Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Some Memories Never Fade

Illustration by Gordon Studer
A long time ago, in what feels like a galaxy very far away, I lived in Berkeley, California. I rented a small house that I shared with a friend. In another house behind ours on the same property, our landlord lived with his wife and baby daughter. He was sort of a crazy dude about my age, who also worked as an auto mechanic. I can hardly remember anything about him, other than this one event that occupies quite a bit of real estate in my brain. It appears in multiple files under the letter "P," cropping up whenever I think about pornography, parenting, pot or policemen. As you can imagine, that can be several times a week in today's madcap society.

The guy--I don't even remember his name but somebody who reads this might--had a friend he wanted me to meet and invited me over to dinner for a "fix-up" one Friday night. When I arrived I was stunned to see a giant screen, the kind people used to show home movies on, set up at one end of the living room; projected onto it was a porno movie of the lowest caliber. I remember there was a plumber involved, and it was very explicit, showing all kinds of sodomy, etc. Despite that, nobody was looking at it. Besides me. I worried about the baby seeing those images. I asked my landlord's wife--I guess that would have made her my landlady--about it, and she said, "Oh, that's always on. Pete (or whatever is name was) finds it relaxing. It's like wallpaper; just ignore it."

My date arrived shortly after I did. He was a cop with the San Francisco police force who looked just like Robert Redford. I never much cared for Redford so that was not as big a deal to me as it might have been to some other women, but still, he wasn't ugly. And since I had never dated a cop it was sort of intriguing, at the same time being a major turn-off. I wondered what he would think of the pornographic wallpaper. Within minutes, after the introductions had been made, he offered everyone a joint of some "really good pot" and I realized he likely would not care. That was in 1982 and I still have not discarded that memory. But don't ask me what I did last weekend.

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