Monday, 21 July 2014

Les aventures érotiques d'janitor-Reviews of Harlequin Romance Books I've Never Read-Installment 2

Secrecy and romance go hand-in-hand but throw a secret baby into the mix and those loin-fires will  be doused soon enough. Say it ain't so Cathy Williams, say it ain't so but author Cathy Williams is saying nothing, at least not to me when I call her at one in the morning (of course I might be calling the Cathy Williams who works at Staples or Cathy Williams in human resources at Longetti Brothers Contracting or Cathy Williams, homemaker, mother of three, avid scrap booker and addicted to Werther's hard candy, all of whom keep hanging up on me), but either way Cathy Williams is not one to shy away from controversy so don't go applying those cold ice packs to the literary loins of desire prematurely. There's still hope for the girded loins of unchecked ardor and the flirtatious flames of lusty groin fires and that promise lies within the pages of this wonderful book that I've neglected to read and whose cover I've used now and again to wipe up globs of peanut butter and jelly and the blood of hastily defrosted poultry. Follow me as I unlock the doors to mystery after mystery and get to the root of this whole Casella baby problem because the truth will shock you, appall you, maybe even maul you but this is a bit of a spoiler alert so I won't give anymore away just yet but be aware, bears and babies are not on as opposite ends of the spectrum as they might first appear. At least in this book.

The novel opens very lackadaisically with your garden-variety Ferrari whipping along a deserted country road in Blemingshire as the driver seeks to extinguish his grief over the recent death of his father by attaining high speeds while dicing vegetables in his mind. This opening scene, though, is not as unwitting as it seems for the driver, Luiz Mandibolo, a recent graduate of the Barcelona Saucier School of Saucing is actually dicing the vegetables of his vivid imagination, the ones that he dreamed would one day lead him to sauce perfection and this is something his deceased father, Antonio Schmitz Mandibolo, would never have understood nor condoned as he had devoted his life to the making, selling and admiring of chesterfields and his own patented heavily-brocaded and yet fart-proof upholstery. His father died in a tragic piano tuning accident when, curious as to what the piano tuner was doing to his antique Steinschmeltz powder-blue grand, he peered inside unfortunately at the same time the lid gave way and came crashing down, severing Antonio Mandibolo's head and the piano tuner's hands simultaneously. As Ms. Williams so tactfully writes, considering the macabre subject matter of this opening chapter, "Gostremsky, the piano tuner, wasn't even sure what had occurred until he saw the headless body of Antonio Mandibolo slump to the floor, its neck stump pumping blood like it was emptying a Port-A-Potty. Then, from within the closed lid of the piano he heard Mandibolo's voice and the severed head was yelling, 'Hey, get your filthy piano tuner fingers out of my nose and mouth and why th'hell did you turn all the lights out.' That's when the piano tuner looked down at his own hands and realized his fingers were indeed exploring the orifices of Mandibolo's severed head as Gostremsky finally understood with horror that his hands, too, had been severed by the piano lid. His stumps spurt blood like the ebb and flow of a Bach fugue in E minor as he cried, 'My hands, my beautiful piano tuning hands,' whereupon, from inside the piano came the voice of Mandibolo again, shouting, 'Ah, put a sock in it you sissy-pants before I bite your fingers off.' Then, Mandibolo became quiet as the head finally realized it was dead and should just shut up. Gostemsky's severed hands though, still continued to move, trying to pluck out a sonata on the piano strings but it sounded like Beethoven dropping dried dog feces on an out-of-tune harpsichord."

With that tragedy fresh in the reader's mind, Ms. Williams pulls no punches as she then has Luiz Mandibolo, distracted by his vegetable dicing fantasies and thoughts of his father's sudden passing, not notice a sharp turn in the country road and he crashes his silver Ferrari into the rock face of a narrow gorge that divides a couple of sheep farms with its towering cliffs, roiling river and ancient burial ground for palaeolithic fish and chips. The car bursts into flames, as befitting a fully gassed-up Ferrari (no mean feat with gas prices in Britain these days) and Mandibolo, trapped in his seat and with a brain contusion the size of Babe Ruth's RBI stats from 1922, is close to being burned to a crisp. That's when the plot takes a turn for the erotic when from a nearby animal sanctuary, Holly Forge, who had been tending an injured wombat, hears the crash and comes rushing over on her three-wheeled animal sanctuary rescue scooter, the little siren on its handlebars wailing like a midget banshee that's just stepped on a thumbtack.

Quickly assessing the situation Holly strips off her halter top "revealing her full breasts as seductive as ripe fruit." She uses the halter top to bat out the flames and then pull Mandibolo to safety. Her years of experience at the animal sanctuary have provided her with an exceptional knowledge of first aid and with not a moment to lose, she ties some rope to Mandibolo's leg and the other end to her rescue scooter and then drags him back to her house through the dirt and weeds, the better to get him into her makeshift animal hospital where she can tend to his injuries and the new wounds caused by the scooter dragging.

