Monthly Archives: April 2014

At the moan, you will be connected

While traveling recently, I had occasion to stay with a friend who works from the sun-drenched comfort of his cozy living room, which almost made me miss my former employment. More specifically, only one stellar aspect of my former employment: the conference call.

When I first was assigned to handle conference calls that frequently ran most or all of the day, in which I had minimal if any participation, I diligently sat listening, feeling mildly subversive because I was still home, in my bathrobe, while working! And then came the day that it occurred to me to take a shower, and my whole world changed. For whatever reason, it hadn’t previously dawned on me that no one could see me or know what I was doing. From then, it was on. I used long telephone conferences as great opportunities to catch up on housekeeping, laundry, and small projects; I went jogging (the chatter being not nearly as motivating as rock and roll, but at least equivalent to trance music); I cooked dinner and stocked the freezer. I was ultraproductive! I was responsible! I was still paying attention to whether anyone uttered the magic words (the name of my client), but 99% of the time, it was equally likely that unicorns would pop through the gate and begin grazing on the terrace.

Aaaaand then a friend messaged me that he was in the neighborhood…was I home, by chance? Could he drop by?

And with that, conference calls became inextricably linked in my neanderbrain with sex. The sheer turn-on of getting off while on “mute” listening to product specifications of boilers manufactured in the 1950s was like a gateway drug. Every conference call I took from home after that I tried to arrange a nooner. Every conference call I took in my office involved sexting from my mobile while the hard line was on speaker.

Apparently I am out of the norm here. Upon asking other people what they do on conference calls they don’t need to be participatory in, their responses have most commonly been:

  • “Other work! I can double-bill!” — unethical, and, frankly, just no fun. Really, guys?
  • “Facebook.” Yeah, okay, I do love the book of faces. I’ve sext-messaged on it during plenty of…. oh. Just stalking your exes, huh?
  • “Cleaning my office.” NO!!! Truly epic calls are about getting dirty!
  • “Making dinner!” …and all that other useful crap I used to do before I leveled up.

Digging a little deeper, I uncovered some better responses:

  • “Manscaping.” I can only hope you’re doing this only during the at-home conference calls. But I thank you for your grooming efforts — you’ll be ready for Friday’s 1 p.m. call, right? <wink>
  • “Browsing porn online.” A step in the right direction! Also something I hope you’re doing only from your personal computer. Your employer’s interest in crusher porn may or may not match your own (although everyone can agree on pony play, right? Get your bridles ready!!) and that conversation with HR is going to be awkward… Not to mention that your secretary, who can totally see you through your door window, now has job security (and a fabulous list of Christmas presents she can’t buy you).

Now, of course, there are certainly things to consider when taking your conferencing to the next level. The mute button is essential. Don’t leave the phone anywhere where you have even the slightest chance of whacking it back into audibility, unless your conference call involves planning details for Exxxotica 2015 or you manufacture pleasure swings…then you can just call it “hands-on research and/or product testing.” A wireless headset with its own mute button is useful, particularly when the conference call is privileged, but then again, the beauty of speakerphone is that both parties are illicitly involved in what feels dangerous and anti-authoritarian.  All bets are off, of course, if your partner in coitus is a coworker, which also would open up a much broader schedule of potential in-office mischief (unless you work in an office with a “knock and enter” policy, which thankfully I realized my last was before even considering anything that could result in seriously detrimental consequences with myself or anyone else….).

Since you may need to periodically interject some sort of commentary into the call, it’s wisest to, at the beginning, feign a little hoarseness (perhaps a sneeze or two, if you can muster it), and apologize that you have been ill. This will help smooth over any gasping or shortness of breath which may occur when you must un-mute and volunteer an opinion, while your partner is licking the back of your knees or riding you like a mechanical bull.

Knowing or estimating your conference call time limitations can also be an excellent challenge for the secondary events, e.g., “This call will be approximately 15-20 minutes. So how about you just take off your pants?” or “We’ve got at least an hour scheduled, and my division isn’t up for 45 minutes…we are clear for full-on fucking, to the sweet strains of Korean men jabbering. The accent change back to continental will serve as a two-minute warning — GO!” God bless multinational conferencing.

Of course, once I started boning my way through the boring, I also started imagining what all the rest of the silent listeners were doing, which made for some nauseating daydreams about what my colleagues do in their wine cellars and with their collections of stuffed birds. I suspect they were probably doing responsible things, based on my informal friend-poll, but it’s vastly more fun to imagine them full-on harnessed, swinging like the evil boss in 9 to 5, detailing the technical issues of their server platforms or explaining the history of asbestos literature in between episodes of moaning like a cat in heat.

