly at first.  Patient came by to tell me she wouldn’t be talking to me again until my happy hour, when she will have finally accepted my leaving and we would once again be friends.

Preserving just gave me a look that almost brought me to tears.  Then she walked away. 

Pioneering let me know that my resignation letter was denied and that I would have to stick around until she approved my leave. 

Most everyone else asked me about where I was going and what I would be doing and then congratulated me.  Adding that they knew it was coming. 

However, once the news was out, I felt awkward roaming the hallways.  Everyone’s sideways looks as if I were abandoning ship struck me as funny.  I didn’t get nearly so many hellos or offers to stop and chat awhile about nothing in particular.  It was as if there wasn’t any point of forging ahead with a friendship because I wasn’t going to be around after Memorial Day.  I started to worry that I would never again hear from these individuals that I have spent the last five years getting to know.  The idea that maybe we weren’t friends, but merely colleagues hit me hard. 

Then again, maybe they just thought it was too soon and my legs entirely too pale to be wearing a skirt sans stockings.

I got home that day, relieved that what I thought would be the worst was finally over.  Lauren and I sat on our front stoop with a glass of wine and I told her how it went. 

“It sounds as if they are relieved that you’re leaving.”  Lauren joked.

I rolled my eyes.  “No, I think they will miss me.  I just think they know that this is for the best.”

“And he didn’t cry or throw a tantrum or offer you more money?”

I shook my head.

“And how does that make you feel?”

February 26, 2007

In Praise of Dorks

Posted in Lessons Learned at 6:15 pm by devilwearsbrooksbrothers

This past weekend I was in the Pocono’s with a large group of friends celebrating the snow and the founding fathers’ birthdays.  L. was there, along with Em.  Also hanging out were Lauren, and three other friends, Jay, J. and Gay.  K2 should have been there, but stayed back to catch up on work she missed while she was out sick.  

 We were sitting around talking about nothing really, when I brought up the fact that I was looking forward to a date.  

Gay immediately asked me if he was cute.

I bit the inside of my lip.  The truth was the guy is a complete dork.  There just is no other word for him.  He’s nerdy and geeky, but he’s also more than that.  I didn’t know him, but I could tell he was really into Star Wars and whatever else dorky guys were addicted to.  But none of that matter because I thought he was dreamy. 

I don’t know how it happened.  Sure, there are a couple of geeky guys in my past.  Most of them grew into their looks and none of them could be described as dorks by anyone but my father or possibly my brother.  Still, the large majority of my dating history has been the tall, athletic, not very smart type. 

But recently, I noticed myself making passes at boys wearing glasses.  The realization of which had me swooning worse than when it occurred to me I was dating a guy older than me. 

One of my readers recently referred to these guys as “diamonds in the rough” when she suggested I start looking there for the one that will complete me.  They are not pretty, they are not polished and yes sometimes they are awkward and gawky and look silly.  Like diamonds, are dorks a girl’s best friend?

I am finding that these guys have more to offer then just six pack stomachs and killer cleft chins.  These guys will make you laugh and make you think.  More importantly these guys will not criticize you for reading comic books, tease you with pictures from your chubby phase or mock you because you were once a Mathlete. 

Now, when I was younger and more naive, I noticed a number of attorneys in my office with pictures of really attractive wives sitting on their desks.  In my cynicism, I assumed it was because of the money.  Now, that I am older and wiser, I think maybe it is because they make these women happy.  Goodness knows washboard stomachs were no longer doing it for me. 

But, since I had only just recently come to grips with my attraction to the less cool, I didn’t think I was ready to admit this to all of my friends.  Still, I couldn’t lie.  They might meet him one day.  Lauren already had.  She knew he wasn’t cute, not in any conventional way.

I looked down at my lap.  “Umm, yeah, in a really dorky sort of way, but I have a thing for dorks.”

“Oh, honey, you don’t have to tell me.” Gay crossed his legs.  “I love dorky looking guys, too.” 

The girls almost unanimously agreed.  To my relief, it seems, dorks are sweeping the nation.  Apparently, they are this year’s metro-sexual.

