Happy Mother’s Day to the best mom in the world. Thank you for not coming out before 1978 and allowing me access to this ridiculous world. I love you more than any post could express. And I also forgive you for this haircut.
The last time I took magic mushrooms I shit my pants. And I can say with absolute certainty, this was the worst moment of my life.
Let me set the stage:
Autumn, New York City.
I was in my first year in grad school. I’d made fast friends with two jovial drunks, Adam and Mike. Adam had lived in the city for years and took us to some of the filthiest bars and terrifying neighborhoods in Brooklyn.
One night he scored some shrooms and invited Mike and me to a rooftop on Flatbush Ave. I ate a stem and a cap. Mike shoved a fistful in his mouth and kept snacking every few minutes.
“What are you doing?” I asked.
“What? You eat until you puke, and then you trip.”
“Who told you that?”
“I don’t know. Some guy.”
Ten minutes later, Mike was…
When the drugs took hold, the New York skyline danced and jittered on the horizon, beckoning us off this rooftop prison.
I suggested we take a walk.
“Dude, you don’t want to walk around here,” Adam said.
“Then why the fuck did you bring us here?”
“To do drugs. And now we’re tripping and I’m not going anywhere.”
“Well…I can’t stay here. I’m losing my fucking mind.”
I pestered. I whined. Finally, we took a stroll around the block. The place was like a demilitarized zone. Mike started writing our obituary.
“Let’s go uptown,” I said and we got a cab and Adam kept asking the driver if he wanted some of our mushrooms. We ended up at a bar. Adam started chatting with a few girls. I couldn’t stop sweating. The faces in the bar kept morphing.
Adam asked the girls if he could do drugs at their table.
“No,” the girls said in unison. They told him to go away.
I pulled him and Mike out the door. “Let’s go to campus. We can sit on the grass.”
We walked the five blocks to Columbia. I had to piss. I wanted to just whip it out and go on the lawn, but I knew I’d get arrested that way. So I took a deep breath, walked into Dodge Hall and headed for the men’s room. The stream hit the urinal and I farted, only, I didn’t just fart. I followed through.
Oh God…Oh God…Oh…GAWD!
Luckily, I was alone, so I jumped into a stall and assessed the damage. It was fucking awful and I was still high, which made it so much worse. I stripped down and tried to clean myself up.
How is it on the front of my knee?!
The door opened. “Anthony?” Mike said. “You alright, you’ve been in here forever.”
“I’ll just be a sec.” I used my bare foot to slide my shoe closer to me.
“Well, hurry, Adam’s climbing on stuff in the lobby.”
I finished wiping and tossed my underwear in the trash. I found the two of them on the steps. We sat there for a few seconds before Mike turned to me.
“Hey, man, I…I know what you were doing in there.”
Oh Jesus! I just started school, and now I’m going to be the pants shitter. Fuck.
“You were… You were masturbating.”
“Masturbating…Yes, I was. I was masturbating.”
“Well…why’d you have to take off your pants?”
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No one is “good” at grieving, but I believe you can be bad at it. Like if someone dies and you go on a murderous rampage or start raping your way through the pain, I think it’s safe to say that’s “bad.”
I, like most people, grieve somewhere in between. I’m awkward and I tend to flail. I make jokes. They’re inappropriate. It’s a defense mechanism. I don’t realize it’s happening until it’s too late.
On 9/11, I invited a bunch of people over to my place. There were rumors California was going to be a target, and my friends and I figured we might as well go out together, so we bought supplies and watched as the horror played out on the news. After a few hours, I couldn’t take any more death and destruction. None of us could. The newscasters started throwing out possible suspects. They mentioned Oklahoma City, American militias and terrorist cells from the Middle East.
I said, “How do we know it’s not the sharks?”
They had been in the news recently, biting off limbs near the Florida coast. Who’s to say they didn’t learn to fly a plane?
