New York, New York

Talking Dirty With the Gray Lady

We all knew she was smart and provocative, but can she be sexy? Learning a thing or two about vernacular and innuendo on a steamy night out with the paper of record.

‘…What’s a cameltoe?’

A good question, although answering it requires a certain tact. Cameltoe is slang for a fashion faux pas caused by women wearing snug pants; the term suggests a visual analogy.

—the New York Times


We put the paper to bed late this evening. With that story on district rezoning still knocking around my skull, I figure a nightcap’s the only thing that’ll get me off to sleep.

As soon as I step into the little bar on West 43rd, our eyes meet. The next thing I know, I’m seated at the stool beside the dark-haired woman in the charcoal blouse, flint skirt, and shoes the color of printer toner. Trying too hard to impress, I toss out an offhanded comment about President Bush or Howard Dean or Iraq or something like that. Her reply is spoken with informed, yet opinionated sensuality: ‘Former Gov. Howard Dean’s record in Vermont is being eagerly muckraked well before the first primary votes are cast.’

‘That’s news to me,’ I say.

‘I have all the news that’s fit to print, big boy,’ she purrs, ‘if you know what I mean.’

I have no idea what she means. Poring over quorum results for the last three hours left me with zero appreciation for figurative language. Still, I am intrigued by her calling me ‘big boy.’ I introduce myself and she extends her hand, ‘And you can call me the Gray Lady.’ Her handshake leaves smudges on my palm and fingertips, which really annoys me. But the ink wipes off easily enough after some inconspicuous rubbing and licking.

As it turns out, the Gray Lady and I have loads in common. Both of us were born in New York, both of us have lived here our entire lives, and we both love taking jaunts out of the city. I work the city desk for a newsweekly, while she enjoys daily nationwide delivery (she says, while peering suggestively at me over her cosmopolitan). While we love current events, she seems to know everything. I am able to share only vague generalities, many of which she gently informs me are based on hearsay or something that I must have misread. She seduces me with the way she mixes fact and wit.

The bartender sets a fresh round of drinks and a heaping plate of nachos between us. The Gray Lady leans over toward me—and close. Strands of her hair fall against my shoulder like a thunderstorm of sensuality (her words, not mine). She whispers, ‘Do you notice…’ and trails off as she motions toward a woman standing about 10 feet away, ‘…something about her?’

I offer a guess—that maybe the woman was honored at the U.N. earlier in the day—but frankly, as the Gray Lady’s hot breath eases its way over my cheek, I can focus on nothing but her hot exhalations gently sliding behind my collar, drawing me closer to her.

She whispers, ‘That girl’s got a cameltoe!’

‘What’s a cameltoe?’

‘A good question,’ she replies. ‘Although answering it requires a certain tact. ‘Cameltoe’ is slang for a fashion faux pas caused by women wearing snug pants; the term suggests a visual analogy.’ She tells me to check out the woman’s snug Capris. ‘See? You can totally see her cooter.’

I look over at the woman in question and right away see what she means.

More than before, the Gray Lady makes me feel alive, turned on, and, most importantly, informed. As the evening progresses, I pepper her with questions about dirty slang words I’ve been curious about, but had never found adequately described in a newspaper or anywhere else.

She has no problem with ‘snogging’ and ‘teabagging.’ ‘They suggest visual analogies,’ explains the Gray Lady. ‘Think of a pair of camels passionately making out, and then one camel puts the other camel’s testicles in its mouth.’ I could easily picture these things; in her genteel, analogy-packed manner, the Gray Lady was brilliant at using camels to describe tawdry terms.

When I inquire of a term I had heard amongst friends but was completely foggy about—‘parking the pink Cadillac’—she replies, ‘Answering that requires a certain tact. Let’s think about you and me parking the pink Cadillac tonight.’ The Gray Lady winks at me. I’m intrigued. I wonder how and where she and I would park this pink Cadillac and when, exactly, the camel and his testicles would arrive on the scene. I drop a couple of twenties on the bar and smile, perplexed but ready for whatever the Gray Lady has planned.

The Gray Lady dons her parka, fashioned entirely from bright blue plastic bags, and we step outside, where we hop into the first cab we see and zoom into the night. As I run my fingers through the same luxuriant, inky hair that first drew me to her side, she rubs her hand along my smudged khakis. With all my journalistic integrity, I kiss her, passionately. She pulls away.

I touch her hand. ‘If this is a problem, I can tell you it’ll be strictly off the record.’

She smiles softly, shakes her head, and murmurs, ‘Stet.’ We embrace again.

‘Stet, stet, stet…’