Sunday, April 9, 2017

Photographic memory: Episode four © by Adrian

Gene Krupa.

This photo was taken on 4 x 5" sheet film with my trusty Crown Graphic camera. Billed as the first Canadian Jazz festival the show ran over a few days and was held at the CNE Grandstand in 1959 in Toronto, with a very young Adrian in attendance.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Photographic memory: Episode Three © by Adrian

Considering all the photos I’ve taken over the past 60 years I thought it might be fun to display a few from time to time. I will also include a few of myself and some of the studios I've owned along the way.

As for any technical details, they've all been shot on what was called film using anything from 5 x 7 view cameras on up to those cute little thingys we use nowadays. Almost all the processing was done by me in what we used to call darkrooms.

I thought I would start with the first picture I ever had published and was paid for. I took it at a wresting match in Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto in 1959 with a 4 x 5 press camera.

A wrestler named Gorgeous George, who as part of his shtick, wore outrageous costumes and had an enormous coifed golden head of hair was wrestling a fan favourite named Whipper Billy Watson. The wager and publicity stunt was that if Watson lost he would retire from wrestling and if Gorgeous lost they could cut off his magnificent hair. Well, lost he did.

In those days, when a freelancer took any pictures to the paper of their choice, (in this case the Telegram) you were expected to just find their darkroom and develop the film yourself. You'd make a few prints from what you shot and leave them on the picture editor’s desk. Their regular photographer was at the event that night but they also chose one of mine to add to the story which ran the next day. I wasn't given a credit line in the story but I did get an apology from the paper for the oversight and a check for a whopping $ 5.00 for using my picture.

At the time it was obvious to me that if I was able to get to see a show for free (carrying a press camera got you in anywhere, no questions asked) and it was that easy and fun to make 5 bucks then I had found the mother lode, my future was secured!

So, no fame but definitely a fortune...

Thursday, May 7, 2015

First, we take Bartlett Lake © by adrian

Everybody has been telling us we must visit Bartlett Lake, so, off we go.

We luck into a perfect weather day, cool enough to keep Linda from passing out from the heat yet warm enough that I am not freezing my pretty ass off.

At the edge of Tonto National Forest we decide to pull into the ranger station and get maps or at least more information about where we are visiting.

An impeccably dressed and razor sharply creased Clint Eastwood lookalike, complete with requisite drawl (I swear, I'm not making this up) leans over the counter and says to Linda, "Can I help you, little lady?" Linda is in love... might be lust actually; I notice a little pool of spittle forming in the corner of her mouth and she's starting to quiver a bit. The perfect ranger chats Linda up as I move away and feign interest in some brochures nearby, I don't want to interrupt her excitement or (at this moment, anyway) get splashed.

It starts to become obvious I'm probably going to need to drag Linda off old Clint or we will never be able to leave. I notice she's starting to look around for some blankets or shredding so she and Clint might be able to continue their conversation snuggled up in the corner of the shack somewhere.

So, I ask if we get a discount with our National Park pass. He and Linda are really surprised to see there is someone else in the room with them.

I bought one of those National Park passes before leaving Toronto so we could have unlimited entry to all US National Parks and Monuments. $80 plus $10 shipping seemed like a sensible deal (some parks charge up to $35 for entry) although there seems to be a bit of ambiguity as to what you can and can't get into for free. It certainly isn't that important, but I sure want to get my monies worth, so I'm constantly asking if we get a discount or free entry with the pass.

Old Clint says he doesn't know and the "little lady" he's talking to doesn't care about the lake anymore, anyway. She is never going to leave this place. I wonder to myself if I should just go on my way and let her know I will come back to get her in a few days if she wants.

Eventually, Linda begins to realize that if she gets any closer the main thing on ranger Clint's mind will probably be whether he will lose the perfect crease in his pants or worse, that Linda may want him to remove his stunning Ranger hat, although I doubt she will. I can see a Ranger hat in my future, for sure. Fifteen years of a successful marriage finally carries some weight and she confesses later the idea of teaching Clint some of the tricks of mine she really enjoys might not be worth the effort, so she allows me to haul her off him. We get out to the car and she just sits there humming to herself for awhile. I offer her a paper towel and after a moment or two start the car and carry on to our destination. Perfect Clint imitation, we both love you...

Tonto National Forest, like many of the other sights here is overwhelming. We drive through miles and miles of rock and mountain passing a multitude of various Cacti. Some small with beautiful flowers shooting out from random tips and others, barren shadows of the life they once lived. Some so huge they dominate your vision. Field after field, hundreds or even thousands of them, perhaps like snowflakes, no two are alike. It's an inspiring sight for those of us who live in a climate where the most cacti we ever get to see are generally in greenhouses.

Linda decides she has to go for a swim so she hops into a washroom and slips on her bathing suit. I wonder if I should break some local law so old Clint could ride down (Jeep? Horse? Skidoo?) to save the little lady from the frigid waters. Linda loves water and cold so, it's her party. My job is to laugh and point. We're alone on the beach except for a young couple. A lovely friendly and zaftig lady with her biker looking rather large fellow who is covered in tattoos. He says something to us in a thick Spanish accent which I don't understand but thinking I get the gist of what he said I answer, "Were good, thanks." He's flying a kite and I quickly deduce I should definitely make sure I don't do any laughing and pointing in his direction. I definitely don't want to make him nervous.

I'm also struck by the contrast of the size of him running along the beach with his little kite... What a sight! I desperately want to take a picture of him but decide his lack of English and my lack of Spanish might produce a terribly mangled translation as I ask him to go fly his kite. I'm pretty sure I couldn't count on Clint for help with this one, this fellow would surely wreck old Clint's perfect crease in a second. I end up thinking its best if I just uncharacteristically keep my yap shut and go back to watching Linda as she bravely swims out into the water.

As usual, the day was filled with overwhelming sights. The landscape here can easily be described as extremely dramatic which is why I felt my infrared cameras might do it some justice.

Later that night I was relaxing alone on our second floor balcony and one of the other condo residents was walking below carrying one of those poor poodle dogs who don't seem able to walk, as she is carried everywhere. There are so many dogs down here which seem to be afflicted with the can't walk disease in this area, it's so sad. Anyway, he called out to me with "Hey, how are you doing?" I replied that I was doing really well but Linda was having a lot of trouble with the unbelievable heat (it went up to 101 Fahrenheit yesterday). Without missing a beat he called back, "Well, I'm pretty sure you will see a big change in her now that I've shaved almost all her hair off"...

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Definitely not the last hoorah! © by adrian

Anyone who has followed this blog knows I've been very slack in adding any new entries in the past few years. Photographic activity still dominates most of my life and really, taking pictures of naked people is a lot more fun for me than writing.

A few months ago I realized that seeing as time was moving on (you know, that place where most obituaries list people five and ten years younger than yourself) it was time to invent an adventure to help keep the old loosening body parts from falling off.

