Thursday, September 02, 2010

The Story Behind the Story: July Telephone Bill

In its Initial Determination issued June 30, 1993 in Freedman v. Akin, Gump, Hauer & Feld, the D.C. Department of Human Rights made several findings of fact including the following:

4(h) On or about early August 1991 an employee, Lutheria Harrison, who at that time was assigned to a work cubicle adjacent to the Complainant, was talking to another employee, Beatrice Spates, about her July telephone bill, emphasizing the word at her desk, stated in a markedly audible tone of voice the children’s rhyme, “liar, liar, pants on fire.” On another occasion a brief time later, Lutheria Harrison, upon entering Chris Robertson’s office to attend a weekly Litigation Support staff meeting, sighed the Yiddish phrase, Oy, veh.”

Complainant told Messrs. Race and Lassman that he interpreted the word “July” as a homophone for the phrase “Jew Lie,” and that these anecdotes suggested that some of his coworkers may have had an anti-Semitic animus. Mr. Lassman requested that Complainant provide additional anecdotes that might suggest an anti-Semitic bias by employees. In response to Mr. Lassman’s question, and not on Complainant’s initiative, Complainant mentioned that the mascot of the Litigation Support group was a pig. (At this point Mr. Lassman turned to Mr. Race and said, “Dennis, you’re not Jewish. Jews aren’t allowed to eat pork.”)

Actually, there's more to this story than meets the eye.  Why did I read a subtext into my coworker's comments about a July (Jew lie) telephone bill?  What was the relationship between "Jew Lie" and "Liar, liar, pants on fire?"

Actually there was a connection: the connection between the telephone ("Jew Lie" telephone bill) and sexuality (pants on fire). 

I used to engage in telephone sex in my apartment.  I was convinced my neighbors at 3801 Connecticut Avenue -- Genevieve Topliff, Bernice Stiles, and Esther --  knew about my activities.  On days after I had a noisy session on the telephone, Genevieve Topliff used to give me a very nasty look when she saw me in the hallway.  I believed that the managers at Akin Gump talked to my neighbors, and that my neighbors told Akin Gump about my phone sex activities.

I suspected that Lutheria Harrison's comments (contained in the above finding of fact) related to her knowledge about my phone sex activities.  In the year 1990, I had formed the opinion that other coworkers at Akin Gump, namely, David Berkowitz and F. Robert Tansey, knew about my phone sex proclivities.

So that's the story behind the story.


Gary Freedman said...

I spent Thanksgiving Day 1988 at the apartment of Daniel Cutler, a former coworker from Hogan & Hartson. Axel Martinez was there. As a prank, I telephoned a telephone sex operator -- I remember her name was Julie. Daniel said: "It sounds like you've done this before." Indeed, I had.

Gary Freedman said...

Me and Bill Clinton: "On 10 to 15 occasions, she and the President had phone sex. After phone sex late one night, the President fell asleep mid-conversation."

Read the Starr report.