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Old 02-26-2014, 10:27 AM
sweeteviljesus sweeteviljesus is offline
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Did key parties actually exist?

I hear legends of key parties that occurred back in the 70s where all the guests would put their house keys in a bowl and then go home with whomever drew the key. I am sure this must have happened once or twice, but how common was this? Were the 'burbs a hotbed of wife-swapping back in the day?

Thanks,
Rob
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Old 02-26-2014, 10:53 AM
crucible crucible is offline
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I never saw any evidence of it in our New York suburb during the '70's, but I must say we did have more social contact with the neighbors there than anyplace we've lived since. Everyone took turns throwing house parties, with Christmas tide bringing a traveling party, one house to another to another.

I don't think we ever saw any friendlier people before or since. Swapping? We weren't asked to or asked how we felt about it.

I've not ever talked to any contemporary anywhere in the country who said they actually knew of this sort of 'club'.
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Old 02-26-2014, 12:00 PM
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I hear legends of key parties that occurred back in the 70s where all the guests would put their house keys in a bowl and then go home with whomever drew the key. I am sure this must have happened once or twice, but how common was this? Were the 'burbs a hotbed of wife-swapping back in the day?

Thanks,
Rob
There's a scene in the 1997 movie The Ice Storm, with Kevin Klein, Joan Allen, and Sigourney Weaver, set in 1973, where a key party is a plot element.

Just to be clear, not everyone put their car keys in the bowl...just the husbands, then the wives pulled the keys from the bowls and went home with the husband who belonged to the keys they drew.
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Old 02-26-2014, 01:11 PM
Tom Tildrum Tom Tildrum is offline
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There was one on the Simpsons in a flashback. Luann van Houten hooked up with Dr. Hibbert, while Kirk drew the key to Dr. Hibbert's parrot cage.

A colleague of mine in suburban Maryland learned a few years ago that several neighbor couples were swinging together. His wife refused to believe him until they were propositioned at a block party.
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Old 02-26-2014, 02:17 PM
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For maximal variety in their intimate lives, all the males and females should cast their keys into one bowl. Then everybody pick one and spend the night with whoever's key you picked.

(Okay, there's an obvious logistical problem with that plan, but they can work it out. It just adds to the fun.)
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Old 02-26-2014, 02:20 PM
Shagnasty Shagnasty is offline
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For maximal variety in their intimate lives, all the males and females should cast their keys into one bowl. Then everybody pick one and spend the night with whoever's key you picked.

(Okay, there's an obvious logistical problem with that plan, but they can work it out. It just adds to the fun.)
Oh no, I got Fred again! When did he get a new keychain?

Quit your protesting and get in the car Steve. You know the rules.
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Old 02-26-2014, 02:51 PM
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My parents used to talk about one notorious set of neighbors. The husband propositioned the wives in the living room while the wife propositioned the husbands in the kitchen. And this was in the 1950's!

I don't know how it would have worked out if both of them had gotten lucky at the same time. But it may explain why ranch houses were so popular back then.

Last edited by kunilou; 02-26-2014 at 02:51 PM.
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Old 02-26-2014, 03:22 PM
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When I was a kid in the 1970's, we lived in the suburbs on a dead-end street with about 14 houses, most of which contained young families like ours. The neighborhood was a tight-knit community, and I remember many summer block parties (the street would be blocked off) and our parents were often at a party at one house or another.

This was a New England town that was still governed by Town Meetings, and the residents of the street would go to meetings en masse and usually vote as a block, and made some political enemies. This lead to jealous accusations and they were given a reputation as swingers, with rumors of key parties and orgies going on at all those neighborhood parties.

It wasn't true, though. My dad told me about it much later. He said if the parties had been like that my Mom would've probably sold the house and moved.
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Old 02-26-2014, 03:36 PM
Hector_St_Clare Hector_St_Clare is offline
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Yes, they happened. A former coworker of mine grew up in a small Michigan college town / industrial city (Albion) in the late 1970s (I think he turned 18 in 1980) and says that some of the professors there had key parties.
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Old 02-26-2014, 03:50 PM
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Yes, they happened. A former coworker of mine grew up in a small Michigan college town / industrial city (Albion) in the late 1970s (I think he turned 18 in 1980) and says that some of the professors there had key parties.
How would a pre-teen/teen know about key parties among the academia?
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Old 02-26-2014, 04:42 PM
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Just thought I'd mention that Rick Moody, author of the novel The Ice Storm, was born in 1961- same as me. Meaning that both of us were too young to know of or participate in any Seventies key parties, even if they really existed.