January 19, 2007

Welcome to the Majority

Posted in Lessons Learned at 9:48 pm by devilwearsbrooksbrothers

Boys, feel free to flip back to ESPN.com because this post is for the ladies.

Ladies, I would like to raise a toast.  To all of you out there that put your needs and career before finding and capturing Mr. Right; to those of you who recognize it is better to be by yourself than settled with someone you can moderately stand; to those of you who said, “It’s got to get better than this.”  I salute you. 

And so does every other major media outlet this week with the announcement from the U.S. Census Bureau that for the first time ever, 51% of American women are single. 

As soon as the news broke I knew it was one of the moments where years later we would all be talking about where we were when we first learned that single women over a certain age were no longer resigned to the life of the sad lonely cat lady.  I was sitting on my couch watching the national news.  They featured a lawyer in Chicago who was divorced and in no hurry to get re-married.  They followed her story up with a 51-year-old gallery curator who  said she was having fun and not ready to settle down.  That is when the tears started to well up in my eyes.  Then they showed a collage of our new role models:  Oprah, Condi and Diane Keaton. 

For too long friends and I have complained that it is unfair that men get to be bachelors while women are just single. And, as one commentator put it, if you were over 22 years old, you are just sad.  We have been barraged with news stories claiming there is a man shortage and that women have a shelf life and the those of us who choose a career over a family were going to end up sad and lonely and depressed.   

Recently those tides have been turning.  First there was Sex in the City, then there was Demi and Ashton and now this.  We have officially arrived as an acceptable and desirable demographic and I say it is time to celebrate. 

May I suggest you all put on your hottest work-to-happy-hour outfits, gather up some single girl friends and go to happy hour at a place based on their service and ability to mix a martini, not on whether or not you will be able to mix and mingle with members of the opposite sex.  Then, after happy hour, stop at your local convenience store and pick up your favorite junk food; food you would never let a boy see you eat.  Come home, change into your most comfortable pajamas (albeit also your ugliest) sit on your couch, eat your snacks and watch your favorite guilty pleasure television. 

And when you finally do go to bed, plop yourself down right in the middle and feel free to hog all the covers.  We have earned it.

January 12, 2007

Just Say No

Posted in Lessons Learned, Office Hijinks at 10:51 pm by devilwearsbrooksbrothers

I have a real problem saying no. No, not like that; okay, sometimes like that, but I mean, at work. And it is this very failure of mine to just say no that landed me in front of a room full of paralegals finishing their dessert, giving a speech about blogs.

I hate giving speeches.

The very first speech I ever gave was in the eighth grade. Ms. Reese made us all write an essay for entry into the district’s oratorical contest. The topic was overcoming a great hardship. My essay was Defeating the Stigma of Being a Middle Child. Yes, I was only 13 and that smart.

Ms. Reese, a middle child herself, loved my essay and insisted I enter the contest. I did so reluctantly, , only after she promised to coach me in public speaking. I won’t bore you with all the details of the grueling preparation — my mother helping me memorize my lines over breakfast or night- before-nerves. Just know that three minutes into the speech in front of my entire middle school and some parents, I started to cry because I thought they were all laughing at me. Mind you, I was so terrified about speaking in front of all of those people that I had completely forgotten that I had written a joke into the beginning of my speech and that they were suppose to be laughing at what I just said.

Still, not even this humiliating introduction into public speaking has prevented me from agreeing, on occasion, to get up and talk to people. Why? Because I can’t say no.

So when the committee chair of the Philadelphia Association of Paralegals Marketing Committee asked me to get up at the next luncheon and say a few words about their new blog my initial instinct wasn’t one of flight. It was to shrug my shoulders and say sure.

Sure. As if I was some poised, confidant, master of ceremonies; as opposed to the neurotic, write-it-all-out-on-index-cards-including-the-places-to-pause-and-breathe-and-look-up scaredie cat that I really am. I didn’t even sleep the night before and I was still shaking for fifteen minutes after I delivered my three-minute talk. Yep. That’s right. I got this worked up about three minutes in front of 20 people.

Fortunately, Patient Paralegal was with me. She has often said to me that she is going to get me a shirt that just says “NO” across the front. Then again, she is one to talk.