It was absurd and stupid, but it was a swift blow to the misery in the room. We started laughing, a little too loud, mind you, because my landlord heard us cackling like maniacs. He evicted me a few weeks later.
I haven’t changed much. I doubt I will. Suffering from bipolar II, I can’t tell you how many times finding the funny has kept me from stepping off a ledge.
I don’t believe laughter is the best medicine, but it is necessary to survive.
And I’ve learned that even though my brain searches for a joke in the darkest moments, I don’t always have to voice them, and they definitely don’t belong in letters of condolence.
Last week my best friend as a kid killed himself. The cops tried to talk him off the bridge, but he jumped. I hadn’t spoken to him in almost five years. He’d gone off the grid. He didn’t like to take his meds. Now, he’s gone, and I never got to tell him how much he meant to me.
I wanted to go to the funeral, but it’s in Kansas City and it’s not possible right now. Instead I decided to write a letter to his parents. Growing up, I spent almost as much time at their house as my own. There were a lot of good memories, and I tried to list them off as best as I could recall. But after a while, the pain was just too great. I’d failed him as a friend. I should’ve reached out when I heard about his diagnosis of schizophrenia. I should’ve been there at his side, sharing my own struggles with mental illness. But I didn’t. I couldn’t stop crying, but I needed to get the letter into the mail, so I quickly thanked them for being wonderful people and for making me nachos whenever I spent the night. The nachos were always greasy and gooey and magnificent.
Just as I was about to pop it in the mail, I decided to show it to my wife.
She read it, then said, “Wait. Are you seriously saying, ‘Sorry for the loss of your son, but thanks for the nachos?’”
I realized an edit was in order, so I took out the jokes and simply told them that I loved them and that I miss my best friend.
What say you? Have you ever said something inappropriate to someone in mourning?
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Last night my best friend as a kid killed himself. According to the newspaper, the cops tried to talk him down off the bridge, but he jumped.
I haven’t seen him since college. We lost touch a long time ago. I heard he was living off the grid the past two years. He’d been in and out of facilities to deal with his schizophrenia. He didn’t like taking his meds. Now, he’s gone, and there’s just this tidal wave of grief. Our parents are still good friends. No one knows what to say.
I don’t even feel like writing today, but I wanted to put something down, so I’m linking to the three posts where I learned I had bipolar II and my own dealings with suicide.
If you or anyone you know needs help, please don’t hesitate to call 1-800-273-8255
Here is my story in three parts:
This arrived under our door today:
Normally, I don’t pay attention to delivery menus. I just stuff them in this binder we keep above the refrigerator, but I couldn’t stop staring at this. What in the hell is a “Surprise Pizza Restaurant?”
Do they turn out all the lights and jump out with a slice? “SURPRISE!”
Do they label the boxes “Pumkin Pie?” so when you open them, they can say, ”HA! You though pumpkin pie. But it is pizza!”
I can’t solve the riddle. I even enlisted my wife to help. She suggested that the owner might not speak English. There is a large Russian population in the area. Maybe it’s just Google Translate’s fault?
But it feels like there’s something more, something sinister. I kept asking my wife to throw out possibilities. She grew tired of my pestering. She got up to pee. I waited a few minutes before sneaking up, throwing open the door, shoving in the menu and screaming, “Surprise!”
She nearly fell off the pot.
I went back to pacing, turning the name over and over in my mind. “Surprise Pizza…Pizza Surprise…Surprise…Surprise…”
I’m still confounded. I can’t believe anyone would think this is a good name for a restaurant.
I’m tempted to order, but I’m frightened. I won’t be able to stay calm. I’ll just be staring at the windows, the balcony, waiting for some crazed deliveryman to pop up with a pie.
Why did they have to slip this under my door?
Why can’t I let it go?
Yes, I realize it’s not as bad as the Worst Restaurant Names in the World, but still, it’s driving me mad.
Have you ever seen a restaurant with a terrible name? Have you dared eat their food?