It's here where I have a bone to pick with the author because when you have an opening chapter as riveting and realistic as this one, it only hurts your plot when you then have Holly compare human and wombat physiology as she bandages Mandibolo's wounds. Also, I have a problem with "breasts as seductive as ripe fruit." I don't find ripe fruit or any fruit for that matter seductive. Liver and onions, yes. Pickled cabbage, absolutely but breasts compared to ripe fruit is about seductive as a goiter covered in lint. As the author writes:

"'Marsupial or mammal,' Holly pondered as her wondrous breasts hove into Mandibolo's view. He lay on a surgical table in the animal sanctuary hospital and on the neighbouring table was either a dead or sleeping kangaroo. Breathing unevenly due to his head contusion, he flung his head back, nostrils flared, eyes half-closed before cupping those breasts in his big hands and rubbing the pads of his thumbs over the distended, swollen peaks of her large, circular nipples.
'What are you thinking about?' Mandibolo asked.
'The difference between marsupial and mammal physiology and how, I believe, they are one and the same,' Holly moaned as Mandibolo now licked and nibbled at her heavy and heaving mammaries. She had used the halter top to bandage his head.
'You are a fascinating woman,' Mandibolo said. 'Tell me, is that kangaroo next to us dead?'
'No, just sleeping. Don't wake him, I'm treating him for insomnia.'
'My trousers are bloody. You will have to take them off. Underneath them you will find my throbbing enchilada. Don't be afraid.'
'Yes, okay,' Holly replied, as if in a trance. Already she could see the thrust of his erection so strong that it seemed as if it would break the teeth of the zipper that constrained it.
Soon, the two mammals met as the marsupial slept, their bodies moving in harmony in a bubble of ecstasy and then the moment came quickly, the shuddering of mind and body, muscle and sinew, his antennae picking up the signals of her moans as he thrust one final time and then felt the desire leave his loins like a rushing, swollen mountain river in the springtime. It was only then that Holly let herself go and felt the torrent of her self-defenses disintegrate like lace panties devoured by a swarm of freshly hatched moths, ravenous after being imprisoned so long in their cocoons."

The fact that Ms. Williams could even conceive that readers would believe that mammals and marsupials might share similar physiological traits, that they might even be descended from the same evolutionary tree, simply astounds me. I mean, I have to hand it to her that she gets right down to the sexual nitty-gritty, not letting a blazing car crash get in the way of the feverish coupling, but still, she loses me with her anatomy lesson not to mention Holly's questionable first aid techniques and a halter top would surely have been far more convincing as a tourniquet rather than as a head bandage. I have a few halter tops I've found in the garbage bins of the condo complex and through various experiments at home have found their tourniquet qualities are exceptional. Wrapped around the head though, especially with a contusion present, their paltry fabric is ill-suited to having any healing properties. Wrapped around the groin area though, the halter top has an amazing effect on controlling blood flow.

As it turns out, Luiz Mandibolo is a billionaire after inheriting the chesterfield business from his father. You wouldn't think selling chesterfields would be that lucrative but it is when they're filled with cocaine. Which is why the business was originally based in the family's home country of Brazil but after his father's death Luiz relocated the company to Chesterfield in Britain so that he could say his chesterfields came from Chesterfield, England and also because the British turned out to be crazy for cocaine and also methamphetamine that Luiz was cooking up in Blemingshire, which is where he was headed when he crashed into the gorge wall. As much as Luiz liked the money he hated chesterfields and was often heard in the local pub deriding chesterfields after six or seven pints but singing the praises of sofas to anyone within earshot. "Are they not one and the same?" a local once asked him only to receive a pint glass across the face, so passionate was Luiz about the differences between these long seats.

Holly was his complete opposite, having come from farm stock and grown up around animals all her life, to the point where she was comfortable sitting down at the dinner table for some bubble and squeak while her father fornicated with a goat against the wainscoting. Her father had been good to her but died when she was young, the tragic result of some faulty plumbing (his own, not the plumbing in the lavatory), but he left her the farm that she, over time, turned into Roscoe's Animal Sanctuary. She named it Roscoe after her father's favourite goat, a tribute to him and the special kinship he had with his barnyard friends.

With these characters' backgrounds firmly in place, Ms. Williams is free to declare rutting season officially open, mammals, marsupials and even amphibians going at it with all the biological diversity this planet has to offer, which is always good for keeping the reader's attention with the dirty bits but as far as plot line goes, well, I've found more intrigue reading the ingredients on a box of Weetabix. It's not for a lack of trying, though. Ms. Williams really sexes up a paragraph but the personalities behind the groins, groans, grunts and grinding are often left wanting, not sexually of course, but emotionally and also socially as they forgo friends and family in the pursuit of their own selfish pleasures and the steamrollering of each others' pelvises like they were laying hot asphalt on a makeshift drag strip on the outskirts of town where soon many will die in the pursuit of amateur racing glory and the aisles of the Super Fresh Mart will demand continual mopping because of the tears their beloved shed late at night while gathering peanut brittle, floor wax and condoms in their eternal sorrow, such is the way it is with love and mourning North American style.

You don't have to be a rocket scientist or nuclear physicist or one of those people who saws the skullcaps off of primates and replaces them with plexiglass coverings so as to examine their working brains under the stimulus of kindergarten toys to know where this story is going. It isn't long before Luiz and Holly are shacked up at Roscoe's Animal Sanctuary, spending most of their days naked and lolling about like three-toed sloths between bursts of orgasmic frenzy. They even try to get the three-toed sloth at the sanctuary (receiving treatment after losing a toe during a skiing accident in the French Alps) to join in some of their hanky-panky in a menage-a-sloth-trois but luckily he was having none of their shenanigans, thus sparing the reader what could have become some very disturbing sex scenes.

