Dominique Strauss-Kahn: Living Libido Loco

DSK, looking like shit. I wonder what that left hand is up to in his pocket. Just sayin’

If recent media are to be believed, Dominique Strauss-Kahn and his pleasure-seeking libido – let’s call him Charlie – have been traveling the world in search of warm, female orifices to satiate the irrepressible urges of Dominique’s dick. Sadly, the aimless, constant schtupping has totally fucked DSK’s career. In a flash, he went from heading the IMF and being touted as a viable prospect for the French Presidency, to having his unkempt, humiliated ass hauled in to be booked for sexual assault.

He traded his reputation, a life in the making, for a quick bang with a chamber maid who alleges the sex was ‘sadistic and violent.’ If it had just been ‘okay’ sex, if Charlie hadn’t gone all frat-house gang bang when opportunity knocked, DSK probably could have weaseled his way out of the situation with a little hush money, and the world would have been none the wiser. He’d have to keep Charlie locked up for bad behaviour for a time but the crisis would have been mostly averted.

More recently it’s surfaced that DSK also attended sex parties and has been under investigation for pimping out women for orgies operating in various cities. In a nutshell, this man’s career was ruined not because of incompetence, corruption, or criminality, but because he could not keep his dick-head alter-ego Charlie from storming the bridge, hog-tying the Captain and crew and taking the ship’s payload of nukes for his own gain. He’s like Gary Busey in Under Siege, except there is no redeeming figure like the cook/special forces veteran, played by Steven Segal, to save the SS Dominique Strauss-Kahn from sinking under the weight of Charlie’s craven, libidinous plans.

But Strauss-Kahn isn’t the only man whose carnal urges have undermined his reputation, is he? There are countless cases of accomplished, intelligent, powerful men who’ve lost everything, or come perilously close to it, because they simply could not tame their mustang-like skin flutes. Thomas Jefferson, John F Kennedy, John Profumo, Clarence Thomas, Bill Clinton, Silvio Berlusconi, Eliot Spitzer, and dozens more whose gonads were like grenades with hair-pin triggers, constantly going off in the midst of reputable, accomplished lives.

Charlie, dishonorably doing his thing, as usual.

It’s mind-boggling, not because of the abject immorality – I am no prude – but for the profound lack of judgement that compelled these men to such salacious acts of their undoing. Obviously, in DSK’s case, as in the case of the others, Charlie is like a squirrel on speed.

Charlie is itching for a bang when you’re out of town on a high-stakes business trip and have some time to kill, or when you’re working late at the office and spy an attractive female colleague for whom a quick fuck makes for a lengthy, messy aftermath. He wants to abandon all reason when a large-breasted, big-haired intern half his age casts a furtive glance, or when an underaged model shows up to the Christmas party. He cares little for your political aspirations, and convinces you to ignore the edict of your intellect telling you to burn the Little Black Book of fuck-buddies for-hire to avert temptation. Charlie is bored to tears with attractive, intelligent, self-respecting women who are turned off by ceaseless questions about whether they will do anal.

Charlie’s notions of what is sexually arousing and what counts as an appropriate way to satisfy those cravings were frozen in time, and failed to keep pace with other facets of normal human intellectual development. He’s kept your dick hardening in the presence of women who may be attractive to the thirteen year-old boy that lingers inside, but have nothing in common with the adult man you have mostly become.  Education and cultural refinement don’t seem to have done much to dull the impact of Charlie’s influences on your sexual preferences and attitudes. His hormonal edicts guiding your conduct are uttered with nary a concern for the disaster a teenaged sex-drive has in the life of an adult with serious responsibilities.

Charlie is an oblivious yahoo from the Beverly Hillbillies. He struck psychological black gold in the stunted brains of certain males, laying claim to a large penthouse loft in the posh, upscale part of town called the Pre-frontal Cortex; a neighbourhood where intellect,

Just like in DSK’s case, Charlie’s cousin Jethro at the wheel of the Clampett’s jalopy.

judgement, and sound decision-makers usually reside. From time to time the residents grow weary of the moonshine hangovers, backfiring jalopies, and blunderbusses going off at all hours, so they retreat to the Hamptons in the sub-conscious. With his more socialized living companions on vacay, there is nothing to keep his misanthropic excesses in check, leaving Charlie free to muss with a life.

