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Chapter Ten – Lord Elgin and the Butt Pirates
“Oh come on, Aaron! We’ve only got a few weeks left until we have to start our final assignments for the semester! One night out isn’t going to make a big difference at this point, and I really want to party this evening, since it’s Friday!” says Alan Abelson to me, as we head out the front door after enduring one more long and painful journey down Carnaby Street with Elizabeth Mountebank in Design Basics.
“God, she is such a bitch, that woman! I handed in that first assignment I had to redo for her weeks ago and she still hasn’t graded it yet. I swear her cunty face was as icy as her vagina probably is when I asked her about it.”
“Now you’re sounding just like me! That’s really good, Aaron! Now let’s dump our things over at my place and we can head out to the Lord Elgin and then catch a cab over to Sacs on Rue Principale in Hull and drink and dance our asses off until they close at 3:00am!
“I don’t suppose it would do any harm to go to the ‘LE.’ Is that how you call it, Alan? Adam will be up later on tonight, though. So, Sacs will have to wait for another time.”
“He must be really something, this Adam of yours, Aaron. Why don’t you just leave him a note and he can join us at the LE when he gets off the bus from Brockville and gets to your place?”
“Ummm, uh… I don’t know about that, Alan. He’s expecting me to meet him at the station.
He’ll understand, Aaron. Now come on! I have to walk Garbo and then I’ll lend you something of mine to wear with your jeans and we can make a grand entrance together through the double doors of Pick’s Place and watch everyone pick their jaws up off the floor when we get there!”
“Alan, he’s worked all week long and will have been on the bus for more than two hours coming up here to spend the weekend with me. I can’t just leave him stranded by himself at the station. Would you like it if someone did that to you?”
“Well, Aaron, you’ll never catch me taking a bus anywhere, so I guess we’ll never know.”
“Alan. I’d like to go. But, I’m not leaving Adam alone. And I think my own clothes are good enough.”
Alan stares me up and down from head to toe and finally says, “Well don’t say I didn’t offer, Aaron.”
“Look, Alan. I’d love to see your dog and apartment. Garbo sounds beautiful and actually, I’ve seen you walk her on Elgin Street. I don’t know where you find the time to keep her so well-groomed. Afghan Hounds must need at least a daily brushing. We never have to worry about that with Blackjack at home. She constantly sheds and my Dad takes care of that.”
“Well she is a purebred sighthound and my parents do help me out with money for a dog-walker and a professional groomer for her, ” he says. “Tell you what, classmate! Come on up and you can see my place and meet Garbo and I have a really nice red silk shirt that I think you should wear tonight. In fact, I’ll even give it to you and you can leave that old one you have on now with me and I’ll have it properly cleaned for you. How does that sound?”
“Wow! This place is fantastic, Alan! Are those real oak pegs in the hardwood floor and that wood panelling in the front hallway and living room…? Is that what Linda Naagy-Birdsong was describing as English Tudor style linenfold panelling? It must be 5′-0″ high around the perimeter of the entire room! And the mantel…is that real Carrara marble?”
Uh…yes, well of course it’s real, Aaron. But then, I wouldn’t expect you to know that. When my Mother came back with Father from one of their postings abroad a few years ago, she found this little place for me. And as for that 19th century mahogany Biedermeier fall-front desk and matching bookcases there…well, she had those brought back from Germany through my Father’s diplomatic channels and I wound up with them because they were a matching suite and the bookcases were too tall for the library in their country house east of Maitland. Oh yes, and that English Victorian crystal basket chandelier with the gas jets …another one of Mother’s impulse purchases gone horribly wrong. It’s all OK here though, I suppose.”
“It’s incredible, Alan!”
“I have a galley kitchen through here and I like to sit and look out the window over at the Museum of Nature, with a cup of double expresso in the morning. That is, of course after I walk Garbo and before I head in to class. The mosaic tile floor in here is the same tile used in the main hall of the Museum. This building was built in the early ‘twenties and I think they used some leftover materials from when the Museum was built to finish the interiors of these apartments.”
I am speechless at the richness and elegance of Alan’s place.
Alan continues to lead me through his place, describing it and saying, “There is a separate room with a big. leaded diamond pane glass window just past the main salon, or the living room as you would probably call it. Actually, it is more like a double parlour with the columns separating the two spaces and I think rod-pocket pinbahis yeni giriş doors must have been installed there at one point. They would have had to have been more than ten feet tall, as the ceilings in this apartment are fourteen feet high. The columns with the fluting going half way up them are of course, solid oak like the panelling and that crown molding and the doors and casings. And my bedroom is in here.”