This kind of post-coital languor though allows Holly and Luiz to get to know each other better and the author attempts to paint more rounded portraits of the characters beyond the panting and coupling and groin-grinding but I deduce that Ms. Williams is much too in love with the fleshier side of the writing and purple prose soon gives way to purple penis heads, perpendicular nipples and squeaky beds as evidenced in this passage:

"A man in the company of such a beautiful woman can sometimes discover he's a poet against all odds," Luiz said and then laughed crazily. Holly tried to hold on to her common sense as Luiz slipped his fingers under the spaghetti straps of her sun dress. He tugged the dress down to her waist and groaned in a husky undertone, "God, you're beautiful, you sting my eyes like a thousand jellyfish."
"Stop talking," Holly begged as his words turned her to jelly, though whether it was grape, raspberry or Portuguese man o'war was anybody's guess.
"You prefer a man of action. That's good. Because I'm an action guy." As if to prove this point he rolled his thumbs over her nipples as he felt his own arousal pushing impatiently at his zipper, like an elevator stuck between floors at the Eiffel Tower. "You have such sensitive breasts," he murmured, "especially when I do this to your nipples...and when I suck them..." Luiz attacked them like a caveman on a piece of mammoth meat. He made meat sucking sounds as he drawled, "I love my mother, but even she was not an effective chaperone when I went haywire with caveman desire. Let me show you how a caveman behaves." His breathing became ragged sounding very much like  cicadas with sprained legs as Holly circled his flat, brown nipples with her fingers. Luiz, in turn, trailed his fingers over the patch of soft, downy hair between her thighs and Holly parted her legs very slightly so that his roving hand could find that special place where she kept her biscuits and gravy. She arched back with a soft moan as he slipped two fingers between the folds of her femininity and then gently began to rub her sensitized clitoris which throbbed and pulsed much like the massive erection Holly took in her hand and controlled like the stick-shift of the Ferrari he had crashed into the cliff wall only days earlier. But this was a different kind of crash they were going to experience, a crash of the senses, of pleasure, of distended buds and pulsating scrotums, all caught in an onslaught of licking and suckling and the slick sound of tongues finding fleshy grooves that were usually only caressed by the rub of underpants and highly-elasticized hosiery but were now set free to be explored in an inexorable path of pleasure and soon wave upon wave of sensation carried them both away, far from planet Earth, far from England, far from insomniac kangaroos and incontinent wombats and when their eyelids finally fluttered shut from the disposal of their bodies' energies and dispersal of fluids, the last ebbs of their simultaneous orgasms causing their limbs to twitch against the beach towels and pneumatic mattress, Luiz said, "That was good intercourse but now I could use a snack."
"Don't be silly," Holly replied. "There's lemonade and cheese right next to your leg. Your mother sent it. I hope we can always be this happy."
"Of course," Luiz replied. "As long as we can always be naked like this amongst nature and convalescing animals and that you could never paint me or my huge erections into a box or that your vagina would cease to be an open field stretching out as far as the horizon or that you would not feel free to make as much noise as you want while I attend to your throbbing breasts and wind-up puppet nipples."
"You are a poet," Holly whispered as her gloriously wanton and womanly scent caught the afternoon breeze like a late passenger boarding a helicopter bound for the Amazon. "Even if my bitterness becomes bigger than my love we will always have a wobbly house, a child born out of wedlock and your trouser pockets driven by demons of lust."

Hogwash! That's right, hogwash! That's all I could think after reading this section and by hogwash I mean the hog that Holly was supposed to wash but neglected to do so when she so selfishly decided to have a lovemaking marathon with Luiz instead. This action might be the most insightful perspective the author offers us into the minds of her characters. Perhaps romance, in Ms. Williams' brain, is just a higher form of selfishness with interlocking penises and vaginas. And nipples protruding like nail heads on a sun-warped patio deck. While a poor unwashed pig grunts for its caregiver, a caregiver too busy doing the pant-less mambo on an air mattress slick with the sweat of sexual exertions and forgetfulness born of misbegotten desire. For Holly has responsibilities to those unfortunate souls who inhabit her animal sanctuary but she seems to forget all about their woes  as she sates herself again and again on Luiz's magic horn of fertility.

I was ready to throw this book back in the garbage bin from whence I found it when a sudden plot twist had me back in the story saddle again. If I had spurs on I would've driven them hard into the flanks of this filly and ridden the narrative to a photo finish and maybe picked up a little moolah on a boxed exactor in the process. Sacrificing character depth and motivation for plot action the author, nevertheless, launches the reader into a whirlwind of international intrigue, murder, equestrian sports and baby-making. Holly goes off to Portugal to purchase some cut-rate castrating forceps and emasculators as she's thinking of going into the kangaroo meat business and castration is the logical course to fatten up the marsupials for eventual slaughter but while there she bumps into an old flame, Vladimir Casella, now a famous actor constantly hounded by the paparazzi, his four previous wives and his sixteen children and in Portugal to open the annual sardine festival. Known for his award-winning roles in films such as Penelope's Femur and The Stool Softeners of Strasbourg, he spots Holly as he's sauntering down the red carpet to a premiere of his newest movie, Petri Dish Dreams. They rekindle the old erotic flame, spark up the Bunsen burner of test tube burbling desire and then Holly slinks back to Blemingshire, ashamed and unknowingly pregnant but putting on an innocent poker face for her beloved Luiz, who has been bathing the pig while she was away and even singing the insomniac kangaroo to sleep (all for naught of course since it's about to take the 'big sleep' once Holly butchers it for its meat while it's fitfully sleeping).

Once Holly realizes she's pregnant, at first she thinks of hiding the pregnancy from Luiz and tucking the newborn baby into the pouch of one of her recuperating marsupials and taping a long cardboard snout, feet and ears to its body to pass it off as a genuine kangaroo baby but then realizes, with the amount of mounting of her Luiz has been doing, he would never know the baby wasn't his but Vladimir Casella's instead. So she bathes in the glow of her new found motherhood (which has no similarity to bathing a distressed pig), and when the child is born, Luiz is ecstatic, ignorant of the truth behind their bundle of joy.

Life seems serene at the animal sanctuary with baby Fenton and his adoring parents but as is usually the case with these pastoral settings something ugly is writhing and rising in the muck and manure of the moors. Unbeknownst to Luiz, Holly has been importing diseased marsupials from Australia  into England (completely against British marsupial import laws), to fatten them up for her kangaroo and wallaby meat trade, covering up her nefarious scheme by launching the first-ever equestrian chesterfield jumping competition (the chesterfields supplied by the Mandibolo Chesterfield Company of course), and top riders from around the world fly to Blemingshire to compete with their horses in jumping all manner and styles of chesterfields (and the occasional sofa and loveseat).

