Eavesdropping on an R-Rated Conversation

It is morning in California-land. I'm sitting at a table at the cafe, reading the paper and eating my scone and drinking my cafe au lait, and I can't help but overhear a tidbit of conversation at the next table.

" . . . and showed everyone my garter belt."

OK. I'm not going to acknowledge that, I think. I bite the scone and go back to reading about Nelson Mandela.

Then another fragment wafts its way to my ears. "Next week, we're doing stimulation."

I look over. The speaker is a pretty woman of about 35. She is with a man and a woman. Meeting my eyes, she smiles. "You noticed that one, didn't you?"

"Well, you did kind of say the secret word," I reply, hoping that she used to watch Groucho Marx on "You Bet Your Life." She stares my way, smiling proudly.

Now, when I tell people about hearing these kind of conversations, they usually think I am dealing in the realm of satire rather than reporting. What they usually say is, "How come no one hears these conversations except you?"

My theory is that it is because I have the Nobody Look. I look like Nobody, so you don't have to watch what you say around me.

Unconcerned that Nobody is listening, the woman at the next table continues, " . . . so she came in wearing a lace body stocking and a lace negligee. But she has problems. She's very up-tight about her, um. . . . "

"Body?" says the other woman.

"Yes, her body," says the woman who showed off her garter belt.

"Excuse me," I say, leaning toward their table. "Are we talking about a class here?"

"Sex therapy," says Ms. Belt.

"A class or a group for people with problems?" I ask.

"Problems," she says.

"Gee, you don't sound like you've got any problems," I say (leaving out my thought: unless you consider exhibitionism a problem).

"She does," says the man, who then explains that he's her partner.

"I do," she says without any apparent emotion.

"Lots of people have them," I say to be polite, and then I turn back to my paper.

"No, they don't," says Ms. Belt, as if I've offended her sense of uniqueness.

"There's a lot of denial," says The Other Woman.

"Yes, denial," I say.

"So, what were the others wearing?" the man asks.

Ms. Belt goes on to describe in detail what everyone was wearing to Sexy Underwear Night at the sex therapy session.

You know, it's 9:30 in the morning. I'm trying to wake up. I'm trying to find out what Nelson Mandela's up to. I'm not looking for a column on the way people talk in the '90s.

"Would you like her number?" Ms. Belt asks me. She is referring to her sex therapist. She explains that each person pays $50 a session. There are seven people in the group. So that's $350 for the therapist. Enough to keep her in lace body stockings for the next year.

"She's expensive," says Ms. Belt of her therapist, "but she's the best."

So I, the Nobody at the next table who looks like she's got sex problems, take the number and rush home to confide these wondrous happenings to you, fellow voyeur.

Who else would believe me?

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