It was Moose who first introduced the concept of RLOs to me, in a roundabout fashion. They had their genesis in her Perfect Bus Guy’s. PBGs are men who would be seen in the near distance, possibly on the same bus to work as you, with a certain regularity. They were perfect, because you could imagine anything about their personality, as you gazed in complete safety at their attractiveness. I’ll leave Moose to explain in the comments the more subtle intricacies of what does/doesn’t form a PBG (if she is so inclined).
RLOs, or Random Lust Objects, are just such people. People who cross your path on a semi-regular basis, who have something about them that makes them lust-worthy. You are never sure when they are going to pop up, but when they do, they brighten your day ever so slightly. They can be total strangers, say you just spot them in the canteen every now and again, or they can work down the corridor from you, or be colleagues. (Though colleagues tend to fall more into the EDLO category, that is Every Day Lust Objects). You might know their name, or you might not. You might never speak – that is fine (Moose would argue that conversation just runs the risk of ruining their Perfectness). They are a reason to make sure you looked your best. Something to make you smile, despite the evil phone call you had just taken. Yes, you could argue it is objectification, but part of what makes an RLO/EDLO is that it is totally innocent. Nothing is never overt, and nothing is acted upon. RLOs, almost by definition, are totally off-limits, and that is what makes them so perfect. It’s the workplace equivalent of lusting after Brad Pitt or Johnny Depp.
I used to work in an office that was blessed with RLOs and, at one point, my cup ranneth over with three EDLOs. That was pure workplace bliss.
Now, things aren’t so rosy. I lack RLOs, let alone EDLOs. I’m finding myself having to lower my standards as to what makes such an individual. Thinking about it, there are just two confirmed RLOs in my orbit, and they are very, very random, sometimes never seen from one month to the next. Considering the gender-split in Publishing, let alone Children’s (overwhelmingly female), this isn’t surprising. But, you see, I had grown used to being surrounded with exemplars of male beauty on an (almost) daily basis. I admit it, I was spoilt, but considering how stressful the job itself was, I think that a little bit of spoiling was justified. I’ve come to see the provision of a ready supply of RLOs as an essential, along with a decent wage and a kettle to make regular cuppas.
It is sad, but I think I have finally found the downside to the move to Oxford and my career change. I can live in a beautiful city and do a job I love, but I don’t get pretty men to lust after. I see two ways out: leave Oxford and the job; or encourage more attractive men to work in Publishing. The former is not going to happen anytime soon, so that leaves Option Two. And I think the men out there are missing a trick – here is an industry awash in estrogen. Quite simply, all you single men out there, it would be like shooting fish in a barrel.
Hear my call, oh Publishing Gods! Your newest disciple is struggling to keep the faith. Show her a sign, let her know the appalling wages, uncertain future given the current economic climate, endless papercuts and eyestrain from all the manuscripts aren’t all that await her! Push a few RLOs in her direction, please?