Once my shaking subsided and I could cut my chicken again, I turned my ear towards the conversation Patient was having with her neighbor. I overheard her neighbor say, “Well of course you will be there, right?” Patient nodded. The woman replied, “Don’t worry, I don’t need you to do anything for it. Just show up.”

As we left the lunch, Patient and I talked about all the responsibilities she would take on between now and the time of the event. We even joked that by the actual day, she may be responsible for introducing the keynote speaker and of course giving him his reward.

I know it shouldn’t, but it gives me a great amount of solace knowing I am not the only pushover out there.

November 30, 2006

Gifts That Keep On Giving

Posted in Lessons Learned at 4:58 pm by devilwearsbrooksbrothers

By the time you finish reading this, the holiday shopping season will be in full effect. And since I know most of you don’t have time to shop, let alone think about what to get the crusty old partner or your young charming assistant – I am here to help. Really, it is the least I can do.

As you read on, it may seem I am directing all of my advice to men. Is that because I assume only attorneys are men? No. I’m a feminist damnit. I know a lot of women out there have climbed the corporate ladder. I just also happen to know women are naturally better gift-givers.

And before you men all shake your heads in disgust at such a statement and click back over to your fantasy football fansite, let me let you in on a little secret. Women are not great gift-givers because we go to the stores thinking about what you want. Oh no. That is just what we want you to think. Are you ready for this? The truth is, we go to the stores thinking, “What will make him think I am the greatest fill-in the-blank-here-with-the-noun-that-best-fits-our-relationship?”

It’s true. One year I bought my ex-boyfriend porn. Not because I thought, hey, my ex really enjoys watching two women make out. No. I was at a store thinking he would really look good in a pumpkin, cable knit sweater. Then I asked myself, will a pumpkin, cable knit sweater have him telling all his friends that I am his favorite ex-girlfriend, ever? Probably not. Some girl-on-girl action? Well that’s a no-brainer.

And why was I buying my ex-boyfriend a gift? Well, that is what happens when you say “but we can still be friends.” And then your friends decide to have a Pollyanna and because God hates you, you pull his name out of the stupid hat. But that is a lesson for another time.

Personally, I think when buying for a higher-up, you can’t go wrong with anything in a bottle, well anything but perfume or cologne. I think buying a partner a fragrance is weird and sends a funny message. You either want him or her to smell better, or you think he or she smells bad.

Nice office supplies also make great, impersonal gifts; maybe a leather caddy, or coasters and a holder for their meeting table. An added bonus to this gift is that a lot of places that sell these items (some online even) will also emboss the items at a cost. Nothing says, “I deserve to be a partner more than that the other guy” better than black leather coasters with his or her initials.

As for the significant others in your life, assistants can be tricky. My gut tells me to warn against accessories. But they are easy and plentiful. So, if you insist on going the jewelry route, buy a bracelet or earrings. These items are often small and not nearly as personal as a ring or a necklace.

If your assistant is a male, well first I would like to applaud you for being so progressive. Second, I would suggest a tie. Nothing too out there, we work in law firms for goodness sake; something with a small pattern in a neutral color would work best. And if he hates it, he can put it on and take it off in the office; no one else has to see him wearing it.

Oh wait, you thought I meant your other significant other; right, her too. Unfortunately here I am not much help. I am not what one would call domesticated. So when a partner at my firm told me he was getting his wife a bathroom sink — oh wait I’m sorry, two bathroom sinks — I outwardly cringed.

Mind you, that is a pretty expensive gift and I am sure it is something she wanted. But I feel guilty getting my roommates something that benefits the whole house, so my instinct told me no to his and her sinks.

That being said, maybe you just bought a new house and are renovating it and she has discussed wanting to replace the old patio doors with beautiful French doors. Go for it. But also get her something small and personal. Like a DVD of her favorite movie. Bonus points if it is a total chick flick that you can’t stand.

Now the only question left on your list is what to get that quirky, albeit very funny blogger in your life. I, for one, am asking for (in no particular order) Peyton Manning’s contact information, a body that looks good in both black leggings and skinny jeans or an end to that trend, world peace and a decoder ring for man-speak.

Next page