Tuesday, July 14, 2009


(Originally entered in journal form - how retro!)

Having trouble writing without a computer to clack away at. This is nostalgic! Reminds me of ancient times of hot, sunny, slow days at the outdoor historical museum that employed me during my high school summers. No one to give a tour to for hours at a time during the weekdays, my battered copy of Even Cowgirls Get the Blues and red spiral notebook shoved into my backpack. I was a reflective, horny teenager with reflective, horny teenage visions. The lack of visitors and privacy of a certain parlor train car bathroom led to nimble masturbation. I had a unique relationship with the restored artifact. Fifteen years later, I can still remember my tour:

(Dates and names might have been changed to protect the train's identity)

The 1912 Smith Barney parlor passenger car was one of the last wooden steam train cars of its kind. Every last bit of the train was made with luxury in mind, and it was the elite "first class" train car of its day. The interior is mahogany with walnut and ivory inlay, the porter call buttons are mother of pearl, the upholstery brushed mohair. Tiffany (yes, that Tiffany) designed the hanging lamps and the top and side light windows. The bathrooms have copper sinks and I abuse myself at least once a week behind its shut ebony door.

And I did. At least once a week. Usually on very slow, very hot days. I could peek down the line of historical buildings and trolleys, print shops and gas stations, and see that no one was coming from that direction. Then I'd peek down the other side of the museum, no one was coming from the direction of the Erie Canal bridge and toll office and the building that housed the planes. No one there, either. I'd put the chain across the front with a sign that read, "Tour Guide will return in 5 minutes". It usually only took less than one minute of frenzy in that stationary train to reach the place that constricts, then relaxes. Where eyes go wide with the still novel discovery of self. For a brief instant I'm face-to-face with God.

I quickly exit the rear of the fancy car to reach the restroom to wash all traces of virginal excitement off. The restroom is, idyllically, across a covered bridge (the type of folks travel miles from home to see) and am back within my 5 minute allotment to the train: shiny and bright. Both of us, the train and I are puffed up and relaxed: a similar feeling to the one I used to get after smoking really good weed but with total mental clarity.

By that time a tour group or couple might have arrived. They probably think the young tour guide is glowing with the thrill of her work, the day, the sun, the train ride through time and history. Her tour is informative, passionate, and she answers their questions articulately.

I recall furiously writing in my red spiral notebook that I thought I was falling in love with the train car, both its feminine and masculine side. I didn't write down that I feared that one day the scent of my excitement would give my transgressions away and I would be fired, turned into my parents, and shamed at fifteen. But the gold mirrors lining the mahogany walls reflected back that my attraction was requited. The train loved my flushed cheeks, my direct gaze, my honest praise to complete strangers of the car's best attributes.

A few years after my summers as a tour guide, I came back to visit the train. It had been moved inside of a new building: spruced up and shined up, protected by darkened windows and air conditioning, away from the sun's assaulting gaze.

Running my hands over the mohair, feeling a slightly embarrassed thrill as I remembered being cloaked in privacy behind the bathroom door. I would remember my hands moving past my green museum-issue polo and into the requisite khaki shorts.

There's no wrap-up/catch phrase to end this. A love for the moment grew for me during those years of history and knowledge. An optimism for sun, for being young, for the ageless beauty of history.

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