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Don't Mean a Thing If It Ain't Got That Swing

You don't think of swingers as being the type of people who holdconventions. By "swingers, " I mean couples who swing with other couples. By"swing, " I mean, "you know exactly what I mean."

But my point is that you (and by "you," I mean "I") don't think of swingersas being big conventiongoers. You think of them as hanging out at privateparties, or exclusive swinger nightclubs, or secluded motels, or the ClintonWhite House. You don't picture swingers walking around large conventionhotels wearing name badges and attending seminars, like executives in theforklift industry.

But it turns out that swingers do hold conventions. I know this because Iwent to one recently, at the Radisson Deauville hotel in Miami Beach. I wasaccompanied by my wife and a guy named Wally, who's in the insurancebusiness.

This was not as kinky as it sounds. Wally had been the highest bidder in acharity auction for a lunch with me. He assumed we would be going to anormal restaurant where everybody would be wearing clothes. But when Isuggested to him that we could use the lunch as an opportunity toinvestigate - for journalism purposes - the swingers' convention, he readilyagreed, despite the very real risk that we might see people, includingwomen, wearing skimpy or nonexistent outfits. That is the kind of sacrificesome guys are willing to make for charity.

I also invited my wife to go along, so that I would not be walking into aswingers' convention accompanied only by an insurance executive named Wally.When I invited her, I made a hilarious joke, strictly kidding around in ahumorous vein, about how maybe we would find a couple we'd want to swapwith.

NOTE TO HUSBANDS: Never attempt to make this type of joke with your wife.This type of joke should be attempted only by trained humor professionals.

NOTE TO TRAINED HUMOR PROFESSIONALS: Even then, it turns out to be a badidea.

When Wally, my wife and I got to the swingers' hotel, we stopped off at theregistration desk and picked up a copy of the illustrated convention guide,which I personally would have killed for when I was in ninth grade. Itlisted the various seminars, including "Introduction to Tantra, " "The Mythof Monogamy, " "Meeting New Friends on the Internet, " "The Benefits andMechanics of Long-Term Polyamory, " and "Basic Forklift Maintenance."

I am of course kidding about that last one, but I am not kidding when I saythat this entire hotel had been taken over by swingers, hundreds of them.You could tell they were swingers because they were all wearing conventionwristbands. In some cases, the wristband was the largest garment they werewearing. These were people of all ages and bodily types: Some had obviouslyspent a lot of time at the fitness club; whereas others appeared to haverecently eaten a fitness club.

We had lunch at a table looking out on the pool area. Our conversationconsisted almost entirely of us taking turns saying, "Ohmigod look at THAT."We tried to be cool about it, but it is not easy to look cool when you'resticking a spoonful of soup in your ear because your head has just whirledsideways so your eyeballs could keep track of a passing thong.

The thong appears to be a major weapon in the swinger's fashion arsenal.This is not necessarily a good thing. Your taut-bodied individual may beable to pull it off (Har!), but when you see a portly middle-aged man whohas more body hair than a musk ox AND (I swear) a tattoo of Elvis on hisright butt cheek stroll past wearing essentially a No. 8 rubber band, youbegin to think that maybe it's time Congress enacted strict Federal ThongControl.

Attire aside, most of the swingers seemed to be regular people. In fact,according to a story about the convention in The Herald, the two most-commonprofessions for swingers are police officer and teacher. This stunned me,especially the teachers. I mean, remember when you were a kid, and you wereshocked whenever you saw a teacher at, say, the supermarket, because youdidn't think of teachers as having any existence outside of school, or evennecessarily as being food-eating life forms? Well, imagine if youencountered your trigonometry teacher wearing a garment that left absolutelynothing to the imagination regarding the cosine OR the hypotenuse.

I think that, as parents, we should be concerned about the fact this type ofindividual is being employed in our schools. Maybe we should notify thepolice.

No, wait.