Flashers abroad

This seems to be Sex Saturday, though I have plenty of other things I’m anxious to post about today. But here goes, with a story from the weekend edition of the (San Francisco Mid-Peninsula) Daily Post, headlined: “Cops: Flasher strikes again: Fourth incident in a week” (by Angelo Ruggiero). About a flasher (possibly more than one) operating locally.

One recurrent feature of the Post‘s stories is the euphemism pleasure onself for masturbate (itself a technical or medical term avoiding genuinely vernacular expressions). As here, from today’s story:

The women, in their 20s, looked out the window [of Peet’s Coffee in Belmont] onto El Camino and saw a man parked at the curb and pleasuring himself, said Capt. Pat Halleran [of the local police].

On to sexual to flash, flasher, and flashing on this blog: the posting “flashing” of 7/6/12. This use of the verb is a specialization of the ordinary verb verb to flash, roughly ‘to display, present’, as in

He flashed his police badge to/at the doorman.

The ordinary verb takes a direct object denoting the thing displayed, and (optionally) an oblique object (typically marked with the preposition to or at) denoting the recipient of the display. For the sexual verb, the thing displayed (a man’s genitals) is ordinarily not expressed, but understood, and the direct object of the verb denotes the recipient, as in:

He flashed two women.

The wonders of argument structure.

Meanwhile, a well-dressed man driving a BMW has been pleasuring himself in front of young women here on the mid-peninsula, and sometimes asking them to touch him. I find the last part creepy and worrisome.

(I’ve been thinking about X pleasured Y and all the things it might mean. There certainly are a fair number of examples on the net, but I have to confess my judgments about the usages have gone up in smoke.)

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