I’m not one to judge a man for having a rabid, over-zealous sex drive. I was fourteen once. I remember when Charlie mostly ran things. There is nothing as terrorizing as the teenage male desire to stick his constantly throbbing shaft in anything moist and inviting. In the early days of boyhood, Charlie often wins the debate. With age, constructive ways to keep his urges under wraps are fashioned, at least by most men.

For Strauss-Kahn, Clinton, and JFK it seems Charlie was too much of a force to be reckoned with. Their brains never got a handle on the poor chap, so he was free to roam aimlessly in their lives, his dick bobbing in the air, fishing for a screw, reeling in whatever nibble he got. The revelations of JFK’s sexual escapades are stunning given his other commendable traits. In retrospect, it is daunting to think the Cuban Missile Crisis was in the hands of a guy so beholden to his pecker. That said, it’s heartening to know the West’s top warrior could relieve the tension of a Cold War standoff like no other: with a booty call to Marilyn Munroe. She may have single-handedly brought the world back from the brink of nuclear annihilation – one JFK hand-job at a time.

I am not casting aspersions against these men because of their sex drive. What raises eyebrows is the degree their libido was able to trump their judgement. For me, it casts these men as tragic figures, worthy of some compassion, even if it appears on the surface they acted like garden variety, pathological womanizers. No matter how bright, enlightened, and accomplished they were, they were still too often possessed by Charlie’s elephantine sexual appetites.

Charlie can’t get back to work, once this image is burnt in his mind.

If you are unsympathetic, take a look at the inner dialogue in the mind of a man like Dominique Strauss-Kahn in the presence of an attractive twenty two year old woman. On the one hand he’s got his intellect making some fairly astute observations to turn his mind back to the problems at hand: staving off global economic collapse. The intellect tries to guide his thoughts toward his loftier responsibilities. On the other, he’s got Charlie imploring him that every minute not spent fucking is a minute not spent living.

It’s a no-brainer who wins, right? You’d think so, given the arguments:

THE INTELLECT: True, this woman is extremely sexually attractive. On the other hand, Greece is on the brink of having to bust open Aunt Voula’s piggy bank and sell off Uncle Kosta’s sheep to survive. Remember, it is you and I that got you here. Charlie almost ruined everything. Also, most people find it highly suspect if the Head of the IMF can’t keep his dick in his pants while the work of stabilizing the world’s money supply goes undone. I understand you have needs, but let’s address that later. In the meantime, go for a run, write a sonnet, have a fine meal at a Michelin restaurant. Remember, Charlie made peeing burn like sulfuric acid was seeping from your pecker the last time he got his way.

CHARLIE: Fucking Intellect, pfft. How many times has that loser got you laid? You are devaluing those perky tits just thinking about currency devaluation. All this talk of austerity programs is gonna waste a good hard-on. Let’s grab that pussy while the grabbing’s good!

The intellect makes a far more compelling argument doesn’t he? Which makes it a tragedy how often Charlie wins this debate. Clearly, it’s not a meeting of the minds, yet Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s intellect continuously loses the battle of wits with the stubborn, stunted rival between his legs. The moral here is not that it is fair to condemn the man who possesses a healthy sex drive; it’s a sign of youthful virility. But a healthy sex drive calls for a healthy concept of how to achieve sexual gratification.

When confronted with the arguments of Charlie vs the intellect, the man who chooses the former when doing so loses everything in reputation and career is clearly in the grip of a libido gone totally loco. The moral is, if you find yourself getting into trouble, get some counseling and medication to raise Charlie up properly. Help get him back on the path to a sexually healthy adulthood. The grown-up Charlie doesn’t need to stop craving the wondrous experience of sex. He is encouraged to do so frequently, but in ways that are exotic and foreign to his pubescent, teen-aged self.

Fleeting, Pointless Aphorism #2 – Children Entertainers

I enjoy a lot of the entertainment that’s made for my kids, sometimes even more than they do. But I wonder about certain, live-action childhood entertainers like the guy who plays Barney, the four knobs in the Wiggles, and the ecstasy-popping ravers who are The Doodlebops.

