the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

The Beechers of San Diego


A couple of summers ago, I had the opportunity to take a special two-months Flash development class in San Diego.  Sophia convinced me to rent a room from Craigslist and stay in San Diego for the summer.  I found a cheap, furnished room, and within a few days, I was living in San Diego.

The owners of the house were the Beechers, a nice middle-aged couple who rented two of their extra rooms to students.  They were a religious couple who had crosses hanging all over the house.   The cross over my bed was gone, but the paint on the wall around it had discolored, so the image of the cross still existed, like a ghost.

Every few days, the friendly couple would come into my room to chat. They were both former computer programmers and it was interesting to hear them tell stories about the days of using cards to program FORTRAN.  My room was pretty small, so sometimes we would just sit on my bed and talk.  They were always inviting me to come to one of their Sunday "group meetings," but I always told them that I was busy or visiting Sophia in Los Angeles.   I don’t think they knew I was Jewish.

Two weeks before the end of the summer, Sophia decided to come stay with me.  I asked the Beechers if it was OK for Sophia to stay with me, making sure I told them that we were officially married.  They said it was fine.  In fact, they were excited to finally meet Sophia.  Mrs. Beecher started talking about how they were having a big "group" picnic on Sunday and wanted me to bring Sophia along.  She handed me an invitation to the event. 

I finally told them I was Jewish, hoping to explain my continued reluctance to participate in their group.  Mr. Beecher said that that it was a non-religious picnic and their group welcomed all faiths.  I finally caved in and said OK — but first I would have to ask Sophia.

Sophia arrived and it was great to see her.  We drove to one of favorite Mexican restaurants in Old Town.  I told her all about the Beechers and their picnic on Sunday.

"I don’t want to go to some Christian picnic." she said.  "Did you tell them that we’re Jewish?"

"I did.  But it’s just a picnic.  No big deal.  It’s not going to be a religious thing." 

"And what the hell are we going to do there?"

"I don’t know,  Meet some nice people… like the Beechers.  Nice Christians.  You’re always talking about how much you hate phony Hollywood types.  Now’s our chance to meet some real people."

I handed Sophia the invitation.  She started to read it.

"This is the group with the picnic?"

"I guess so.  The Lifestylers.  I guess they follow a Christian lifestyle."

Sophia started laughing.

"Neil, you idiot.  You are so naive.  I saw a piece on the news about these people.  This is not a Christian group.  They’re swingers.  You’re living with swingers.  They don’t care if we’re Jewish or not.  They don’t want to convert us.  They want to fuck us."

Suddenly, I thought about my last two months with the Beechers.  About how Mrs. Beecher always sat down next to me on my bed.  About how I would always run into one of the Beechers when I left the shower.  About how they were always trying to get me to go to a "group meeting."  About how excited Mr. Beecher got when he heard that Sophia was coming to town.

Chills went up and down my spine and I almost fainted into my enchilada.

I spent the rest of the week at the Beechers with my door locked.  I spent my last week in San Diego at the Doubletree Hotel.


  1. anne

    I’m surprised, and maybe a little disappointed, that you didn’t jump on the opportunity, so to speak.

  2. Alissa

    If you had “jumped on the opportunity” it would have made a fabulous post!

  3. Pearl

    I thought you were going to tell us that they were nudists. Would you have gone on such a picnic, had that been the case?

  4. Kelly

    Oh my dear God, you lead an unbelievably full and exciting life. Years ago, one of my husband’s friends approached him with the same offer. He didn’t take him up on it. I think he wanted to punch him. Yuck.

  5. amanda

    heehee…i would have fainted into my enchilada, too. imagine where you would be without sophia to decipher these sorts of things for you?

  6. LisaBinDaCity

    EWWWW! It probably would have taken me some time to figure it out as well…

  7. Tanya


  8. networkchic

    Oh Neil..I’ve missed you. Swing on over my way will ya?

  9. Used Hack

    Oh, that’s so awesome. I’ll have to look them up next time I’m in San Diego. 🙂

  10. Trix

    We’re either of them hot?

  11. Hope

    At least they weren’t Scientologists.

  12. Melissa

    You never read the invitation?

  13. NotMiranda


  14. Neil

    The invitation just said that there was going to be a Lifestylers picnic. I really had no idea what they were. I was convinced they were a Christian group. The Beechers just looked like an ordinary couple. There was another student there, but she always kept out of the way and didn’t talk to anyone. Maybe she was smarter than I was.

  15. ms. sizzle

    “i almost fainted into my enchilada”

    you don’t hear that every day. 😉

  16. JJ

    I can’t believe you passed a chance to have group sex with old saggy bottom people. Where is your sense of adventure, Neil?

  17. Pants

    I am terribly disappointed in you for not attending the picnic.

  18. Neil

    Do you mean that some of you actually would have gone to the picnic?

  19. Lori

    When I first saw this I thought it was going to be a sweet story about a dear, elderly couple. What a shocker!

    Hmmm….too bad about the Beechers. But I still love the picture at the top of your post.

  20. better safe than sorry

    pass up on a picnic, too bad. i wonder what they were serving;)

  21. industrywhore

    oh god. brilliant.

  22. cruisin-mom

    Apparently, Neil, the investigative reporting skills you implemented in the now famous “tooth brush caper” did not kick in with the Beechers.

  23. Melissa

    Yes, you should have gone. Just don’t put your watch in the fishbowl.

  24. AWE

    Why do you think the rent was so cheap and when they said fully furnished, they meant it.

  25. Denise

    Ew, ew, ew, ew, EWWWWWWWWW. I totally would have been clueless, too, but now I’m going to make sure I never run into the Beechers!!!

  26. Brooke


  27. Jaime

    I had a few of those types of experiences when I lived in San Francisco. Not swingers, but more of meeting people who were into S&M. I am all for people doing their own thing, but please, I don’t want to be invited.

  28. Leesa

    I was expecting them to be nudists too. How funny 🙂

  29. 3rdtimesacharm( 3T )

    ROFLMAO! That picnic would have been one helluva blog opportunity Neil!

    PS.I wouldn’t have gone either.
    PPS. Hang on to Sophia.

  30. He's Dead, Jim!

    That is downright excellent. Having lived in the Midwest for five long years, I’ve learned to decline politely when invited over to visit certain couples “for a swim” on a hot night. But the picnic idea sure is novel.
    I wonder what happened to that cross that used to hang above their bed?

    Food for thought.

  31. Pauly D


  32. Mik

    Hilarious Carolyn was roaring as I read her your post.

    Neil what would you do without Sophia? Would of been fun to find out your reaction had you gone to the picnic and found out what the Lifesylers were really about.


  33. claven

    There’s a lot of freaks down here. Just plain weirdos.

  34. bella

    This is why you should always have Sophia along to verify the people you meet aren’t trying to “convert” you.

  35. The Daily Rant

    Neil, this cracked me up. I too, thought you were going to say they were nudists. Man, I never get to meet any swingers! lol What a grea story. Love Sophia’s response to the invitation and your naivete. 🙂

  36. Me

    A friend of mine when I was a teen had swinger grandparents who he lived with. I found out later they were pretty well known — it was so funny — And I had the insider scoop — the room full of shag carpeted bunk beds and the plaques of sexual positions lining the stair case — the photo collages of everyone hot tubbing.

    Being in their house was mostly funny rather than gross —

    Robert McGinley – calls himself the grandfather of swing — look him up — I think he is even the founder of Lifestyles America — and I was there where it all began….ok now I’m just being weird 🙂

  37. Jaclyn

    Awesome story! I think it’s so funny you were convinced they were a religious couple.

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