Rooming with a poet can be tricky. Poets spend way too much time obsessing over words. My roommate at this conference, Often Erotic Sometimes Blogging Friend, kept complaining about the pseudonym I'd given her. "It's confusing," she said. "Am I only SOMETIMES your friend? And what's with the word often? I like to think I'm ALWAYS erotic."
Of course, the advantage of rooming with a poet is that those creative types will do anything for art.
Fire Ant, which is the pseudonym my roommate uses on her blog, was busy writing a blog post on my laptop computer when I decided that it was time to inform her that she had to pose naked for my blog. She didn't really have a choice. My blog is, after all, the number five hit for the google search "photos of naked middle-aged women." I have a reputation to uphold. (Readers who want to know the history of this tradition can check it out here and here and here and here.) She reads my blog, so surely she knew what she was in for when she agreed to share a room with me.
I announced, without preamble, "I need to take a naked photo of you. For my blog."
She didn't hesitate. Without even looking away from the screen, she stripped her shirt off, flung it onto the floor, and kept on typing. "Let me just proofread this, and I'll take off my pants."
The room we shared was something leftover from the seventies, complete with mood lighting, funky furniture, and a weird pattern on the carpeting. The little table near the window looked just like the pedestals I'd seen the day before in the Museum With Statues of Naked Folks. "Hey, climb up on that pedestal," I said, inspired. "We can take a classic shot! A silhouette in the window."
Fire Ant stopped typing. "I'm too tall. My head will be higher than the window, and the silhoutte will be headless."
"But you could be a Greek Goddess."
The blue light from the computer screen glowed in her eyes. "I could be ... Aphrodite."
Of course, she couldn't resist. I grabbed my camera, and she hopped up on the pedestal. Or at least, she tried too. It turns out the fancy flimsy pedestal was not meant to hold any kind of goddess. Fire Ant screamed, grabbed the curtains, and came tumbling down, which completely ruined the shot and possibly the curtain rod.
As I stepped back to look for other possibilities, she sat back down to continue writing. That's when it occurred to me that I should just take a photo of her writing a blog post. I mean, who needs to be Aphrodite when you can pose as That Naked Blogger? It's the perfect new pseudonym.
"Just keep typing," I said, picking up my camera.
That Naked Blogger looked over her screen at the office building across the way. We'd both been fascinated at how we were able to look right into the offices, seeing every detail in each room. By the third day of the conference, we felt a kinship with the guy in the corner office, who came to work so promptly, and the two guys in the narrow office, who both seemed to spend most of their time on the telephone.
"This is ridiculous," she said. "Here I am, stark naked, and not one of them office workers have so much as looked up. What's up with that?"