Go Ergo! Go Ergo! City Is Mad for Pads

Ergonomics are back!

It’s all part of the never-ending 70’s revival, and also part of a burgeoning selfishness trend. In offices all over Manhattan, self-obsessed employees are insisting upon posture-enhancing chairs and insanely biomorphic ergo-keyboards before they will even entertain the idea of work. Secretaries and personal assistants are now shrieking for anti-fatigue matting and kneepads before they will deign to perform even the most basic tasks. And employers are only too happy to dole out ergonomic office paraphernalia to avoid lawsuits from these carping, carpal-tunnel-plagued hysterics. Don’t miss out on your slice of the ergonomically engineered action. Ergo a go-go!

Here are some of the key items that you may wish to requisition from your employers.

Wrist rests: Unsurprisingly, given the number of limp wrists in this exciting town of ours, wrist-support and wrist-strain seem to be the main preoccupations of the new generation of “ergonomaniacs.” Mousing without support is deemed by many to be as reckless as bare-backing (Internet argot for unprotected anal sex-also part of aforementioned selfishness trend). By all means, get one-but, whatever you do, don’t let your boss fob you off with one of those wrist-rest/mouse-pad combinations. You want your own separate, leak-proof, gelatin-filled, super-squishy wrist rest. With their similarity to boob implants, individual wrist rests are great props for much-needed office high jinks. Stuff two down this season’s sexy secretary cashmere cardigan with bows on the pockets from Marc Jacobs ($785 at Barneys), and you’ll be sure to take the edge off any overly serious meetings. And guys, the opportunities for mirth-making crotch enhancement are endless. Check out the ultra-kinky clear wrist rests ($7.89) at http://www.3m.com.

Speaking of crotches …. Fellas! Are your panties in a wad? Don’t worry. It’s probably nothing that a bit of ergonomically engineered underwear can’t put right-or so claims Cynthia Dunning Michels, a multi-patented engineer who is president of e2u, a unique Florida-based company upon which I happily stumbled during my ergo-research. Ms. Dunning Michels created her product after learning that the majority of her male colleagues were secretly writhing in agony because their panties were binding and pinching and chafing. She dove headlong into the world of elasticated gussets, testing her prototypes on everyone from butch firemen to skeptical lawyers. When I spoke to her recently from her Florida lab, she denied that her work was feminist payback for an earlier era when sexist moguls were pawing their sexy secretaries and Howard Hughes was designing cantilevered bras. “I’m not a feminist, I’m a humanist,” said the dedicated undie doyenne, 50. “Men were suffering in silence, and I wanted to help.”

With the resulting e2u boxers, briefs and thongs (I always thought the latter brutal devices were the enemy of ergonomics?), she now claims to offer “healthy support” without the “compression discomfort” that apparently bedevils so many hard-working males-not to mention the effect it has on their sperm counts. Your local ergo-undie supplier is Louis Chock (74 Orchard Street, 473-1929). Prices start at $12. Even if you aren’t prone to binding, pinching or chafing, I thoroughly recommend Cynthia’s Web site, http://www.e2u.com. Additional chuckles may be derived from the cringing expression on the face of the doughy human-resources operative who is given the job of telling you that your company is not willing to foot the bill for your ergo undies.

Your employer may wriggle out of paying for your foundation garments, but you must insist that he/she honor your request for my personal ergo-fave, the angled foot rest. I picked up this very lesbian addiction from my lesbian sister who, like all social workers, is an expert at finessing her office ergo-comfort. My preferred model? The Ergodyne vinyl adjustable version with the anti-fatigue carpet insert: $37.99 from Staples.

Warning: Girls! If you wish to maintain your image as the office hottie, then you had better forgo the above naff, unglamorous foot rest and focus your energies on acquiring a kneeling chair. Don’t be perturbed by the crunchy vibe. Engineered in Norway in the 1970’s, this counterculture-ish chair seemed at the time as if it might obliterate the centuries-old tradition of right-angled sitting. It didn’t, and it won’t. What it does instead is to make a total spectacle out of you and your gorgeously sexy secretarial physique as it thrusts you provocatively-and backlessly-onward and upward into everyone’s view. For the best selection, log on to http://www.backcarebasics.com and start thrusting.

To complete that slutty secretary look, snag a sassy red/white/beige Ergo purse from Coach. Coach creative director Reed Krakoff informed me that the Ergo is based on the body-contour bag that the late designer Bonnie Cashin did for the company in the 1960’s; the new colorations are based on the stripe paintings of the American Abstract Expressionist painter Kenneth Noland. This ragingly hip new shoulder bag comes complete with dog-leash zipper pull, costs $328 and was designed with earnest ergonomic body-contouring intentions-so why not try submitting the receipt to your boss? Let me know how it goes.