Well, OK, there was a TV, which I most definitely do consider to be my most beloved childhood playmate, but I was already cable spoiled, and this TV picked up reception via a wire hanger covered in aluminum foil. So, I made do with my newfound heroes Perry Mason and Shirley Temple movies I tried to view as a blue print on how to escape shitty childhoods.
If only one day I could be a talented orphan who would sing and dance my way into the arms of a handsome benefactor! Because of this entertainment drought, I found myself very intrigued when I came upon an extensive video collection that was housed behind the glass doors of a cabinet.
The boxes were all plain white and the spines were all titles I had never heard of. But my interest was definitely piqued. In fact, I became obsessed with that video collection, glancing at it furtively whenever I passed the cabinet. Finally one day when my dad left the house, I decided to take a peek.
Then I opened the cabinet and pulled out a movie -- it was called "Brown Sugar. She had a jovial expression on her face. The back of the box had more stills from the movie. I was positively pearl-clutchy.
Despite all the live sex I had seen and heard my mom participating in my whole life, I was shocked. But much like Windsong, these porn flicks stayed on my mind. I bided my time for an opportunity to view "Brown Sugar. The moment his car pulled safely out of sight, I ran to the cabinet, pulled out "Brown Sugar," put it in the VCR and pressed play.
The movie started mid-way through. I checked the counter, so I could make sure to rewind it to the right spot. Then I heard the sound of the loose gravel crunching under a car and I freaked the fuck out.
My asshole dad was back! I quickly turned off the TV and sat down on the sofa real casual like. My dad came back into the house. He had forgotten his baggie of weed. He looked at me suspiciously. Then he asked me to go get him a glass of sweet tea. We stared at each other. He knows, I thought. I was reluctant to leave the scene of the crime.
I ran and got the ice tea and returned as fast as I could. I handed him the glass. He looked at me as he drank it, then he left the house without saying a word. I took the movie out of the VCR, put it back in the cabinet, my heart pounding the whole time. My porn days were over, or so I mistakenly thought.
Cut to a week later. Me and my dad were playing a game of chess on his Franklin Mint commemorative Civil War chess set, the only thing remotely toy-like in the house.
He always insisted on being the South, because he was a baby and also a confederate-loving redneck. After one particularly clever move, I stupidly smiled at my success. My dad grabbed the board and threw it across the room. He stared at me like a riled up bull just waiting for his pen to open. I just sat there. I knew enough to know that it was best to just let him go off. He kept asking me how the movie was. I just sat there rethinking the whole incident from the week before.
What clues had I missed? How could I have been so clueless? He told me to clean up the chess set. I did as he said, struggling to hold back rage tears. He stomped over to the cabinet, grabbed "Brown Sugar" and started playing it. I focused on cleaning and tried my best to ignore all the slurping and fucking sounds.
After that day, porn was on regularly in the house. It almost seemed like my dad was doing the porn equivalent of making a kid smoke a ton of cigarettes as a punishment for catching them smoke, desensitizing me to the thrill of watching porn. But my dad was a total dick.
I knew he was daring me to be uncomfortable. Daring me to complain. And I would never give him that satisfaction. I just sat there reading my Sweet Valley High books or doing my homework, looking up occasionally to give him a sweet smile. Making sure he saw me watching whole scenes. Luckily, making me squirm was the only thing he was getting off on. But my dad had met his match. After half year or so of silently watching dirty movies with my dad, he finally engaged me on the subject of porn.
He excitedly asked me if I wanted to see something. He pulled out a tale tell videotape. It was Easter Sunday and I was watching the annual airing of "The Sound of Music," but I said okay, because, you know, why stop my crazy game of chicken at this point? His new acquisition was the porn classic, "Debbie Does Dallas. Maybe it was how excited he got when I agreed to watch it.
Maybe it was the way he flopped onto the bed I was lying in like we were best friends at a slumber party. But I think it was really the fact that I finally realized I was the only one still playing the game.
This realization threw me off my game. To this day that is the thing I regret saying most in my life. Not because of the content of my words, but because of the victory it gave him and the feelings it brought up in me. But I knew then I was powerless. He would always win. That was the last time I watched porn with him.
The game was over.