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Jack Pine

Jack PineI didn’’t know Jack Pine well; our acquaintance lasted a few months. But I was a bit in awe of him, and have often wondered what became of him and what his story was. I learned a lot about how to be a guy from him, which has intermittently been of value in later life. Some of which amounts to: “You are who you say you are; you are what you seem to be, and if someone doesn’’t like it, well fuck ‘em!”

Malcolm and I were puttering at some theatrical sets and suddenly Jack Pine was working with us. I guess that Malcolm had met him a few days earlier. Jack was in his mid twenties, small, wiry, and a large head. He was always in very worn jeans, and jean jacket, and occasionally a workman’s slouch hat. He was cocky, self-assured, and quick, –quick in both movement and wit. He hadn’’t had a haircut in months. Jack had quite a raffish air, a lean and attractive face equipped with a bit of insouciant leer. At a glance you knew –here comes trouble. Tom Waits has a song about a character:– “”I don’’t need no make-up, I got real scars, and I look good without a shirt”.” That song brings Jack Pine to mind, as does the Neal Cassidy character in Kerouac’’s “’On the Road”’. Jack Pine was not an intellectual. He was an interesting guy, but not a reader. He was a Beat with no interest or attachment to the Beat scene. He seemed a sort of ‘loose cannon’ working stiff, having as much fun as he could find on the ground.

Jack was full of stories, none of them verifiable. He had traveled with a circus, he had worked in a carnival, he had been an actor and can be seen in the in some western movie, third from the left near the watering trough, he had built movie sets in the desert, he had lived in a cabin in the mountains, his father knew Ernest Hemingway, his mother ran off with Spanish Gypsies, his aunt played bassoon in an orchestra, when he lived in Mexico he had a cougar for a house pet, he and three friends drove from Newark to El Paso non-stop in a stolen Cadillac, One of his girlfriends dropped him in order to go sleep with Kirk Douglas, and on and on. Who knows? Any or all parts of those sorts of stories might just be somewhat true. What difference did it make? It was all stories well told.

One story has proven to be somewhat verifiable. Jack Pine claimed to be great friends with Titus Moede (Titus Moody, which in French means tight as shit). A series of Vaudeville comedic performers in France used the name, Titus Moede. The current Titus adopted the name from an American vaudeville performer of the early 1900’s. Around 1962 or so, long after Jack Pine had disappeared from my life, I was leafing through a motorcycle magazine and lo and behold there is a picture and a paragraph about Titus, standing there grinning, looking thin and tough next to his Harley chopper. They were appearing in one of those awesomely bad motorcycle gang movies. The article was mostly about the manner in which his bike had been hopped up to 90” and had a sports car carburetor and magneto ignition.

So there was (and still is) a Titus Moede, who has had a long off-hand series of minor roles in many second rate movies. And it is possible that Jack Pine was acquainted with him. Jack knew how to ride a motorcycle. I made the mistake of letting him borrow mine to run to the liquor store, and he didn’’t bring it back until late the next day. And, of course, he had a wonderful story about the two babes he met, and he had to take one to the airport and the other one back home, and they drank all the bourbon while naked in a tub, and so on.

During some nice weather in the early spring he suddenly materialized with an old blue Harley 45. The bike had straight pipes and was wondrously loud. It had seen better days, but would start with 15 or 20 kicks, and as I found out, it would eventually stop. It was a terror to ride, the front springer forks were thoroughly shot, and it wobbled all over the road at low speeds. The front brakes had no cable, so there was no pretense of that brake working.