There is only one piece of artwork in the room. A tiny black and white abstract print with a huge white matte and an elegant burnished thin, silver frame hanging on the wall.
“That print is beautiful, Alan.”
“Oh that,” he says. “Another one of my Mother’s mistakes…”
I follow him into his bedroom, only to find Garbo lounging on his huge brass bed with a white down duvet and what looks like a cashmere throw blanket artfully strewn on top, And at the head of the bed there are huge, fluffed-up, goose down pillows that I swear have not one single strand of dog hair on them.
“Where do you actually do your assignments, Alan?” I ask him.
“Oh those…well, ‘Mother’ at the Bay let’s me use his office there that has a drafting board and work table. So much easier for me that way.”
“You don’t have anywhere to sit down in your salon though, Alan. Just that big fireplace and the desk and those bookcases…”
“I like to live simply, Aaron. And less is more. Especially when it’s the best! But, seriously though, Aaron, I just roll out my 19th century oriental Caucasian Dragon carpet in the hall closet and then take the pillows off my bed whenever I want to lounge in there. Mother had that shipped to me in a diplomatic pouch from Kirghizia, which was Father’s last posting abroad before he retired. Strange that they call it a pouch at External Affairs. But those things, which can sometimes be as big as a container are never subject to inspection or customs duty when they come into Canada. I actually rather like that rug. At least Mother didn’t screw that up, for once.”
Ten minutes later and Alan has Garbo’s Tiffany blue leather collar and lead on her and says to me, “Aaron, I have to take Garbo out for her walk now. Go into my closet and find that red silk shirt I promised you. It has a band collar on it and I think it is in a pile along with all the other ones on the floor. They’re new and I just haven’t had a chance to hang them all up yet. And oh yes, if you need to wash up, you’ll find fresh thick, white towels in the bathroom and you may even want to use some of that cologne in there too. It’s called ‘Grey Flannel’ by ‘Geoffrey Beene’ and is so much more elegant and subtle than that ‘Eau Sauvage’ you seem to like. “
“Ummm, uh…OK, Alan.”
I can’t help but compare my little apartment on Argyle with this amazing place and feel a bit like a poor country relation to what Alan and his Mother have managed to create here for him. And that comment he made about the Eau Sauvage…well, I wonder just what Adam would have to say about that.
“Yes… I ‘knew’ that shirt would look perfect on you, Aaron. You know, the first time I ever saw you, you were wearing red. Leave that other old one here and I’ll have it cleaned along with mine. Just throw it down on the floor in the corner at the foot of the bed and I’ll have it taken care of.”
“Uh, Alan…Adam gets in right around 9:00pm at the Voyageur Colonial station. Do you want to come with me to meet him there, Alan?”
“Ummm, no…Aaron. Not there. I don’t do bus stations, sorry. I’ll see you both downstairs in Pick’s Pub at the LE when you get there.”
“OK, Alan. Your place is amazing and Garbo is beautiful and thanks for the shirt!”
“No problem, Aaron. Later then.”
The bus gets in twenty-five minutes late from Brockville. And Alan is the first person off looking dishevelled and tired. “Heya, cookie! That goddamn bus this time. Let me tell ya’, all I could smell was piss and disinfectant from the washroom at the back of the bus and I’m tellin’ ya’, it seemed like everyone back there was smokin’ their brains out. And, I hadta’ sit in a seat that I’m hopin’ someone spilled what was just Coke on it! It’s times like this I really miss not havin’ my wheels, honey! How has your week been?”