Moody himself acknowledges that he never witnessed or even heard of key parties until he was in his thirties, shortly before he started working on his book. Indeed, at the time, he'd never actually met anyone who'd CLAIMED to have participated in one.

Obviously, that does NOT mean such things didn't happen- just that the most famous book and movie on the subject were based on the author's imagination and on rumors he'd heard, rather than on his personal experience or extensive research.

Last edited by astorian; 02-26-2014 at 04:43 PM.
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Old 02-26-2014, 05:04 PM
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Those key parties and swinger parties still happen today. It was ultimately rumored to be a swinger party gone bad that resulted in this tragedy here in San Diego: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Westerfield.

I live in the area of town where this was happening and had no idea it was going on because I wasn't in that specific neghborhood. I heard they would meet up at a 50's themed steakhouse called "Dad's" that has since gone out of business and would solicit new people at the nearby Costco in Carmel Mountain. At least those were the rumors floating around at the time.

Locally, there are still active swingers/wife swapping clubs in San Diego. There's a place called Club Paradise in the El Cajon area of town and a 'clothing optional' bar in the North Park area. I can see how these things could go off the rails pretty quickly though, with jealousy and hurt feeling. It's all fun and games until yours is the key at the party that no one picks, or gets put back because people know it's your key and don't want anything to do with you. Meanwhile, your wife/girlfriend is getting slammed like a screen door in a hurricane by everyone else at the party...
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Old 02-26-2014, 05:40 PM
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PGP key parties actually exist, though slightly less sexy.
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Old 02-26-2014, 06:00 PM
Hector_St_Clare Hector_St_Clare is offline
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Czarcasm he was in high school at the time. teens like to gossip, especially about sexual topics.
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Old 02-26-2014, 06:23 PM
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I don't know about key parties, but about 1961, a neigbhbor kid, the same age as myself, was teaching us to play strip poker in a tent in our back yard. There was 3 boys and one girl. It didn't get too far, when my mom and the girl's mom stuck their heads in the tent and broke it up. After questioning, the kid who was teaching us told the mothers that he learned from watching his parents play with their friends. ( he had snuck out of his bedroom ) After high school, he married a girl that was very, very, popular....
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Old 02-26-2014, 06:37 PM
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Czarcasm he was in high school at the time. teens like to gossip, especially about sexual topics.
But teen gossip about sexual topics is not notoriously reliable, is it?
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Old 02-26-2014, 06:57 PM
Shagnasty Shagnasty is offline
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But teen gossip about sexual topics is not notoriously reliable, is it?
No but it isn't always wrong either. My parents were hippies when I was a child in the 70's. They were way more wild than I have ever been. I know it because I saw it myself and they admit it freely even now. Both of them definitely and admittedly hooked up with other people's spouses when I was young and even later. I even witnessed my father doing it at a party when I was a teenager when the other husband (a Sheriffs Deputy no less) got pissed beyond belief and I thought a mass shooting was about to occur. We had to leave and hang low for a couple of days for that one. Their friends (mostly school teachers and administrators) were quite wild behind closed doors.

60's and 70's people definitely did some wild things in certain circles. That is why I laugh at the crossover threads asking about kids today. The same people that did all of that stuff personally are now putting the lock-down on younger people in ways that even I can't imagine. Most of the younger ones are angels in comparison. It is the parents and grandparents that were complete whores and party animals in a style that just isn't tolerated now except among the older set who still hung on to those times in their mind. There are a few of them that still do it even though they may need a doctor's release to participate responsibly.

Last edited by Shagnasty; 02-26-2014 at 06:58 PM.
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Old 02-26-2014, 07:59 PM
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Czarcasm he was in high school at the time. teens like to gossip, especially about sexual topics.
This is pretty much the opposite of verification.
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Old 02-26-2014, 10:25 PM
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I have met one former session musician (LA) from the late 60's early 70's. He confirmed "wife swapping" - did not ask about the logistics - random key swaps, or "you go to the xxxx"; Ms xxxx is coming here 9:00 Tuesday.
At least one wife thought she was being pimped-out and left.
The guys, OTOH, thought it was great. The poor guy whose wife split was disqualified - he no longer had trading currency.

