Today's story is part (2/3) of The Swinger and the Handyman. You can find part 1 here:
As I mentioned, this story is pulled straight from my book. In fact, First Harvest Ministries and The Swinger and the Handyman combine to make up one entire chapter, where FHM serves as a kind of flashback between parts 1 & 2 of TSATH. If you're interested in reading these stories in the order in which they appear in the book the ordering is below:
Okay. That's all.
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The Swinger and the Handyman (part 2)
Saul exhaled in a strong breath up towards the fan, ‘I’ve been alright, man. I’ve been good.’ He nodded over towards Matt, ‘we went out to Osheaga a few weeks ago.’
‘Damn, how was that?’
‘It was good man, it was good,’ he said, as he held in his second hit and passed the joint over to Matt.
‘Nice, who was playin’ this year?’
‘Everybody was there, man,’ he said as he exhaled. He looked over at Matt and started counting off on his hand, beginning with his thumb, ‘fuckin’, Black Keys, The Shins, Bloc Party, uh, M83, fuckin’ Franz Ferdinand was there.’
‘Oh, shit! I haven’t heard those guys in forever.’
‘Yeah, I know. Uh, Snoop Dogg was there.’
‘Snoop Lion,’ Matt said, as he held in a hit and leaned his head back a little and looked sideways over towards Saul.
‘Yeah, Snoop Lion,’ Saul nodded.
‘Snoop Lion? What the fuck Snoop Lion?’
‘Yeah,’ Saul said as he did a little chuckle and raised his eyebrows, ‘that’s what he calls himself now.’
‘Really?’ I said, with a suspicious look while I reached over the stove and took the lit joint from Matt.
‘Yeah,’ said Saul, ‘he’s all like Rastafarian and shit now. He’s playing like Raggae and shit.’
‘Shit,’ I said, as I held in the hit and looked down in contemplation. ‘How was it?’
‘Uhhh,’ said Saul, as he looked over toward Matt, ‘it was okay.’
‘Yeah, it wasn’t bad,’ Matt said.
‘I mean, I’m probably not gonna, like, buy the album or anything.’
‘Right, right,’ I nodded as I held in the second hit and passed the joint over to Saul.
Marco was from Cuba and he and Juliana had met when she was down there on vacation. As an American, that’s still a weird thing to me; going to Cuba on vacation. The way that Amanda tells the story, Juliana went down there and picked out her husband and brought him back with her. After meeting Juliana it was not difficult imagining it happening just like that. She was one of those girls that had that kind of flirty-even-though-my-boyfriend-is-sitting-next-to-me female dominance thing going on. Amanda told me that they were swingers, which I also did not have a hard time believing. And I imagine that by swingers she meant that Juliana and Marco had an agreement where Juliana could sleep with anyone she wanted to, whenever she wanted to.
We finished the joint and I wandered into the living room. They had a platform just off to the right as soon as you walked in from the kitchen with a little karaoke machine on it and a projector that projected the lyrics up onto the opposite wall. Next to the stage there was a little wood-burning stove and directly across from the entrance to the living room they had one of those cloth hammock type of seats that hung down from the ceiling. I recall a couple of times during the evening overhearing Juliana discuss the usefulness of this particular chair in certain sexual positions. Just to the left of the entranceway was a sectional sofa that ran along the adjacent wall and the wall opposite the stage and stove. The words for the karaoke were projected up on the wall behind the couch so that whoever was singing was looking right over the heads of whoever was sitting on that part of the couch. The wall tapered off on the right of the projection to a set of stairs without railings that led upstairs to their bedroom.
Amanda and I were making our rounds at the party. We’d break off into tangential conversations, and I’d be introduced to people whose names I would immediately forget, but we would converge again at regular intervals like some sort of social harmonic oscillator. I was going through the IPAs like water and Amanda and I were making regular visits to the stove or the back porch to smoke. Amanda sang Black Velvet and dedicated it to my dad’s ex-girlfriend DJ while I hooped and hollered and stumbled on the coffee table at one point, but only managed to spill a little beer.
This was an inside joke. DJ and my dad dated while I was in high school and I never found out what her initials stood for. She had this whole over-tanned, bleach blond, slutty biker chick look going on that my dad was super into at the time. Being just a year or two younger than him, she was my dad’s last known attempt at dating someone within a decade of his age. And, of course, the one middle-aged lady that my dad would date would be one that dressed and acted like she was in her twenties. She had this whole overt, dominant sexuality about her that, with the exception of pervy older men, made most everyone else uncomfortable. She was what you’d imagine the really slutty girl in high school would look like at 52. I was telling Amanda about how she had to pick me up from school one time and it was really embarrassing and we came up with this whole scenario of how she was like out in front of my school on all fours on the hood of her Mazda Miata, like in that Whitesnake video, rubbing herself and whipping her hair back while Black Velvet crackled out from the factory speakers of her car. I wondered where DJ was right now and how she would feel if she knew that, at this very moment, there was a dark-haired hipster girl in Halifax, Nova Scotia performing a soulful karaoke tribute to her. Somehow, I don’t think that she would be that surprised.
Amanda finished up to an enthusiastic round of applause from everyone at the party.
‘Oaawww,’ I said as I greeted her off stage with a double high-five. ‘That was fuckin’ beautiful.’
‘Thanks,’ she said, ‘that one was for my girl DJ,’ then she beat her chest twice and did a diagonal peace sign up in the air as she looked up, ‘respect.’
‘Word,’ I said. ‘She’d be so proud if she was here right now.’
-- to be continued...