By Nicholas De Kruyff

We spent a weekend this summer at a cottage with some friends. Two other couples, my wife, and me. Having coffee one morning, the conversation turned toward sex. (The only reason this is remarkable is it was just after 8 a.m. and we’d been up since 7. To take that long to get to some salacious gossip was remarkable for this group.)

We’d been talking about a city in northern Ontario. A friend (let’s call her Elenora Wickers) informed us, “It’s a swingers’ town.”

“Really?” asked my wife.

“Yes!” Elenora Wickers said. “We have friends who moved there. They’ve been invited to key parties. They didn’t know what those were. Boy, they were shocked when they found out. Of course, it’s so boring up there, what else are you going to do?”

In all seriousness, my wife suggested, “You could paint your house.”

I’m pretty naive. If I went to a party and people were tossing their keys in a bowl, I’d assume they were taking away the temptation to drive in case they had a drink.

“They have secret symbols, letting you know they’re swingers,” Elenora Wickers said.

“What kind of symbols?” I asked.

“Do you know about upside-down pineapples?” Elenora asked.

“I’m familiar with the cake,” I answered.

“If you’re wearing one on a necklace or piece of jewelry, you and your partner are open to hooking up.”

My jaw dropped into my coffee.

“If you hang one on your front door, it’s an invitation to come on in and join the party.”

In all the decades I’ve spent on this Earth, I’d never heard of this upside-down pineapple signal. Who decided what an upside-down pineapple meant? And how did they get the word out?

I’ve nothing against swingers, or anyone for that matter. Let “a thousand blossoms bloom” as the MP for North Queensland says. People are entitled to be their own freaky things.

I’ve never swung, or thought of swunging, or hoped to swung. I’m swung-ignorant.

But to think there are signs out there for people who are part of a select subculture, hidden from the rest of us right under our noses, fascinates me. It’s like a kinky Illuminati. A modern-day Hellfire Club without all the mucking about in caves.

I thought back to all the dinner parties and cocktail parties I’d been to in my life, wondering if naughty stuff was going on unbeknownst to me.

One thing stuck out. There was one couple we knew who had several pineapple decorations throughout their house, none of which I recall being upside-down. Did I miss something? I thought they just liked pineapples.

What other symbols are out there that I don’t know about? Someone told me a pair of sneakers hanging from a telephone line meant drugs were sold beneath them. Do the type of shoes indicate what type of drugs? Oxfords for uppers, sandals for downers, and loafers for weed?

These surreptitious signals could be anywhere! Does wearing yoga pants to the superstore mean something? There’s no pilates class at Walmart, so it’s gotta mean something, right?

Or how about my neighbour who has two mailboxes? What use are two mailboxes? None! Does he have some kind of envelope fetish? Is he hot for flyers? Damn suspicious, if you ask me.

Or the guy down the street who cut his shrubbery to resemble male genitalia? Is he a privet hedge voyeur? Is there a website dedicated to risqué topiary? Should I knock on his door and offer him a boxwood?


His shrubs, by the by, are especially festive when decked out in Christmas lights.

Read more of Nick’s humorous essays in his Laughing Zombie blog: