But two recent cases of what I like to call ELI, or Embarrassing Lateral Information, have been on my mind.
A friend of mine who is a porn director recently sent out a mass e-mail announcing a change of address. One of the people on his list, an escort named Amy Taylor, responded thusly:
Dear (potential John),Naturally, she or a robot hit Reply All so we all know this guy likes hookers. Of course, he is a porn director so it is understandable that he likes hookers, or at least has a few of their e-mail addresses. It's not like hookers don't do porn and vice versa. Or marry Sir Paul McCartney.
Nice to hear from you, and thanks for your interest! I would love to meet with you; please let me know if you have dates in mind. My current availability can be found at (web address).
Please see (web address) for my rates, and please fill out the secure "reservations" form on my website to provide the information I need to secure my own safety in meeting you. If you'd rather provide that information by phone, please provide your number and I'll phone you to talk about these things and to discuss our meeting. Once you've been screened, I'll be happy to give you the private phone number at which I can be reached any time.
"My father was on that e-mail list, too," my friend said, sounding like Murray Hamilton when he signed the contract to hire Quint.
"Does he know what you do?" I asked.
"Yes," he said.
So why should your dad, who is probably thrilled to death that his son directs porn movies, be shocked by this lateral information that you like hookers?
Another example: A few years ago a friend loaned another friend some porn tapes. The other friend had just been divorced and needed porn more than he'd needed it when he was married (if you ask me, he needed it more when he was married). But before the transfer occurred, the first friend suddenly thought better of it and re-wound all the tapes he was about to give away because he didn't want the other friend to know at what point in each tape he had blown his load.
Somehow the presence of a box full of readily available sticky porn tapes is not evidence enough of masturbatory activity; the first friend was just worried that the second friend would look askance at him if he popped the tape in to find Kylie Ireland or whomever slowly taking off her shoes.
(Oddly enough, Kylie Ireland's partner is a guy named Eli.)
The bottom line is that information about a first party related to information a second party already knows about the first party should not be cause for awkwardness. It's like if I said, "George W., you're a moron." Should the President feel weird about my discovering he was a douchebag, too?