My bride Linda and I had an opportunity to rent a friend's condo near Phoenix, Arizona for a month so we took it. The adventure part grew when I asked Bill, my lifelong friend (and sometimes co-worker), if he would like to drive down with me. I have a large Fuji 617 roll film panoramic camera as well as a few new digital infrared cameras so I felt seeing as we would literally be on the ground we could make the trip a photographic odyssey of sorts. Linda would leave after us and fly down and we would meet up with her a week later. Bill and I have known each other and worked for each other at various time in our fifty year friendship. We've never travelled together but felt any obstacles we might encounter could be easily dealt with. We've shared many experiences and people so we thought it was unlikely we would run out of things to talk about on an eight day drive. I was also curious what my cameras would have to say about places like the Petrified Forest and the Grand Canyon, among others. Bill decided he would jump in, stay with us for a week and then fly back, so it was agreed.

In my usual style, never being happy with simply large, I decided I might just as well make my part of the journey larger after Linda flies back to Toronto by visiting my last surviving family member, a sister who lives near San Francisco. After I get to California the drive back to Toronto across the country will only add an extra day's travel, so why not?

So, here's the punch line...

Bill has been writing a blog story (complete with pictures and witty prose) of our trip. If you'd like to follow along, click the link below and perhaps start your read at the first entry, which will be at the bottom of the blog posts.

Bill is returning to Toronto next week. Linda will be returning to Toronto after the first week of May and then I'm on to California and the drive back across the country on my own. After Bill's part of the blog about our journey finishes, I hope to continue here whenever I get a chance to fill you in on the remainder of my trip back home. I have a sad prehistoric (pre Colombian period) portable but I will post as often as I can and hope to get a few pictures up as well. The Panoramic film will not be developed until after I return, so I'm afraid you will need to wait for any of those.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Thumbs up! © by adrian

I've just finished eating the most scrumptious meal of my young life with my father and one of my sisters. We're in the parking lot of the exclusive Old Mill Restaurant in Toronto and my sister Marta is crying as she hugs me and says "Goodbye". I get in my father's car and she drives off in hers. He and I head over to the main highway on the western edge of town.

We drive in silence for twenty minutes and finally come to a cut off on the highway where my dad pulls over and stops the car. We both get out and he goes around the back and takes my knapsack out of the trunk. As he hands it to me he shakes my hand and says "Good luck." Without hesitation he quickly gets back in the car and driving off, leaves me at the side of the road. No embrace or show of emotion from him, no dramatic look back, he just gets in the car and leaves. I am now more alone than I had ever been in my life.

My father always felt that any sign of emotion was weak and unthinkable so I guess he thought there was hardly any point to change his stance now. Actually, I should amend this part of my little tale. He was deeply connected to one emotion that was never far from his side and that was rage. He lived his life constantly at war with himself, his family and everything else in the Universe. He spent all his days tilting at windmills until he died at ninety-six, forever ready to do battle with real or imagined ferocious beasts.

He was extremely confrontational and never capable of conversation in a normal tone of voice. Every sentence he spoke seemed to be expressed as though the person he was talking to had already contradicted him. As far as he was concerned, all mankind and every piece of machinery ever invented were in a personal collective conspiracy against him. He constantly went out of his way to make life choices that would help support this theory. Even at my young age it was obvious to everybody that I was temperamentally and emotionally vastly different than him. I had little doubt that I was, and would forever be, a thorn in my father's side. I just assumed he felt that getting rid of me would mean one less battle to deal with.

As for my mother, I had sat on the edge of her hospital bed just a few days earlier saying my final goodbye to her, as she was dying. Oh please, relax already! I had said my final goodbye to her because of her impending death probably a dozen times by then, so it was pretty old hat, even for a seventeen year old. My mother was a martyr and among her other quirks she was repeatedly at death's door. Seeing as her god kept refusing to take her she eventually became a nun so she could live her life of martyrdom in a convent. See my story; My Mother, the Sister © by adrian. That didn't work as planned though and she eventually left the convent and went on to marry a defrocked Jesuit Priest... I swear, I'm not making any of this up.

I was desperate to flee my dysfunctional family but for the past few weeks and certainly today I had hoped someone would stop me. All I wanted was one simple "Don't go". At this point even a casually mumbled or accidental "Are you sure you want to do this?" would have been enough to save me. But no, it was not to be. Not one of my three sisters, father or mother said a word. At that moment I hated every one of them for not trying to stop me. I was seventeen years old and had never travelled anywhere outside Toronto in my life. I had forty-three dollars in my pocket and was alone and utterly terrified.

It was by my own hand I had arrived at this place and I knew my own hand was the only thing that would free me from standing still. I rested my knapsack on the ground and as cars roared past me, put my thumb up and began my journey into the unknown.

During the next three years I was totally dependent on my own wits and the kindness of strangers. I also spent a lot of my journey learning how to avoid the malevolence of others.

As I stood on the side of the road hoping for a car to stop and pick me up, I let my mind wander over my reasons for being there.

From my earliest days I had constantly been in search of every possible answer to the meaning of life. In that respect I guess my dad's complete lack of ability to navigate the world with any comfort helped make me determined to learn how to survive on my own terms. When I was young I was also convinced I had been dropped on the wrong planet and was sure that if I could find out why I would be able to make my escape back to wherever I rightly belonged (I still believe I was dropped on the wrong planet, but no longer have the desire to escape).

One night I struck up a friendship with a fellow my age named Keith Irving who was at an introductory seminar I was attending about a new (at the time) philosophy called Concept-Therapy. It's one of those power of positive thinking things that purportedly also helps teach a person how to adapt themselves constructively to the environment in which they work and live.

It was founded in San Antonio by a fellow named Dr. Thurman Fleet and at that time his course was only available to be taken in the States.

Keith and I became instant friends and walked around all night talking about the possibilities of this new philosophy. Two days later Keith announced he and a friend were hitch-hiking out west at the end of the week and that he planned on going to Texas on his own to take the course. He said they were planning on roughing it by sleeping out on the side of the highway because they didn't have much money. I got the address of the Vancouver rooming house where they planned to stay and it was agreed I would meet him there and he and I would hitch-hike to Texas together to take the course. How we could afford to do this was not considered. In what a lot of us oldsters now refer to as "The good old days" finding work and getting a job was never an issue. You went anywhere and said you were available and as long as you could walk and chew gum at the same time, you'd get a job.

It didn't take long for the first of what would turn out to be hundreds of cars over a three year odyssey to stop and I was offered a ride. Fortunately it also didn't take long to learn the science of hitch-hiking. Where to stand on the road so cars could easily stop... At night when sleeping, to always fold my pants under my knapsack so in the morning they would have a nice sharp crease so I would look (by those days standards) presentable. To always carry a pack of cigarettes and offer one to the driver as soon as I got in the car. From that point on they would insist I smoke theirs for the rest of the trip. If we stopped at a truck stop for food I always said I wasn't hungry and just wanted coffee. Sooner, rather than later, the driver would quickly say they realized I was probably broke and insisting I had to eat, they would buy me a meal. In those day as well, most of the people who stopped were truckers or travelling salesmen who wanted someone to talk to so they could stay awake on their long drives.

