Utica nightlife, circa 1974

Excerpt from ‘Wheels on the Bus.’ All rights reserved.

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Up until that point I had had only one encounter with a prostitute, an “older” woman of about 35 back in Detroit. She had no interest in me, however.

I was hanging out in a bar near my parents’ home with a group of friends, playing pinball and pool and drinking pitchers of Stroh’s. This woman, who was not unattractive but who was old enough to be a friend’s mother, had latched on to, literally, one of my friends. She was drunk and hung on him, sometimes grabbing his crotch and sometimes whispering in his ear before trying to poke her tongue in it. Eventually my friend pulled me aside and asked if he could borrow my car because the woman had offered him oral sex for $5. Unable to think of anything that could go wrong with such an arrangement, I handed him the keys to my Camaro.

After a while a mutual friend came into the bar from the psychedelic head shop across the street. I loved that head shop, especially the black light room filled with glowing posters and clothing. I always planned to have such a room in my home when I got older. The head shop’s owner was kind of a creepy guy, but he shared his bong with us as long as we weren’t greedy; I had not heard “Bogart” used as a verb until one night when he scolded a friend for bogarting his bong.

Anyway, on this night the friend who had just left the head shop didn’t want to talk about bongs. He wanted to tell me that our mutual friend was in my Camaro in the parking lot and needed my help immediately. This mutual friend was laughing and told me “This is really fucked up!” What I found on this cold winter night was my friend hunched over in the passenger seat of my car, shivering without his pants.

He had no pants because the woman, after fulfilling her promise of a blow job, had grabbed his wallet and run off into the night. His wallet was still in his pants pocket, so now he had no pants, either. His story scared me as we sat in the dark, snowy parking lot, but it made him laugh. This is how he viewed the situation: He had just scored a free blow job. He had no money in his wallet and wasn’t sure how he was going to break that news to her; her theft of his pants had prevented the awkward conversation. We found his pants the next day, slashed to shreds.

His next book, “A Creek With No Name and other True Tales of Gaston, Oregon,” is due out later this summer.

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