After the 5th grade, I moved from my home of 5 years – a small town in Massachusetts – down to my grandparent’s house in Rhode Island. Through high school, I stayed connected with a few of my grade school friends. It became traditional that I would spent a week during winter break and a week during summer break back in Swampscott, visiting Tyler.
Tyler was an only child, but constantly had friends over, so the house was always busy. I had been at Tyler’s for a few days and was leaving the next. A few friends showed up at his door and Tyler said that he had something to show us. He walked to the corner of his bedroom, four guys huddled around him. Under a stack of old papers sat a set of wicker drawers. Tyler opened the 2nd drawer, lifting old magazines, rubber band balls, a few old knives, other assorted crap, and removed the Holy Grail: An honest-to-God porno mag.
While this doesn’t seem so amazing now, please keep the following in mind: This was the late 90s. At the time, the internet was a luxury. My house did not have an internet connection until midway through my freshman year of high school. When we were finally blessed to have AOL, we had to drag a 50-foot phone cord from the PC to the phone jack, unplug the house phone, plug in the PC, pray no one called, wished for no one to trip over the wire, and hoped to find an ISP number that wasn’t busy. Porn was still easy to find, but by the time a single .BMP loaded, the connection timed out.
These were the times when hordes of teenage boys would roam the woods looking for caches of porno mags. The terrible truth behind this scenario is that we would actually find some. Someone in every group of friends knew where to find a stack of damp, torn, and stained porno mags. There was even an honor system. No one took a magazine unless there were plenty left behind. As time passed, evidence of adolescence sin would be washed away over the changing seasons.
Now, I was resourceful. I had seen naked women before, but I had never seen a real softcore porn magazine. This had boobs! This had nipples! It even had full frontal nudity! One of the girls seen spreading eagle in an outdoor shower (a common occurrence, I believe) looked a lot like Gabrielle from Xena: Warrior Princess. This was a big deal. This was life changing. I flipped through the pages and realized that this is what I needed. I needed this magazine. My raging teenage hormones overrode any sense of ethics or morality I had in me. Tyler was my friend, but this was Highlander; there can only be One and it was going to be me.
The week was up. Tyler’s parents would drive me back down to Rhode Island, where they would have Boring Adult Dinners with my mom. After the car was packed, I implied to Tyler’s mom that I had to use the bathroom. After I flushed, I slipped into Tyler’s room, my heart pounding so hard it might have cracked my ribs as I parted the curtain that substituted for his bedroom door. This was Indiana Jones & the Temple of Doom type shit. I tiptoed down the two wooden steps into his room, over the motion sensors, under the flying arrows, defeated two reanimated Samurai Warriors, and approached the wicker drawer. I removed that magazine like Indy grabbing a Golden Idol; not an item in the drawer left disturbed. I rolled the magazine up and tucked it in my pants like I was holstering a glock. Once at the car, I slipped the mag into my back pack and returned home.
When I returned home, I hide the porno mag in the old sewing desk I did my homework on. My heart pounding. Catholic educated, I was waiting for God to strike me with a bolt of lightning the next time I got an erection. I kept the magazine for a few months, but I became too paranoid. I lived with my grandparents; my 80 year old grandmother could find the magazine while cleaning my room. My mom could find it, just digging around, being nosy. Any of my four younger brothers could stumble onto the magazine when they came into my room just to make me livid. In the end, I had to throw the magazine out, my poor heart could not take the paranoia any more. This would be the last time I would look at pornography… until we signed up for AOL a year later.