Five years ago, Jess and I did this:
I said this:
“I dropped to one knee. You asked if something was wrong with my leg. I said, No, nothing is wrong with my leg. I asked you to marry me. You cried and said yes. That night I was so confused as to why you loved me. I watched you sleep and thought about all the things we’ll do, like buy a house and a car with air conditioning and open up a theater and take trips to Brazil and laugh at Americans trying to order Churrascaria and we’ll kiss in the Parthenon and ride camels and go to the premier of our first movie and take the stage to accept our Oscar and get so drunk at the after party that you pee on Steven Spielberg’s lap and I break up with you and tell you to lie down in the grass and you cry and say you will and I feel awful and pick you up and we give up drinking for two months and get into the best shape of our lives and you say we’ll never drink again and we get drunk that night and make love on our new deck and we’re so loud the neighbors put up their house for sale and we buy that house too so we can build a wiffle ball stadium in the backyard and you tell me you’re pregnant and I kiss you because we’re ready and we raise the kid to be an atheist even though I read God is Gay to him when he’s sleeping and you tell me I’m a good father and I tell you that you’ve never looked more beautiful and you say it’s because of the fake boobs and I shrug and a month later I finally finish writing Why Can’t I just Die because for the first time I don’t want to kill myself and we take jobs at a college and teach and write plays and screenplays and you say we should go to the Himalayas and so we go to the Himalayas and meet a boy who recognizes you and says he loves Charlie Moose and Hatch Lemon like brothers and we laugh because the kid has never even heard of Kraft Cheese and you start to worry that we’re not doing enough with our lives so we go to New Orleans because for some reason things never got fixed and we help an old saxophone player build a new house screw by screw, and I notice that my finger skin starts to dent in like my grandmother’s and you take my hand when the doctor tells me I have lung cancer and we laugh and say, Thank God I quit smoking fifty years ago, and I go through chemo and get better and help you with your physical therapy for your new feet and I say it’s about time you got that hearing aid and you finally say okay and we hold our grandchild and sit in the living room as he watches Nick the Saint for the first time and he says it was the bestest best movie ever and I walk out into our tomato garden and see your legs lying lifeless and I hold your hand and tell you I love you and I find myself laughing because your socks never did match and we bury you behind an oak tree and I kick myself for not buying side-by-side plots and I have to wait until no one is around so I can dig up the guy next to you and put him somewhere else and then hire an immigrant from that new country of New California and have him shoot me in the gut and dump piles of dirt me and I start crying and I whisper through the earth and tell you I’m scared and that’s when I hear your voice for the first time in months and you say, It’s going to be okay, Anthony. I’m going to take care of you. Nothing bad is going to happen, and I say, How do you know? and you tell me it’s because we were wrong, Heaven does exist.
Two months ago you saved my life, and I promise I will do everything to make sure you never regret it. I love you and I will never, ever quit us.”
Then we did this:
Somehow we made it.
In case you missed the first part, you can read it here.
According to the sperm bank, my splooge was worth money.
To think I’d just been throwing it away – in my fiancée’s hair, on her boobs, in my navel. I was just flushing away cold, hard, sticky cash.
It was time to pocket some of that coin.
I’d already passed round one, and the sperm bank invited me to their main branch in Culver City. The building was fairly high-tech. The security guard buzzed me in and they had me create a passcode, which I had to punch in before I placed my hand on a black box. The guard said it would encode my handprint. He said only certified donors were allowed access.
I asked if this meant I was now certified.
He said no.
He introduced me to a pretty nurse, who had another binder of porn. This time I got to select my own DVD. I started flipping through when I felt the two of them staring at me. I just picked a random disc and took my cup. The nurse pointed me down the hall.
“Second door on the right.”
It was the same setup as the other office whack room: TV, folding chair, table, DVD player, paper towels, and nudie mag wallpaper.