“It’s been not too bad, Adam, except for today. I just got my final assignment from Camilla for the semester and it’s a big one. And that damned bitch, Lisa Mountebank… is she ever a fucking cunt. She made this stupid comment during crit’ time in her class today and said that Connie Reismann, Diane Payne, Eleanor Regent, Natalie Portlander and I had all ‘failed’ her class, because according to her attendance records we ‘d missed more than three of her classes for the semester! I didn’t though Adam! The lift bridge was up one day when I went to cross the Canal, because it was letting a sailboat through and I was more than fifteen minutes late for her class! I couldn’t do anything except wait for the bridge to go down again to let me cross the Canal! I hate her! The other two times, pinbahis giriş well…once I was late again because of that stupid bridge and I was sick another morning and didn’t want to spread what I had to anyone else that day. Then Lisa comes over to me and says, oh Aaron, I’ll get to you and your crit’ when I am done with Greg here. Honest to God, Adam, she spent more than thirty minutes with Greg making goo-goo eyes at him and then she says she’s going to fail me and then is still planning to give me a crit’! I fucking hate that god-damned, fucking bitch! I said to her, why are you even bothering to come over to crit’ my work, since you’ve just failed me for the semester? And you do know what she actually had the nerve to say to me? Well, Connie Reismann was listening to all of this and was really pissed off at her and Lisa says then…well, I didn’t actually say I was ‘going’ to fail you…just that I ‘could’ if I wanted to. Adam, I hope her vagina freezes over forever and she never, ever gets to have sex again!”
“Well, you stood up for yourself, cookie. And maybe that’s what she needed you to hand right back to her…that you weren’t gonna let her bully and threaten you. I have a feelin’ she might not be so tough on you next semester. If not, then you just go and report her to the Student Union and let them deal with her,” he says to me. “And Aaron, the way you’re swearing there, honey…you’re beginning to sound just like me! Hah, hah, hah!”
“I will, Adam. God, I missed you so much, wookiee man!”
“Me too honey…me too!”
“Did you bring your suit with you in that garment bag this time?”
“Sure did, honey! You can play with my lonely dick in my pants when we get back to your place and I’ll smother ya” with my suit jacket. Whatdaya’ say?”
“I say. Let’s get out of here and I’ll take care of your big, thick, hairy dong when we get back to my place!”
“I got to see Alan Abelson’s place on Elgin today, Adam. It’s amazing. He gave me a shirt of his and wants us to meet him at the LE for a beer or whatever this evening. Do you want to do that or would you just rather stay at home here? I’ll do whatever you like.” I say, after rubbing my face in his sweaty suit pants and looking up at him with a satiated smile.
“Well, honey…since you mention him more than the others in your class, I think it’s time I get a look at him and meet him. I’ll be wantin’ to get myself cleaned up a bit though to get rid of the stink of cigarette smoke on me from the bus and throw on somethin’ sexy so you won’t be ashamed of me. Wanna’ hop in the tub and scrub me up while I play with your little dick there?”
“Hmmm…I have some new soap that Alan just gave to me. It’s scented and is called ‘Grey Flannel.’ Can I rub you all over with it and play with your hairy chest and then pretend dry you off, wookiee?
“Aaron, honey, baby…err, ummm … get the water hot and I’ll letchya’ rub me and scrub me and we can head out after that! Not with that ‘Grey Flannel’ shit though. We have it in the Men’s cologne section back at Fullerton’s’ and it’s too strong on me and smells like a goddamn cheap whore’s perfume. I like my own cologne, honey. Now get outta’ those clothes and let’s play rub a’ dub dub…two sexy guys in a tub!”
The Lord Elgin Hotel is a historic landmark in Ottawa. It was built in the early ‘forties during World War Two and with the exception of the Chateau Laurier Hotel on the other side of the War Cenotaph, is probably the most elegant place in the city to host wedding receptions and important events. I remember what Adam said to me about the washrooms there. And how I have to watch myself when I go down into the basement at ‘Pick’s Place’ and in what they call ‘The Library,’ just off the main lobby on the ground floor.
There is a side door that is at the corner of Laurier Boulevard and Elgin Street that avoids having to go in to the main lobby where the hotel staff give you judgemental stares if you go in that way. I was to learn later on that the owners of the hotel were not exactly happy with the reputation of Picks Place and The Library being prominent, gay male cruising spots. But, ever since the end of World War Two, the hotel was about the only place in the city where men could meet to have a drink and check each other out with the intent of having sex together. It is probably one of the worst kept secrets in the city.
“Did ya’ know, Aaron that Lord Elgin was an Earl back in England and was the Governor General of what was then the province of Canada between 1847 to 1854? This place has been a hangout for gay men ever since the end of the war. Lotsa’ soldiers comin’ back from the war stayed here and with the Department of National Defence just on the other side of the Canal and especially when the Union Station still had all the trains coming right into downtown, it’s reputation as a hang-out for guys to hook up for sex started way back then?”
“Was history one of your favorite subjects in school, Adam?”
“Yep’, honey it pinbahis güvenilirmi was.”