That's the 'e' in the palm of their hand

On the one hand, it’s got to be rewarding and great fun to be silly and zany, letting it all loose for sake of making little children happy. On the other there’s a feigned wholesomeness that is, well, revolting. Frankly I wouldn’t have the stomach to pull that shit off, at least not without rivers of cynicism oozing from my ears and out my belly button in revolt. Little kids know a fraud when they see one, especially when bile is seeping out of your nose, as it would be if I was sitting around a campfire leading a crowd of six-year olds in a version of “Five Little Frogs,” fighting a losing battle against the profound urge to flee for more debased forms of entertainment. I wonder if child entertainers spend their off hours at the rub and tug, making porn, shooting heroin, or running underground cock-fighting rings on the side. Our psyches need some time to splash around in the cesspool when our day jobs force us to muster up such squeaky clean personas to earn our keep. It’s not natural for grown adults to be so … so – fucking sweet, even if it pays a good rent. Next time the Doodlebops are in town look for them in one of your local fetish clubs with soothers in their mouths dry humping strangers as they gyrate to trance music. I bet they’ll be there. I just bet.

Fleeting, Pointless Aphorism #1 – My Hopped Up Starbucks ‘barista’

The ‘barista’ at the Starbucks where I am loitering reminds me of Hammy, the squirrel from the animated children’s movie Over the Hedge. Hammy, voiced by Steve Carell is a squirrel who has the energy of seven men on methamphetamines, just like the ‘barista’ here. She’s bouncing around the store, mopping, wiping, talking really fast to confused-looking clients, and taking orders from the drive-thru. She was gesturing to me for a time, but I couldn’t understand a word she was saying. I knew she was speaking English but my brain was unable to decipher her high-pitched, up-talking machine-gun discourse. She was like an auctioneer who’d just freebased cocaine. Eventually, I realized she was trying to tell me my Americano was ready and wanted to know if I wanted room for cream. Yes, I said. Yes. I. Do.

MEDIA NEWS – People Magazine Makes Watershed Editorial Decision to Include Stories About Regular People

Cameron Ian Quinn, Senior Media Correspondent

Citing slumping revenues amidst a massive surge in the market for mindless cultural media, the editors of People magazine have made an unprecedented decision to feature more articles about real people in its publication.

”It was a torturous decision for People to feature stories about people. Our readers feel a deep, emotional bond with their favourite movie, television, and reality television stars in addition to that they have with pop music acts. We are not going to deprive them of their desire to cultivate those long-established relationships. They are as powerful as they are real.” remarked senior editor Chet Witherspoon.

“But I had an epiphany after a night pounding Margueritas and Mai Tais at our Bali retreat: maybe Lyndsey Lohan and Britney Spears are not alone. Maybe non-celebrities also struggle with addiction, mental health, and body image. What rehab centres do they check into? Well, we are going to find out.”

Witherspoon said readers can expect hard-hitting features such as ‘Raising Chidlren Without Nannies’, ‘Home Life in Fifteen Hundred Square Feet or Less,’ and ‘Being a Nobody: How to be Frumpy, Overweight, and Free.’

“I believe it is a major leap forward for our publication that we’ve made this commitment to discover the mysteries of ‘Regular Joe’. I am excited by the journey. Look out Wal-Mart, here comes People, so say ‘cheese’!” exalted Witherspoon, as he performed a campy solo rendition of ‘Don’t Stop Believin’ from the previous evening’s episode of Glee.

Anonymous sources inside the magazine say the decision has not been well-received. Many have considered leaving the publication for greener pastures at Ok and Hello!

“The world needs a safe place where childish fantasies and aimless celebrity worship are freely indulged. Where serious stories about doom and gloom aren’t lining the pages to upset readers or make them feel there’s anything wrong in the world. Destroying dreams is for intellectuals at the New York Times, The Daily Show, and CNN.”

“We at People cater to those who never lost hope of one day finding their unicorn! Don’t get me started on Charlie Rose! He doesn’t even make his set look nice, it’s so dark and depressing!” screamed the source, becoming ever more despondent as he raised his clenched fists to the sky.

After composing himself, he continued.