I don't want to harp on it, but those truly were different times. Cars with families and full of kids would stop and from inside someone would ask if I was a criminal or had a gun and as soon as I answered I was unarmed and not a criminal the door would fly open and I would be invited in. Sometimes I would also end up being invited into their home to eat and/or sleep over. I quickly became an amateur psychologist and reasonably adept at listening to people's life stories and then offering my seventeen years old view on what they should do. Even as a child, I was received as an Elder and now as an Elder I'm comfortable being received as a child.

I eventually arrived in Vancouver to discover that Keith and his friend had left Toronto with hundreds of dollars between them and although they'd hitch-hiked, they slept in motels every night rather than outdoors beside the highway as I mostly did. They had rented a room in a large rooming house with thirty or so other tenants and every night around midnight I would climb in the window they left open for me and sleep in their closet. In the morning I would shuffle downstairs with the rest of the throng and have breakfast, just like I belonged there. Only twice in the three weeks I stayed  was I challenged by one of the owners at breakfast about whether I lived there or not but they couldn't keep track of who was in each room so they accepted that if I was in the building it must be okay.

Keith and I never did make it to Texas. We got as far as California but had to turn back after finding that hitch-hiking as a pair was a lot harder than going solo. Keith went back to Toronto by train and I was now consumed by wanderlust. I spent the next six months hitch-hiking around British Columbia, the Northwest Territories, the Yukon and then up to Alaska. I slept in various missions or on the roadside. Occasionally people would let me stay at their house for a day or two. Back then you could also walk into any police station and they would put you up for the night and give you food chits you could spend at the local diner. If they didn't have a setup for that they would inevitably take up a collection amongst themselves and give me a few dollars for food. Restaurants would also always feed you if you washed dishes or helped out somehow. Long distance hitch-hikers were usually respected, regarded as adventurers and generally treated well.

By the time I got back to Toronto the Concept-Therapy course was being held here, so I took it. I suppose a normal person would have felt "mission accomplished" at that point, but normal never did do much for me.

Now that I was a convert I wanted to meet the man who started it all, so I went to the closest highway and started hitch-hiking to San Antonio to meet Dr. Thurman Fleet. I had no idea where he lived but I had a San Antonio postal box number. What more could I possibly need? I had the world by the tail so I took the scenic route and went by way of Florida. A few weeks later I arrived at the San Antonio Post office but they couldn't (or wouldn't) give me the home address of the box office holder. Eventually they did tell me someone came to pick up the mail around two o'clock most days. Next day I slid in beside the post box and started my vigil. On the second day around two I watched as someone finally slid a key into the box. I announced my presence and said I had come from Canada to meet Dr. Fleet. He was surprised, but after thinking about it for a moment he said "Sure, why not?" I got in his car and he drove me over to the house. It's hard not to consider how any of that would be handled in today's neurotic world. I suppose I would be arrested for stalking or something. Hanging around a post office for hours would be utterly impossible, but in 1957 nobody gave stuff like that a thought and anyway, I was just a harmless kid.

I was invited in and Thurman and I chatted for over an hour. I have no idea what we talked about, but knowing what I was like at eighteen, I guess I was there to let him know I felt he was definitely on the right track and he should keep up the good work. Eventually Dr. Fleet wrapped it up and I left. As I walked down the driveway his assistant ran after me and told me Thurman wanted me to have the crisp twenty dollar bill he was waving at me. He had spent over an hour with some kid that showed up out of thin air and he had just slipped me a hundred dollars, by today's standards. A rich man now, I aimed for the highway.

During the next two years I continued to travel non stop back and forth across the States and finally settled in Toronto again. Those three years of travel gave me more schooling and wisdom than I had in all my prior years.

Naturally, there are untold miles of individual stories about my travels which I will explore at other times. For now though, I'm sure you and I have had enough.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Stop! You're under arrest! © by adrian

"Stop!" I commanded. Quickly reaching inside my suit jacket pocket I pulled out an official looking wallet. I flipped it opened and flashed the enclosed card at him. Across the top of the card in bold letters was the word PRESS. I was holding in my hands the fake Press Pass I had printed just a few weeks earlier.

"You're under arrest." I said. He dropped some tool he held in his hands and as he rose to his feet from a crouching position between two cars he put his hands in the air and quietly surrendered.

It was just about now that I realized I hadn't really thought past this point when I earlier played this little drama over in my mind. I didn't have the foggiest clue what I should do next. It was now very obvious to me that I should have prepared a tiny, tiny bit more. I hadn't understood how easy it was going to be to arrest someone with a Press Pass and I guess I thought he would just get scared and run away and that would be the end of it. Well, apparently not, and I was now the proud holder of the prisoner I had just arrested. I had made my first "collar" as is said in police circles.

It was eleven o'clock on a summer's night and the events that led to why I had just arrested my first criminal with a fake press pass and why I was now desperately trying to decide what to do next began a few weeks earlier.

Let me explain.

A few of my friends and I often parked our cars in the corner of a service station's parking lot near my apartment. We had permission from the owner to do so, but lately somebody had started taking the air out of our tires or opening the car hood and disconnecting the distributor cap wires whenever we parked there, making the cars temporarily inoperable (this was back in the 60's, long before they had locks on car hoods).

I felt this required an intervention I was easily capable of handling. I would park my car in its usual spot so I could see it from my balcony and sit there for however long it took and wait. As soon as the culprit appeared, I would then run downstairs and make a citizen's arrest. What could be simpler? Well, who knew? Apparently nothing could be simpler, but as I said, now what?

He stood there staring at me with his hands in the air and I couldn't believe how stupid the situation I had so carefully plotted was becoming. I do remember a slight moment of relief as I realized he wasn't much bigger than me. I don't know why that struck me as important, I was hardly going to do physical battle with him, but up to that moment I had no idea who or what would emerge from between the cars. I was glad to see I hadn't "arrested" King Kong. The local police station was four blocks away and I remember muttering something to him like, "The boys with the cruiser are out on another call right now so we will have to walk over to the station ourselves." I should add that because I rarely seem to miss any opportunity in life to turn stupid situations into really stupider ones, I then found myself adding, "You can lower your hands now and if you promise not to run, I will give you a break and not handcuff you." My prisoner then promised not to run as he lowered his hands. Sigh...

So, start walking we did, on our way to the police station. I wasn't sure, but I thought I could feel a song coming on. Where was my top hat and cane? Surely I had somehow trapped myself in a piece of musical theater and now was the time for my dance routine. Why had I forgotten to wear my spats? As we walked along together I tried my best to sound official and authoritative. At twenty five years of age it wasn't an easy task as mostly all I could think of at the time was what a complete idiot I was. As we started to get closer to the police station, I suddenly remembered one other small detail I seemed to have forgotten till now. I wasn't a policeman at all. I also realized I didn't know how I was going to handle that bit of sticky news once we got to the station. Maybe I could just march the culprit into an open cell and call out to the staff sergeant to "book him" as I'd seen done in so many movies and then I could be on my way before anybody noticed I didn't belong there.