Meanwhile, Luiz Mandibolo is not who he seems and one day he takes Holly aside out back of the kangaroo pen and tells her bluntly in this scintillating passage:

"My name is not Luiz Mandibolo. I am actually Luiza Gomez a.k.a. Cecelia Follone, a raven-haired beauty who speaks fluent Portuguese."
"But...but...I don't understand!" Holly cried. "Isn't your father Antonio Schmitz Mandibolo and don't you own the Mandibolo Chesterfield Company? And aren't you a man because if you're not, what is that thing you've been sticking into my femininity?"
"Holly, my dear Holly. Where to begin? Well, let me start at the beginning. It's true that Antonio Mandibolo is my father but in name only and his last name was originally Follone. For my mother, Madinga, had an affair with a wealthy Brazilian toupee and wig maker by the name of Clifford de Sauza Gomez, after they met when he came to measure my father for a hairpiece. I was the result of that lusty fling but my father never knew and considered me his own daughter. My mother died soon after I was born when a special wig Clifford had made for her caught fire while she was serving barbequed meat skewers to my father and his cronies while they were playing dominoes. They tried to put out the fire by beating her head with meat sticks but alas, by the time they had snuffed out the flames it was too late. And yes, I was born a girl and grew up to be a ravishing woman, impetuous and privileged thanks to my father's cocaine-stuffed chesterfield business but I turned my back on the company, training to be a saucier instead because nothing satisfied me more than seeing the look on men's faces when they watched me dicing vegetables in high heels and constructing perfect red wine reductions and organ meat-based gravies which I still consider to be my specialty. But my father would hear nothing of it and pressured me back into the family business by threatening to cut off my inheritance and then he sent me as a ride-along on a cocaine heist to ensure the security of the stolen goods since he didn't trust his hired thugs but he ended up double-crossing the Mafia and I was forced to get a sex-change to hide my identity for fear of a reprisal killing. I came to Europe and finally settled here in Chesterfield, changing the name of the company from Follone to Mandibolo and branching out into methamphetamine and loveseats. The money was easy and so were the women who fell my way, that is, until I met you and fell head over heels in love. But now Mafia hitmen have learned of my whereabouts and sex-change and are gunning for me. I fear for both you and baby Fenton because these men will stop at nothing and will show no mercy when it comes to me and my family."
"Luiz, I don't understand. How can you be such a man with legs that show their muscular strength beneath the fabric of your faded black jeans while you walk seductively along the Turkish carpeting and satisfy me as a woman so completely when you yourself are also a woman too?" Behind Holly a half-light came filtering in through the majestic Dutch-elm diseased trees and from the pen came the grunts and barks of equally diseased kangaroos and wallabies, waiting to be slaughtered for their meat. 
"Haven't you noticed, Holly, that my nipples are bigger, darker, more succulent than any man's should ever be, as if readying themselves for suckling a baby. As for my penis, it came off of a well-endowed dead drug lord in the San Paulo morgue. I had it put on properly in Switzerland along with further hormone treatments and various aftershaves. The result, I think you could say, is most convincing."
"I've had a dead drug lord's penis inside me," Holly exclaimed. "How exciting! But I too have something to confess. Our child, Fenton, is the result of the congress between myself and Vladimir Casella, the famous actor. It was a momentary lapse of judgement and for this I apologize. But my heart belongs to you, Luiz, and to you alone. I hope you can accept Fenton as your own child and find it in your heart to forgive me so that our loins can continue to meet as friends, lovers and spiritual allies. I promise to eat any internal organ sauce you throw at me." Perhaps it was these last words that won Luiz over, playing to the suppressed saucier inside of him and they threw their arms around each other, their hearts beating together and soon they could only express their love for each other in torrents of monosyllabic mutterings and mutual nipple sucking.

In the opening of this review I did promise you, the readers, an explanation of how babies and bears are not so dissimilar. Well, baby Fenton was called into duty, dressed in a tiny bear suit and put to the task of whipping up the crowd into a frenzy at the equestrian chesterfield jumping competitions. Part of his job was mauling the spectators, not a far stretch for him considering he was teething. This would seem to be a sunny spot to end the book on top of Luiz and Holly's newly regained love but Ms. Williams has other things in mind. I won't give it away but don't be surprised to find Mafioso hit men squaring off against crazed kangaroos pumped up on methamphetamine, a baby dressed as a bear chewing his father's head off in a kind of Oedipus Rex bear complex scenario, government agencies trying to stop an illegal diseased marsupial trade and another sex change operation but by whom, well, you'll have to read the book to find out.

Truly, despite a disappointing beginning, this book turned out to be a real page turner, even if it's not a semen-encrusted page-sticker, which is no mean feat when you're trying to concentrate on stroking your penis, reading and checking on your canned ravioli on the hotplate simultaneously while your landlady's cat, in heat, claws at your door and yowls like she's on a hot tin roof. Or hot aluminum siding in this case. We can only ask so much from our romantic literature and Ms. Williams, in the end, fulfills all these criteria in spades, not withstanding the cat-in-heat urine spray, the burned Chef Boyardee ravioli and the phone call from the collection agency at the most ecstatic point of the evening. But isn't that what romance is all about. The ability to withstand and endure all manner of obstacles thrown in its way, a Romeo and Juliet love story playing out in a heart-rending tragic finale or as another great couple, this time of the silver screen once said, "We'll always have Paris. And diarrhea. And careless whispers. And hairless nipples. And Nazis. And sheep's head stew." Well, with Ms. Williams now in the romance game you might want to add incontinent kangaroos to that list. And it's true what they say that love conquers all, even if you're a chesterfield and drug kingpin from Brazil who has undergone a sex change and is smuggling cocaine in the pouches of over-the-hill and ailing marsupials that are bound for the slaughterhouse to be turned into canned luncheon meat. Now if only Holly had washed that hog this book would be getting five out of five stars instead of only four. But there's always room for improvement when it comes to harnessing the power behind the loins of desire and though I am a romantic at heart I also believe in tough love when it comes to unwashed animals. Especially around their nipples.