I wrapped the paper towel around the remote and got to work. I felt an immediate stirring. It was surprising. The first time seemed to take forever. Here I finished before the porn previews, but I didn’t want to just walk out and look like a quick trigger so I stood there for a while looking over the node mag pictures. It’s fascinating how many boob-shapes there are.
I was lucky to have met Jess. She has fantastic boobs. And – holy shit – I can’t believe I forgot to mention this in Part 1, but Jess is the one who suggested I do this in the first place. She’d found the ad on Craigslist, not me. I’d completely forgotten until she just reminded me this morning.
“Remember? I sent you the link and said, ‘Here’s something you’re good at.’”
So yes, this was all my fiancée’s (now wife’s) idea.
Anyway, after a few minutes, I walked out of the little room and dropped off my sample. The nurse told me to wait there for the results.
“You’re doing them right now?”
The nerves took hold. It was one thing to be informed my sperm count failed over the phone, but now I’d have to do it face-to-face.
I began to sweat, fidget. Time practically stopped. Why did I finish so soon? If I’d lasted longer, maybe I could’ve added a few puppies to the batch.
Damn you, penis!
Almost an hour went by before a shy Asian doctor came out. She had glasses. She offered her hand, which was brave and gross considering what I’d just done. We shook, but she wouldn’t look me in the eye.
Oh God, I’m low.
“It’s pronounced Spock. Like Doctor or Mister…”
“Oh…” A little giggle.
Goddamn it, just tell me what my sperm count is, lady!
“We have received your results.”
Oh sweet Jesus! Thank you.
“Now, this is a long process. There are a lot of forms you have to fill out. Are you interested in being a donor?”
I honestly hadn’t thought about it. I was just coming back for some quick cash, but she told me I didn’t need to decide right now, that I would have to take home the forms anyway. Plus, there was still a third test.
That night I took Jess out to dinner at a fancy restaurant.
“These steaks are good, huh?” I said.
“You know, my sperm bought them.”
“Oh yeah. Big time.”
I’d actually strutted out of the office. In fact, I’d been strutting all day.
I told my fiancée to be careful. She could get pregnant just by looking at me.
Jess and I had decided before I ever proposed that we were never going to have kids. We’re writers and we figured we were going to be poor for a long time. But at this time, it seemed like a way to make some money. Why should my sperm go to waste?
“So how much do you think you’ll get?”
“I don’t know, depends on my numbers on the next test, but the doctor said some people can make $750 a week.”
“For jerking off?”
“Yeah. But I think those are super testicles. The doctor did say I would probably be ‘high interest’ because of my stats though. Blonde hair, blue eyes, I’m over six feet tall.”
“You’re saying women have the same taste as Hitler?”
Now, I don’t know if was all the talk of masturbation and sperm or if my new confidence was making me more attractive, but Jess and I couldn’t keep our hands off each other. Problem was, I wasn’t allowed to finish. I needed my soldiers for the third test, which wasn’t for a few days.
I’d gone days without doing it before, but never for a purpose.
It made me a little crazed. I couldn’t think straight. I was amped up. I tried to find distractions. I filled out all the forms. And in case you’re curious about purchasing baby batter, you’ll be pleased to know most of these banks are really thorough. I filled out answers about myself (medical history, education, personality questions) and gave a full background on my family. I knew most things, like both of my grandfather’s having heart attacks, but I didn’t know if they’d ever had allergies, and I didn’t want to call up my dad.
“Was Grandpa allergic to nuts?”
“Oh, I’m just filling out a form so I can make some cash for jerking off.”
“That Ivy League education is really paying off, huh, Anthony?”
So I did the best I could answering questions, showed up for my third test, and turned in my sample.
I was feeling good. I thought about all the couples I was going to help. Lesbians, like my mom, would be able to have a child. I was bringing life into the world!
The doctor called me into her office.
“So…we just got your results, and the numbers are a little lower than the first two.”
“How much lower?”
“About twenty million.”
“Jesus… So what does that mean?”
“Well, you’re still eligible, but you’d only be able to donate once every five days.”