“We need a place where people can see beach photos of Kirstie Allie’s rolls and close-ups of the cellulite on Julia Roberts’ ass. To find out how sloppy Johnny Depp or Jennifer Garner look when they step out to buy groceries on Monday afternoon. We turn gossip into facts. These things matter. There was a time when People stood for integrity. Who will tell the real story of Whitney Houston’s final days if we’re busy featuring Fran at the doughnut shop or Jimmy the plumber!!”

Another source, an intern, remarked “I came here to work my way up to being an intern for Entertainment Tonight, so yeah, I … I’m bummed, but … like … uh, experience is … exper…. “

The twenty one year old, a graduate of a two-month on-line media communications program, drifted off as her smart phone vibrated incessantly with incoming Twitter feeds. She could not be re-engaged for further comment.

Former staff writer Stu Jeffries believes the move is ill-fated.

“Yeah? Like I give two shits about some emergency room nurse? I watch Grey’s Anatomy. You wanna read about inner city teachers who make twenty three grand a year? Or bus drivers? What, like how they stay home and eat Shake N’ Bake pork chops and watch TV on a Friday night and shop at Target? Whatever.

People want to see where Kirsten Dunst is clubbing these days. How Ben Affleck and Bradley Cooper eat sushi with style. How Adele curls her hair. What Ricki Lake’s poodle’s name is and why it does not look like a poodle. THAT, is news. I am so glad I left those losers for TMZ.com.”

Columbia University Cultural Studies Professor Dr. Che Kwame-Weingarten remains sceptical about the recent turn in the magazine’s editorial policy.

“I think it’s a way to further propagate the Corporatist zeitgeist in America, one that reinforces the false ontological narrative that we all stand an equal chance of reaping the economic rewards of capitalism, so long as we submit to its imperatives.”

When asked to qualify his muddling remarks, Dr Kwame-Weingarten continued, “By juxtaposing a nurse and a movie star, a retail sales clerk with a Grammy-winning hip-hop artist the delusion is: you are them, and they are you. A total fabrication. Resist tropes like People at all costs.”

In response to Dr. Kwame-Weingarten’s scepticism, Witherspoon quipped “zie-wha?”

Media News canvassed loyal readers of People for their feedback on the proposed enhancements to the publication’s regular features.

Gerry Brown, a truck driver from Pittsburgh, conveyed his apprehensions.

“Once, I seen a story they done on some fireman or something or other. I dunno, seemed kinda dumb to me. I just wanna see more of Katy Perry’s tits.”

Another, Madison Carter, was less enthusiastic “Ew, stories about losers who make, like, nine dollars an hour? Boring-gah.”

Overall fan support for the idea seemed tepid.

At the end of our interview, Dr. Kwame-Weingarten rose indignantly from his tattered wing chair as he shuffled me out of his office.

“Did it ever strike anyone, the irony of a magazine called ‘People’ that has sweet fuck all to do with actual people?”

The upcoming issue of People magazine, with its new “Regular People” segment appears in newsstands next week.

(Disclaimer: this article is a work of fiction and is not intended to reflect actual facts relating to the publication or its editorial policies.)

The Hard Road

Life uproots, carries you away, and sets you down before a hard road. A loved one is diagnosed with cancer. A dear friend passes away, suddenly. Your children are diagnosed with an incurable disease. Your marriage fails. Your family is torn apart and gone forever. In a flash, the fragments of a life you’ve threaded into a contented whole comes undone.

A mural of the future you harbour in your mind’s eye slowly dissipates. Its radiant features start to fall from vision one by one, until you are left with a tattered canvass. Where once you envisioned vivid, bright vistas and dances with joy, there are wistful shades of grey and sullen days. You wonder, will the colours of my world ever again sprinkle my mind with images as brilliant, as sublime?

You wish something monumental could be done to reverse the course of events. You’re a shrewd fixer, fashioned a way through torments of the past. But life is indifferent to your measured response, your brave face. It’s too vast for pithy words; too big to tuck in a box. Too cumbersome to leave your heart untainted. You have no choice but to take what it gives and feel how it feels.

Here’s the grace: the ebbs and flows often carry blessings. But they are robbed of their might by ingratitude and blindness before they are dispersed to the recesses of our mind. We aren’t overtaken by bliss as readily as we are enveloped in sadness. Cling to your joy as ardently as you can, don’t allow it to subside. Consume it as if it were your last meal and lick the plate clean. If you don’t, when handed a bitter pill your joy never again tastes as sweet nor is as easy to find.

