Most of us here at New York HQ sit in open cubicles. Everyone is accustomed to overhearing other people’s phone conversations with writers, sources, spouses, etc. But occasionally, one has to make a private call. One of the places to do this is in a small room near the reception desk. Said private space is also used from time to time by nursing mothers for the purpose of lactation.
The point is, a colleague just asked me where to find a room with a private phone, and I referred her to “the lactation room.” She seemed to understand. But as she walked away, I worried: Could my earnest instruction be interpreted as some sort of weird, lewd joke? Like plenty of people, probably, I am especially self-conscious about this kind of thing at the moment, thanks to certain alleged incidents in the news. It all would have been unambiguously okay, I realized, had I added a Cam’ron-inspired disclaimer: No Hermo. “No Hermo” would be a safe way to let a co-worker know something like “the aforementioned sentence was in no way meant as a sexual innuendo or suggestion that you’d be better off professionally if you performed oral sex on someone in a limousine.”
For example: “You could use the lactation room; No Hermo,” “You and I might need to stay late tonight and get down and dirty on this big project; No Hermo,” “I think that important business report you’re asking for is right here under my desk, nope, not there, just over to the left a bit; No Hermo,” and “Hey, [co-worker], I somehow just turned our two-second conversation about phone calls into a blog post that mentioned oral sex in a limousine; No Hermo.” You get the picture.