“So I could only…?”
“Yeah. And because of your numbers, we’d have to start you at the lower pricing tier.”
“So it’d only be fifty bucks?”
I went home slightly deflated. I told Jess the news and she asked what I was going to do. I told her it didn’t sound like it was worth it. She agreed and admitted it did feel a little strange to think of hundreds of my children popping up over the world.
This turned out to be one of the best decisions we ever made, because a few years later I’d be diagnosed bipolar II. There’s evidence it’s hereditary, and I don’t know how I would’ve been able to live with myself knowing I’d spread my disorder onto unsuspecting children.
So luckily, I never went back to the bank, and later that night, after a wonderful escapade with Jess, I went back to shooting money all over my chest.
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After grad school I masturbated into a cup. It wasn’t on a dare. I didn’t have a fetish for plastic containers. I was broke and there was an ad for a sperm bank. I’d found the ad on Craigslist, so there was a little concern I might end up murdered, but it was fifty bucks. Plus, I was curious, and I was planning on doing that that afternoon anyway. Figured why not get paid?
So I drove to the sperm bank’s office, which was next to UCLA’s campus. It seemed like a legitimate medical building, so I walked up to the second floor. A group of college guys sat in school desks filling out forms.
There was a nurse behind a glass partition. She was pretty, which sort of creeped me out. I wanted this to seem more scientific, not just dudes whacking off for cash. I remembered what happened to Mark Wahlberg in Boogie Nights.
At the end of the hallway there were two doors. A guy walked out of one. He looked sweaty. He had a plastic cup and a DVD. He gave both to the nurse. She slipped the DVD into a thick binder. There must have been at least a hundred videos, but I couldn’t take my eyes off the plastic cup. It looked like watery mayonnaise.
The nurse slapped a label on it and stuck it in a mini-fridge. There were dozens of containers and a brown paper sack. I wondered if it was her lunch?
She handed me the forms, told me to bring them back when I was done. I squeezed into one of the school desks and started writing. The questions were fairly basic, stuff like height, weight, hair color, education, history of disease…
I couldn’t decide whether I needed to list my allergy to pollen when a guy passing by bumped me. He apologized.
I was about to say, “No worries,” when I saw his little cup of sauce. He’d almost spilled it on me!
I should have walked out right then. Instead, I wrote faster, turned in my forms.
The nurse asked if I had any preference.
“For the video?”
She pointed to the binder. She wanted me to tell her what I liked. I felt the eyes of every guy in the room.
What was I going to say? “Well, I do have a thing for thigh high stockings.” I simply stammered, “I-I-I don’t care. Whatever.”
Carefully, she flipped through the collection and handed me a disc, along with a cup. “Now, it’s very important not to use any spit or lube. It’ll contaminate the sample, okay?”
I nodded, hurried down the hall and entered a tiny room. There was a TV and DVD player in the corner. The walls were covered with pages ripped out of Playboys and other nudie magazine. I imagined it’s what a serial killer’s bedroom must look like.
I set the plastic cup on a table. There was a folding chair. I thought about all the hairy butts that had touched it.
I’d have to do this standing up.
That’s when I noticed the DVD, Ass Blasters 3. The nurse must of thought I was into anal. I wondered what tipped her off? Do I have a tell?
Worse, she’d given me Part 3, assuming I’d seen 1 and 2.
I used my knuckle to press eject. I popped in the disc and looked around for the remote. It was on the table. I started to pick it up, when I thought about how many thumbs had been used to fast forward and pause. There were paper towels. I tore off a sheet and wrapped the remote, like you might do to a pickle.
Problem was, the paper towel covered the buttons, so I couldn’t see what I was pushing. I ejected the disc, brought up the menu and turned off the player before I finally got things going.
Ass Blasters 3 wasted no time living up to the premise.