Yet, moments of bliss do not leave scars to remember them by. The weight of the world’s tragedies disembowels, striking when we are least prepared to fight, when we consigned the onslaught to our imagination. It arrives with the catastrophic force of an asteroid crashing to earth, leaving widespread ruin in its wake. The trauma of our misfortunes is their immensity, their cruelty and caprice; how easily they penetrate our defences against the assault.

It’s not so easy to move on, to believe the palpitations in your heart will subside over time, when you are left with a void as deep as the sea. They say to go on living we must allow our wounds to heal, to accept the scars they leave. It does no good to pick away at our scabs, to prolong the sting of suffering. But when life’s tragedies occur – when they fail to make sense – the urge to ask ‘Why?’ gets its pound of flesh. It’s a picking not easily ceased.

Having had to lick a lifetime of wounds, we hope wisdom overcomes the upheaval around the corner, when we find ourselves travelling down one of many hard roads. We hope it will consume less of us each time we confront what unfolds. That the moments of joy in between will shield us from the havoc unleashed by the storms we weather. Maybe next time, the pain will be less all-encompassing, even if the journey is wicked and seems without end.

The hope is life’s calamities don’t leave me too withered to suffer the next siege. I fear being emptied out entirely by the struggle, until there’s no man left to fight, no soul left to scar. I am propelled forward by the will to learn how supple the heart is, and where it breaks. For now, it is enough.

Still Smells Like Teen Spirit – Part 2

continued from “Still Smells Like Teen Spirit – Part 1”

Morning announcements at St Lukes usually consisted of the national anthem, God Save the Queen, a bible reading, and a list of kids summoned to the Vice-principal’s office for discipline. The VP was appointed from among the non-Jesuit teaching ranks for stints of two years and was the designated hangman. Some mornings the reading of these lists took up half of first period. It would have been easier just to list off the kids who didn’t have to go to his office for some trouble they’d caused.

It was Standish’s second year as VP and he had earned a reputation as a harsh disciplinarian. This was a private boys’ Catholic school and corporal punishment was gleefully applied. Touchy-feely rules that banned child abuse in the public education system didn’t apply here. Standish had a habit of plucking certain bad apples out of class and giving them the strap in the hallway just outside the door so the rest of us could hear the strikes and the sobs. He was a gargantuan Belgian man who, if he weren’t a school administrator would have been breaking in camels for his fellow French legionnaires to ride throughout the maghreb.

Standish was an obvious ham, and would affect a creepy, tremulous voice for those summoned to his office for more serious crimes against the faith. Smith became “Smi-hi-hi-hith,” Johnson became “Joooooohn-soooooo-nnn,” each uttered with cheesy effects added in his baritone voice. Smith and Johnson had better hope they left home with clean undies, because they were gonna get it real good. Standish was a master propagandist who would have made Goebbels proud.

The morning after the ‘Jones Tie Caper’ had gone viral, my name was among the infamous Standish productions: “The following students come and see me. Da Costa, Machiavelli, Ssssssaaauuuunnnnnn-derszzzz”. I detected a warm sensation on the seat of my chair. ‘Buck up, Saunders,’ I thought. This was boys’ school and I would never outlive the literal stain of shitting my pants the first time I was summoned to the VPs office for ‘special treatment.’ I pursed my lips as I stood up, gave my Metallica pin to my best friend, said good bye to my classmates and asked them to tell my mother I loved her.

I’d been ratted out by one of the dozen kids who had some notion they were going to be a priest later on. If my recollection served, I’d seen most of these types in on the prank. This was the first of many other valuable lessons in religious hypocrisy I’d learn: no mercy is granted to the original purveyors of sin. They are drawn, quartered, and burned at the stake for their transgression. The shame and guilt at such flimsy virtue and the seeking of absolution through confession was punishment enough for followers. All those scenes in movies like The Godfather where murdering, racketeering gangsters hung out with Catholic priests were making a lot more sense to me now. Those Catholics were really onto something. It was pure genius.

