Tag Archives: Train Tracks

Big, Little

The hedge encircling our house was a world onto itself, a network of tunnels and hidden places we scurried and hid in like rabbits. It was a refuge, a hideout, our shared headquarters. It went on and on, right around the house and into forever.

That was years ago. Years and years, the kind you can put into groups of five or ten and count on off. Our house, a squat three bedroom bungalow, was at the bottom of a hill, right at the dead end street behind which the train tracks that ran. Not exactly prime real estate, but then I never minded the trains (freight, never passenger), and missed them after we moved away.

Next door was our neighbour the hunter, and his pack of three walker/beagle hounds. Across the street was the family whose kids we feuded with on and off and whose grandmother had a pug. We also feuded (again, on and off) with the next door neighbour’s kids, three girls (but not one for each dog, as I’d assumed. The dogs were their father’s dogs and his alone).

Later, the next door neighbour acquired a chihuahua, which had puppies after he “accidentally” let it out loose in the neighbourhood with my aunt’s chihuahua. There were three or four of them, I could never keep track.

He named one of the tiny dogs Rambo. He never offered my aunt any of the puppies. As mad as she was about it, she still let her dog roam the neighbourhood untethered after the fact so it’s hard to feel indignant on her behalf.


I check in from time to time, on the old house, the old neighbourhood, despite myself.

The hedge has been removed, pulled out from the ground, roots and all, and replaced by a sagging wire fence (maybe it wasn’t always sagging…I have just only ever seen it sagging). The space the fence occupies, once enormous, seems so small now as to have been frankly impossible. Perhaps it shrank? Or maybe it just atrophied in memory.

The bungalow – somehow even squattier now and dingy in spots (the once white brick, the once gleaming windows) where I remember it had been pristine – has been split into two (of all things, lengthwise), and has been remade into a rental property with faded patio furniture in the driveway (at last glance, three off-white plastic chairs and an overturned table).

Other things, too, have changed.

The houses up the street have been bought up by the city and are in various stages of being torn down so that the street can be widened and a new, modernized transit system can be put into place – in this case, a light rail transit system and not, as I’d initially assumed, a monorail. Pity.

Some years ago, our next door neighbour died (in his basement), as did the man across the street (in his sleep), although that one is more recent. A coma and then a recovery and then that singular twist of fate that took him out of the picture.

The dogs, naturally, are all dead too. Rambo included.

My aunt gave away her dog soon after she had children. Be it shame or indifference or something more or light banal or benign, she never mentions him. It is as if he never existed, as if none of it ever happened.

Like none of us were ever there at all.




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Filed under Change, Childhood, Death, Dogs, People, THE PAST

The Olde Sexe Showe

I saw a couple having sex in Gatineau Park the other day, which reminded me of the couple I saw having sex in a ditch by the train tracks when I was a teenager.

They were teenagers too, the boy and girl that was the couple by the tracks.

The couple in Gatineau was not a couple of teenagers, and they were on the beach right behind the wire fence that separated the sand from the pavement.

The Couple by the Tracks was hidden by assorted brush and foliage.  I only saw them, balanced rather precariously on an abandoned tire, because the dog started at them.  They saw me seeing them, and then I looked away.  I can’t speak for the dog.

The Couple on the Beach were nothing short of panoramic; everything in plain sight.  A vista of water, sunlight and sand and something resembling a fleshy oil-rig, drilling away in the right-hand corner of the frame.  I was in a car with some friends, and though it was Kris who saw the beach couple first (“Hey!  What are they doing?), it was Jacqui that slowed the car to BEEP! BEEP! BEEP![1]

Not that there wasn’t all that much to see.

They both looked up when the beeping started, but whether we spoiled their fun or helped them along, I’ll never know.   For that matter, I wonder what happened to the Couple by the Tracks?

Did it work for them?

“Whatever works” (sure), that classic non-answer – defensible and generally non-offensive – kind of dances around everything even as it holds it all in place, which is nice, but as for an answer a little closer to tangible, who really knows?

Even when you come from another side of it – change the site, alter the methodology, maybe add a little ethnography and a bit of participant observation – it’s hard to figure.

At The Everything To Do With Sex Show every-purported-Thing-to-do-with-sex is at the ready; your one stop sex shop X 10 and probably the closest Thing out there for at least a kind of sustained, first-hand inquiry.  Just be careful not to let your eyes cross.

The BIG THINGs the year I went (2009) were glass cocks and wood dildos,[3] half jokes in themselves but all half-kidding aside, they represented some serious hardware.

Splinters?  An issue?

What else to do with a lathe.

It's basically evolution, people.

Glass blowing would have eventually lead to this eventually.

But even they were merely parts of the whole.

There is a place for everything at The Everything To Do With Sex Show and everything, it seems, was firmly in its place.  Vendors with names like Tickle Your Pink Adult Products and The Screaming O, where the places to be for erotic cakes, penis pumps, plugs, sex swings, whips, rings, vibrators, cuffs ‘n collars, various lubes.  There were showerheads and lollipops at The Everything To Do With Sex Show.  There was a bubbling chocolate fountain and something called The Portable Cross.

There was one inflatable, passed-around penis, whose job for the event was not unlike that of a music festival beach ball.[4]

It's nice when couples shop together sometimes.

Downtime means time for causal shopping.

A Big ‘Ol Box ‘O porn.  A few of those.

Batteries, of course.

There were seminars, many special and free run and lead by industry professionals, a fashion show, ass contest, massage stations, body painting, tattoo booths, a “freak show”, d-d-dancing (!), cosplay, the Toronto Sun Newspaper[5] and a Dungeon.  No pictures allowed there, at the Dungeon, but if I had to describe it, I’d say the word play in there is immaculate.

Also immaculate: the ever-present yet cooled enthusiasm of patrons of all different shapes and sizes with tastes to match, averaging each other out under the dim, not-exactly-setting-any-kind-of-mood lighting.

You can get your hair done at The Everything To Do With Sex Show.  You can pluck your eyebrows and have your teeth whitened.

I was told, as I floated from one place to another, that The Everything to Do With Sex Show used to be bigger, grander.  Which may be true, but it seems to me to be a more matter of scope than range.  It seems that even though there was a lot, there was a threshold point at which there maybe should have been some or something more – or more to the point, at least there should, maybe, have been less of the same.

It's kind of, you know, meh.

Different booth. Same story.

$34.95?  Seriously??

Rather, “stories”.

None of it really worked for me and why it works – or does not work – for people not me or like me but still not me and whether for the many or the few is less empirical than actual.

But that’s what you get when you turn the whole Thing into an academic exercise.

[1] There may have been a group thumb’s up.  I cannot confirm.

[2] Mahogany, I learned, is the best wood.  FYI.

[3] But you know, a dick.

[4] It seems that there’s no Toronto Sun without its semi-iconic “Sunshine Girl” pinup feature.  You used to be able to find her on early on page 3 or 5, but now she lives exclusively at the back of the sports section.  The chance of you possibly knowing her from somewhere (High school?  Your dad’s business partner Carl’s step-daughter, maybe?), is the one Thing that is perhaps better than actually knowing her.

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