To all appearances we were just a couple of guys out for an evenings stroll. Nothing particularly unusual except for the fact that one of us was assumed to be a cop and the other thought he was under arrest by the aforementioned pretender. In case you've never considered it, I can also tell you right now that it's really difficult to make small talk when you have just arrested someone. As we walked along I casually explained to him that many people had made complaints to the station about his actions and none of us could imagine why he would do such a thing. Surely he understood that disabling cars the way he did was completely illegal and caused many innocent people great difficulty. He said that he hadn't really thought about it much and as far as he was concerned, people were parking in what he regarded as "his parking spot" and he felt if he damaged their cars everybody would stop doing it and find someplace else to park and he could have his parking space back. I continued to lecture him and explained that all the boys at the station and I thought he was very misguided.

Five minutes later and there we were at the steps of the local police station. I guess if I was capable of panic, this would have been the perfect time for me to explore that side of my personality to the fullest. In that moment I felt at the very least I should have had enough sense to flee. Even back in my younger days though, I mostly always wanted to hang around when I was being a fool so I could get to watch how I would handle my predicament and what I was going to do next.

Anyway, up the steps we went and walked right in. I went directly over to the desk sergeant as though I had done this a thousand times before. He casually looked up from his typewriter and asked, "What can I do for you fellows tonight?"

I knew right off that there was no turning back now so I calmly explained that I had just made a citizen's arrest of this chap and wanted him booked and locked up for malicious damage to my and other peoples cars. Not surprisingly, the sergeant thought that was pretty funny and I understood by his chuckle that he knew right off this was turning out to be a much better night than he originally thought was in store for him.

It was just about now my prisoner realized that I wasn't a cop at all and he became extremely agitated about that detail. He started sputtering that he wanted the desk sergeant to arrest me for impersonating a police officer and false imprisonment. I explained that I never at any time said I was a policeman and hadn't imprisoned him as he had been able to leave any time he wanted. I even pointed out that in fact I had simply invited him to walk to the station with me and he had joined me of his own free will. He then insisted I had falsely shown him a police identification card otherwise he never would have complied. The staff sergeant looked from one to the other of us with amusement as he waited to hear what either of us would say next. I pulled out my press pass and showed it to the sergeant and explained that was what I had shown my prisoner and if he decided it said Police that was his problem.

Various verbal exchanges went back and forth for a bit longer and then the sergeant explained to the other fellow that I hadn't broken any law so there was nothing he could do. He then told me that what I could do if I wanted was go to small claims court and go after him for damages but he pretty well thought that was a lost cause and he wasn't going to lock him up either. He then suggested that at this point the offender had probably learned his lesson and we should both see to it that none of this went any further and he sent us on our way.

I can't remember what we talked about as we went back to the scene of the crime, but we stayed walking together all the way back to the cars. He never did anything to any of our cars again and every time we saw each other on the street we forced ourselves to wave friendly greeting to each other.

I continued to use my fake press pass to get into events I wanted to photograph but I never again tried to arrest anybody.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Little Red is in love with me © by adrian

The squirrel whisperer, Episode #5

I should probably say she might be in love, I just can't be sure. Honestly though, maybe it's just a crush. I hope that's all it is, but I assure you, infatuation can be just as demanding as love. She's definitely in love with my nuts (lord knows, been there, done that!). I know it's entirely my fault, but I swear I had no idea things would get so far out of hand and turn out like this.

Let me explain how she and I got into this dreadful cross species predicament.

My bride bought a cottage in the Laurentians with her step-sister a few years ago (see my story, Little Adri’s big adventure) and during the summer we now spend some of our dotage there.

There, by the way, is full of hills and trees and water and oh yeah, adorable tiny red squirrels (or irritating, depending on your viewpoint). Previous readers of my ramblings know that I spend some of my time communicating with squirrels (or thinking I do). I love the constant state of perceived Italian excitement they seem to be in and I like talking to them. Even when they lie out with me on the back porch at home, I just know their minds are constantly busy thinking about when or from where their next adventure will appear.

Grey and Black squirrels definitely have an identifiable form of communication and I'm sure most readers have heard them squawking and yelling at each other or at us two legs. There is also much that can be stated or implied by flicking one's tail, as any woman would know. Some of the sounds they make are very bird like, so they often go unnoticed but they always definitely have seemingly important things to say to us and each other. Red squirrels on the other hand, apparently don't have the need to deal with us two legs much and mostly flee whenever they see us coming. They seem to be constantly in motion and the only sounds I had ever heard them make were a loud almost barking sound that I just assumed was their way of squawking at us. I'd never bothered trying to communicate with them because among other things, I presumed that squirrels of the Laurentians would use some local French dialect I wouldn't understand anyway.

A couple of years ago, we encountered a red whose name was Big Red and he was under the impression that the cottage belonged to him. He was obviously quite angry that we were squatting in his home.

Every time we would go inside the house he would jump to a ledge in the porch and yell at us as though we were the intruders. He would stand up and defiantly bark at us without moving an inch until we were able to finally shoo him out the door. I would bark back at him and explain that he was mistaken and wild animals were required to live outdoors, whether they liked it or not. He didn't agree with us and would be casually resting on the sofa every time we got home.

One day when we came down the hill to go inside the house he decided to confront us outside. He was twenty feet up a tree and started yelling at us to stay away. So I started yelling back. My form of rodent speak is really just to mimic as best I can the sounds they make, so we had a yelling contest.

All of a sudden he went very quiet and then after a few moments of silence he began to make the most unbelievable throaty cooing noise and then began a high pitched trilling sound while constantly running up and down the tree in obvious excitement. I had never heard anything like it in my life. He would coo and trill at almost the same time and was obviously beside himself with excitement. He then came down the tree to within a foot of my face and just stayed there staring at me while constantly cooing. I swear he looked at me adoringly. I had no idea what I had said, but he immediately decided that whatever I wanted, he would do. Now I need to quickly add that I don't think in that little bit of time I learned to speak French Canadian red squirrel. I honestly think the language breakthrough is really more about effort than actual squirrel speak. I believe the little dears at some point simply decide that if a two legs is going to make that much effort to talk to them, they should be allowed into the circle. From that moment on, Big Red never bothered us in the house again and would trill and coo at me whenever I showed up.

Later on, we met Little Scruffy.

Generally speaking, reds are very fastidious and tidy looking. Always immaculately groomed and clean. Little Scruffy was the exception and was the messiest unkempt back alley looking rodent we'd ever seen. He was full of swagger and obviously tough, a true street urchin. You just knew by looking at him that he was a mischievous terror. Whenever he showed up Big Red and all the other squirrels immediately fled.

One day I was conscripted to take down a large backyard galvanized metal shed so I got my sledge hammer and started demolishing it. Little Scruffy got into a tree above me and started watching. To pass the time I started to talk to him and made my usual goofy sounds in order to pretend I knew the secret language. Well, it didn't take long before he started to run up and down the tree, trilling and cooing like crazy. He got an immediate crush on me and wouldn't leave the area all day even though I was making a tremendous racket smashing at the shed. Every time I would stop to relax he would come down the tree and lie on the ground nearby staring at me affectionately, continuing to coo all the while. I saw him on a few other days after that and every time he saw me he would run over to me like a puppy and start cooing.