The slow walk through the corridors of St. Luke’s to Standish’s office was filled with trepidation and fond reminiscences of my short-lived stint there. ‘Good bye high-volume waterfountain that Jake Van Williamson always pees in’ I mused. I became misty-eyed, as I walked past the back door where we smoked with Father Santos, who didn’t rat us out as long as we kept him supplied with cigarettes.

‘I hardly knew ye, fallen courtyard tree’. A beautiful tree had been planted by the school founders many years prior, and was the centrepiece in a courtyard surrounded on all sides by the school’s corridors. It was cut down by pranking seniors looking to smite St Luke’s during a night of binge-drinking. In their debilitated state, they must have rationalized that their rich fathers could just buy the school a new twenty five year old, thirty foot tree.

Before stepping into Standish’s reception area I took a deep breath; the smell of unwashed teenage ass everywhere. ‘Ahhh, poignant memories to take to the grave,’ I thought. I was Steve Martin in The Jerk, mentally clinging to every inanimate object or insignificant memory I could invest with sentimental value.

I’d been doing these reprimand salsa dances with school administrators since I became a revolutionary in the Prague Spring of grade four. But Standish had a reputation for ruthlessness and a signed waiver from my family green-lighting his use of the strap to impose discipline. He also had a legion of aspiring young priests sucking up to Jesus. No amount of peer pressure or beatings could discourage these knobs from singing like canaries against their classmates. They were looking to become ostracized martyrs. I would plant a shitload of porn magazines and Mormon bibles in their lockers to get even.

All this added up to one thing: if I continued being a misbehaved asshole at St Luke’s, as I had been the previous five years I was going to pay dearly with my black ass. But a rebel was who I was, I couldn’t stop now. I didn’t know how to be good. I realized then I’d been led to Moriah by my double-crossing family, looking to atone for their debauched existence by sacrificing the generation’s first born. Football program, my ass. They handed me over to the Syrian-trained disciplinarians at St Lukes because they didn’t have the stomach for the job of reformation themselves. For that bit of duplicity I resolved to make my family believe I had a plan to drop out after grade eleven, squandering – in their mind – my A plus average and their thousands of dollars in private school tuition so I could fulfil my lifelong dream of becoming a carnie.

“Saunders, I hear you’re a funny guy who wears funny ties.”

Dramatist. Executioner. And, apparently, lyric poet. Standish was a renaissance man. So, we were sparring in verse were we? Well, here I go:

A pack of nefarious lies,

spun by your misinformed spies!

I simply refuse

To be falsely accused!

Penance, for my prankster’s conceit?

Ha! There is some shit I will not eat.

“Honestly Sir, it was just a foolish prank. I didn’t know the whole school would start doing it, Sir. It’s not what I intended.”

A Shakespearean retreat. The better part of valour is discretion. I’d live to squeeze out of a jam another day, when I had fewer cards in the deck stacked against me and more of these priest wannabes under my thumb. Or, when I had a better sense that lying would pay off. For now, life was too short for chivalry. A sufficiently remorseful telling of the truth was probably going to get me the lightest punishment. Falstaff, that cowardly sloth, would be most proud.

The truth is, I thought at best a couple of my classmates would follow suit. I did’t expect half the fucking school to play along. There is no doubt I was being a jerk, but I wasn’t The Amazing Kreskin. The rest of the school followed along on their own volition without me having to bend a spoon with my will to convince them to do it. I underestimated what lemmings young Catholics could be. Once a few started plunging off the cliff it was a conformity-crazed massacre. It had never been that easy to win over the kids in public school. I made a mental note to send a memo before my next prank so EVERYBODY would understand that I was NOT trying to lead a rebellion, that I was simply executing a one-off prank. I was no rube; I saw Footloose. I wasn’t going to take the fall as the instigator of a subversive movement against the town’s existing order.

“I gotta admit, it was pretty funny Saunders. But you show respect for your teachers in my house. How’s a ‘six-pack’ of JUGs sound?”

“ ‘Bout right?” Was he genuinely asking? If so, in my defence I would have pleaded innocent to the alleged recruitment of others to the prank. That was just dumb luck.

