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.