Now Little Red, well, she is something else again.

She lives in an old wooden shed near the house and has been in crush with me since we first met a few years ago. A few days after I first arrive every spring she always realizes I'm on site and starts calling to me. It must be love because she bats her eyes at me now and has on occasion brought pine cones from her secret stash over to me and drops them at my feet when I go outside.

If I don't see her nearby I call to her and she will be on the roof of the shed in no time at all cooing and making her trilling call. Some mornings she will sit outside and call to me and won't stop until I go out and give her a peanut. My bride Linda is amazed that Little Red has trained me so well in such a short time. She has asked Little Red to give her some pointers, but so far to no avail. When other people stay at the cottage they say they see her maybe once or twice but I see her almost every day and we always have time for a little chat together.

I've set aside an area of the shed that we've marked as hers and she's filled it up with shreddings, leaves and pine cones so I know she's looking forward to a comfortable winter. She has asked me to stay the winter but runs off in a pique screaming at me when I ask her if she has any ideas on where I could find a large fur coat so I could be comfortable living in the shed with her.

I will be going back to close up the cottage in a few weeks and have one more chance to spend a bit of time with her before winter sets in. Then it's back to waiting for the spring so we can get together again and share stories of what we did in the long dark months of winter.

Little Red doesn't seem to care too much that I'm married and I have to confess, when I look at how beautiful she is and listen to the alluring things she says to me, I don't care much either.

Long distance love affairs are always fraught with difficulties but when you add this cross species business to the mix it's almost downright impossible. I think next year I will try to set her up with a computer so we can email each other during our absence. She has such exquisitely long paws so I'm sure she would master typing in no time at all.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Road Rage! © by adrian

As I reluctantly come to a stop, a passenger from the huge black Cadillac beside me jumps out and pulls open my car door. Startled, I look over to him and notice a rather large hammer rapidly descending toward my head. I have a brief moment to feel really disappointed about the way this evening is turning out before realizing I better do something quickly or I may never have the opportunity to feel really disappointed again. Everything is happening, as us old photographers say, in a flash.

Let me back up a few minutes...

It's just past midnight on a warm summer's night and I'm casually driving along Bloor Street. I'm thirty-three years old and feeling just fine in my little 1968 Cortina, thank you very much.

The Cadillac, before becoming interested in me, was originally going in the opposite direction of my travel. There were a few girls on my side of the street (the recurring story of my life, it seems) and the fellows in the Cadillac made a u-turn directly in front of me so they could converse with said ladies. Because of that, I needed to swerve and quickly stop in order to avoid a collision. I voiced my displeasure by blasting my horn and then continued on my way. The chaps in the Caddy were immediately rejected by the girls they sought (probably a recurring story of their life) and so they were now mad at me because, as far as they were concerned, by being in their way I had destroyed any chance of a blissful night for them. So they decided to pursue me. After all, boys will be boys.

They kept trying to maneuver ahead of me as they chased me and my car along Bloor Street, but the little Mario Andretti I keep bottled up inside me reared his ugly head and refused to let them pass. Up the road a bit I could see a car double parked ahead of me and with a sinking feeling I knew that no matter what I did, I was about to be boxed in by the Cadillac cruising to my left. I have to admit that just before I came to a full stop, I had no idea I was on the cusp of a new fad called road rage. I mean, after all, this was the friendly 70's. We didn't even bother locking our car doors in those days. Even if I had known, I really had no time to appreciate that once again in my life, I was a trend setter.

As I was saying, the door flew open and there it was, plain as day, no mistake about it. A full sized hammer was being swung toward the non-existent nail in my head. The holder of said hammer was definitely determined to cause me serious injury. Sigh…

I kicked both my legs out the open door as I twisted my body sideways. I thought I might have time to push him and his hammer away from me and my head. In the same moment I summoned an enormously loud scream from the depths of my being. I hit a high C that would have made Pavarotti, had he been nearby, weep with envy and bow to the power of my lungs. Loud as my scream was, it wasn’t quite loud enough to diminish or drown out the crack of breaking bone I heard as the hammer connected with and shattered my left kneecap.

Then they were everywhere.

Five, ten, a dozen perhaps, young, strong and swarthy men appeared from nowhere and dragged him off me. He was on his knees now, in the middle of the road and a few of them held him as others kept hitting and yelling at him to drop the hammer. I have to confess that as I watched him being pummeled, I wasn’t able to muster the slightest bit of compassion towards him. To be really honest, I kind of hoped he wouldn’t drop the hammer, now that the tables had turned. While all this was going on, two police cruisers, with sirens blaring came roaring to a stop nearby.

"Whoopee!" I thought, "We're going to have a party."

Police jumped out of both cars with guns drawn screaming at everybody to stay where they were. Sitting in the car with blood gushing from my newly broken kneecap, I found it surprisingly easy to accommodate their demand. The crowd parted as the police charged into the middle of the melee, but the fellow with the hammer still kept his grip on it. I suspected by now it had become his Linus blanket and he was determined not to part with it. A loud "drop your weapon!" order from a policeman with his gun drawn seemed to bring the fellow to his senses. As he let the hammer fall, he was quickly handcuffed and pulled to his feet.

"All right, who's going to explain to us what the hell is going on here." one of the policemen shouted. The gathered crowd all turned in one silent motion and looked towards my Cortina and me, as none of them knew the answer to that question. They had apparently been summoned by god to save me, but didn't have the faintest idea why. In fact, all of them had been minding their own business hanging out in the all night pizza joint I ended up stopped in front of. The double parked car belonged to another who had simply run in to pick up his pizza. My cry for help had produced the testosterone spike needed to have their collective adrenalin drive them all outside ready to do battle.

As the assailant was led away and placed in the back seat of one of the patrol cars, the other policemen came over to me to find out my version of what happened. At the same time, everybody became aware of the Cadillac's driver hanging about and he was also taken to a police car.

As the policeman started taking notes, we both quickly became distracted by the blood seeping through my pants. I wasn't in any pain yet and had briefly forgotten why we were gathered there myself. On his insistence, I pulled up my pant leg in order to see what I had won. Well, my kneecap was a mess. It didn't look anything at all what I remembered it had looked like earlier in the evening. Bits of bone sticking out, torn, loosely flapping flesh and lots of blood, I obviously needed some serious medical attention. The policeman went back to his car and brought back a large roll of gauze that he helped me wrap around my knee.

As I said, I was not in any pain yet and so we decided that seeing as my right leg was fine I could drive to the hospital myself rather than wait for an ambulance. He also decided that he would lead the way and finish taking his notes when we got to the hospital. The assailant and his driver were both secured and being interviewed by the other policeman. The gathered crowd was in such high spirits chatting amongst themselves about what a great time everybody was having, it seemed a shame to leave them, but I obviously needed to get my kneecap glued back together (or whatever it is they do in such circumstances) so, off we went. Because I arrived at the hospital with my very own police escort, I was immediately whisked away to a private area and didn't have to wait in any line... Believe me, if you have to go to a hospital emergency clinic, take the police with you, I guarantee you will get quick and attentive treatment.

