Almost 20 years ago, I worked as a host on a TVOntario show about books called Imprint. For the ﬁrst season, I got along well with my co-host, a fellow writer of formidable intelligence and charm. Hargurchet Singh Bhabra was known to all as H.S.—an authorial moniker appropriate for someone born in Mumbai, educated in London and a graduate of Oxford. (…)
At first I didn’t take his flirtatious remarks seriously, since he ﬂattered everyone he worked with. Or his habit of appearing in my ofﬁce door, looking winsome, saying “Hug?” I assumed he was a closeted gay man; at least, that might explain why he liked to boast about attending parties with “a leggy blond” on each arm. His co-workers and I tended to ﬁle his ﬂamboyant behaviour under “continental charm.”
Then one day when everyone else had left the office he said, “You know Marni, I’m very grateful there’s a wall between our offices, because otherwise I should find it difficult not to throw myself at you.” (Yes, he really did talk like that.) I felt off-balance. This was not a compliment, I realized, it was more like a threat. I told him that his remarks were inappropriate and asked him to stop.
His expression went cold. He offered an icy, insincere apology before turning on his (snakeskin-cowboy-booted) heels and heading for the elevators. I felt the doors close in my face. In H.S.’s binary world, you were either with him or against him, and I was now ofﬁcially the Enemy.