I had the privilege of taking several spins on various 45’s. Every last one of them was crap. Heavy, slow, vibrating and treacherous. They were cheap for a while, collectors items now. The 45’’s had been made by the millions for WWII and Korea. They were available surplus occasionally, and in the back of magazines like Mechanics Illustrated there would be little classified ads, selling them new, –packed in cosmoline (a horrid industrial grease preservative that would be caked and drooled over equipment to prevent rust.). As an acquaintance of mine found out, the ads were not entirely accurate. A large crate was delivered, and upon opening was there was the motorcycle, with no front forks or wheels. Those parts had to be bought retail and cost far more than was paid for the engine and frame. The engines were also sold separately, and in the 50’’s before motorcycles became common, some guy would approach a rider offering to sell a motorcycle engine. “‘Just like new’, been using it to run a water pump, or air compressor.” The 45’s disappeared from the biking scene very quickly as the Japanese motorcycles proliferated.  I don’t recall seeing a 45 after 1964 or so.

Working on theatre sets involved re-using and modifying previous sets. The humble farmers cottage would become the parapet of a sailing ship, or a castle wall, or a western mountain scene, a mining camp, an urbane cosmopolitan apartment, a woodland scene for a shepherdess, the backdrop for an imaginary orchestra, or the interior of a gypsy trailer. The set designer would provide some drawings, but they were intended to augment his portfolio, and while stylish, the drawings would be either exaggerated or uninformative. We would be working from the sketches, and adapting or modifying hunks of wall with doors or window openings (no glass), adding or subtracting roof lines, and painting brickwork, or wood grain, or mountain views etc. It was often quite crude. There was seemingly no money and very little actual supervision.

We would often be hashing the sets together while the actors are roaming around in their odd daze, memorizing and trying out their lines, and putting tape on the floor to indicate where they were to stand etc. Some of the actors had stage fright weeks ahead of the performance. We would occasionally attend the performances, we could get free tickets, but often we were so sick of the whole ordeal, we couldn’’t bother.  As carpenters and scrubs we were generally beneath notice or conversation with these exalted theatre majors headed for Broadway or Hollywood.

The sets were stored way across town. I suspect some alum had an empty warehouse in South Seattle. Our job, Malcolm, Jack, me, and whatever other help we could roundup, would take a big diesel truck that belonged to the UW motor pool and transfer crap in as large units as we could handle to and from the warehouse. That entire part of Seattle is much different now with the Dome, and the giant cranes and automated shipping of today. I drove a couple of times – scared to death at driving this huge truck. Jack drove several times. Malcolm didn’’t have a driver’s license.

It was heavy work but it usually took a couple of hours. We were often unloading in the evening, but as long as we got the truck back by midnight it was cool. So we would occasionally stop off to see a friend or have a drink or two. I don’t remember ever being checked for ID anyplace but the Liquor Store. In some of the downtrodden taverns of the time if you looked big enough to get on the stool, you were big enough to drink; particularly if you had someone with you that was obviously of age: –this is where Jack Pine came in handy.

Looking back, I would guess that we made 10 or 12 trips together. One of them is truly memorable, but a bit distressing to write about. It is indicative of how times have changed and how informal social institutions come and go. I was 19, headed for 20, at the time, and was as innocent of the physical aspects of human intercourse as could be. In fact, I’m not sure that anyone today less than 40 could possibly be as ignorant of such matters as many of us were. I had lived on a stump farm and had seen animals do it, had seen a porno photo or two, and had stumbled across a couple shagging away behind some bushes. I had seen nude bodies in drawing class and had some rudimentary idea of what went where, but I was quite ill with colitis and terribly shy and had no girlfriends.

One afternoon Jack hollered over the roar of the truck, “”Got any money?”” I had just been paid from a part time job, I probably had something like $50 in my pocket – be like $200 now, perhaps. Jack claimed to have some cash, so he is all hot to go someplace as yet unspecified. He wheeled the truck up James Street to Capitol Hill and heading North on 12th, and then down a treed side street. I had no idea what he was up to. He pulled up at a large rather elegant looking house on a corner. The house dated from the 1890’s or so, the door was dark wood with elegant wood curlicues around the cut glass.

Jack walked right in; he had evidently been there before. Off to the left was a heavy dark wood sort of a bar staffed by a rather gaudily dressed zaftig lady in her late 40’’s. Behind us is a tall, dark, mirrored coat/hat rack. The lady greeted us, very friendly, and wanted to know if we’’d like a drink as she guided us to the entry on the right, which led into a large carpeted parlor style room, with couches, comfy chairs, small tables, ashtrays were everywhere. She guided us to a couch and easy chair with a small table between us, and as I look around it dawns on me, – “My God, we are in a Brothel!”

