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Book three: Sunnyside Booty-Boom

Updated: Jun 26, 2023


entrance to Sunnyside Bathing Pavilion and beach club


Lidia and Shelton took a breezy cab ride along Lakeshore Boulevard to Sunnyside, a once splendid, 1920’s Beaux Arts complex of dance halls, bandstand, amusement park, restaurants and bathing pavilions on the city’s north shore of Lake Ontario. The roaring twenties, nineteen-million-dollar triumph of cutting-edge aesthetic municipal infrastructure for the pure entertainment of its hoi polloi, was now reduced to the mere façade of the beautiful bathing pavilion, a dance hall, and a restaurant complex. The rest, being plowed under for the transverse that is the Gardiner Expressway, an elevated eyesore, followed by a blight of condominiums, which cut-off the city from its shoreline, its populace from the recreation of the lake.


After flashing their press cards past the security thugs, Lidia and Shelton were assaulted by the rapper’s image fronting the brand, sneering down at them from a series of big screens, while lithe young women in various stages of undress, writhed and wriggled all over and around him. The loud, thumping bass backed his chorus of “Booty-Boom, Booty-Boom, Booty Boom, Boom, Boom,” in what seemed an eternal loop.

Strobes flashed as servers in tiny metallic shorts and sequined bras bopped around the room carrying trays of snacks. Shelton and Lidia were wolfing down a couple of chicken nuggets, when a dancer slid-up to Shelton and began to twerk, “Oh save it girl, you’re firing that-off in the wrong direction,” Shelton said in his campiest voice.


Lidia laughed, then grabbed a cone of curly fries with chipotle mayo, offering some to Shelton, she said, “Hmm, who do you think’s catering this shindig?”

“By the quality of the comestibles, I’d say The Colonel.”

They both snickered at this when a tray of popcorn shrimp sailed by. After sampling some of them, Shelton suggested they make their way over to the colorful display of coolers. They sampled several, throwing back each shot quickly, trying not to taste the cloying flavors.


When the crowd and the music got too annoying, Shelton suggested to Lidia, “You go grab a couple bags of that caramel corn, I’ll snatch a few coolers”, he said, sliding two into his pockets, then grabbing one in each hand, “and we’ll head to the beach, okay?”

“Sounds good, I need some fresh air and quiet,” she agreed, massaging her temples.

They slipped-out a side door, past a clutch of smokers, out to the boardwalk and onto the sand, where they parked themselves on two colorful Muskoka chairs near the water’s edge. They kicked-off their shoes, Shelton handed Lidia a cooler, relieving her of a bag of salted caramel corn in the process.


She put her head back for a moment, closed her eyes and sighed, “Ah, that’s better. Now, what flavor do we have here, I wonder,” opening the cooler and sniffing, “Yuck, coconut. What’s yours Shelton?”

“Um, peach-mango. Quite the distillation triumph these, eh? Alcoholic suntan lotion and fruity shampoo. Oh well, down the hatch!” he took a deep swig, Lidia followed, sputtering most of hers out.

“God these really are the worst shit, aren’t they? Have some popcorn to soak-up the taste,” Lidia said, popping a cluster in her mouth.


“Mine’s not too bad, let’s switch,” Shelton offered.

“Okay, if you don’t mind coconut,” Lidia passed her bottle.

“I do enjoy a pina colada, when in the tropics.”

“Well, it’s warmish, the sun’s out and we’re on a beach,” Lidia said, getting ready to sample the peach-mango.

“Close enough! Here goes,” Shelton took a hearty swig, then grimacing, wiped his mouth.

“Ha! Told ya,” Lidia laughed eating more popcorn.


“I’m too nice, that’s my problem. Too much the proper gentleman, an anachronism nowadays,” he sighed, becoming melancholy. “I blame my mother.”

“Oh, doesn’t everyone,” Lidia said, feeling morose herself.

“No, I mean it. She tried her best, but over-compensated for being poor. Raising me to have Victorian manners, and good speech cost her nothing, hoping they would open doors for me she couldn’t afford to open otherwise.”


“Where did you grow-up, Shelton?”

“In the tiny fishing village of Blue Rocks, Nova Scotia, on the wrong side o’ the tracks of Lunenburg.”

“Really? I never would’ve guessed, except that you did seem to know your way around Nova Scotia really well when we were there.”

“I wasn’t sure you’d noticed. Anyway, as I said, I’m from a small fishing village, the son of a son, of a son, of a scallop man. The guys that go out on the big trawlers in the Bay of Fundy, raking-up it’s bottom and breaking their backs to bring you the precious scallop... can’t stand them myself.