“This place was just about the only place for men to meet back then. But then in the ‘fifties and ‘sixties, the RCMP started to monitor the place to try to uncover government workers they thought were a threat to the security of the country and they were brutal and ruthless when they interviewed suspected homosexuals at their headquarters, right across from where the Russian Embassy is in Sandy Hill along the Rideau River. Lotsa’ men had their careers destroyed by those fuckin’ bastards and some even committed suicide. We’re lucky we didn’t hafta’ live in those times, honey. Although I know that RCMP undercover officers still go into Pick’s Place and sit with their newspapers and take pictures of some of the senior government men who go down there. Some things never change, Aaron. Ya’ just gotta’ be discreet when you go in there. Never know where you might wind up workin’ when ya’ graduate and the last thing you need is to have an RCMP file on you if ya’ ever need to pass a security check for a job or somethin’ like that.”
“I’m glad you know these things, Adam. I always feel safe with you.”
“I’ll always take care of ya’, cookie. I love you.”
“I love you too, Adam.”
“Before we head down into Pick’s Place, let’s poke our heads into ‘The Library.’ It’s pretty classy and not like the ‘meat market’ you’re gonna find when we go down into the basement.”
The Library is elegant with beautiful hardwood panelling and has a long ‘L-shaped’ bar with a brass foot rail and a green, heavily veined serpentine marble top. The lessons that Lynda have been giving us at the College are starting to make me more and more aware of these things. There are seven or eight older men sitting at the bar drinking scotch or whatever and they all stare at Adam and me and I can feel the frank appraisals and blatant stares and interest from them as we survey the space. There are landscape reproductions of ‘The Group of Seven’ Canadian artists in thick, ornate gold leaf frames with picture lights illuminating them around the room and gold velvet draperies with sculptured pelmets and jabots framing the big windows looking out onto the National Arts Centre, the park beside it and the Church at the corner of Laurier and Elgin. The atmosphere is hushed, like what I imagine a men’s club would be like and there are big wing chairs in green and gold striped heavy tapestry fabric tightly clustered around low, round coffee tables that I’m positive would bang the shins of anyone drunk trying to get into and out of those Chippendale reproduction wing chairs.
“A little too rich up here for my taste, Aaron. The downstairs is more my style, honey. But, remember what I told ya’ about the washrooms here. You’ll pass by them on the way down to Pick’s Place on the landing where the stairs turn. Don’t let appearances up here fool ya’ into thinking this isn’t more than just a place where men pick up other men for sex. And never let yourself get caught doing anything here that you wouldn’t want your Mom and Dad to hear about, OK?”
“I understand, Adam. I don’t want anyone but you anyway.”
“Just remember what I’m tellin’ ya’ honey, please. And oh, yeah, when we go downstairs and through the doors into Pick’s Place, you’re gonna’ get a shock ’cause it’s loud and noisy compared to here and if you hear guys sayin’ numbers out loud, they’ll be staring at your hot, little boy butt there and rating it on a scale of one to ten when they check ya’ out! And remember, honey, your butt is mine and it’s a ten!”
“Hah, hah, and your is a twelve there Adam!”
“Damn fuckin’ right it is there, honey!”
There are pay phones right beside the doors into Pick’s Place and a couple of guys are standing around them pretending to talk on the phone while checking everyone who is coming and going out of the bar.
“A couple of RCMP creeps right there, Aaron. I recognise the look.” Says Adam, as he heads into the bar with me behind him. The sounds of clattering glasses and beer bottles mesh with the high-octane, frenzied volume of lots of men getting drunk and laughter filters out into the corridor and I follow him inside and start to look around.
The place looks like a typical beer hall, like the Manitonna Hotel back in Brockville. But it has some class to it when I start to look around. There are banquette benches in green leather all around the perimeter of the room with tables and captains’ chairs facing the banquettes with their backs to the main doors into the space. Then in the middle of the room between the huge, thick wood-panelled columns supporting the hotel above are more large round tables and captain’s chairs. All around the room, above the banquettes and wainscoting are gold leaf framed pictures. But these ones are illustrations of what I think are Grenadier British soldiers in full dress with bayonets and rifles, posing to show off their military uniforms to reinforce the history and image of the hotel above. The noise is distracting because it seems like everyone is talking at once and staring continuously at the doors into the bar to see who is coming and going and what they are wearing and how old they are and whether they warrant a rating on their asses while they go to sit down.
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