To my left was a gentleman seated in a couch with a young lady perched on his lap and another lady glued to his side whispering in his ear. Across the room another gentleman nuzzled the neck of a lady draped across his lap. He had a big cigar in his hand hanging over the arm of the chair. The room reeked of tobacco.

The lady that is tending bar comes over to get our drink requests, she was wearing what I suppose was a slip with some lace. There is a small chalkboard on the bar with their limited selection of drinks and tobaccos. The prices were in the range of ‘gulp’. But we ordered the special, which as I recall, was a shot of bourbon and a Rainier.

As we got settled, a few moments went by, and then there is a little parade from behind a curtain next to the bar. Six or seven scantily clad ladies walk out, looking right at us, some smiling broadly. Three or so of them quickly decided that we weren’t worth the hustle, – one in particular seemed to be disdainful. I guess the ladies could be described as utility-grade, none were going to win a prize, but they were height-weight proportionate, and friendly looking. One had nylons with snaps and straps, one wore a girdle/bustier, one had a Japanese kimono robe that she swirled about a bit, revealing some thigh and breast.

I was vaguely familiar with the dancers at The New Paris, thanks to Malcolm’’s affiliation. The strippers seemed rather tough and favored a lot of eye makeup and rouge etc. They were to be viewed on stage and were rather dramatic and scary in appearance up close. The strippers generally were more in the Mae West/Marylyn Monroe body type. This was long before the introduction of surgical enhancement and breast augmentation.

Jack signaled a couple of the ladies from the lineup, and he picked the little one. I was terrified, and eager, and scared, and anxious, and beyond any conversation, but the drill was that we were to spend a few minutes getting acquainted: ““Hi, my name is Katherine. I’m from Philadelphia.” “Where are you from? What do you do? Certainly having some weather, aren’t we?” “Oh! I went to college a few years ago. I tried to play the viola for the symphony.”” And other unlikely patter that goes along with an arm around the neck and a hand on the knee and a bit of discussion about the half hour special today.  Part of the dictum: you are who you say you are.

The drinks are done and we declined to buy drinks for the ladies, and we were guided to the entry counter where a tagged key is acquired. Some cash ($20 comes to mind) was exchanged prior to our being guided down a short hall and up a flight of stairs to a hallway with several doors. In the room is a large old-fashioned bed, dark wood, floral patterns, a small table with a clock, some towels are on a chair, the window has white lacy curtains, and very subdued lighting from a table lamp.

The actual performance was pleasant, exciting even, but perfunctory. I’’m sure that the ladies have seen all manner of neophytes, weirdoes, and tender, and abusive, and friendly, and furtive characters. Once done, we chatted briefly and went downstairs. She promptly disappeared and let me sit and wait 5 minutes for Jack. We went out, climbed in the truck, and once underway, he punched me on the arm and said, “”Hey! How ‘bout that, Man?”

I had read of Toulouse Lautrec, Gauguin, Van Gogh, Picasso, and the salon brothels of France. This didn’’t seem to have much similarity to the glossy version in the novels of Paris. Brothels were sometimes euphemistically referred to as ‘Parlor Houses’ and the young ladies within might be called ‘soiled doves’. At the turn of the century, while exploiting and profiting from the Alaskan Gold Rush and the logging, mining and fisheries, Seattle was a wide-open town and there were numerous brothels. In the vicinity of the old Rainier brewery there was a specially build ‘crib’ with 500 girls on duty. The Gospel Mission in central Pioneer Square was built as a high-class brothel. In fair weather the horse drawn carriages would often troll the streets with ladies on display in suggestive plumage, and they would hand out discount coupons or business cards to men on the street.