This monster dude was pounding away at this tiny lady. They cut to a nasty close-up shot that looked more like torture. I wanted to fast forward, but I didn’t want to risk pushing the power button again so I let it play out. I needed to get this over with. I heard someone enter the next room. I focused on the tiny lady. She seemed to be enjoying herself.
So was the guy next door.
He started grunting. He said, “Yeah…”
This must be what prison is like.
I couldn’t concentrate, couldn’t finish. I tried looking at the wallpaper porn. I tried closing my eyes and just listening to the DVD, but all I heard was the dude next door moan. A minute later he turned off his video and left the room.
How long have I been in here?!
I pictured the nurse checking her watch, pissed that I was taking so long. It was embarrassing. Did the other guys think I couldn’t get it up, or worse, that I was trying to make it last?
I closed my eyes and thought of Angelina Jolie, of the Sears catalogue from my youth. If only I had some lube. I was beginning to chafe. But I couldn’t give up now. I couldn’t walk out with nothing.
Finally, I felt a stirring, but just before the one gun salute, I remembered:
It was behind me on the table. I had to spin, reach, bend over, line up the target.
Success, well, mostly.
I zipped, cleaned up, and brought my sample to the nurse. I couldn’t make eye contact. She told me I’d get a call if my sperm count passed the first test.
I’d only done this for the money, but now I was suddenly overwhelmed with a fear I might fail.
For two days I fretted, even though I had no interest in going back to that perverse place. Then my cell phone rang. I was almost too scared to answer.
“We’re pleased to inform you that you’ve passed the first round. We’d like to schedule you for a follow-up. Are you interested?”
“You will receive a hundred dollars.”
To be continued…
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The morning after the Newtown shooting I wrote this on Facebook:
“I’ve seen a lot of friends posting inspirational quotes this morning. I understand it. I did it yesterday. Sometimes words are the only way to bring solace after something so horrifying and heartbreaking. I’ve also noticed friends asking for moments of silence and prayers. I get that, too. We can’t physically be with the suffering families, so it’s nice to believe there’s a benevolent being in the sky showering the grieving mothers with love. But for the next few hours, I’m not going to lean on either of those things. I’m not going to look up to the heavens, and I’m not going to look down at my phone. I’m going to walk around and do my best to look people in the eye. I’m going to smile and listen and engage and participate in this ridiculously amazing life, because today, there are twenty little kids who don’t get to do that. We need to stop taking that for granted. We need to stop being so impatient and annoyed. We need to call our parents and play with our dogs and dance like idiots. We need to pay attention.
Look, I know it won’t last, and I know nothing will make yesterday okay; nothing will bring back those beautiful, smiling faces, but if we can change, even if it’s only for a few seconds, then maybe the innocent didn’t die in vain, maybe the world, during this tiny blip, won’t be such a terrifying place to be.
Otherwise, we should just hurry up building those robots to finally take Earth out of our hands.”
I was trying to convince myself to get up off the floor. I was trying to write through the pain.
Yesterday I couldn’t.
I was done. The world was fucked and writing about it was like composing hymns on the Hindenburg.
Then I read Patton Oswalt’s response to the Boston Marathon shooting, and I remembered why words matter, especially after a tragedy, when sometimes they’re all we have to help us heal. And Patton’s words were stitching up my heart. They reminded me that humanity isn’t evil, even if the piece of shit who planted and detonated those bombs was.
He did it to strike fear, to kill, to maim, to cause chaos. He succeeded to some degree, but there were other consequences:
After the initial explosion, men and women to ran into the smoke not knowing what they’d find, only knowing people were hurt. Even as other bombs went off, they stayed put and kept pressure on open wounds. Some were doctors; others were fans or runners in the race. They risked their lives to tie tourniquets and to carry their brothers and sisters to safety.
And then there were the runners, who’d just finished a grueling 26 miles, who saw the devastation and kept running to Massachusetts General Hospital to donate blood.
The disaster inspired people all over the country to contact the Red Cross and to call up friends and family in Boston.
It forced parents to hold their sons and daughters a little tighter after reading about Martin Richard’s death.