I certainly hope that if they haven’t before, they’ll try it in the future. And I rue the day when videoconferencing changes everything.


Aural Sex

It’s not like it’s intentional. When you live in an apartment you necessarily become intimately, voyeuristically acquainted with your neighbors. And when traveling, depending on how paper-thin the walls are at the Bates-Motel-of-the-week, sometimes you get free live-action porn. As we lay in bed listening to our enthusiastic but uncreative hotel neighbors bouncing their headboard against our earspace, we did find ourselves lapsing into muppet mode.

S: That was the worst thing I’ve ever heard!
W: It was terrible!
S: Horrendous!
W: Well it wasn’t that bad.
S: Oh, yeah?
W: Well, there were parts of it I liked!
S: Well, I liked alot of it.
W: Yeah, it was GOOD actually.
S: It was great!
W: It was wonderful!
S: Yeah, bravo!
W: More!
S: More!

It wasn’t that they didn’t seem to be having a good time, they just didn’t seem to bring their “A” game – some standard-issue bed creaking, occasional moaning, nothing to write to Penthouse or Dan Savage about. Meh, I’ve heard better.

Actually, I think I’m just spoiled: the neighbor porn channel I seem to tune in everywhere I live really can’t be beat. I woke during one night to slamming, moaning, knocking-furniture-over coitus that was so close above me I had a Ghostbusters “there is no Dana only Zuul” panic attack. About twenty minutes later, they started over — above my living room. Rinse and repeat through the other three rooms over the next few hours… By the time they hit the bathroom (where, because of the vents, it’s like actually they were actually in bed with me) I was both exhausted and unreasonably angry about my own completely solitary situation. Even the cat had run for cover an hour before.

During my amorous eavesdropping, I get to overhear all kinds of pillow talk, intermission fights, fantasy roleplay, and household honey-do discussions, which it takes every fiber of my being not to bring up when I see the neighbors in the foyer. “Say, Bob! Your dominatrix diaper fantasy is really coming along! Also, I recommend the oil-based Kilz, the water-based just doesn’t cover as thoroughly. You can totally eat moldy cheese, and you never should have agreed that her sister is getting fat. Oh, and remember to pick up dog food.”

Sometimes the noises are simply inexplicable. Bed creak, bed creak, bed creak, moan, moan, moan — thump, scrape, thump, scrape, shhhh-a shhhhh-a shhhh-a? What the hell are they up to now? Doing a little light carpentry with their woodworking? Moving the credenza into a more fuck-on-able position? Is This Old House renovating the kitchen, 70s-porn-style? (“I’m here to clean your pipes, ma’am….”)

Most of all, though, I enjoy the skipping record phenomenon: the word or phrase of the day, repeated in a snowballing crescendo, ranging in creativity from “fuckfuckfuckfuckfuckFUCKFUCKFUCKFUCKFUUUUUUUUUUUUCK!!!” (the most common) to “you’re my favorite lawyer ever! favorite lawyer ever! favoritelawyereverfavoritelawyerever FAVORITE! LAWYER! EVER!!” (I am absolutely hoping there’s a dynamite review of that lawyer on Yelp). Brownie points, too, to “how are you so fucking hot?! how are you so fucking hot?!” guy — a phrase one can never say too many times or too loudly, which is almost guaranteed to turn the enthusiasm of your partner up to 11, no matter what kind of debilitating hangover he or she woke up nursing.

Conversely, unless you are truly concerned about something that needs immediate attention (“Erm…what kind of rashes are contagious again? oh, no reason….”), bringing up suggestions for your partner’s self-improvement may not be take in the good spirit they are intended if presented while your penis is currently lodged in her ladyparts. To wit: “Now that I think about it, I liked your hair better before you cut it. Maybe you could get highlights?” (Hey, thanks, Paul Mitchell! Now let’s talk about what we can do to improve your sagging balls and flagging stamina!) Really, any complete change of subject isn’t a good idea — just hold your questions until the end (if your curiousity is so horrifyingly self-sabotaging that you have to ask “How do you pronounce your last name? Is that Jewish?” you could at least have the decency and sense of self-preservation to wait until she’s not up close and personal with your own circumcision). And for godssakes, remarking “Huh, your vagina isn’t tight at all!” is just about never going to get you anything but an immediate dismount.

