Children of the Porn

As my friend and I were having a sleepover (at 22 years old, mind you), we were flipping through the porn titles on television, picking out our favorite ones based on creativity and shock value. Neither of us were ever inclined to actually watch one, but the titles were fantastic. They all follow the same basic structure, kind of like a Mad Lib. (Adjective) (Inappropriate term for a female) (Inappropriate term for having intercourse) (on/in/under/with) (dealer’s choice: choose whatever word you want), then follow it with either the number 3, 4, or 8. And after considering the gross (that’s a double entendre if I’ve ever seen one) amount of pornography that someone can buy for a shockingly high rate of 14.99, I came to the conclusion; we have entirely too much access to pornography. When I look back on my life, though my parents made a pretty decent effort from shielding me from the mysteries of what naked bodies looked like, I determined that I’ve been surrounded by the stuff my entire life. It was always by some weird circumstance or random situation beyond my control; my parents wouldn’t let me watch the scene of Titanic when Leo and Kate fornicated in the Model T, but I managed somehow to stumble upon some kind of raunchy something on HBO. It made no sense to me, but there it was.

Yes, Kate Winslet? Do you have a question?

My dad had a friend that used to always come up and visit us when I was younger. We always called him Shorty, and to this day, I’m not sure what his real name was, if he even had one. But one day, Shorty called me out of the house from watching Power Rangers, which royally pissed me off, and said he had to show me something out in his truck. Frustrated and unfocused, I dragged myself from out in front of the television and out toward his white Chevrolet. I looked around for my parents, but they were missing… they were never missing. My spidey sense was tingling, and I could feel something weird about to happen. As he pulled something out of his truck, he gave me what I have come to know in my mind as “the man speech,” I’m about to show you something awesome. This sh-t is something you’ll remember for the rest of your life. And if you like it, you can keep it.” Nothing about that sounded comforting, but before I knew it there it was. A Playboy. He would instruct me what to do next,  Check out those titties, boy. That’s a nice set of titties. No sir. Not in my driveway. And for the record, I did not keep it.
Growing up, we would always watch WWE/WWF/WCW… whatever it was. Sable was always my favorite and probably not for the regular boy reasons. I liked her because she was built for winning, and wasn’t afraid to powerslam another woman. She had cat music, and I was pretty fond of cats. She pulled people’s hair, smacked them on the face, and never cried. So imagine my surprise when she was taking up two pages of that magazine wearing nothing but… paint. In my nine years of life, I was never so disappointed in a hero. Nudity was nothing to be prided upon in my family; it was something you reserved for the shower, and you should probably feel bad for being naked in there, too. I smiled because I thought I was supposed to, but inside, it made me nervous. I wanted my parents to show up, and in my own form of Catholic guilt, I wouldn’t tell them about seeing Sable… all painted and full of sin… until I was in high school.
And the pornography has followed me around ever since. It’s nothing I’ve ever wanted, but more, just happened upon me. The night I submitted my grad school application to Vanderbilt, I had been watching Easy A, a personal favorite of mine, on Showtime. I had since ignored it to finish the fine touches on what I deemed to be a beautiful personal essay and writing sample. Right as I started to press submit, I heard a sigh from the TV; porn. Again. I don’t know how it ended up there, but apparently at some point in the night, TV just throws everything sacred out the window and starts playing the nasties. I was half tempted to apologize in my essay for the surprise porn playing in the background as I submitted my application, but I decided not to. I knew I wasn’t getting in; the unholiness had seeped into the essay magically. There was no hope. So, I’m not sure what steps I can take to escape this pornographic undertone that keeps haunting my life. I assume that it came from a spell that Sable cast from the page on to me at just a tender nine years old.
As hard as Shorty may have tried, I just never really understood the point of it all. I imagined that as I got older, the reasons would start to connect. I would understand pornography. But like a lot of things about adult life, there was no clear cut methodology to understanding it. It’s something you’re supposed to “enjoy,” but watching pornography for “enjoyment” makes as much sense to me as watching someone eat a piece of lasagna and getting full. The concept weirds me out the same way today as it did standing in my driveway, averting my eyes towards Sable’s face wondering, as the precocious nine year old I was, what does your father think of this?

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