I guess that I returned half a dozen times. – It was quite expensive for me, and it certainly wasn’’t a salon of intellectual discussion. In the evening it was crowded with gents sitting or standing, smoking cigars, buying drinks and talking politics, and cars, and crude repartee. Before lunch there would be only two or three ladies available, the parlor empty. One evening I was there and a portly gent was treating everyone to champagne, cigars, and girls. He completed some successful business deal or swindle and was blowing what to me was a fortune on good times for everyone.

I felt ashamed for patronizing the place, thought that I was somehow a marked man as a john. Someone might see me, or recognize me. As if I had a vast circle of friends to disgrace. Also I was getting sicker and sicker with my colitis and simply couldn’’t muster the energy to bother.

On my third or fourth visit I selected a tawny young lady. She was from Louisville Kentucky and had a disarming smile. Her teeth were charmingly crooked –and we don’’t often see dental issues like that today because the teeth can be aligned with braces. She was what in those benighted days was referred to, occasionally, as a quadroon. There was the brown paper sack test, – if a person was lighter than a brown bag and had the features for it, that person was white, if person was darker than a brown paper sack and had the racial features, they were black (or in those days a Negro). Thinking back on this young lady that I hardly knew, I realize that she had done something to her hair to get it straight and make it flip up like that near her shoulders. In just a few years she would be able to wear an Afro and drop the pretense of being almost white.

Her name was Charlotte, but she was called Charlie. I was flattered on my next visit, a month or more later, that she remembered me. She thought it was wonderful that I was an artist in college, and she had an uncle in rural KY that painted on boards with different colors of mud. I think of that now and regret the disdain I felt about whatever his efforts may have been. Fifty years later there is considerable interest in ‘primitive’ artists.

At that time I was quite ill with colitis, and I was embarrassed that I had to desperately use the bathroom for a bit. She waited for me in the room, and when I came in –I probably looking a bit pale. – She suggested that if I wasn’’t feeling well, we could just go downstairs and get the money back and use it next time. I soldiered on ahead. She was a lady that went through the motions to make sure a gent had a good time.

I’’m not sure if I went back to the brothel after that or not. It was spring term, and upon completion I dragged back to Suquamish, not feeling well, and slowly recovered on home cooking and general inertia.

In what must have been the last few days of the quarter, I had an odd incident. In one of the classes, an older lady was very talkative and was always involved in some discussion about the Arts and so on. She was perhaps 35”, quite thin, dark long hair that was often in sort of a bun behind the head. She had a vaguely continental air about her. (What hell did we know? She just seemed a bit exotic.) She would usually have a thin brush or pencils or chopsticks stuck into the bun. To me that seemed quite fetching.

There were often older students in the art classes. Individuals that for who knows what neurotic reasons wanted to learn to draw or paint, and suddenly had a time in their life in which they could indulge the fancy. I don’t recall her name exactly, but Nan or Nance floats up in my mind. She was probably 35 or so. I was 19 and a person in their late 30’s seemed a fossilized adult.

I had been helping Barney stretch some canvases a couple weeks earlier. – He was finally going to get started on the class assignments. I happened to mention this to Nan, and she was quite curious about how that is done. Could I show her? A day or two later we went over to her place where she had some stretchers and canvas, and the requisite small hammer and copper tacks, that were used back then, before there were staple guns.

She lived about 20 or 30 blocks from campus. I gave her a ride on the motorcycle. She had never been on a motorcycle before and was laughing and squealing the whole way. It was a two-story house with a porch, similar but a bit larger than Claire’’s house. It was furnished in heavy wood and upholstered furniture – that was probably from a dead parent’s home. There were a few family photos, a pleasant looking husband, and a couple sons that were probably in Junior High. She had taken over a back corner bedroom that had nice light. The studio room was sparse, an easel, a palette/work bench, a stool, and a Swedish Modern couch with a thin pad and the wood turned legs that were so popular at that time. There were some stretcher bars, a big folded hunk of canvas. She went out to her husband’s toolbox and found a carpenter’s square, and we proceeded to assemble and stretch a few canvases.