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Les aventures érotiques d'janitor-Chapter 3 or thereabouts

Now, into my umpteenth month of janitorial service, I feel like I'm finally part of the cleaning brotherhood although what separates me from the pack is, of course, my unbridled eroticism, both on the job or just relaxing, (i.e. peeling the membranes from raw chicken livers for my landlady while perusing one of my vintage People magazines or sorting my yogurt container lid collection according to year and expiry date). As a man of the arts and sciences, I do usually partake of loftier reading but after a hard day of mopping, squeegeeing and polishing, my overtaxed cranium needs a little downtime with the likes of movie stars caught unawares watching their dogs defecate in underground parkades or stories of morbidly obese people on mall scooters running over and killing unattended toddlers at Walmart. Not to mention inspiring tales of previously unknown scale-ascending warblers who make it to the big time and can now throw vomit-stained tank-tops into crowds of adoring fans  and give away Shetland ponies to the homeless whenever the give-away-a-Shetland-pony-on-the-Bowery mood may strike them (which is not often enough I think considering the amount of money these people make and their easy access to midget equines).

Janitorial work may be my bread and butter and erotic adventure the deli meat slices in the centre but there's also the mentoring side of me, willing and able to recognize and nurture erotic janitorial talent when I see it and assist such persons in channeling their energies in wholesomely erotic ways while avoiding the creepiness factor (for instance, mopping in only a jockstrap and orthopedic shoes or suggestively licking Windex from the lobby windows while tenants are entering the building). Instead, I teach them to embrace the more subtle and sensual nature of the work by incorporating their natural God-given talents into seductive body language while cleaning, using crouch-and-polish exercises at home to strengthen their loins and showcase their buttocks or practicing fluidly switching from right to left hand during vacuuming to increase hip sway and bring out the best in their neck veins. Additionally, I have a further at-home-study program called "Making your sweat work for you," but it's not for neophytes but instead for the chosen few who I deem ready and worthy to take janitorial arts to the next step of erotic delight. Unfortunately, I have yet to find a student who is able to succeed at this high a level and withstand the rigors of my training regimen and the few who I did approach in janitorial supply stores or at bus shelters that I believed might be capable of realizing their erotic janitorial destiny tended to pelt me with half-eaten hot dogs or whatever else they had in hand. One fellow spritzed me with some kind of air freshener called Brazilian Carnival that left me feeling like my lungs were being constricted by a thong bikini and the only party I could see were the specks of bright, white lights dancing behind the corneas of my partially blinded eyes. That didn't stop me from admonishing him and passing on a bit of sage advice when I told him to his face (I think it was his face as I was blinded by the spray), "If you listen to me I could put that Brazilian carnival in your pants instead of keeping it penned up under pressure in an aerosol can), whereupon he hit me again, this time unfortunately with a fist rather than a delicate and exotic scent and right in the left eye where I'd already been blinded to add insult to injury or maybe it's the other way around. Either way, they both hurt. I told another promising young intern I met as he squatted to unlock his bike, "You have a fine set of haunches. Have you ever considered a career in the janitorial arts? I could show you how to attain erotic heights most men can only dream of and few will ever achieve." He too hit me, this time in the shin with his bike lock. Some people apparently just can't take a compliment. I'm also amazed how people can be so adverse to learning how to have women eating out of the palm of their hand, whether that hand is holding sunflower seeds, kidney beans or liver pate canapes with maybe a little sprig of parsley on top. I'd eat out of anyone's palm if they offered me that.

Be that as it may, I am not discouraged in my endeavors and when it comes to the affairs of other janitors who are not as well versed in the erotic side of the business as myself, I pride myself on maintaining an open mind when it comes to the peccadilloes of fellow cleaning associates. Nevertheless, there is one episode recently related to me that tested even my erotic boundaries. I'm not sure if I found the story distasteful, unsanitary or just reckless endangerment that might have resulted in a penis being pulled asunder from its owner and if this piques your curiosity, then by all means read on. Likewise, if you find yourself feeling a little sickened by this thought, stop reading, go outside and smell some roses or carpetweed or bramble thickets or whatever else might grow in your area or in the empty lot behind your rooming-house.