X-rays were taken and as a doctor tucked everything back inside my knee and started stitching it all together again, the policeman continued to interview me and take notes. I was given a tetanus shot, sleeping pills and some pain killers. I was told to stay off my leg as much as possible and come back in three or four days so they could see how successful the sewing had been. After instructing me not to leave town because I was now a material witness in any potential criminal proceedings, the policeman wished me well and I was sent on my way.

It was about four o'clock in the morning by the time I got my weary body home and into bed. As the medication helped me drift off to sleep I remembered I needed to get up early so that I would have time to ready myself for a first date with a lady I met just a few weeks earlier. I didn't even know if I would be able to walk the next day and my last thought before sleep won over was, "Boy, I bet that should work out really well."

As it turned out, my date did indeed work out really well. This was, as I mentioned, the early 70's and she was part of the first wave of women who a few years earlier had decided to return to university to explore their options and become more independent.

She lived in the suburbs with her husband, two cars, two teenage children and a house complete with a swimming pool in the backyard. I originally met her at a job I was shooting pictures at and suggested we get together for a harmless cup of coffee on the university campus some time. Of course she said no. After three weeks of phoning her every day to chat about how her life no longer looked the same as it used to before she went back to university, she said yes.

Now, the reason I mention all this is because in some small bizarre way, my newly acquired broken kneecap helped contribute to the theatrics of our first date. Dating, after all, is foremost about presentation, you know.

I drove into the university grounds and saw her sitting on a small hill under a tree. It was a beautiful sunny day and she had arranged herself so the backlighting sun cast a shimmering halo around her body. After parking and struggling out of the car I reached inside to pick up an old gnarled cane I had brought along as a necessary prop. As I limped up the hill towards her I swear I could hear angels singing. Certainly at the very least, some hokey, mushy sound track from any romantic movie you could think of. I was ten years younger than her and had very long hair, but the cane and the limp gave me a certain maturity and serenity I could never have pulled off on my own. Both of us succumbed to the intoxication of that first meeting. Six weeks later, after many more daytime rendezvous, she left her previous life and moved in with me and we set out on a very happy next ten years chapter of our lives.

Anyway, back to my damaged knee. I did need to return to the hospital again to get some more stitches and a few times after that for more examinations but after a month or so it finally started to slowly heal. Walking up and down stairs sometimes is a challenge and it never was quite the same old knee it used to be, but I'm sure if he had connected with my head my knee would have been the least of my worries. I also had to attend a preliminary hearing so the police could determine what to charge the perpetrator with. As it turned out, a few months after that he was charged with assault with a deadly weapon and I received a summons to go to court to testify against him. The driver was not charged with anything, as he claimed he had absolutely no idea his passenger would do such a thing.

Facing him in court was certainly a very frightening and surreal experience, but having guards everywhere gave me the illusion of security. He had been out on bail since the incident and his trial ended up taking far less time than the assault itself. He was convicted and sentenced to six month in jail and then immediately removed from the courtroom in handcuffs. After all, if he had hit me on the head as he originally intended, he could very well have killed me and I would never have been able to tell you my story.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Into the Witness Protection Program © by adrian

Well, not exactly. I mean after all, would I really be writing a public blog if I was in the witness protection program? Actually I ended up not quite in and not quite out (a not unfamiliar position for me).

What I actually went into was a mostly unknown plan in Canada that is quaintly named the Voluntary Disclosure Program. For some strange reason the many government tax ladies and gents I eventually ended up dealing with (they called themselves my handlers) just seemed to think it was thigh slappingly funny whenever talking to them I referred to the program they let me into as the witness protection program, so I'm sticking with that name. Believe me; making government tax officials laugh and slap their thighs is a lot of fun...

I've mentioned previously that I was a hermit. I more or less dropped out of society many years ago and have lived a Spartan life by choice ever since.

Here's how it all came about.

Around 1975 or so in my career, I worked as a personnel manager for a large chain of camera stores and was paid oodles of money (see my story In praise of Bill Gates). When I quit that job I just bummed around and took it easy for a year and didn't work at all. I vaguely remember something about smoking a lot of dope, but I could be wrong on that one. I guess if I could remember that part, it wouldn't be true at all...

The year after that, the government of Canada noticed I hadn't filed any tax return for the missing year and so they assessed me for taxes owed based on what I earned earlier. I didn't notice this though because next to answering phones and responding to doorbells, opening mail has never been high on my list of things I must do.

So, I found out about the assessment when it was too late to file an appeal. Even though they eventually did acknowledge that I was unemployed and had no income that year, they still insisted that the incorrect tax assessment had to be paid in full because I had missed the appeal deadline.

There were letters back and forth, threats and demands made, but nothing that made any sense to me so I ignored it all. Then they started randomly garnisheeing my bank account. Government garnishees stay in effect for ninety days, so even if you have no money in the bank when they hit it, any deposits made in the next ninety days after that get automatically sucked up by them too. This presents a rather difficult obstacle in meeting other financial obligations like mortgage and car payments.

I started making visits to their office which was on Front Street in Toronto. That didn't produce any more results than the mail did and they just insisted I had to pay even though everybody agreed I technically shouldn't owe any money. Appeal filing deadline rules were unshakable. So, at my last appointment with them I explained that I was leaving now. I told the rather shocked tax agent that I would happily hang around in the laneway downstairs for five minutes. If they wanted to send the guys with baseball bats down to talk to me that was fine, but after five minutes I would be gone and they would never find me again.

Just like that, just like in the movies! All balls and bravado, nothing frightened me when I was in my thirties. So I dropped out and became invisible. Hiding, as is said, in plain sight.

I ordered a phone in my dog's name and used that to start building an identity. I almost tripped up when the Bell person taking the phone order unexpectedly wanted to know my first name. I quickly thought "Furry" but stopped myself in time and chose "Harry" instead, (I also resisted the temptation to spell it Hairy). I became a new man (or puppy, as the case may be) and quickly disappeared from the tax records.

Now, for all you moralists out there who may think it's atrocious and unpatriotic not to pay the tax man (person?), try getting hit with a tax bill for a few thousand dollars you don't owe and then let me know how moral you feel about it.

I'd also like to clear up a potential misunderstanding. It is definitely illegal to file a false tax return, but there is nothing illegal in simply not filing a return. The tax people will get mad at you, but no laws have been broken; lie in a return you file though, and you're in trouble. I always filed and paid my business Retail Sales tax every month and even though I used my real name for that (not my dog's) nobody ever noticed that I didn't file anything else.

From that day more than thirty years ago till now I've kept all my receipts, T4 slips and miscellaneous tax information in what has now grown to be many, many large boxes. I always felt if they kicked my door in I would be able to point to the boxes and insist I had all my records available. Pick any day or year from the past thirty and in no time I will be able to produce a receipt of how much I earned or spent that day.

