Drinking Alone and Public Sex Acts: Otherwise Known As That Time I Accidentally Made A Cameo In A Porno

Two summers ago, I spent July and the beginning of August in a remote Quebecois town as a part of an immersive french program. My evenings consisted of either drinking by myself in bed and when that got old, drinking on the beach. Also alone. What can I say? I’m very classy.

As much fun as both of these activities are, after a time, polishing off an Archie comic in French and a bottle of wine while surrounded by pillows or sand started to lose its luster. And even though I still was enjoying the attraction of drinking tumblers of alcohol in the pink evening light, I found myself wanting a change of scenery.

Which was how I ended up in the forest, nearing twilight, wine tumbler in hand, Angry Birds backpack by my side, (Did I mention how classy I am?) reading the French version of my favourite Wimpy Kid book. An avid hiker, I frequented the forest often, mostly during the mornings before class and in the afternoons after class had finished for the day. This was the first time I had visited in the evening. In all my previous outings, I had had the forest to myself. Sitting on the bench, sipping my rapidly warming white wine, I overheard voices; it would seem I was sharing my treed paradise with a couple.

Expecting them to emerge from one of the many paths that led to the bench in the clearing where I was sitting, I tucked my bottle of wine into my backpack to save myself from having to share or it being confiscated. “Nothing to see here officer in my Angry Birds backpack, that is, unless you want to gaze upon my fabulous collection of Pokémon cards.”

Some minutes passed, no one emerged from the brush and I assumed that the couple had moved on. That was when I heard the first cry, “OOOOOoooooooo”. It was a girl’s voice letting out a moan of pleasure. I shifted on the hard wooden bench. Though accustomed to having the woods to myself, I was happy to share it with a couple in need.

At the beginning of the five week rural French immersion program, the organizer had called all of the students together and laid down the law; no sex in your host family’s house and that includes their garden, no sex in the back alleys, and sex on the beach is only acceptable in a hi-ball glass form. Thus for horny students without deep pockets to pay for hotels, the Canadian version of the famous drink was the only option; sex on a pinecone. Happily it had rained the day before, so any needles lying about should have been mushy and reasonably painless to remove from backsides. Deciding that I could read through the occasional cry and that nothing could take away from the hilarity of Wimpy Kid, I stayed put.

Then the moans became more persistent, and the male half of the party decided to voice his pleasure loudly as well. Admittedly, I was beginning to feel like I was sitting near the set of a low budget porno but it was nothing that a couple sips of wine and increased focus on the tough French syntax couldn’t cure.

Then it started, the rhythmic, unmistakable “slap slap” sound of a scrotum smacking against butt cheeks. This was a little too personal and X-rated for any amount of wine and even the hilarity of adolescence in cartoon form couldn’t distract me from the couple’s amorous activities. Forget being on the set of a porno, I was rapidly becoming an awkward extra. The cries became shouts as I frantically packed up my wine bottle, mostly finished tumbler of booze and book, then I fled the forest.

Having learned my lesson, the next night, I returned to the beach, a tumbler full of wine in hand, to watch the sunset and delight in French comic books. Although I still hiked during the day, in order to ensure that my presence was merely a cameo, rather than a repeat performance, I left the forest for the lovers at night.

Highway Robbery in the Fiction Section

I was mugged last week. The criminal stole all the books in my backpack and tossed a couple of dollars over his shoulder as he ran off laughing.

Ok, that might not have been exactly how it went, but that’s how it felt. Previously my used book dealer and I had a marvelous relationship; every so often I would stop by his store with a stack of new, popular, fiction books and ask for store credit in exchange. PT* would eagerly look the stack up and down, contemplating the titles and how much he could charge, then quickly spit out an unreasonably high sum of store credit while wearing a guilty expression as though he felt he was cheating me. The number he offered was always overly generous and I would cheerfully reply “Sold!” and push the stack towards PT. Then one of PT’s teeth would fall out of his mouth onto the counter because he hadn’t been able to afford dental coverage in ten years due to his habit of giving out far too much store credit in exchange for new stock.

To say PT’s store was crowded is like stating that “a couple of people live in New York”, the store was stuffed full of bookcases; they lined the walls and the aisles, there were even bookcases in tiny closets. The biography and the gardening section were stored there, the one organizational choice I understood; scandals grow in the dark and make for good biographies but plants don’t. This always puzzled me as I would pull the string to turn off the light over the jolly green flower pictures and close the door to what was likely a broom closet before the store was PT’s shop. At first glance all the bookcases looked shallow, until you realized that PT had stacked the shelves three titles deep, so any true second hand book shopper had to labouriously add to the already tall piles of books in the aisles of the store to search and find a title.

This was where the exciting, dangerous element of shopping at PT’s came in. Books are notoriously heavy and stacking them three rows deep had meant some of the shelves had begun to buckle. Instead of replacing a shelf, PT would haphazardly nail two by fours to the cracking sections of the shelves. So reaching your upper body halfway into the shelves to read the spines of the books at the very back was an exercise in faith and an adventure as you prayed for the shelf to stay up and kept your back low to prevent your clothing and skin from catching on any nails.

I loved PT’s. The bus would drop me just outside his door, after work I would browse the aisles for a couple of minutes, breathing in the heady scent of ink and aging paper while looking for literary gold. Though our relationship benefited me far more than PT, I thought it was a good one. Alas, last fall, PT wearily announced that he would be closing his doors. I was bereft. But not terribly as there was another second hand book store down the street, I had chosen PTs over the other store because it was seventy feet closer to my house. When carrying forty some odd pounds of books to be exchanged in my backpack, that short distance somehow stretched into miles and so I would gratefully drop my heavy pack at PTs doorstep and drag it in over the threshold to be exchanged.

Now of course I take my books to Tyler** my new second hand book dealer, who robs me blind and hands back pennies in exchange for mountains of literature. Though the store is always well organized, and I’ve never come close to having a near death experience in the shelves, I still miss PT’s dearly.

*Names have not been changed because PT is still selling books, and I’d like it if everyone hunted him down and bought out all his stock so he could finally go to the dentist.

**Names of new store owners have not been changed because he should be hunted down but instead of buying his books Tyler should be shaken upside down so that all the change in his pockets that he hasn’t given me for store credit can be collected.