The story begins when my good friend, roofer, life coach, loving divorcee and soon-to-be-author of the self-help book, Shingles of Wisdoms, Ed Smeeley Jr. dropped by the other day to share a couple of cans of pork and beans and a 40-ouncer of malt liquor that we spruced up with 7-UP and one of those pine-tree shaped air fresheners you hang on the rear-view mirror of your car and that we let steep in the cocktail to add a zippy, fresh scent and flavour to what would have been an otherwise run-of-the-mill drink. Curious, I asked him if he had come up with any new wisdoms for his book.
"Funny you should ask because just the other night as I was laying in my army cot at the halfway house I was struck with this thought. Listen to this and let me know what you think. 'Life is very much like finding a decomposing squirrel in your eavestroughing. Nasty and disgusting, especially when you have to scoop the body, guts and hair out bare-handed but afterwards your gutters run clean and clear like a mountain stream and your soul feels, just like the gutters, rejuvenated and alive unless of course you contract rabies or some kind of fly-larvae disease from handling rotting squirrel innards and bug-eggs hatch in your brain and then, well, you just go insane and will only eat fresh dog meat until you're institutionalized.'"
I was suitably impressed and told him so. Trooper that Ed is, even with the restraining orders against him from his ex-wife and also being banned from various hardware stores for threatening to "nail-gun the next son-of-a-bitch who criticizes my roofing techniques to my face," Ed has proven that if your heart is as large as a football field or dirigible or the pancreas of an elephant, anything is possible and wisdom will flow much like the stagnant water in a gutter once it is freed from the rotting guts of inhumanity (in the form of decomposing animal bodies) that once restrained it. He also told me that you could swap the dead squirrel for an equally dead and decomposing raccoon or rat or any other type of rodent or verminous mammal, making this "shingle of wisdom," very flexible in its philosophical approach and easily applicable to any person or situation.
Ed Smeeley Jr. up on a roof, sucking up the inspiration from a setting sun and forgoing a nail-gun for a more hands on  approach, each hammered nail a metaphor for another word in his "shingle of wisdoms." Actually, it's not really an image of Ed but rather his brother-in-law Frank, owner of Frank's Roofing & Sheet Metal, in business since 1998 and who told Ed, "if I ever catch you up on one of my roofs again I'll cut your balls off and feed them to my iguana." Frank wasn't just making false claims as Ed informed me because Frank, besides being a roofer is also a championship iguana breeder.
"I'm currently working on a new "shingle of wisdom," Ed then told me, "but I'm going to need your help with this one. It's a little out of my realm of experience but you, Dr. Haltiwanger, being the erotic janitor that you are, might be able to provide me with some insight into this particular story."
"Fire away," I replied and then was sorry I phrased it in such a way as Ed was holding a nail-gun in his hand and he's been known to have had a trigger finger in the past as well as a Pavlovian response to specific stimuli or commands. Luckily he put it down and then we refreshed our drinks with a few more dunks of the rear-view mirror pine-scented air freshener tree into our glasses of malt liquor and 7-UP before Ed Smeeley Jr. related this, on the surface, sordid story.
Don't buy into all those fancy cocktail ingredients when just a few dunks of this economical accessory, available in any gas station or dollar store, will add zip and zing to your boring drink and send fresh waves of cool pine scent across your taste buds with every breath.
"So, I know this guy, a janitor and, well, for the purpose of this story let's just call him Reg," Ed said.
"What's his real name," I inquired, just out of curiosity since I was in the janitor brotherhood.
"It's also Reg," Ed replied.
"Oh, yes, okay, go on please."
"Anyway, Reg was working this office building, very new development, twenty-storeys and high-tech security everywhere. This joint had more cameras than a Japanese bus tour. Which is why I can't understand what Reg did. Now I'm not one to judge or get between a man and the object of his desire but the phrase "get a room," never made as much sense to me as in this case. It seems that Reg, who has always been a randy kind of fellow..."
"His name's Reg Randy?" I was astounded at this man with two first names.
"No, no, he's just a randy guy, you know, lecherous and nuts, in a sexual kind of way."
"Yes, yes, of course, I understand. Go on with this randy Reg story."
"So Reg, he decides, I don't know exactly why, that he wants to have sex with his vacuum cleaner. The one he uses in the office building. And not only that, he's going to mate with this machine right there in the hallway on the 20th floor, after office hours of course but still under the watchful eye of at least two different floor cameras storing the stuff on to the security hard drive. This doesn't deter him, perhaps because he's lust-crazed or else that he's completely unaware that he's being recorded or he's in love. You know what they say, love is blind, even under the unblinking security camera eye and old Reg seemed to prove this point by engaging in a variety of sexual positions with his vacuum cleaner using various attachments when the mood called for it and basically giving even the author of the Kama Sutra something to think about. I mean him and the vacuum did the 'beast with two backs,' the 'depraved bingo-caller of Irkutsk,' the 'pie-eyed back-hoe operator working overtime,' and even the 'morbid mongoose trapped in a trashcan with a starving cobra on a busy Calcutta street.' And all this with his SEBO X5. I mean we're talking top-of-the-line West German engineering. This machine has enough suction power to rip a man's penis from his body but it didn't stop Reg from sating himself in every way possible with a vacuum cleaner and with no regard for his own personal safety."
"Did you say a SEBO X5?" I asked, even more astounded than seconds earlier when I thought the guy's name was Reg Randy. "My boss has one of those that he let me use once. A beautiful machine that makes my Windsor Sensor XP-18 pale in comparison. It's like the difference between pushing a plow or driving a tractor. But this much I know. That thing can dismember a member in less time than it takes to say 'September, October, November, December,' and all without triggering the clog light."
"Well, you know these types of things better than me," Ed said as he nonchalantly nail-gunned a June bug that was distracting him, piercing its carapace with ease and turning it into just so much bug guts on my windowsill. "Anyway, it wasn't long before someone during a routine review of the security footage found old Reg there rutting with the vacuum cleaner. As you can imagine the footage made the rounds and there's one scene folks were talking about where Reg decided to insert the hose attachment into his asshole with the vacuum running full speed and the security personnel and property management people are still shaking their heads wondering how he didn't manage to suck out his own intestines."
"Fascinating," I said. "Even as a janitor who is no stranger to erotic adventure this story taxes even my imagination when it comes to the coupling of man and machine and yet, I can't say, I'm completely unaware of these affections. But I have a theory about all this," I continued, trying to change the subject from my small admission.
"Yes, a theory. That's good. I need a "shingle of wisdom" to come out of this story."
"I believe that randy Reg wanted to be caught. I think that secretly he wanted to speak out about the love that dares not speak its name, namely that of the love between a man and his machine and maybe, lost for words or for a way to illustrate his misunderstood desires, he found an outlet to broadcast it to the world, or at least to a property management company and some overweight and sleepy security guards with Cheezie dust on their fingertips and computer keyboards. Reg is a pioneer, a trendsetter, one who breaks the bonds and constraints of society, not afraid to show his love for his vacuum cleaner and be damned with anyone who frowns upon it. In the future, no doubt, we will laugh about our uneasiness about this forbidden love but right now Reg stands alone, proud and completely dust-free, including his internal cavities and that can be a dusty place, depending on your love life and how often you bathe. Should a child be produced from such a union you would soon hear people change their tune quickly as the thought of having offspring that are both endearing and adept at carpet-cleaning through genetic mutation so that there's no appliance go-between not to mention use for electricity means a new generation of vacuum cleaner babies. It would revolutionize the carpet-cleaning industry. Isn't that the future we were originally promised along with hovercrafts, hamburger patty-stackers for easy freezer storage, sheep that shear themselves and socks that stay up in a hurricane and are also resistant to snakebites but still look stylish on the golf course, even when beneath them lie throbbing varicose veins. In this sense, Reg is actually ahead of his time. He stands alone as a man who has the foresight and courage to find love and pleasure where most others would suffer only embarrassment, considerable pain and perhaps even dismemberment and years from now we will thank men like Reg as our vacuum cleaner babies whisk around us and sexually transmitted diseases are all but eliminated as we find erotic fulfillment with re-purposed hoses and nozzles."
"Hot damn!" Ed exclaimed. "Leave it to you, Dr. Haltiwanger, to see the big picture here. You've opened my mind to a whole new world of possibilities. The second I get home I'm gonna get out the old vacuum cleaner and give it a try."
"I hope it's not a SEBO X5. Unless you want to be circumcised."
"Nah, it's a Dirt Devil and I think I'm really gonna discover its devilish side."
"Do I sense a 'shingle of wisdom' coming on?"
"I'll let you know after I conceive some vacuum cleaner babies. My ex-wife will be jealous as hell. She always wanted children so wait until she gets a load of my offspring."
"Atta boy, Ed, got get'em."
"I'm naming my first vacuum cleaner child after you."
"I'm honoured. And if you see your friend Reg, tell him not to be discouraged or give up his janitorial dreams. We should be thanking people like him, not shaming them."

