Yesterday Josh and I walked back to my family's cabin in the woods. The door was swinging open when we got there. Whoever was the last person in the cabin hadn't properly latched the door. I blame my brother. He and his friends go back there a few times a month and get trashed on cheap beer.
Josh and I went inside. I wanted to see what other small things had been left wrong with the cabin (open windows, messy kitchen). Josh was impressed with the whole place. He loved the ratty old couch, the mismatched curtains, the mismatched carpet, the deer bones mounted on the wall.
"This place is amazing," he said. "I want to live here."
I told him the place gets better, but we had to go upstairs to see why.
We climbed the stairs. I was a little nervous about going upstairs and finding something I didn't want to find. Maybe there would be tied-up Hooters waitresses. Who knows what kind of mischief my brother and his friends get into in the cabin.
I know what kind of mischief I used to get into at the cabin.
It's not my fault, though. I blame my grandfather, my uncle, maybe even my father. The cabin was predominantly theirs--they built it with their own hands, and they were the ones who used it faithfully in the wintertime. My mother, grandmother, and I would bake them pies and brownies and cookies and load those things in a giant picnic basket for them to take back to the cabin, where they would spend the next few days drinking, telling stories, and hunting deer.
What else did they do when they were back in the cabin? They looked at porn. A lot of porn. Strange porn. And they weren't very sneaky about it.
When I was a little girl--I'd guess eleven years old--I was back at the cabin for a family picnic. There'd been an awful lot of hot dogs and potato salad and cheesecake and S'Mores, and I ate so much that I felt sick. I went inside to have a lie-down on the couch for a few minutes, and when I stretched out and made myself comfortable, that's when I saw them. The porn magazines. They were not-so-cleverly hidden underneath a stack of National Geographics that were shoved underneath the coffee table.
I didn't really believe it. I know guys are stupid, but were they really THIS stupid? Would my male relatives think it was perfectly okay to store their porn on the living room coffee table?
The answer to that is simple. The answer to that is yes.
It was the first time I saw porn. I slipped one of the magazines out from under a National Geographic with a giraffe on front. The magazine advertised HORNY COWGIRLS!
Horny cowgirls? Okay. I had to see what the fuss was about. I had to see what was worth buying this magazine. After all, how could they be sure that the cowgirls were really horny? What in the photo proved that?
It turns out I didn't really want to know.
I opened to a random two-page spread. What I saw there had me fling the magazine back on the ground like I would've had I found a colony of spiders setting up shop in its creases. Then I picked it back up to make sure that what I thought I saw was actually what I saw.
There on the two-page spread were two drunk-looking girls (one blond, one brunette) wearing cowgirl hats. They were naked. They were sitting down at a dinner table. In front of them was a giant platter of, well, human excrement, and they were holding forks and knives over it. They were about to cut into it.
I choose to think this is the kind of porn my grandfather's into. Girls being forced to pose pretending to eat poop seems like his kind of thing. He's not entirely fond of women and their sass and their ideas and their whatnot, so maybe thus the appeal?
Anyway, after I'd found that stash I kept coming back to monitor it each time we were back in the cabin. Especially when I brought friends. When I was thirteen my best friend and I took a walk back to the cabin and spent two hours looking through the stash.
"Does this scare you at all?" I asked, holding up a page where two men were servicing one bored-looking woman.
"A little," she said. "It looks really painful."
Yesterday I was ready to show off the impressive stash of pornography one more time. I knew it would be upstairs, because that's where it migrated to once my younger cousins got old enough to walk and talk. Or maybe my grandfather and uncle wised up and tried to hide it from me. Regardless, they put it in a giant paper bag and "hid" it in the corner of my grandparents' room. The paper bag was stuffed. There had to be at least 70 magazines in there. The boys had quite the collection.
And it wasn't mainstream, either. There was no Playboy, no Hustler. There were magazines called International Mystique and Adam and Babes. Most of them were from the 1970s and featured girls with stick-straight hair and white go-go boots.
But when I threw myself on my grandfather's bed to reach the other side, where I knew the magazines would be stored, I felt for the bag and found it there, greatly depleted. Ransacked. I opened it. There were a few loose sheets of newspaper and two pornos.
I blame my brother. I blame his friends. I can just see them now--carting off my family's pornographic stash and taking it back to their homes for private use, because, really, what's my grandfather going to say? It's not like he can accuse them. It's not like he can say, "Oh, Adam, did you happen to take my massive collection of groddy 1970s porn out of the cabin?"
I was disappointed. I'd built the surprise up so much, only to find the once-towering and impressive bag deflated and mildewy. "I'm sorry, Josh," I said. I handed him one of the leftover magazines. It was an International Mystique.
"It's okay," he said. "I still want to live back here."
"Yeah," I said. I could see the appeal. It was quite the bachelor pad, what with the old cans of Sanka and the gun racks, the crusty dishes and wood stove. I could just see Josh puttering around the cabin in a plaid robe and thick socks. I could see him pouring himself a coffee and stepping out on the front porch to commune with nature. "But," I said, "...and this is for certain...you would've loved it even more if there was a giant stack of porn at your disposal."
But what's a girl to do? There's no way I can get that porn back. There's no way I will ever be able to find the magazine with the horny cowgirls and their crooked hats and their giant plate of feces. There's no way I'm ever going to be able to point to that and say, "This was one of the first pornographic images I ever saw. Analyze that. Analyze me. Someone get Freud on the line."
I am going after my brother, though. That boy's about to be forced to account for the whereabouts of my family's porn collection. And I'm going to tell him to stop buying that gross, cheap beer.