Carrie Baylor, the sales director for Marware, a Florida-based maker of iPod sleeves, provided the initial evidence. Though not a "booth bunny" -- the unkind term for the comely women hired to work conventions -- Baylor is an attractive brunette with a flair for innuendo. She pointed out colorful cases for iPod minis. When asked about cases for standard iPods, she paused.
"The big ones are," she said, arching an eyebrow, "a little more functional."
Dog Bites fumbled for words. Why, yes, we sputtered. We were in the market for a bigger sleeve.
"So you've got a big one?" Baylor asked. Dog Bites blushed. Baylor blushed. It was, after all, the first convention for both of us.
Dog Bites decided to change subjects. We asked if the company is named Marware because the iPod cases are water-resistant.
"Well," Baylor said. "They bead off when they get wet." Another pause. More blushing. "That's bead off," she repeated, enunciating the "d."
Goodness. Was it hot in here?
Elsewhere on the convention floor, scores of similar seductions played out. At the appropriately named Outspring booth, a classic entrapment hustle unfolded. A busty woman in a low-cut top leaned forward over a table. Her three co-workers, all male, watched in silent awe. She leaned lower. An inch more, and the fish was hooked: A skinny fellow with too many items clipped to his belt was now very interested in Outspring's e-mail products.
Throughout the warren of barkers' tables, red-light behavior was on display. Some people jerked their heads side to side, jittery with overstimulation. The old hands moved slowly, rolling through the crowd in search of targets. La Cie, an Oregon-based outfit that makes brushed-steel storage drives, was a popular stop. It had dolled up its young female employees in fuzzy sweater tops, the same kind that drunks in nightclubs approach for stroking. In French, La Cie means "The Company." Sexy, non?
And, finally, just past Massage Area 1, there was Sinbad. Yes, that Sinbad, star of neither stage nor screen. He hulked in all his sad red splendor, stationed by the John Lennon Songwriting Contest bus as a crooner performed for the crowd. Sinbad wanted to be left alone, but women kept approaching him, giving him their numbers and pressing their bodies against his. These were members of the lowest species in the groupie genus -- the convention ho. Sinbad grimaced politely at them before retiring to the bus.
This was Dog Bites' cue to bid farewell to the hormonal sprawl of the Macworld Expo for another year. On the way out of the Moscone Center, we fell in behind two newly chummy fellows as they ascended the escalator for the exit.
"You know," said one, "this is really about the human condition."
"Yup," said the other, a familiar glassy-eyed look on his face.
Dog Bites followed them out, clutching our iPod sleeve close, so close to our body. (Luke O'Brien)