Once Ed had left, the pine tree-shaped alcohol-soaked rear-view mirror air freshener clenched between his teeth, I spent a little time ruminating over my own little infatuation I had once with a vacuum cleaner. Some might even say it was more than an infatuation and I would be inclined to agree for I fell hard for this voluptuous machine. It was an Electrolux, canister-style with the long hose and adjoining metal tube that connected with the various attachments and that you used to pull the canister on its squeaky wheels around the room. There was something about this Swedish-made machine, so different from the powerful West German creations with their aggressive personalities, that captivated me. Cool, even aloof in its Nordic way and yet the hum of her motor was like a meadowlark's song in the spring echoing across the fjord, if that meadowlark had laryngitis or a smoker's cough, and though I knew she felt self-conscious about her bulkier canister body, the svelte lines of the upright American and German-made models did nothing for me. And the newest models these days with their bag-less technology and see-through bodies have left nothing to the imagination and taken away the mystery and romance of dating. I mean if your future bride-to-be were to show up at your parent's house in nothing but a bra and panties to go to dinner and a movie how would you feel about spending the rest of your life with her? I, for one, like a little clothing between my loins and my beloved's body, if only to create a buffer zone to temper the passions and in the case of a vacuum cleaner, to prevent any burns to my jiggly parts from an overheated motor-casing. Eroticism is all about the unveiling and if there's nothing left to unveil then, much like already opened mail or the shell without the snail, the mystery of what lies within is as thin as the skin-of-your-teeth escape you made when your boss almost caught you peeing in the drain of the condo complex boiler room during your coffee break. Or the paper-thin excuse you created when your landlady admonished you after she snooped and opened your letter from the collection agency.

