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The year 2014 was tumultuous for me. I had just graduated college and gotten a big boy job, and I was not a fan of that trade off. My wine Wednesdays were replaced by listening to my coworkers use that stupid “humpday” line from a Geico ad that had ran, like, eight months prior. Instead of starting my Fridays with a vodka slushee and a dip in the pool, I was up at 6 a.m. in a desperate attempt to leave work in time for happy hour.
Basically, I was an adult, and I hated it.
To relieve some of this stress, I decided to plan a mountain weekend in Lake Tahoe, where good decisions go to die and you never have to grow up. The weekend was everything I had wanted it to be, filled with gambling and debauchery, and the only snafu occurred when we hit the club on the last night. I was going through my standard nightclub motions (drink enough alcohol until I’m not acutely aware of how awkward it is to grind with random girls I don’t know), when a fight broke out directly to my right.
I have no idea who was involved or why it began, but the only thing that registered when looking at it (through a haze of 12 hours of drinking) was that one of my friends was somehow in the pile up and getting lit up by a guy on top of him. With enhanced strength and extremely dulled reflexes, I grabbed this guy, threw him off, and looked down to realize that he wasn’t on top of my buddy after all. Some guy I had never seen before nodded in thanks at me as I shrugged and turned back towards my crew, only to get completely blindsided by a bouncer. His shoulder caught me square in the left eye. Lo and behold, 24 hours later, was dragging his hungover ass into work with a monster shiner. I’m not going to pretend I handled it perfectly, but I did manage to get some solid advice for anyone in the same predicament.
Do own the black eye. If you sulk into work with your head hung low (or, god forbid, with a hoodie on), people are going to know you did something stupid/embarrassing. You’re not fooling anyone; people can see that you got clocked in the face. What no one knows is how this happened. If you walk in with your head held high, laughing and joking with your coworkers, they’ll at least assume you’re not ashamed of it (even though you should be).
Don’t tell the truth about what happened. Unless you legitimately got in an accident or hit your eye whilst rescuing a bunch of kittens from an orphanage (I don’t know why you wouldn’t have been rescuing the orphans, it’s your life), don’t give up the real details. What you want to do is downplay the incident, but in a way that keeps people guessing. Brush off their questions with a story that is plausible and mundane, but just vague enough that deep down people know you’re not telling the truth. I held strong on the fact that I had been elbowed in the eye during a game of flag football, but brushed off all follow up questions about the game, the league, and how it happened. Basically, you want your higher-ups to have a plausible reason that you’re not an idiot who still gets in fights, but all your peers low-key think you’re a raging maniac outside of the office. This will give you office dominance, and the office cutie may decide to give you another look at the next sponsored happy hour.
Do play up the pain a little. If anyone asks, obviously you tell them it’s nothing and you can’t even feel it, but feel free to wince every once in a while when you “think no one is looking.” This will make you look good for playing through the pain and coming in to work even when you’re not 100 percent and will give you an easy out if you’re not at the top of your game (which you’re not, because it’s Monday and you’re hungover). You can even start popping Advil like they’re PEZ and people will think it’s because of your eye and not the 11 Jameson-and-gingers you drank last night.
Don’t let your newfound fame get to your head. Offices are the most boring parts of humanity shoved together out of necessity and trapped for 8-plus hours. When “Janet not signing the birthday card” or “the new printer being way louder” is noteworthy drama, the fact that you’re rocking some badass natural mascara (I realize this is the least cool way of referring to a black eye) is going to make you into a rock star. Girls will want you and guys will want to go to lunch with you. You’ll be living the good life, but don’t be fooled. The more you try and bring attention to it, the less cool you’ll seem. The office will talk all week about your shiner if you don’t address it, but as soon as you start retelling the story people are A) going to realize how lame it is or B) realize it’s too lame to be true. In a place where “the Christmas party supply closet incident” has been talked about for three years, you don’t want any negative attention on yourself.
Do accept all forms of “get well” therapy from your sympathetic coworkers. I milked this for all it was worth and accepted any treats and/or favors offered to me. My work mom gave me a Halloween-sized bag of my favorite candy (Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups or get the fuck out), my boss let me leave an hour early on Friday, and the coworker that I was hooking up with gave me a lunch break blowie in my car. All around it was a fantastic week. I have no regrets. .
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