Why you should care
Because good technique trumps bad equipment, and while we can’t help with the latter, we sure as hell can help with the former.
EUGENE, SIR: The wall between my room and my roommate’s room is very thin. One night he and his girlfriend were having sex. I was working on a paper and sitting right up against the wall. It was just like being in there. They did it regularly enough that I started thinking that if they knew I was there and they still did it, well, they’d have been cool with me joining in. So I started to. I mean, by myself. Eventually I got angry that I couldn’t see anything, so one day when they were out, I took a nail and punched holes in the wall so I could see. That night when they went at it, I went at it. Things were going great. I mean, it was dark, but I could see shapes. Then they stopped and called my name. I guess with their lights off and mine on they could see me. I couldn’t answer from where I was, so I had to tiptoe back to my desk, but the chair scraped across the floor. I said nothing. But all hell broke loose. He wants to beat me up; she wants to have me kicked out. I have been kind of sheepish about this, but I am angry now. I mean, what’s the big deal? —Name withheld
Dear Tom: If you go to the zoo now and linger by the primate cage, idly munching on the carameled corn treats from a box of Cracker Jacks while staring at the gathered primates, you might soon, if the day and time are right, find yourself slathered in primate poop. And this is without you pantsless with your penis in your hand. You see, being gawked at is processed as a threat by many of our closest relatives, and it may have been apocryphal or just a bar pickup line, but I remember that staring at someone for more than seven seconds means that either fighting or mating is afoot. Beyond that, there is the whole issue of privacy, and under at least California’s Peeping Tom laws, it’s illegal to peek into a door or a window on private property without the consent of the owner. It’s a misdemeanor offense under California Penal Code Section 647(i) PC.
In all fairness, you were not looking through a door or a window. Nope. You were looking at holes you punched in the wall between your rooms while you were masturbating to your roommate having sex. In total I care less about the legal ramifications (that’s for you to worry about) and am much more concerned with your defensive response to being completely and totally wrong. Masturbating to your roommate and his girlfriend having sex? Not wrong. Juicing up the proceedings by peeking through the wall you’ve punched holes in? Wrong. Don’t do that again. Because if they had wanted you to join in, I’m sure they knew where to find you.
And yes, they might be rude and lousy roommates, but two not-rights don’t make a not-wrong. Now don’t get beaten up, and go find a new place to live. Good luck with all of that. Masturbating. And stuff.
Open to the Public
EUGENE, SIR: If I am out walking the dog and see a couple either having sex in a car or outside the car, like in a park, at night, is it ethically OK to stand and watch? — George
Dear Curious George: If you have determined that no crime is being committed — and many states don’t have a Good Samaritan law that would compel you to take action anyway — well, I’m no lawyer, but as far as I am concerned, why not? It’s one thing to attempt to cloister yourself behind something inside a place you pay rent on, and another thing entirely to leave it all up to fate, chance and municipal planning. Forget THAT. Private acts made public are assumed to be done for an audience. So clap when they finish or before they finish, and thank your lucky stars that you live in a place where you don’t get stoned to death for very aggressive public displays of affection.