Adrian Monk: This is it, old #303. Uh-oh! Tie on the doorknob! My roommate and I did the same thing, it's a code. Natalie Teeger: Yeah, I think I might know about that. Adrian Monk: Yeah. Means, "Don't come in! I'm reorganizing my closet!" Natalie Teeger:[beat] Your closet? Adrian Monk: Yeah. My roommate in freshman year, Greg, he reorganized his closet four or five times a week. Natalie Teeger: Uh-huh, and did his girlfriend ever come over to help?
When people have to share a living space funny situations are bound to happen, and when you factor in sex things are bound to get messy, so many roommates have a signal that tells their roommate not to come in when things are hot and heavy. In other words, they've been sexiled, and once this is established we are often treated to the sight of the one being sexiled sitting around waiting to be let back in.
Common visual shorthand usually includes some item being placed on the doorknob or directly outside the door. Common variants include a tie or hair scrunchy, though people may develop their own personal signals that range from the mundane to the outrageous. These basically serve as a substitute for the "Do Not Disturb" sign.
Of course, breaking a sexile is a prime opportunity for hilarity to ensue.
Not to be confused with Exiled to the Couch, when someone is kept out of their own bedroom (and by implication, denied sex).
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Featured in a recent Windows 7 "Windows 7 was my idea" commercial where a room mate in a dorm is sexiled, but doesn't mind because he can use his Windows 7 laptop as a DVR
Referenced in Macross Frontier when Michel walks in on Alto and Sheryl and says "Didn't we each promise to stick a handkerchief in the doorjam when one of us has a girl in the room?" Of course, it's Not What It Looks Like...
In the first Revenge of the Nerds, the two nerds suggest some sort of code as soon as they move into their dorm in what may be an over optimistic move, given their track record so far.
Used in the Gary Coleman TV movie The Kid with the 200 I.Q., where Gary and his jock roommate agree on such a signal for the jock's benefit, although Gary later uses it to keep the jock out of the room for other reasons.
An interesting variation, where there are no actual roommates, is in the film The Apartment. Here the protagonist's work colleagues constantly borrow the key of his apartment, so that they can use it for philandering.
In Tom Wolfe's I Am Charlotte Simmons, the prudent title character meets someone else in Sexile and complains to her, only to find the other is really bitter because she wants to do it herself.
Live Action TV
The short-lived college comedy Undeclared used this with the scrunchy on the doorknob at the end an episode that had established this as the signal, much to the surprise of everyone who had thought that Steven was too nerdy to actually get any.
A later episode had Steven spend several nights sleeping in the rec room because his roommate had a constant rotation of girls.
House plays with this at one point when Wilson, who is currently living with House, sees their signal of a stethoscope on the doorknob and proceeds to sit outside for hours until House lets him back in. It then turns out that House was just trying to keep Wilson out so he could do research, and Wilson is not pleased.
In The Big Bang Theory, one episode revolves around Sheldon's attempts to find somewhere to go once Leonard and Leslie give in to their instincts. Played with in that they didn't share the same room; Sheldon just was just uncomfortable being in the same apartment as two people getting it on.
Used in an episode of The Waltons, of all places. A potted geranium on the porch meant that Ma and Pa were gettin' intimate.
Referenced in The Middleman when Tyler ends up wearing his sexile necktie to a job interview.
Lampshaded in the Monk episode "Mr. Monk and the Class Reunion". Monk and Natalie intend to go to Monk's old dorm room, and when they get there, they find a necktie hanging from the doorknob. Natalie is amused, more so when Monk mentions that he and his roommate used it as a code that the other was cleaning out their closet.
In another episode, Marshall and Lily have to stay in the bathroom because Ted is about to have sex with his girlfriend and thinks Lily and Marshall are away for the weekend. This is more about them not wanting to ruin Ted's mojo, so they keep hidden until the night moves to the bedroom.
Used in I Dream of Jeannie, when Roger and Tony are forced to be roommates for a teamwork assessment. They agree on a porchlight as a signal, but Roger leaves it on all night long, forcing Tony to sleep outside. In the morning, an irate Tony confronts him, only for Roger to blithely tell him it was to keep burglars away.
Referenced by the First Lady, of all people, in a first season episode of The West Wing (the sock on the doorknob variant).
In Friends, Rachel suggests this to Ross when he proposes that they move in together while they're not dating. The prospect of being exiled from his own apartment because Rachel is sleeping with someone else convinces him the whole thing is a bad idea.
In The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, when Will and Carlton share the pool house, Will inflicts this on Carlton by saying when there's a sock on the door, he sleeps on the lawn.
One of Pablo Francisco's skits involves a response to this situation would be to blare incredibly mood-killing music from the other side.
Kau in Drowtales is sexiled by his twin sister Shala, when she locks him out of their room to sleep with their commanding officer Sar'nel. He confronts her later and demands to know why she locked him out, to which she answers Sar'nel doesn't go for threesomes, which confuses him to no end, since he has yet to realize she locked him out to have sex.
This shows up in one of the Order of the Stick prequel books. Roy has been strung up and lost all his clothing. He must break the sexile deliberately in order to retrieve some clothing, greatly angering his roommate in the process. Roy is the utter model of sanguinity as he sees that the girl his roommate is with is the same one he asked out earlier in the day, and this apparently happened while she was waiting for him to show up.
Used in Dumbing of Agehere when Sierra is told to leave and laments not having a sock to hang on the door once she's out, only to have Joe show up with one at the ready.
In Tales of MU, Mack and her various partners use a sock on the doorknob. Her roommate Two is very rule-oriented, and doesn't mind as long as they remember to take the sock down afterward. Amaranth (who normally doesn't wear clothes at all) recently bought an entire pack of socks for the purpose of hanging on the doorknob... or so she claims.
Dorm Life also uses the sock-on-the-doorknob variant, but another time, Courtney just tells Brit to wait outside, creating an awkward situation when Brit finds Mike coming out the door.
One PPC fic has Agent Gremlin trying out a tie on the doorknob as an experiment to see if it worked (she wasn't having sex, just sleeping) but her partner Xericka had no idea what it meant, leading to some awkwardness.