It was with this sudden wave of nostalgia and the lugubrious memory of unrequited vacuum cleaner love, along with the warm feelings flooding my body from my initiation and uncontested membership into the janitorial brotherhood, that sent me rushing from my rooming-house and off to the nearest janitorial supply shop. This was a visit that was long overdue.
"Six bottles of your best," I bellowed as I entered the store, "and throw in a couple of wet and dry mop heads, a rubber door wedge and two cans of your finest stainless steel polishing spray." I was in an expansive mood and I wanted to extend it to everyone within the shop, be they members of the brotherhood or just those on the fringes who wanted to rub shoulders or catch a glimpse of those initiated into the secret sect and the alchemical products they used to magically turn grime into gold. Don't let the term "elbow grease" fool you for it's really about the brain and not the body when it comes to janitorial duty. I've encountered fish oil on carpeting, barnacle-like dried mucous adhering to hand railings, dog poop in the stairways and bloodied cotton balls strewn like diseased confetti at the wedding of Satan's sister-in-law, Edna Rachowsky, but it wasn't elbow grease that helped me through those moments but rather my psychological and spiritual make up. This is something all of us in the brotherhood understand, which is why I said to Vern (that's what his name tag said), behind the counter, "Vern, on top of my six bottles of your finest give everyone in the store a bottle on me."
"Do I know you?" Vern asked, his eyes scrunched up like a wise sea turtle's and then he said, "I don't know what six bottles you're talking about but it'll cost $141.50 and I'll throw in a rubber door wedge for free."
"What?" I yelled, confusion pulling at my face as if there were fishhooks imbedded in my cheeks, yanking them down like a five-pound trout on the line, diving down to freedom at the bottom of a lake that, in the end, it would never live to see, instead spending its last remaining gill-sucking breaths flapping and flopping at the bottom of a dinghy gazing up at a sky that could only signal death. "I'm part of the brotherhood," I said, my voice filled with the conspiratorial tone that only janitors, Masons and out-of-work Aztec priests would pick up on. "As a fellow janitor I believe there's no exchange of money."
"Are you crazy? You think I give this shit away for free? And what th'fuck kind'a brotherhood you talking' about here?" Vern asked. "You some kind'a terrorist or faggot or Muslim faggot terrorist or pedophile priest with the Pope's number in your wallet or you one'a them guys that sacrifices goats in some Satanic cult 'cause if you're any one of those things then you're not getting the free door wedge."
"Now, Vern," I said, emphasizing his name in order to strike a chord of friendliness and familiarity before he could strike me, "I'm not one of those wise guys that comes in off the street with no regard or respect for the janitorial arts and just looking for a free hand-out to get the semen, vomit, poultry and pizza stains out of his carpeting. No, Vern, I'm a bona fide custodian or concierge as the French might say, two condo complexes under my belt and my hands so calloused from mopping that at night I have to soak them in pickle brine and Oil of Olay just to soften the callouses for popping. I'm not trying to pull the wool over anyone's eyes or pull the wool rug from under your feet or shear the sheep to make the wool in the first place that is then used to make the rug that I'm not going to pull out from under you and in the future there will be self-shearing sheep so that job will become easier over time. No, Vern, that's not the type of game I'm playing. I'm here to stock my cleaning larder with the finest ingredients known to janitors in the Western hemisphere, the better to serve the fine tenants of 652 Foxwilde Ave. and bring a shine, not only to their floors and walls and railings, but to the lives of the residents themselves, something I can see reflected in the eyes of both young and old or in the case of Mrs. Wong in 205, whose cataracts already give off a perpetual shine, seeing her smile so broadly I can count the food particles stuck between her decaying teeth and even discern the origin of each miniscule speck, be it soy bean, chicken foot or duck beak. That's the kind of commitment and passion I bring to the job and if this passion then translates to erotic adventures, be they of the animate or inanimate kind, it's of no planning on my part but only the result of my talents, sweat glands and subsequent release of pheromones that send many in the building to bed at night tossing and turning with thoughts of unfulfilled desires, much like a wet mop head that needs to be squeezed."
"If I give you a free door wedge will you leave?" Vern asked. I couldn't tell if the look of hope that crossed his face was from my inspiring speech or the fact that I might actually vacate the premises.
"I could settle for that, I guess, but I have one last question first." I was feeling uncharacteristically brave considering the situation but I was determined that nothing would stand between me and the brotherhood.
"Will you get lost after that because otherwise I'm gonna haft'a hit you and I'm already on parole so I don't need to stir up that pile of shit."
"Vern," I said, locking eyes to bring him over to my side and suddenly noticing his teardrop tattoos. "I'm looking for a vacuum cleaner strong enough to tear a man's penis from his body but unfortunately I can't afford a SEBO X-5. Any suggestions?"
"Okay," Vern said and he reached under the counter and threw a rubber door wedge at me. It bounced off my forehead and landed near the front door. "Get the fuck outta here right now."
"No, no, Vern, you misunderstand. I'm not looking to suck off my own penis, I'm just looking for a machine powerful enough to perform the task without me having to pay those fancy European-made prices. All you have to say is West German engineering these days and you're paying more than seven nights in Waikiki, luau included."
Vern, throwing caution and probation to the wind started rounding the corner of his counter, rage or else high blood pressure colouring his face. I, on the other hand, decided to air on the side of caution and so, retrieving my free door wedge, I beat a hasty retreat out the door. I stopped to rest a minute and catch my breath leaning on a trashcan when, with my acute peripheral vision that I've honed during my custodial practice so that no particle of dirt or dust might escape me, I noticed a man had followed me out of the shop and was beckoning me over. He held no weapon and on his face was an expression that promised clandestine information. I hastened over and then we stood next to each other, just two strangers admiring the flow of traffic and the odd dog defecating.
"Listen," he said, out of the side of his mouth, neither of us making eye contact in case Vern or his henchmen were watching from behind the store's smudged plate glass. "I couldn't help but overhear what you said in there and I have one thing to say to you and I won't say it again so listen closely. Kenmore Whispertone available in both upright and canister versions."
"Whispertone?" I whispered.
"Listen, don't let the name fool you. It'll strip the foreskin from your dick like skin from a chicken neck while you're whispering sweet nothings into its hose assembly. I too have tasted the forbidden love and loin-bursting ecstasy of vacuum cleaner suction and the Whispertone will haunt your dreams for days to come."
"Listen, everyone misunderstands me. I'm not looking to copulate with the machine, I just want..."
"Shhh," he put up a hand and cut me off. "I understand this is hard to talk about. Say no more, just remember Kenmore Whispertone. And wear a condom if you buy a refurbished one." And then he was gone as quickly as he had come, which wasn't that quickly actually because I could still see him shuffling down the street, his arthritic knees a testament to the buckling pressures they must have withstood as he tasted the forbidden pleasures of his vacuum cleaner and emptied his seed again and again deep into the canister of his Kenmore Whispertone.

I was left on the street corner pondering the erotic life of a janitor, its wanton ways and whimsies and the world-weariness that accompanies the dark romantic obligations that come with janitorial duty. And then I thought of Ed Smeeley Jr. and his much needed "shingle of wisdom" for this type of occasion and in a flash, there on the street corner, it came to me. "The weltschmerz of life is but a rubber door wedge keeping the door open to possibilities, and whether that adds up to love, despair or banishment from the janitorial supply store you'll never be content until you walk through that door, either to make love to a vacuum cleaner or be beaten with a wet mop head by a parolee." You can nail that "shingle of wisdom" to your roof and smoke your pipe comfortably beneath it.