When it finally came time for me to apply for my old age pension I thought the jig was up. I just knew that as soon as my forms arrived on some official's desk they would reach for the red phone they all must have and let the guys with the baseball bats know that they had finally found me. Surely they have been driving around Toronto night and day looking for me for the past thirty or so years. This was finally the big chance they'd been waiting for to get their revenge.

Well, it didn't happen.

Instead, a few months later I got a lovely letter from the government thanking me for living such a long life and promising to send me five hundred dollars a month from then until I fell over dead. They even said that I was going to also receive a second cheque from the Canada Pension Plan. I had applied for CPP but seeing as I had contributed such a small sum in my documented working career I thought I would be lucky if I got anything more than $1.69 a month (I thought old Harry the dog was entitled to more than me). As it turned out though, once again they put me on the fast track to riches and hooked me into an additional monthly cheque.

I was curious as to how they arrived at the number they had for the CPP amount, so I went over to their office to inquire. I explained I didn't object, in fact I loved what they were going to send me, I just wanted to know how they got to that number. Was a scientific formula used or did someone simply throw darts at a board with numbers on it? The clerk took my information and went to one of their office machines. A moment or so after punching in my data a printout was discharged from the beast. She stared at it for a minute and then she came back and handed me a printout of all the money I had paid into the system, (not much, as it was). She leaned over the counter and whispered to me "If I were you I would just shut up and go back home, I have no idea how they decided to even give you a penny." So, I shut up and went back home.

I was rich, the money just started pouring in and all I had to do was stay alive. Then in 2007 the government decided that they would now allow income splitting to apply between spouses (one of which I am). However, seeing as I still hadn't filed any tax returns since 1976 my bride Linda thought it best if I just "shut up and went back home."

By 2008 the potential savings for Linda's taxes if we split our incomes was just too large to ignore, so I decided to turn myself in.

The Voluntary Disclosure Program is set up so that the only way in is to write a confession to the government listing your tax crimes, declaring why you did it, and get this... you also need to tell them what you think would be the appropriate penalty they should impose on you for your wrongdoing. If they like your submission they will let you in and if you're honest and disclose everything you did that was bad, they potentially might forgive you. If they don't like your confession, now that they know everything about you, I guess we get back to the guys with the baseball bats (I mean after all, they need to earn a living too).

Linda and everybody I knew insisted I shouldn't do it. When I looked up information on the Web every opinion available also insisted that if I did it without legal assistance, I was a fool and would loose everything I ever owned and spend the rest of my life behind bars. Of course, all those opinions came from lawyers. So, what the hell, with that much encouragement, I just couldn't resist writing up my confession and sending it in.

Now, it may come as a surprise to you my treasured readers, but I'm not very respectful when I get presented with idiotic things and this struck me as very idiotic indeed. So I wrote my confession and extensive list of crimes with the light touch of insanity I felt was befitting such silliness. How could I not?

About two months later I got my welcome aboard the Voluntary Disclosure Program admission letter.

My composition had been accepted. I had supplicated myself in a manner that was deemed worthy. My confession was adequate and I had passed! I now had my own ID number and was given temporary government immunity and the names of my handlers in the St. Catherines tax office to which all future communication was to be directed.

Seeing as I now had government immunity, I filed my 2008 return, the first in thirty years and we split Linda's income. The tax office promptly thanked me and sent me a large tax refund cheque. I convinced Linda that she should re-file an amended return for 2007, I would also file and we would again split our incomes. Sure enough, I got another thank you and a larger tax refund cheque this time. I had tapped into the mother lode. Life is good!

Eventually my handlers decided that just filing the past ten years was more than enough... oddly, they were starting to loose patience with the sarcastic new nutbar they had inherited.

I phoned the Ottawa tax office and ordered up fifteen years of tax forms prior to 2007. I felt filing the extra five years would be an extravagance worthy of my effort. While I was waiting their arrival I got all my old receipt boxes together. After taking them outdoors and cleaning the mouse droppings and spiders out of them I started sorting fifteen years of T4 slips and related stuff.

Originally I had been granted ninety days immunity from any prosecution. I thought that was not enough, so I wrote them explaining that I was an old addled man that needed more time, so they gave me an additional sixty days to complete my class assignment.

When everything arrived from Ottawa we tossed all the boxes in the car and drove to the Laurentians where I sat naked in Linda's cottage and had an extremely sacrilegious and fun time filling out my tax forms. In fact it went so smoothly, we both started to feel disappointed I wasn't doing them all the way back to 1975.

When I had them finally completed I put them all together and mailed them in a large priority post box to my St. Catherines handlers.

About a month later I got a terse official notice from the team leader of the enforcement branch of their office stating they found from my recent tax filings that I had not been bad enough to be punished. I quote from their letter:" therefore a penalty would not be appropriate in your situation" (I detected a note of disappointment) and they had decided to just send all my crap on to "the appropriate taxation centre for regular processing".

So, my stay in the witness protection program was terminated. Linda and I are still waiting for the letter that says I can finally throw away all those old receipts.

Ah, but it was all worth it. I have finally redeemed myself and am now an upstanding and up to date, I might add, member of society.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Getting into the swing of things © by adrian

Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice

I swear this is how it happened. I still insist I was totally innocent...

Up till the mid eighty's I lived a quiet monkish life in my studio without much regard for the outside world. During that time there were about a half dozen or so lovers who would occasionally drop by. Some white, but mostly black women. Long time holdouts from the black period of my life, (see my story
Accidentally black) who still liked to drop in for what my ego referred to as tune-ups. There were also new ladies along the way who would become interested in me and start dropping by. Just enough sex so that I was always able to keep my nose in other peoples business, as it were. Overall though, nothing too complicated.

As usual, it all started with a simple photo session. When she came in I had no idea this was the beginning of a new phase in my life. I thought she was good looking, but she didn't arouse me much at all. She had a delightful girl next door charm and that was about all I felt about her during the photo session. Until then I had been mostly drawn to dark, mysterious and exotic women. Yet somehow, that casual photo session managed to turn into twelve years of almost constant sexual arousal.

Every person I've ever dealt with had a story to tell me, some explanation or reason for why they ended up in my studio instead of the Sears portrait studios. Hers was a little different but not unique. She was leaving her husband and the fellow she was leaving him for was getting nervous. She wanted some sexy pictures to help remind the new fellow of her charms.

After the session I gave her my standard impersonal hug and told her I was sure we had made some great shots in the sitting.

I always phoned my clients the day after a sitting. This call served more or less as an "I still respect them in the morning" sort of call in case by the next day they felt they may have gone a little too far during the shoot. As a bonus, of course, this also kept the client firmly connected to the excitement of the sitting.

So, as was my fashion, I called her the next day to let her know how delighted I was with the way her session had gone. This was just a brief call, but I knew immediately that there was something a little different happening here. A nervous tremor in her voice suggested some future promise. Some excitement I hadn't noticed or paid any attention to the night before.

I should mention that I never made a sexual pass at anybody who interested me until the business end of our transaction was completely finished. Not necessarily out of any moral principles, simply that I find it difficult to extract money from someone I'm carnally involved with (unless we're role playing some game that involves my partner leaving money on the dresser to pay me for my services). My landlord, to whom I needed to pay my rent every month, totally endorsed this very practical business approach.