So far, however, the clear winner? The impassioned baritone who complimented, moaned…and then erupted into a brilliant rendition of “New York, New York!” Any lady should be so lucky!! I wonder if it would be bad manners to slip a note under the door for ol’ blue eyes…if he’s not busy later….

Read Me, Seymour!

Recently I had occasion to ride the commuter train to work a few times, and remembered the elaborate system of decisionmaking that goes into selecting what to read during the ride. Now, assuming you don’t have to read something for school or work, choosing a pleasure-read for the train isn’t just a matter of blindly swiping a volume from the bookshelf on the way out the door…imagine how uncomfortable you would be to accidentally wind up perusing the Kama Sutra surrounded by 6-year-olds on the Santa’s Workshop El (which you can totally accidentally get on around the holidays, and ride pointlessly around the loop until you finally realize that you’re on the cruel elf train which will never take you to your destination and hell really IS other people, other Christmas-shopping-tourist-people……), or how bored you will be reading the Spanish-English dictionary that you only really keep around for when you are out of rolling papers. Point being, you should definitely put some thought into this. Perhaps not as much thought as I do, but it’s a good starting point for you to dial the crazy back from as much as you think is reasonable.

Number 1: I only read smart things in public. This has the effect of repelling idiots who might otherwise think that I might be receptive to small talk about celebrity gossip and/or where I’m going on the train, how long I’ve lived or been in whatever city this is, oh my it’s amazing that it snows/rains/sleets 8 months out of the year in this city, etc. It also furthers my intellectual growth while enhancing my general aura of smug, something I have definitely been trying to stock up on since I’ve moved to the Pacific Northwest. Nothing good at all is going to come of my reading teacozy mysteries on the train (my guilty pleasure — think “body in the vicarage” and “meddling old lady amateur detective.”) — certainly not my increased immersion into the hipster-arrogant elite culture.

Number 2: Determine whether you feel like talking to strangers, and if so, what kind of strangers. “Best American Science Writing 2013” is going to skew vastly different in its fan club than “Why is the Penis Shaped Like That?” — my current train read — which is a pretty great book in itself but much more fun for its social effects. Once I hear the tittering, I know what’s coming next…wait for it…”um…we just wanted to know…what’s that book about?” “It’s about the evolutionary biology explanations for the design and performance of the human body. Including, yep, why the penis is shaped like it is (to squeegee out sperm from the other man who boffed your lady moments before you did and shoot your new competitive sperm as close to the red zone as possible).” At this point I can make a pretty good determination of whether these people are going to be a fascinating 20-minute further conversation on my train ride, or, given their horror-stricken visages, planning to back away slowly as if I’m the infectious-measles lady they’ve heard all about in the news.

Number 3: Are you looking for luuuuuurve? “He’s Just Not That Into You” or anything at all written by Jennifer Weiner is going to ensure a self-fulfilling prophesy, but “They Call Me Naughty Lola: Personal Ads from the London Review of Books” or “The Ethical Slut: A Guide to Infinite Sexual Possibilities” might better transmit the message that you’re interested in someone following you home. Any Christopher Moore/David Sedaris/Augusten Burroughs book will demonstrate that you are easygoing, with a sarcastic streak and a quick wit — excellent conversation starters if you pair them with a friendly smile at a potential target (and maybe a low-cut blouse). Then again, if you’re riding later on in the evening of popular “out” nights (Friday/Saturday/Cubs game nights on the north side), clearly demonstrating that you are completely uninterested in socializing with humans who fit the popular modern sociological norms, I have had great success with obscure, soul-crushing Russian literature. (If you manage to be sitting next to the one nerd that also was moved to tears by The Gulag Archipelago, you can bet your sweet patootie that he’s riding extra stops to keep talking to you – true story.)

Number 4: If you are traveling, remember that you are going to associate that book with your destination for the rest of your life. Nothing taints the magic of your first trip to Disneyland like reading Lolita on the 12-hour Amtrak ride.

Number 5: Remember what you read will infiltrate your brain and may impact your ability to be socially appropriate. Even the most brief perusal of “Sex at Dawn” on the way to your super-fundamentalist-conservative-cousin’s wedding will severely hamper your ability to keep your fat atheist mouth shut during the endless sermons and speeches about the holy perfection of all that missionary-position sex the newlybounds are going to be having entirely for the purposes of procreation without your interjecting the unlikelihood that their current monogamous arrangement will be fulfilling for the remainder of their lives (unless they happen to both already be nonagenarians). And reading Sartre on the way to work on performance review day — particularly if you work in HR — will not contribute to helping your organization be a kinder, more optimistic and community-focused environment.

