An expression used to describe an activity typically done in secret, in a hidden place. Probably a socially unacceptable thing. Like the kinds of things children do with their friends, beyond the watchful eyes of their parents.

It was late in the morning on a Friday, and the streets were empty as everyone else was off at work. My girlfriend and I had skipped breakfast in our haste as we set off for Monterey. Our hunger caught up with us by the time we reached Santa Barbara, so we stopped at a grocery store to buy things that we could snack on in the car.

A nice, older gentleman was ahead of us in line, and he struck up a lighthearted conversation with us about our trip. There was something about us, when we were together, that drew strangers to us. Something so magnetic about the chemistry between us that led others to interact with us as much as possible. I miss that, and I curse her use of the drug Ecstasy for the way it changed her personality and robbed me of that connection we once had. But, I digress.

After the man in line requested a pack of cigarettes, his face contorted with shame. He looked at us, embarassed, and expressed his hope that we weren't smokers. He also apologized for setting a bad example for young people such as ourselves.

And then, seemingly out of context, he said, "In my day..." (Yes, just like the grumpy old man from Saturday Night Live.) "In my day, smoking was a behind the barn sort of thing."

"I grew up in Los Angeles. We never had barns, you stupid old coot," I responded. No, I didn't actually say that. I just grinned and nodded. And then I appreciated the man's social consciousness during the rest of our drive up the coast. And now I'll never forget the expression he taught me.

You thought this node was gonna be about tawdry sex, didn't you?