Goodness and decency weren’t destroyed in the explosion. They came like a tidal wave after the bombs.
Patton Oswalt was right. “…the vast majority stands against that darkness and, like white blood cells attacking a virus, they dilute and weaken and eventually wash away the evildoers and, more importantly, the damage they wreak. This is beyond religion or creed or nation. We would not be here if humanity were inherently evil. We’d have eaten ourselves alive long ago.”
A few years ago, my wife found “Brad Pitt Nude” on my browser history. She refuses to let it go. She’s relentless. She’ll just blurt, “B.P.N!” out of nowhere and fall over laughing.
She’s whispered it during sex.
Before we go to dinner parties, she threatens to tell our friends. She never would, but she mouths, “B.P.N,” every time I get up to grab a beer.
I break out in sweats. My heartbeat gets all wonky.
My wife thinks it’s hysterical.
She taped this in our bathroom.
She likes seeing how flustered I get. She owns me and she knows it.
I can’t take it anymore. That’s why I’m typing this, why I’m telling the world, “I LOOKED UP ‘BRAD PITT NUDE!’”
And it wasn’t just once. It was TWICE. Go ahead and judge. I don’t care. I’m taking back the power. My wife can’t hold this over me anymore.
Thing is, it has nothing to do with me looking at a naked man. If my wife came home and I was beating off to two dudes on my computer, she’d say, “Oh, sorry, I’ll let you finish.”
It’s the fact that it’s so specific, that it’s Brad Pitt Nude.
She knows I’m a fan. We see all his movies. I own most of them.
And not that it matters, but I wasn’t jacking off to BPN when I Googled him.
I just wanted to see the picture.
In high school, Brad Pitt was arguably the coolest man on the planet, at least for me. Fight Club changed my life, and after seeing Se7en I actually outran a cop.
In the same way boys idolized Steve McQueen and James Dean, that’s how I felt about Brad Pitt. I didn’t want to kidnap or rape him; I wanted to meet him. I was a fan.
And in 1997 there was an issue of Playgirl. There were pictures of him naked. People were talking about it. It made the news. I was curious. I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. But it was 1997, and the Internet wasn’t like today. You couldn’t just Google “B.P.N.” and scroll through a million images.
You had to get a hard copy.
I was too scared to buy it, so I got my girlfriend, H., to do it. She was grossed out at first. She thought I was gay. I told her that wasn’t it. There was a lawsuit. They were going to pull the magazine off the shelves. This thing would be worth money. I convinced her it was a business investment. She wasn’t very bright.
The next day she brought it over. I tried not to look too enthusiastic as she pulled it from her backpack. And there it was, B.P.N. Problem was, it was sealed in plastic. I couldn’t see the pictures.
The front door unlocked. It was my dad. I hid the magazine under the couch. Later, I hid it in my closet. It stayed there for months. I couldn’t open it. It was one thing to “accidentally” flip to an image, but to break the seal somehow made it perverse.
And to be honest, I was afraid of what would happen if I saw the pictures. What if I really liked them? What if they turned me on?
So B.P.N remained in plastic. It protected us both.
Over the years, I moved a lot, even across the country. BPN stayed in boxes, until eventually, he was lost.
I’d actually forgotten about it until a few years ago. My wife had bought us tickets to a double-feature of Se7en and Fight Club. Se7en actually held up better than I remembered. But Fight Club really jogged my memory.
And so later that night, after my wife fell asleep, I typed twelve letters into Google and finally saw what I’d denied myself all those years ago. I wasn’t giddy or aroused.
I was sad.
I thought about that kid in high school who just wanted to see a picture. He was curious, but he was scared. He was ashamed. He worried people would think he was gay, or that he really was, and he’d lose his girlfriend and maybe even his father.
But he had nothing to be ashamed about.
He was just curious.
And gay or straight, who doesn’t want to see a little B.P.N?
Have you ever been busted for something in your browser history?