I had lunch with a new acquaintance one day recently, and it got a little weird.

It would be a typical story of an awkward interaction between a man and a woman, where somehow the messages got a little confused. Except in this instance, both parties are committed to their marriages, well-educated, successful corporate professionals. They are both steeped in the theories and practices of leadership, organizational change, and group dynamics. They’re also both well versed in various eastern spiritual perspectives and practices. Both are generally self-aware, emotionally astute, spiritual, responsible and mature individuals.

You’d think they could have a normal civil lunch with little story value.

The twist is: she is an ex-prostitute who, after keeping that fact a secret for 20 years, has recently committed to a greater degree of authenticity and leadership integrity, and has begun ‘coming out’. She’s doing this both in recognition that her secret warps the way she ‘shows up’ and wants to un-warp her presence as much as possible. She’s also discovering that her coming out necessitates a practice of surfacing people’s assumptions about prostitution, secrets, and gender politics (that she would be me). And he has a slight pornography addiction, some marital sexual dissatisfaction, and has recently experienced a major spiritual upheaval in the form of a broken-open heart.

They’re both trying to ‘be present’ in new, more vulnerable ways that are a little beyond their abilities. It could get messy, and it does. And it’s not a mess that’s easily cleaned up, in spite of their best intentions.

Women will appreciate the nuanced dissection (and sometimes, evisceration) of gender dynamics they experience every day, dynamics that become far more repressive than we’re always willing to admit.

Courageous men, looking to be more responsible for their own unconscious and unintended repressive impact on women, will appreciate a peek at the normally-hidden impact of their subtle interpersonal behaviors with women.

This story originated in a series of blog posts, but if you’re coming into it in the middle of postings, here it is, in sequence:

Part A – What actually took place?

  1)  It’s Just Lunch – The Set-Up

  2)  It’s Just Lunch – Background

  3)  It’s Just Lunch – Just the Facts, Ma’am

  4)  It’s Just Lunch – What Was She Thinking!?! 

  5)  It’s Just Lunch – Holding Hands

  6) It’s Just Lunch – Metanarrative

  7) It’s Just Lunch – Goo Detection

  8) It’s Just Lunch – Terminology

Part B – An email exchange begins

  9) It’s Just Lunch –  More Goo

10) It’s Just Lunch – Goo Analysis

11) It’s Just Lunch – Slow Down There Big Fella!

12) It’s Just Lunch – Polite but Firm

Part C – Trying to understand what happened

13) It’s Just Lunch – A Novel Exploration

14) It’s Just Lunch – A Perversion of Prostitution

Part D – Further email exchanges

15) It’s Just Lunch – A Rational Defense

16) It’s Just Lunch – Boy-Noise

17) It’s Just Lunch – Blame the Victim Tactics

18) It’s Just Lunch – Flat Apology

19) It’s Just Lunch – The Chthonios

20) It’s Just Lunch – Another Apology

Part E – Beyond emails and anger

21) It’s Just Lunch – Touching His Heart

22) It’s Just Lunch – What Had I Wanted?

23) It’s Just Lunch – Mea Culpa

24) It’s Just Lunch – Completion

Part F – Outcomes

25) It’s Just Lunch – Epilogue 1 – From ‘Art’ into Life

26) It’s Just Lunch – Epilogue 2 – His Response

27) It’s Just Lunch – Epilogue 3 – Initial Reaction

Part G – In Retrospect

28) It’s Just Lunch – Afterthoughts

29) It’s Just Lunch – Beginning of an Emergence

It’s close to done. . .


  1. Thank you, Lenny! I’m liking your blog too!  I’m glad you found me. Keep up your willingness to look for that wisdom. Your search is (imho) right on track re: what’s necessary from civilized people going forward. 

  2. I just sat here and read this whole series. I find it to be a fascinating testament to the wealth of wisdom available in ordinary experiences and exchanges if we’re willing to look for it. I can tell you found lots and I certainly grabbed a few bits myself. Awesome. Thank you.

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