We recently lived in Argentina for a year, where telos are an accepted and appreciated part of the culture. A telo is a hotel room you can rent by the hour, and yes, in Argentina they are a place to romp, to have sex, to meet your husband, lover, boyfriend, paramour, or what have you and get it on. There’s no abashedness whatsoever. It’s fine, it’s good, it’s sex — raw, real, human, delightful. Whatever. It is what it is.
As a single mom with two teens in tow, telos were great for me and my Argentine boyfriend. Being intimate together in my place was out of the question. There was no privacy. His place was on the other side of town, and the city’s infamous traffic meant it often made no sense to go the distance. So, we’d rent the telo around the corner. Or one two blocks further.
They were sprinkled throughout the city “always nears police stations” my friend said, hundreds of them, of all themes and styles, always gussied up with toys, various types of apparatus, porn on the TV if that’s your thing. Some have jacuzzis. I’ve heard some even have costumes to dress up in. They’re hilariously decked out with cheesy interiors meant to put one in the mood. Actually, a tour of these telos would say a lot about the diversity of the human experience when it comes to desire.
Room service will deliver your choripan (chorizo sandwich) or empanadas and what my boyfriend called a “martini” (which was really Gancia Americano with soda), through an airlock hole in the wall for the utmost discretion.
It’s hilarious. But it also serves a great purpose for couples that need privacy and for whatever reason cannot get it otherwise. Couples with kids underfoot, couples who still live at home with their parents, couples who may be married to other people.
I thought it was great, and when I got back to this country, I wished we had them. I thought, I guess they’re not allowed. I guess there’s some law against them. They don’t fit with America’s idea of itself as a Puritan country. Et cetera, et cetera, yada yada.
Did I bother to check? No. Of course not. I assumed. Which is why I’m not an entrepreneur I guess, or at least, not a fantastically successful one. Not only do you have to think out of the box (or be good at copying other cultures), but you have to be open-minded and persistent. Try, ask, find out, learn. Push and prod to find an opening. Don’t give up. Believe in your ideas.
There are so many good reasons for this, beyond the obvious. Sometimes, you do need a place to recharge. Sometimes you can’t get home to do that, and it can get old sitting in cafes and public squares. As if we had any.
I found the company online, and a TechCrunch article about them. What struck me about the article was the way the founders go out of their way to describe all the ways this is a good idea without touching on sex. Because, of course, it’s not about sex! It can’t be! That’s taboo. Dirty. Smarmy. Tacky. Dangerous. Illicit. Cheap. Bad.
Only at the very end of the article is the obvious acknowledged, and then, it’s disavowed.
The interviewer asks, “A lot of people are going to see Recharge as a place for hanky panky... Is this something you or your hotel partners are concerned about?” And the answer is, “These are business hotels… there’s a certain expectation [that users will behave]. There’s ample evidence that people want to use these [hotel rooms] as a short-term living space beyond thinking about [sex].”
Hmm. Really? Oh, yes. A nap. A place to work out. A place to get room service. To be quiet. To… behave. Amazing, no? Does anyone else have a problem with this? What does it mean, this wincy relationship we have to sex?
I see shame and puritanism and hypocrisy remain alive and well here.
But, still, I’ve got to believe the founders were tongue-in-cheek with that answer. In fact, I do believe it. But, I find it troubling that the interviewer asks this, and that they answer this way. Why not just say, “We’re not concerned with how consenting adults choose to spend their private time.” Because, of course they’re not…
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