Her photos were ready a few weeks after the shoot and she arranged to come in and pick them up. I thought when she came by I would make my move and ask if she had any interest in getting together. Disappointingly, I had to scuttle my plan when she looked through the shots and decided to order a couple of 16 x 20 enlargements from the sitting. She gave me a deposit for this new order and went on her way.

I had my own colour lab so I immediately went down to the darkroom and started to print them. I was becoming quite interested in the possibility of getting some more of her and the sooner I could get our financial dealings out of the way I would be able to find out if she had considered or would consider exploring any future contact with me.

When she came to pick them up the following week I suggested that if she needed a temporary refuge from the demands the current changes in her life were making, she was more than welcome to call me and we could have a quiet dinner together if she wanted. As it turned out, she wanted! A few weeks later she came over for dinner and ignited the beginning of a long, new chapter in my life.

For the next few months or so, whenever she found the time she would call me and drop over to the studio if I was available. We would spend a few hours exploring each others bodies and then she would go back to work or disappear into the night. During this time she was still looking for a place to move to with her young daughter so they could start living on their own and she could make the final break from her husband. I had seen some photos of him and he was a big burly bear of a guy who drove a Harley Davidson bike. She was also still seeing the boyfriend who was now becoming less important to her.

As luck would have it, the apartment above my studio became available to rent. At the time we both thought it would be great fun to have a fuck buddy nearby and would be kind of neat to have an available lover living upstairs or in her case downstairs, so she decided to move into the apartment.

During this time my lifelong friend Bill did his best to convince me that there must be an easier way to commit suicide than the path I seemed to have chosen. He was sure the biker dude who was twice my size would inevitably try to kill me. Rational thinking has rarely gotten in the way of mankind's sexual interests, so naturally I helped her move.

After moving in she continued to see her husband. They hadn't become enemies, they just didn't want to live together anymore. He never presented any difficulty to our relationship and in fact turned out to be a gentle prince of a guy who I got to know a bit over the next dozen years.

During this time her boyfriend set up a threesome for her with another girl and himself. This was more about his fantasy than anything else and although it didn't excite her much, it did pique her interest. So we started talking about trying out things she and I could do together that would interest her more.

After months of talk and debate about what we wanted and might like to try, as well as exploring how we felt about the concept of jealousy, we joined "Club Eros" which was the only swingers club in town at the time.

As far as jealousy is concerned, that part for me was easy. I simply have never felt jealous about any companion I've been with. I always enjoy that the woman I am with is coveted by other men. I also never compare myself to others; I know there will always be many smarter or richer men with bigger dicks or more adept tongues than mine, so I just don't care. On the other hand, it has always proved to be much more of a challenge for my companions... I dealt on a daily basis with gorgeous women that were scampering around my studio with their clothes off, so the women that sign on for a trip with me have to be pretty sure of themselves to be comfortable with that.

Anyway, the club ran weekly theme party dances at a private bar that many people would frequent. It's not quite as archaic as the old "key clubs" from the seventies, but swinging is certainly a unique and alternative approach to sexual activity. At the bar people mostly swim around each other (just like singles bars I would imagine) and zero in on couples that appeal to them for whatever reason. If interest proves mutual then arrangements are made to meet somewhere "off premises" for those that are in a hurry or to get together at another time for the more patient in the crowd.

I have this theory that your partner can actually be thought of as additional bait in the swinging culture. If that's true, then it's no wonder that I was originally an extremely useless piece of bait. I can't dance, am totally tone deaf, couldn't find a beat if my life depended on it. I hardly drink at all, and hadn't been in a bar in about thirty years. So I sat there rather somberly trying without success to look cool and casual. There's little doubt that I was not exactly viewed from across the room as the most comfortable choice to get together with. My features are fairly angular and I have deep set dark eyes, so even at the best of times when I'm my playful child self, I look pretty severe. I eventually learned from people I got to know that many were surprised I didn't have a chainsaw resting on my lap. The overall consensus was that I just didn't look very inviting. So after a few unsuccessful visits we tried ads in adult newspapers instead.

When you run an ad with unusual requests, this is what you can expect to get in the way of replies... About one third will be thigh slapping funny and utterly impossible to consider, one third can be put in a pile that you will call if nothing else works out and a third can be considered possible. We started with about sixty replies, so initially we had about twenty potential victims, ah, I mean couples, to meet with and sniff out whether we wanted to get together on a more intimate level.

We started filtering what we could by phone and had a few casual meetings at coffee shops and bars, but nothing really clicked for us. We were getting pretty fed up with it all when we finally met with a couple who seemed to be exactly what we had set out to find in the first place. They were novice swingers and because we were too, nobody felt intimidated. We all decided this would be the ideal way to start off and satisfy our curiosity. We set a date for dinner at their place a few weeks down the road.

The whole idea was very exciting for us and thinking and talking about it for the next few weeks proved very horny indeed.

This could be where I interject some anecdote about how the evening went awry, but it didn't go wrong at all. The whole evening turned out to be a spectacular success. We got together and sat around on the floor in the living room chatting about everything and nothing. This was late nineteen eighty but it was just like being in the sixty's or seventy's again, the only thing missing (fortunately) was disco music and the fondue pot. We then had a comfortable dinner and talked about everybody's expectations and needs. After dinner we returned to the living room floor and continued with a lot of verbal foreplay.

I don't know which one of us proposed the obvious, but I think it was probably me. I'm generally the first one in any crowd to remind everybody why they got together and in this case I suggested that this would be a really good time for everybody to get naked and start exploring the possibilities. Well we did, and everything was far better than we had hoped it could be. The experience was very exciting, sensual and exploratory. It would not be misleading to call the whole evening intensely exotic.

I found it extremely horny to watch my companion blow our new found friend and she too was turned on watching me explore his partner. There were some confused amateur moments when nobody knew what to do... it was sort of like being in a candy store that you owned. It seemed the choices were unlimited and sometimes it was very difficult to decide what to do (and to whom) next. Although we were lost in the excitement of these new people, we also remained very aware of our own partner's needs. We both had agreed before we got there that we would not abandon each other, no matter how much fun we were having with the others.

Fatigue eventually got the best of all of us and by about four in the morning we decided we were satiated and couldn't take (or give) anymore. When we went home that night we talked about how we were so used up that we would probably need a month to recover before we could be able to enjoy each other again.

Well, were we ever wrong about that! It turned out that evening of exploration made us so horny that we couldn't stop talking about it or keep our hands off each other over the following months. Over the next year or so we continued to have dates with that first couple. In the next dozen years we made many new intimate longtime friends as we became converts and proponents of the swinging lifestyle. We eventually even held seminars at some Club Eros and other swinger conventions.

Last I heard she and her new partner were still very involved in swinging and although I now live monogamously I still advocate for the lifestyle. I don't miss it, but still think it is a great alternative for those who have strong relationships and are willing to be more adventurous in expanding their circle of friends in such an intimate way.