The Expulsion from Paradise


of The Falls

May 1971


One definition of "angel" in my dictionary (Funk & Wagnalls) is:

"A conventional representation of an angel, usually a youthful winged human figure in white robes and with a halo."

Signficantly (and obviously: it presumes you already know what "angel" means), this is not the first definition. That deals not with conventional representations but theological ones -- a much more varied lot.

We usually take "cherub" to mean chubby infants with wings, flitting about on Christmas cards. Strictly speaking (theology notoriously strict), Cherubim are the second order of the Choir of Angels, just below their usual holiday companions, the Seraphim.

They were not often cute: Assyrian lore cast them as sphinxes. Nor were they all sweet: Satan was one, before his demotion. And it was a Cherub who delivered God's orders to the Garden of Eden, evicting Adam and Eve from Paradise.

Clearly, something else they were not (though we think "cherubs" are) was innocent. In God's books, innocent really means ignorant. That apple grew from Eden's Tree of Knowledge: one bite, and Adam and Eve knew -- about Good and Evil, about The Flesh, suddenly ashamed of their nakedness. Damn them (literally!): they weren't supposed to know.

But surely the angels did. The cherubs in this story were beginning to.

A woman we knew taught at a Catholic school in Niagara Falls. In May 1972 we met many of her students -- 86 in fact -- serving as counsellors on their two-week trip to a summer camp near Georgian Bay.

This visit was a preview (though we'd see only two of these three boys the next year), their teacher showing them the town. And us. I don't know what impression we made on them, but they certainly made one on me, recorded in my journal. My first entry, written that night, is a bit cryptic, no more than points to ponder. Three nights later, I did.

Tuesday May 18, 1971, 11:30 pm

Claude, 13 (angelic). Danny, just turned 13 (built). Michael, 14 (sprite).

Crammed Volkswagen, cabbage rolls, Kensington, Claude's face, Michael's laugh, Danny's ass; and all a good night.

Friday, May 21, 1971, 9:40 pm

Danny was physically extraordinary: just 13, 5'9", 150 pounds, all tight and smooth, a body that looked 16 anyway, all over, arms, chest, and bottom. His face was more his own age, very open, sort of unset. He had a great smile, and toward the end of the night he was getting giggly. He was beautiful, infectiously happy, and the kind of kid I would like to take home for a few good nights of intense, expansive pleasure.

But Claude was the real grabber, in a different way. Slightly older than Danny, but less developed, thinner, less filled out, but with a somewhat more settled face. A great face. Big light blue eyes, a curiously undefinable nose -- sort of wide across the bridge but not so much at the nostrils -- and a big mouth. No: big lips, full, around very white teeth, a mouth that smiled alot and looked pensive other times.

He was angelic. "Sweet" would be a good word, except that when applied to older people usually considered so it sounds silly, syrupy. But he was sweet, naturally. Claude was not the type you'd crave for a wild one night bash. I could more imagine living with him. Really falling in love with him. Watching him expand, being a part of his more quiet happiness.

Of course I managed to romanticize the whole thing quite a bit. But I was genuinely impressed, as well as infatuated. My last previous contact with kids around that age (actually older, about 15 to 18) was at High Park, when there was a rock concert there. They were awful, the whole arrogant, loud aggressive shithead with dumb blonde teen trip.

Danny, Claude, and Michael (he was cute but less mature I thought, and I didn't dig his looks as much so he made less of a dent) were a refreshing change: no game playing, more open, more really themselves. Maybe at 13 they haven't been spoiled yet by the hype. Everyone between 16 and 21 is irresponsibly stupid, and everyone over 21 is senile.

Danny, Claude, and Michael should run the world.


My claim below, that kids appeal to more than admit it, isn't based on speculation. A study in the Oct 1974 Archives of Internal Medicine, rating response to pictures of body parts, found a statistically significant number of straight adult men (not to mention gay ones) aroused by the butts of adolescent boys.

Well, one study. Many people, I'm sure, aren't the least interested in kids. Politicians for instance (at least in their politics).

Others are -- many making indecent haste to deny it. For gay people paranoid of "pedophile" taunts, "I'm not interested in kids" can shade to no interest at all: kids shunned, their welfare ignored; many relieved to abandon them -- and cast those who don't as scapegoats to the wolves.

It's craven. And it's stupid.
There's no safety in surrender to malice and dirty minds.

The best response to a charge of liking kids is to fess up. Proudly: Of course I do! Don't you?

What's your problem?

Well, maybe: I've since met kids 16 to 21 not stupid at all. And I've raised the age of senility (you'll note I was 21 then) if, for most people, not by much.

As for "a few goods nights of expansive pleasure"; a "wild one night bash"; and poor Michael not quite making the cut because "I didn't dig his looks as much".... Ouch. Finding those bits bothered me; I nearly edited them out.

But no: I did write that; I could say things like that. I'd learned the lingo by then, callous desires -- or expression of them, at least -- gay common coin. You've likely learned it too (though it's worse now: hackneyed parrotting of video porn clichés).

Still: would you actually exercise those desires with such cavalier disdain? Maybe with someone who had enough knowingness to play the game and not get hurt. Maybe not even then. Never, I hope, with someone who did not.

And these boys did not. So we did not. And would not have.

Still, I'm not ashamed to admit they inspired such fantasies, even such scorings of beauty -- if maybe embarrassed by my banality at the time, romantic flights most banal of all, most potentially hurtful.

Those kids didn't just turn me on. I liked them. A lot. And with affection, if genuine, comes care for who a person actually is, regard for another's integrity; for hopes, even desires, beyond one's own.

Why do some insist that erotic attraction is corrosive to caring, to true human respect? What are they afraid of? Themselves? Insistent denial -- from anyone; male or female, gay or straight -- of attraction to wondrous kids is, I'm convinced, likely a flat out lie. The most vehement denials surely so. (Either that, or it's mere mean-spirited grumpery.)

So none of these boys got whisked away for a night of "expansive pleasure," not even "held" in a mushy embrace. Of course not. In that moment they were just liked, hugely and happily, for who they were. As all kids should be. And then they crammed back into that Volkswagen and went home.

I hope a bit -- if even just a bit -- more knowing.


Camp kids

Spadina Avenue:
a shot taken in 1999, west side south of College.
The Tel Aviv was in this block, likely where we had those cabbage rolls
with the boys. Kensington Market is in the block behind.

For more life on Spadina, and some background on its history,
see Promiscuous Affections: 1971.

Two (of 86) kids:
1972 camp-counsellees (stickered up as
postal art by my friend Bill Rowe).

Neither kid here is Claude, Danny, or Michael. But I do recall that boy on the right: Joe later visited, and sent a card ("I will be in high school next year. If you stick to your job [at the university] I will be there"). And another: Rick, a Fallen Angel, if redeemed -- as an angel in underwear. For more on all those kids (and Bill Rowe) see 1972. For Rick of Georgian Bay: Other Angels.

Angel images: Cherubim of The Fall: one of God's expels Adam and Eve from Paradise (from Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel ceiling).

Next episode: III: Presence

Go back to: Preface

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