She suddenly wanted to know if one could work on the canvas before it is primed. Of course there is a long history of that treatment. She wanted me to start a painting on one of the fresh canvases.  “‘Well, why not?”’ Before I could get a canvas in the easel she was stripping her clothes off. She assumed a rather brazen and revealing pose on the couch and before I got very far on the drawing we were involved in some physical foolishness. Since I had been to a brothel, I supposed I had some sort of idea what to do, and I proceeded to saw away at this lady for quite a while. I was quite sick with colitis at the time, but during that hour I was not in pain. The next class session it was as if nothing had happened.

When I got back to classes in the fall I was still sick but feeling better. Nan was busy with a rather sinister looking chap. We nodded at each other. Later, I noticed that older citizens would troll the art school and other ‘cool’ areas in the search for easily available youthful students. This behavior became an epidemic as the hippies flowered.

Both Malcolm and Jack had disappeared when I returned for Fall Quarter. I knuckled down to a full load with some dense classes, and was working nights bussing dishes in a restaurant. I rapidly got sicker and sicker and ultimately just collapsed and was unable to finish the term. I ended up on the living room couch unable to even walk to the bathroom, and was quickly sent to the hospital, where I underwent some serious and life transforming surgery.

When I returned to Seattle, I was tentatively hanging out with some bikers in a couple local taverns. I had a Harley, and that alone was the price of admission. One of the louder and more obstreperous gents in the group had a couple ladies in tow. They contributed to his ability to have a good time because they were not above turning a trick or three, as opportunity or need arose. One of the ladies was Debby or DubDub as in Debby DubDub. She was a rather spectacularly endowed physical specimen and available for a tumble. I really liked her, although I was completely intimidated by her. There was no way I was going to take her on, she just exuded careless rough-and-tumble, no-holds-barred, two-falls-out-of-three, bare-handed wrestling sort of sex. She was scary but a real traffic stopper. She was loud, low, vulgar and a lot of fun to talk to. Pick a topic and she could get a laugh or a fight out of it. She was also quite a gossip about other’’s capacities, interests, proclivities, and physical equipment. She knew or claimed to know the junk in everyone’s trunk, and was not above discussing it, to either benefit or disgrace the victim.

My Harley1960 copyI was only incidentally acquainted with this group and thoroughly amazed by some of the exploits. Within months, the group became involved in drugs and the scene turned ugly very quickly. The group began to self-identify as members of the Gypsy Jokers. They had stumbled into transporting and selling Mexican speed. They would drive a van down to San Diego. The van was often filled with liberated car parts (stolen-to-order Porsche bits etc) and then driven back with 50# backpacks containing bulk packed pills. The pills would be swiftly sorted into glassine envelopes that stamp collectors used. These were sold to peddlers that spread them all over Seattle.

This led to my leaving the group, as much as I liked a speed tab or two. I watched a couple of the gents carefully nurture some ‘hippie chicks’ into dependency and then turn them out on the street. I thought one of the young ladies was just a wonderful girl; fun, cute, diverting, strung out, and turning tricks in car dates. It was all just too much for me. I was headed into the MFA program and working nights in a machine shop.

I referred to the ladies in the brothel as ‘utility-grade’, which, while true, is a bit unfair. The standards of beauty have changed dramatically. If a movie from the period is watched, the type of facial features, and body types is quite different from today. At a glance, almost none of the women and few of the men on film would be considered worthy of appearance in the films of today.  Also, the population of the world has tripled since the 50’’s and thus the selection –has become ruthless. – There is a much larger pool of specific body types to choose from. There has been a major change in fitness levels within young specimens as well. Surgical modifications of noses, chins, lips, breasts, tummies, butts, and fat reduction procedures are common. The culture overall has changed, with much more emphasis on seductiveness and vastly more opportunities to alter and enhance appearances, performances, and experiences. If we compare a magazine from the 50’’s with a similar issue today, the advertising, ‘editorial’ illustrations and photography are completely different. Popular culture describes a different set of imagery and the changes in behavior and intent defy simple analysis.