I always thought it was exceedingly tacky - there were plenty of "open" marriages, but actual pre-arranged you-boink-mine, and I -boink-yours was not the same
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Old 02-27-2014, 06:40 AM
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It's indicative that these things are called "wife swaps", and not "husband swaps".
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Old 02-27-2014, 06:57 AM
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Key parties still happen today among swingers, or so I'm told, by people I believe. It's just one of many icebreaker techniques. I had a friend who would go to swingers resorts where they played such games , but who would always leave with her husband. They both liked the titillation of the swinger set despite not swinging themselves.

My guess is that the key party works best when the crowd isn't too big and is carefully selected, but no doubt in any mix of people there would be a few oil-and-water types. I have no idea how they'd manage that.
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Old 02-27-2014, 08:35 AM
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When I lived in Austin in the 70s, my then-wife and I were invited to several of them.
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Old 02-27-2014, 10:22 AM
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Sounds like a 70's Playboy meme.
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Old 02-27-2014, 11:22 AM
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I don't think anyone doubts that swingers parties exist. They do. But key parties in particular seem like an unwieldy way to do it.
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Old 02-27-2014, 12:42 PM
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I don't think anyone doubts that swingers parties exist. They do. But key parties in particular seem like an unwieldy way to do it.
This. There's plenty of swinger activity around here, but the idea of an actual key party sounds like mostly urban legend, like a Cleveland Steamer or a Jane Hathaway.
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Old 02-27-2014, 02:28 PM
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I had two uncles who ended up with each other's wife and didn't swap back. I kid you not.
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Old 02-27-2014, 02:29 PM
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Yep. Group sex, wife swapping, plural marriage, cuckoldry, swinging, and good old fashioned adultery have been going on since the days of the Old Testament.

And there certainly was a lot of that sort of thing going around back in the 1970s. But "key parties" seems to me like a thing that was written about and talked about and giggled about a lot lot lot more than it actually happened. Were there key parties? I bet there where. But I bet almost all of the few that did happen happened because somebody read about them and decided to try to hold one in real life, once.
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Old 02-27-2014, 08:25 PM
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I attended something a little beyond key parties a few times in NYC. It was in the late 70s, in a same-sex after-hours club. Everyone was given a key ring on which to attach their keys and hankies (you do know about the hanky code (TMI/NSFW), don’t you?) So when you picked someone’s keys, you also got the hankies, determining what the couple would do. The only purpose of the keys was to identify who went with each hankies; nobody went home with anyone (well . . . not until later). So person A and person B were doing maybe a few different things, while person B and person C were doing entirely different things, etc., winding up looking like an X-rated game of “Twister.” I don't think any of us had ever laughed so much.
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Old 02-27-2014, 08:38 PM
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(you do know about the hanky code (TMI/NSFW), don’t you?)
Holy crap. Did you have to bring the chart?
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Old 02-27-2014, 10:10 PM
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Holy crap. Did you have to bring the chart?
Damm!! I'd need a app on my phone. Actually, there probably is one. That is just plain, flat out scarey to me. I don't even own a hanky. After seeing that, I don't ever want to own one!!
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Old 02-27-2014, 10:20 PM
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I attended something a little beyond key parties a few times in NYC. It was in the late 70s, in a same-sex after-hours club. Everyone was given a key ring on which to attach their keys and hankies (you do know about the hanky code (TMI/NSFW), don’t you?) So when you picked someone’s keys, you also got the hankies, determining what the couple would do. The only purpose of the keys was to identify who went with each hankies; nobody went home with anyone (well . . . not until later). So person A and person B were doing maybe a few different things, while person B and person C were doing entirely different things, etc., winding up looking like an X-rated game of “Twister.” I don't think any of us had ever laughed so much.
I've heard of the hanky code. (The "tan" one had me LOLing, and it's pretty easy to figure out that left means me, and right means us.) I remember the jelly bracelet thing a few years ago, which were said to be a similar code amongst teenagers, and was told more than once that it too was an urban legend.
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Old 02-27-2014, 10:25 PM
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In the Ron Howard film How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Clarnella Who and her sister Rose were hosting a key party on the night the baby Grinch was blown onto their doorstep and into their lives.
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Old 02-27-2014, 10:51 PM
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Did key parties actually exist?

Hijack, sorry!

