I was listening to the radio. We all know that this is a bad idea, as it

a) Interferes with my serenity.

b) Provokes musing about various topics without getting the full story.

c) Gives me ideas I would probably benefit from never having had.

On this particular occasion, the radio gave me the following information: San Diego’s mayor, now ex-mayor, Robert Filner, was sentenced to three months of home confinement and three years’ probation after pleading guilty to felony and misdemeanor charges of sexual harassment. A commentator took umbrage, asserting indignantly that Filner was being rewarded for his lamentable behavior by getting three months of what amounted to vacation. House arrest compared rather favorably on that score to community service, if one were not inclined to work.

This prompted some thoughtful reflection on my part. I was feeling a bit tired lately. I could use some time off. Three months sounded like a perfect amount of time. If I had to stay home, I could probably persuade someone to bring me groceries from time to time.

Filner’s story gave me a means by which to accomplish my vacation plans. As I drove down Interstate 91, which I blame for a number of other non-automotive debacles in my adolescent and early adult life, I contemplated my course of action. Never had I attempted anything like this before. I would have to prepare carefully.

As I ruminated, I ate the last of a chocolate bar complemented by peanut butter filling. By the fourth bite, I was in a sublime state of mind; high on sugar, appropriately caffeinated and ready to rock.

As the buzz began to deteriorate, I encountered unanticipated difficulties with my vacation plans. First, there was no one in the office who was subordinate to me at whom I felt I could legitimately make a pass. This wouldn’t do.

These facts were also at issue: I am 56. I don’t dye my hair. I am in reasonably good shape, having taken on manure throwing as an avocation of late, but no one would describe me as a spring chicken. To my amazement, I had recently noticed that those smile lines now had an extended family, including their foster children, who live at the corners of my eyes. I checked the Internet. Filner himself was no spring chicken either.

Eventually, I decided that there was only one reasonable object of my anticipated harassment, rejection, arrest, arraignment, plea and sentencing. I encountered him near the elevator. I cleared my throat. My palms were sweaty.

“Hey, baby,” I said.

I threw a hip out in front of me like a catalogue model.

He looked at me.

“Are you OK?” he asked.

“Uh, yeah. Why?”

“Did you actually say, ‘Hey, baby?’”

I nodded.

“What was that about?”

“I need a vacation,” I said.

“Me, too. But there are these things, you may have heard of, called billable hours. I need a few more of them before the year catches up with me.”

“No,” I said, suddenly desperate to confess. “I’m trying to sexually harass you.”

I told him about the Filner story and its implications.

He paused. He was silent for an interminable interval.

Then, he giggled.


It is affronting to think that one’s sincere endeavor to sexually harass someone would meet with … giggling.

“Well,” he said. He tried to look serious. It was clearly difficult.

It appeared that he was thinking about saying something.

“What?” I asked again.

He stopped being able to control himself.

“It’s just — ” he said, and then he broke into a wild guffaw. He was still snickering when I walked away.

Maybe I will just keep working.•