“Tradition in Blue Rocks is, when you’re thirteen, you go to sea with your ‘old feller’. Only mine was lost at sea when I was ten…so I was spared that experience. Luckily, I had a spinster aunt, who was a teacher in Lunenburg, she took me in, so I could attend the Lunenburg Academy, and continue in secondary education.”


“So, how was it growing-up gay in Blue Rocks? Were you ostracized?” Lidia asked.

“What? No, I’d never ‘come out’ in Blue Rocks, there was no gay pride there, Lidia, only gay shame,” Shelton chortled, opening another cooler. “Anyway, my ludicrously formal diction was bad enough.”

“When did you come out?”

“When I did what most Maritimers do, ‘went down the road’. I headed for ‘the big smoke’ with two Brook’s Brothers suits, an overcoat, and two silk ties, all of which I paid the princely sum of twenty-five bucks for at ‘Frenchies’, our iconic used clothing emporium.


“I got an apprenticeship at one of Toronto’s best be-spoke clothiers, it paid shit, the prestige, supposing to compensate. So, me and the other apprentices did it for the prestige. We also did it for dinner, blowing the old moneybags for a posh nosh at La Scala, Hy’s or Three Small Rooms. Once I even got into The Brazilian Ball, back then, the social event of the year.

“Some did it for apartments too. But all I wanted was to eat the gourmet food, drink the fine wine, experience it, learn about it. Move and groove in the social sphere of the rich, and save enough money to take the sommelier course, then I’d be made,” he said, slurring his words a little.


“And you did make it, Shelton. You’re a success!” Lidia exclaimed, taking another drink.

“Yeah, except now, I’m like my old feller, lost at sea, no longer wanted on the voyage!” Shelton shouted, trying to stand, swaying.

Lidia stood too, and just as she was about to suggest calling it a day and getting a cab home, the wind picked-up, carrying her scarf out to the water, where it floated in, then away from the shore. Looking sadly after it, “Oh my pretty scarf, Lo’s scarf,” she moaned tipsily.


“Don’t worry, Miss Mew, it’s Shelton to the rescue!” he yelled, pulling off his trousers, tossing aside his jacket, and marching resolutely into the water.

Lidia wobbled after him, “No Shelton! You big idiot! Come back, you’ll get all wet.”

He was in up to his knees, when he grabbed the scarf on the waves as they rushed in. Then he turned to shore, grinning, waving it above his head like a banner, when a big roller came crashing down, flattening him on the beach. Lidia ran over, struggling to get him to his feet, when a police boat, bearing two officers, stopped-by. One of them shouted from a bullhorn, “Hey, is he alright?”

“Yes, oh yes officer. He just wanted to get my scarf…it’s a special scarf, see,” she held-up the limp, sodden mess as proof.


“Have you two been drinking?” the officer asked.

“Oh no,” she answered, shaking her head emphatically, then looking down at her companion, “Well, he has, just a little. I’m going get his pants on, then get him in a cab, okay?”

“See that you do and stay out of the water. Got it?”

“Oh yes, officer. Got it!” she said, giving him a thumbs-up.

The engine revved, and they sped-off towards a rowdy crowd, beyond the board walk, playing Frisbee in the water.


Lidia got Shelton back to his chair, “Now, sit down, and slip-off those boxers.”

“Oh, Miss Mew! I do declare, you are a brazen hussy,” Shelton said laughing, batting his eyelashes at her.

“Shut-up Shelton, and just do it!”

He struggled for a few seconds. Then, exasperated, shot up and pulled them off. Lidia tried to cover his crotch with the wet scarf, only to have Shelton jiggle at her.

“Just sit down, you fool, and leave that scarf there, while I get your pants on. If those cops come back, we’re in trouble,” she said angrily, pulling-up her dress, kneeling in the sand, she peeled-off his wet socks, then tried to get his feet into each trouser leg and up to his thighs.

“Why? No trouble, Mew. There were two of them, and I call dibs on the tanned blonde,” he said between hiccups and giggles.


“Right,” Lidia stood, brushing the sand from her knees, ignoring his silliness. “Now Shelton, you’ve got to stand quickly, and on the count of three, pull those trousers up. Got it?”

“Got it! Mein Herr,” he said, saluting.

Lidia grabbed his forearms, “One, two, three!”

Shelton jumped-up, and his trousers fell down, “Oops!”

“Oh shit, Shelton!” Lidia slapped her arms against her thighs, grabbed her purse and scarf, and stomped away fuming.


Shelton shrugged, bent over, pulled-up his trousers, grabbed his underwear and shoes and followed, past the onlooking group of smokers, who snickered and cat-called. He looked-over his shoulder, blew an air kiss, tossing his wet socks and pants at them.

***


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