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(you do know about the hanky code (TMI/NSFW), don’t you?)

I was able to figure out most of these, but........

1. What is the red gingham "park" one mean? Sex while parking or what?

2. Did anyone really walk around with celery in their pockets? Really??

Last edited by joyfool; 02-27-2014 at 10:51 PM.
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Old 02-27-2014, 11:24 PM
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Hijack, sorry!




I was able to figure out most of these, but........

1. What is the red gingham "park" one mean? Sex while parking or what?

2. Did anyone really walk around with celery in their pockets? Really??
I would say it's for sex in a park.
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Old 02-27-2014, 11:36 PM
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You were supposed to take the wife home???? Damn, I was happy just to drive a new 911 Porsche or Pontiac Trans Am for the evening.
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Old 02-28-2014, 01:59 AM
LarkingPot LarkingPot is offline
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This is pretty much the opposite of verification.
I'm sure I'll regret asking this, but what on JEBUS HISSELF's Earth would be considered valid certified proof by you?

A video or film containing the entire party with no cuts starting from the people arriving at the party and depositing their keys in the bowl or whatever followed by the drinking and smoking of pot, snorting cocaine to get 'loosened' up, then on to the grand grabbing at keys at random from the bowl, followed by the pairing up and moving to various bedrooms etc and then undressing and fucking and sucking, followed by everyone getting dressed and bidding each other semi awkward goodbyes?

Last edited by LarkingPot; 02-28-2014 at 01:59 AM. Reason: changed word, guess which one!!!!
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Old 02-28-2014, 02:53 AM
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I'm sure I'll regret asking this, but what on JEBUS HISSELF's Earth would be considered valid certified proof by you?

A video or film containing the entire party with no cuts starting from the people arriving at the party and depositing their keys in the bowl or whatever followed by the drinking and smoking of pot, snorting cocaine to get 'loosened' up, then on to the grand grabbing at keys at random from the bowl, followed by the pairing up and moving to various bedrooms etc and then undressing and fucking and sucking, followed by everyone getting dressed and bidding each other semi awkward goodbyes?
The fact that he doesn't consider teenage gossip about the sex other people are supposedly having to be verification of the sex those other people are actually having does not mean that his standards of verification are unrealistically high. On the contrary, it means that they are not abysmally low.

"When I was a teenager living in a college town I used to hear that some of the profesors there had key parties" is definitely not verification that key parties ever happened. A statement from someone who actually participating in the key parties would be a different matter.
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Old 02-28-2014, 08:17 AM
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I would say it's for sex in a park.

Duh me. < smack >

Now, what about the celery? For Og's sake, let's not forget about the celery!!!!!!!
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Old 02-28-2014, 08:28 AM
Jonathan Chance Jonathan Chance is online now
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I'd say, based on experience, that many communities have thriving swing scenes. Also, while there are some parties and such at private locations/homes/clubs in most cases swining is worked out between couples where all parties give a thumbs up to each others. Frequently, these are broken up by couples in this way:

1. Dinner/get to know you
2. Mutual fondling and petting
3. Sex with the couples both in the same room
4. Sex where the couples are in different rooms but the same home
5. Seperate dates

By far that last is the rarest. Again, in my experience, couples that end up trusting each other find themselves at #3 or #4 and happy there. Such relationships can last a shorter or longer time, depending on how things work out. I've known some men who swing and then get semi-possessive about the women with which they've slept. That becomes a bad thing.

But key parties? Never seen or even heard of one in real life.
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Old 02-28-2014, 08:33 AM
Learjeff Learjeff is offline
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(you do know about the hanky code (TMI/NSFW), don’t you?)
Well, now I do! It's clearly not for straight males, because we don't know that many color names.

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You were supposed to take the wife home???? Damn, I was happy just to drive a new 911 Porsche or Pontiac Trans Am for the evening.
lol
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Old 02-28-2014, 09:13 AM
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I attended something a little beyond key parties a few times in NYC. It was in the late 70s, in a same-sex after-hours club. Everyone was given a key ring on which to attach their keys and hankies (you do know about the hanky code (TMI/NSFW), don’t you?) So when you picked someone’s keys, you also got the hankies, determining what the couple would do.
I, being colorblind, am frightened beyond belief at reading that website.
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Old 02-28-2014, 10:01 AM
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Puce is a color?

Celery seems safe enough. Someone buys you brunch. I like brunch.