When I returned to Seattle in ’65 to re-enroll in the UW there was considerable ferment in the air. The hippie culture was getting started; probably just past whatever might have been the period of integrity. It was well on the road to mass cultural hype and merchandising. At the time, despite my experience  at Reed, I was still infected with the ‘Beat’ virus, and was not fond of the hippie presence, – although there were certainly some attractive and diverting samples of pulchritude on display.

There is a myth about Artists, surrounded by lovely models, and endless opportunities for misbehavior, but this popular delusion is quite an exaggeration. If only it were true. The models that worked in the UW classrooms were carefully selected, and a modicum of professionalism was required. Once they got the gig, they were frequently busy in several sessions a day. They all had private lives elsewhere, and often pursued careers as dancers, or in the theatre, or as restaurant help. I don’t recall any of them being communicative. – Well, that isn’t quite true; when character models were hired they quite often couldn’’t shut up about their grandkids, or the escape across the Czech border, and so on. Character models are older and hired for distinctive or challenging portrait or figure studies.

Artist models are not paid much – $12 to 20 an hour today. Fashion and photographic models make considerably more because they have more extreme physical characteristics and the photographer is using their image for advertising. Several artists in 619 discussed hiring a model for several two-hour sessions. Each of us would have to contribute $10 or so. This episode was similar to herding geese with a stick, and by default I ended up with the model all to myself a couple times. We artists occasionally had to submit a character reference to the models to assure them that we weren’’t kidnappers or stalkers. A model earning $50 for a couple hours posing in the nude is in contrast to an escort that will show up anytime anywhere for direct physical contact sport for $150 an hour.

There are presently several drawing sessions in Seattle and I think I may have found one in Tacoma. A few months ago I attended a session that featured two models. It was quickly evident that a couple of the artists in attendance were simply voyeurs. The models were obviously lovers, and assumed several rather intimate poses. At the end of the session we had a bit of a show-and-tell, and the young lady greatly admired one of my drawings so I gave it to her. After all these decades I have a rather distinctive drawing style, in contrast to the stick figures of the voyeurs.

As Dr. JohnnyWow! I often wear a vest that was made for me back in 64 or so. Tom Coffin, the guy that introduced me to Jan, had a cohort that was in Reed on a wrestling scholarship (if you can imagine) and he was rather muscular for the times, and he wore a tailored formal sort of vest (from Goodwill) to display his torso. It was extremely un-cool at the time to be fit and for guys to display etc.  Today many fitness buffs wear clothing that clearly displays their status.

He had something like a photographic memory and at a party one night recited as if reading from his eyelids, a reasonable facsimile of “The Walrus and The Carpenter” from Alice in Wonderland, and then later some Shakespeare etc.

I had recently acquired about 50# of assorted leather for free – some leather was needed for some straps for the Model A Ford. After the straps were made there were a couple sacks of left over leather. And in the course of hanging out, I met a proto-hippie chick that was into crafts, like leatherwork. I was not weight lifting at the time, although I had for a bit previously, and the young lady, whose name escapes me at the moment – Sue, I think, saw the leather and thought I should have a vest. She made a paper pattern, and laced the leather together in a fondly remembered afternoon. The vest had wooden toggle buttons and leather thongs to close the front, but those disappeared early on. I wore it around a bit, and then it disappeared in all our moving about, but then resurfaced. Then it was put away again, and forgotten, and then it then resurfaced etc. The vest was found again last summer when we switched studios. It fits much snugger now – I’m much bigger and more muscular despite my age and I’ve been told it exaggerates my size because it seems too small. Karen doesn’t like it.

The young proto-hippie, whose name wasn’t Sue now that I think about it, was a lot of fun, a very spirited and spiritual sprite that would get in bed with anyone – oh the joy, ah the fun of it, and aside from the crabs and the penicillin shots, a pleasant memory. We were like kittens in a basket for a long evening.

