I was recently invited to a girl’s night out with a couple of co-workers. During the course of the evening, a co-worker blurted out that a rumor had been going around that I was gay. I was floored at hearing this, and managed to simply state that am straight. I held it together long enough to say goodbye, but I drove home in a rage. I realize that I am not the most feminine woman in the office, but this is ridiculous! I try to keep my personal life separate from my work life, and frankly, none of that is anyone’s business anyway! Do these people not have enough work to do? Or am I overreacting?
Angry in Altoona
I am always really happy when friends come to visit. When I get this happy, I get really close to them so they can pet my head and give me belly rubs. Dad calls this “getting up in their grill,” but I am not sure what he means. (I have heard them say they have dogs on the grill, but they have never put ME up there.) One thing Mom taught me when I was a puppy is to respect it when people say, “back off.” If someone does not want me that close to them, all they have to do is say, “back off” — they don’t even have to yell or explain why. I will then back to a respectable distance so my friend is no longer uncomfortable.
Because I am very red for a Golden Retriever, people often ask my mom if I am an Irish Setter. While I was born on St. Patrick’s Day, so mom says I am an honorary Irish, I am not a Setter, I am a Retriever. Mom lets them know and they usually just nod and smile, and we can still be nice to each other. I don’t get upset that they got their Setters and Retrievers mixed up, because we are just acquaintances and it was an honest mistake. If we were to become friends, then they would know me better, and it would not be an issue at all. As a dog, we get called “boy” all the time, even if we are not boys. I don’t get upset about that, either, because these are people who don’t know me yet.
It looks like your coworker got a little too close, and it is okay to say, “back off.” You do not need to be angry, though, because you already said you do not consider them friends. Friends would not spread rumors, so I recommend you don’t become friends, either. You do not need those type of people in your life. As far as protecting your reputation — who cares if people you don’t really know or care about are sure whether you are a Setter or a Retriever. When they matter to you, then it will matter to them.