I’m going to go with “The Complete Works of Hunter S. Thompson.”  When I start hallucinating and randomly hitting my forehead against the ticket-reader machine, I expect others will understand that I’m really just dodging the bats, and leave me to my personal space.







As I was picking my nose in the elevator on my way down to get my laundry, I was reminded of some horrifying knowledge I gained earlier this week: if you live in (or frequent) a concierge or security-staffed building, you’ve probably been observed or taped in the elevator doing something embarrassing, illegal, reprehensible, and/or unmentionable.

Did you know that most swankypants apartment buildings have cameras in the elevators?! Or that the cameras actually record video? Yeah, maybe you did. But did you know that the concierge/security staff actually watches that shit? At 4 a.m., it’s better than YouTube, and they will totally flag the good videos for popular re-viewing with the day shift. Betcha didn’t count on that while you were scratching your scabs or sniffing your armpits to see if you forgot the Sure (in case you’re stuck in the elevator crowd later on in the day). So I’ve recently had the opportunity to enjoy the narcolepsy inducing incredibly fascinating world of building maintenance/supervision, and, what with not being a cable subscriber, have discovered a whole new world of visual entertainment.

The 7 a.m. walks of shames are positively marvelous…the disheveled and attractive, carrying bits and pieces of last night’s costumery while either trying to seem as small and innocuous as possible or trying to hold a stoic straight face with chin proudly up. But truly, the drunk nights preceding trump the morning evacuations without any contest…the penthouse resident riding up with three lovely specimens in-various-states-of-flagrante-dilecto…the totally straightlaced married couple with the incredibly voluptuous and half their age hipster chick…the couple who can’t decide whether it’s the right time for the fighting or the fucking part of the evening…the neighbors who completely pretend anonymity but who are engaged in their own Folger’s commercial.

But surprisingly enough, the ordinary, daytime crazy beats all of the drunk night escapades hands-down. In a “damn the man” expression of political protest (we think), immediately after the installation of the cameras, two of the residents who had opposed the initiative entered elevator 3, which remains padded at all times (for moving heavy things, natch). Lady Resident, who is, to put it gently, Orca-fat, completely obliterated the camera’s view of Manny Resident, who was fittingly Jack-Sprat-esque. Within a few seconds, however, Manny’s head is seen bobbing above and behind Lady, and it eventually becomes apparent that he is jackhammering Lady, wild-dog-on-elephant style, while staring directly at the camera, the whole seemingly-endless ride from 28 to parking level sub-3. That video made for an uncomfortable coffee break, while all of the members of the concierge and security staff watched on repeat and laughed maniacally….

More mundanely, every morning, many residents walk their dogs. One particular pooch-free resident, however, gets in her elevator at floor 25 and spends the entire ride down circling the cab, as if staking out the perfect place to burrow in and nap (or crap). No word yet on whether she’s eventually been able to settle in for a nap…. Others carry their pups for the journey (really?) and coo, sing, or chat with them the whole way, as if the elevator is some sort of transatlantic voyage. Others practice their…whatever…like Mr. 18th floor, who has been working on his high kicks, jujitsu-ninja-crazypants style. Best day ever? When the elevator emergency-stopped while Ninja Boy was at work; he threw a high roundhouse, and landed cleanly on his ass, as gravity’s theoretical persuasions got the better of his training. (Because science!) I nominate the entire staff for “successfully not cracking up while he made his way out the front door”  for this year’s academy award honorable mentions, by the way.

Our favorite thing to come out of the Miley Cyrus twerking creepshow is the number of young, posteriorly-endowed women who have determined that the elevator is the BEST place to practice their twerking. (If you do this, trust me, you’re not alone, but I’m looking forward to you visiting!) 3 tweens get in, turn towards back of elevator, lean over; butts begin to move of their own accord; hilarity ensues… doors open and all the sudden old man gets on and OMG three giggling, horrified little twinks pour off the elevators and across the lobby. Sigh. The practices are always so good until the closet ninja interrupts them.

Until I learned all of this, it has been my practice to pick my nose, or my wedgie, or my teeth, or whatever else that seems to be sticking in the wrong places, if I am alone, although I do have a particularly romantic affinity for making out with dates if we happen to be alone together in elevators — solid, good, one-minute-of-free-teaser-porn kind of makeouts (third base if the ride is long enough!!). Either way, I hope I’m amusing the shit out of whoever’s watching me the next time I’m riding that cab hard and fast.