In early ’59, I had begun to lurk in one of the coffee shops on the Ave. If you went in and bought a couple of espressos early in the evening and stayed on, by dawdling and reading a book or doing homework, they would neglect to gather the cover charge for the evening’s presentation. A couple times a week there would be a poetry reading and often some ‘road warrior’ folk singer would appear between authors. I saw Jesse ‘Lone Cat’ Fuller, and Big Joe Williams, Rambling Jack Elliot, Utah Philips, and others. These recorded, and ‘authentic’ roaming folk artists had no better venue than playing coffee houses for what must have been paltry sums and tips.

One evening featured a poet from Frisco whose name eludes me. He appeared for a long set. His oddly attired yet striking lady friend accompanied him on a cardboard box, a whiskbroom, and a stick. An odd herky-jerky shuffling beat as he read a poem about ‘the black mirror of the blind girl’, ‘the stalking leopard of passion’ etc. The musician, Guitar Red, or some such, hadn’’t shown up. In those dark and dim times, hardly anyone had a phone. – Cell-phones and the constant ability to contact others was far in the future. When the poet was finished, everyone just hung out for an hour or so, and for entertainment. One of the louder regulars, Bernhard, started an argument over at his bench, (the coffee shops of the time were furnished with plank style picnic benches, painted black). Whatever it may have been about, it quickly boiled up into yelling and pushing. He was asked to leave – he was 86’’ed as the phrase goes. He stormed out hollering and threatening.

Bernard was often loud and argumentative. He was a big burly guy, overwhelmed with Marxism and righteousness, which is a point of view not often expressed in our less open society of today. But he knocked his girlfriend on the floor and roughed up some others trying to make his point. I was among strangers at an adjacent bench.

His girlfriend, Sybil, I think, was crying and upset at that bastard. Upon reseating and calming down a bit, she wanted to go home. No one at her table had a car, no one offered to help, but I overheard all this and offered her a ride home on the motorcycle. She looked at me like: “Who was I, this callow youth, offering her a ride on, of all things, a motorcycle?” At best I suppose I was a slightly familiar face. Motorcycles were far from common in those benighted times and she had never ridden on one. She returned to her friends at the table, but several minutes later she came over to see if my offer was still available.

It was a clear and brisk evening, and it turned out that ‘home’ was way out past Northgate. She quickly got chilled and huddled up to me as we rode the 20 miles or so out to a crappy little rental house in a semi-rural area. Once there, she invited me in to warm up. – She was freezing and shuddering. I had my leather jacket and was inured to all manner of weather.

Her roommates and friends were inside sipping tea and listening to some saxophone jazz on the record player (lp’s had just become common, and this was before stereo).  The tea water was on and I was invited to sit on the couch and have some tea with these ever-so-cool people, several of which I had noticed on the Ave.

I sat on the couch and she brought some jasmine tea in big mugs, and a blanket. She slipped her feet under my thigh, brought her knees are up under my chin, and put a hand down the neck of my jacket and the other hand in the unzipped front of the jacket. Her hands were icy cold. Her head was leaning against mine. She is freezing cold, and she proceeded to tell her friends all about Bernhard; the episode, his many faults, how she hates him and on and on for what seemed like forever. She, or maybe it was the blanket, reeked of cigarettes and cats. Eventually, I had to pee, and it was time to get on the road. It was an odd episode. She was huddling next to me, sucking up my body heat, all the while talking endlessly about some brute that used to provide body heat. However I recall being quite happy to have a real woman’s body pressed to mine.

A few days later our paths crossed at the coffee shop and she sort of thanked me and sort of apologized for the evening. The next time I saw her she was once again hanging on Bernhard. I became nodding acquaintances with one of the other couples. He was supposedly fluent in 3 languages and was headed for New York to be a translator at the UN, and she was writing a novel, and the little bit I read reminded me of Willa Cather with a bit of Dos Passos, because I had just been reading those authors. Her last name was Burnet. I remember that because she had a bit of wordplay about her last name, – she was a brunette and her last name was Burnet.