The "my little pony" will get you flagged as a child molester.

Combining electrical tape and a teddy bear gets you an introduction to FBI agents, with dark red hankies worn on the left, trying to solve a child kidnapping.
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Old 02-28-2014, 10:34 AM
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(Mentally picturing clown pulling out the endless string of multi-colored hankies tied together, while smiling and nodding suggestively.)
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Old 02-28-2014, 01:05 PM
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In the beginning, the hanky code was very useful, and only involved the more common acts that most of us engaged in. But you know gay guys, we couldn't just be serious about a thing like that. So guys were constantly adding tongue-in-cheek colors (and other objects) to the list. So most of the more extreme things were added just for humor.

Not necessarily that nobody ever did those things, though.


Oh, and to add to the confusion, guys on the East Coast used the opposite pocket as guys on the West Coast. I guess going home with someone in the "Heartland" could involve some serious surprises!
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Old 02-28-2014, 01:30 PM
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So guys were constantly adding tongue-in-cheek colors (and other objects)
(And other things in cheek)
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Old 02-28-2014, 01:36 PM
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The fact that he doesn't consider teenage gossip about the sex other people are supposedly having to be verification of the sex those other people are actually having does not mean that his standards of verification are unrealistically high. On the contrary, it means that they are not abysmally low.

"When I was a teenager living in a college town I used to hear that some of the profesors there had key parties" is definitely not verification that key parties ever happened. A statement from someone who actually participating in the key parties would be a different matter.
Actually it isn't. Given the stuff that people regularly fall for on the Internet, there is no reason to believe someone who comes flouncing in and grandly announces, "Well, back in the '70's my wife and I moved to a new apartment complex. We'd both always been opened minded...blah blah blah."

And I'm curious as to why you purport to speak for Czarcasm? I would guess that he's a big boy now and can speak for and stick up for himself, but that impression looks to be wrong.

And more broadly EVERYBODY's burden/definition of valid/certified proof is going to be different.

The fact that the key party scene in The Ice Storm wasn't a garagantuan, huge or even tiny shock to either the nation or wider world at large is evidence and proof enough for many including those who grew up in the 70's like me that key parties were an actual thing that has taken place in the past and continues to take place, of course with various differences as time passes.

Last edited by LarkingPot; 02-28-2014 at 01:39 PM.
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Old 02-28-2014, 02:29 PM
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It's indicative that these things are called "wife swaps", and not "husband swaps".
Interesting.
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Old 02-28-2014, 02:46 PM
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I don't think anyone doubts that swingers parties exist. They do. But key parties in particular seem like an unwieldy way to do it.
Probably but if you have a group of people willing to "indulge", the randomness of the pairing via keys could be less stressful than almost any other way which could leave someone "last picked".
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Old 02-28-2014, 03:07 PM
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Originally Posted by doorhinge View Post
You were supposed to take the wife home???? Damn, I was happy just to drive a new 911 Porsche or Pontiac Trans Am for the evening.
It woul be just my luck to end up with the Yugo.

Last edited by Doctor Jackson; 02-28-2014 at 03:08 PM.
  #50  
Old 02-28-2014, 03:36 PM
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Lemur866 Lemur866 is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LarkingPot View Post
The fact that the key party scene in The Ice Storm wasn't a garagantuan, huge or even tiny shock to either the nation or wider world at large is evidence and proof enough for many including those who grew up in the 70's like me that key parties were an actual thing that has taken place in the past and continues to take place, of course with various differences as time passes.
No, it's evidence that stories of such shenanigans had been going around since the 70s, and so showing an instance of those shenanigans in a movie set in the 70s didn't shock anyone. The movie didn't introduce the trope to the public, the trope had been around for decades.

Like, if you made a movie with soldiers getting back from Vietnam, and hippies were waiting at the airport to spit on them, that wouldn't confuse anyone because everyone is familiar with the trope of hippies spitting on Vietnam vets. That doesn't mean it such things actually happened regularly. Or at all. It just means that this was a story that was going around at the time, and says more about the people who repeated the story than it does about actual hippies, or Vietnam vets, or airports.

So key party stories go around, not necessarily because everyone was having key parties, but because they liked telling and hearing stories about key parties. Did you hear what those hedonists are up to? Isn't it shocking? Isn't it horrible? Isn't it delightful? What other horrible, disgusting, interesting things do these people do?
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