The Jesuits had a great sense of humour. Jugs were a big pre-occupation for most teenage boys. We spent our weekends priming the girls from our sister school St Magdalene’s with beer and weed hoping to dull their senses enough to get our hands on their jugs. Most of us, having failed to get more than a dry hump and a throbbing set of blue balls, spent much of our time jerking off to pictures of Jugs in Playboy and Hustler. For the clever Jesuits at St Luke’s, barred from either touching or jerking off to jugs, a JUG was Justice Under God (JUG), and it earned you a one-hour detention. Losers.

“Let’s not meet again. Whaddaya say Saunders?”

“Um, sounds good Stand – er, Sir.”

He put his hand on my back firmly, showing me out of his office. If there were a cliff nearby the force of his hand on my shoulder could easily have pushed me off it. In his eyes, I imagined him waving goodbye as he watched me plunge to the abyss of the Grand Canyon.

“Don’t forget these wise-guy.” He grabbed my six pack of JUGs from his desk and handed them to me. His eye was on the ball.

“The rule is you carry JUGs around with you until you’ve worked these off, son. If you get tired of JUG-room and you want to man-up, you come see me.”

I turned back to face him as he stood in his doorway, tugging on his pants by the waistband, tapping on his belt as he said this. Standish’s Faustian bargain was one strap for six JUGs. I got a lot of ‘six-packs’ that year. I became a legend for getting JUGged by the quirky math teacher who had never, ever given out a JUG since St Luke’s began keeping records. I managed to get a six pack out of him. They were just enjoying this shit too much on my account.

Near the end of the year I did need to cash in on that bargain. The rumours were true – it hurt. Standish usually started these rituals with a surprisingly honest twist on a specious phrase uttered by adults moments before they‘d abuse their children, “this is going to hurt you more than it is me.”

If I hadn’t taken the deal I’d still be showing up to JUG-room every Tuesday and Thursday, more than twenty years later. I raked a lot of leaves and shoveled seven tons of snow that year, common tasks assigned for students repenting at JUG hour. The justice meted out suggested to me that the God of Catholics was neither wrathful nor vengeful, but pitifully lazy. Like the school’s janitor, God had low-ranking minions delegated for mundane tasks like confession and absolution, leaving him plenty of time to meddle in the Middle East and plant dinosaur bones all over the earth. The divine prankster still spins his Almighty yarn!

My revenge on Jones would be the first major act of defiance to earn me a date with Standish. It was far from my last. We became grudging adversaries as my short tenure at St Lukes was dotted with repeated tete-a-tetes in his office. Standish was no despot. He was firm but fair, and I grew to respect him for his forbearance and his sense of humour. It could not have been easy dealing with sociopathic, entitled runts like me and the rich brats at St Luke’s.

A few years later when I was in college, I met a stunning, intelligent woman and we began dating. By sheer fluke she also happened to be Standish’s eldest daughter. Finally, a set of jugs that I could, without hint of irony or equivocation, genuinely thank Standish for. I wondered if he would still have that robust sense of humour.

“Saunders, what are you doing in my house, with my daughter!?”

Game, set, and match, Standish. I win. In mere months, she’d end up dumping me for her studies abroad, breaking my heart. We’ll call it a tie.

I was a first-rate jerk in my teen years and did my best to resist the straight path that St Luke’s and others wished I’d get on. I am slightly ashamed to admit that my motives for insubordination were as shallow as that of a champagne socialist’s: I was more interested in resuming the quest for eternal copulation than I was in principled rebellion. I was fixing to get turfed back to Sodom and Gomorrah – otherwise known as public school – plain and simple.

In looking back at that stint, I came away with the sense that the Jesuits were the real deal. I haven’t bought in to what the theistic religions are selling, but my early experiences with the Jesuits and others at St Luke’s helped me to see beyond the legions of politically-charged religious buffoons who dominate the bully pulpit in North America today.

Had the heathens in my family not been moved to send me to St Luke’s I think I’d view the whole spiritual enterprise as the handiwork of total charlatans. The witnessing of genuine, substantial faith opened the door to spirituality just enough for some to creep in over the years since. I’m no Deepak Chopra, but I like to think that I am able to see the big picture, to see the world a little more through the eyes of others than I used to. And the reason I can say that is because I walked through that spiritual door as an adult and my eyes were opened by the process, not by adherence to a particular faith.

My humble apologies to Standish and Jones.