We decided it was a sociological experiment, a moral imperative to discover the truth. If it gave us an excuse to go to the adult bookstore-- all the better.
When I was a senior in college I moved off campus into a house with Ian, David, and Brian. We were all theatre majors, so we already spent way too much time together building sets or focusing lights or in rehearsals. But, being the one girl living with three guys was interesting. We’d get into late night conversations about professors and be intrigued that I saw some of them differently than all three of them did. We quickly became each others’ guide to the opposite sex.
About a month into the school year David received the Victoria’s Secret catalog in the mail. He asked me to look through it with him, wanting to find a present for his girlfriend, which was the reason he got a subscription, he said. But really he just got the catalog for the half-naked lady pictures. It was (and is) soft core porn.
So the discussion turned to actual porn, and Ian joined in. Had I ever seen a Playgirl, and what did I think? What about a Playboy? Had they ever seen either one? The conversation led to us all piling into Ian’s station wagon and going to the adult bookstore. I think we freaked the guy behind the counter out a little; I’m guessing it’s not usually one girl and two guys who walk in to browse at the magazine rack. After a few minutes of seeing what we could (since most of the magazines were in plastic bags) the brilliant idea was born.
The idea? We would buy a selection of magazines and bring them back to the house. We were hosting our first party that weekend and we’d leave the magazines on the coffee table to see who looked at what. So we made our choices: Playboy, Playgirl, Hustler, Bi-curious, and a few others I don’t remember. Once again the guy behind the counter obviously thought we were strange, I’m guessing people don’t typically check out with such spectrum-spanning choices.
Back at the house we opened up all the magazines and flipped through them, chatting about what we liked and didn’t, and dear god why would anyone find THAT to be a turn on. Brian came home in the middle of this and shook his head at us, before heading to bed. We fanned the magazines out on the table, making sure that they were well mixed. And so the trap was set.
At the party the next night we took turns hanging out in the corner of the living room and watching people discover our coffee table ‘reading’. Comparing notes afterwards it was surprising how similar reactions seemed to be. Absolutely no one mentioned the porn to anyone who lived in the house, and would usually only look at it if they were sitting on the couch in a group of three or less. The girls would tend to page through a few of the magazines starting with Playgirl, and would at least glance at any of them. The boys would look at Playboy and Hustler, and practically use their elbows to nudge the Playgirl out of the way – they weren’t looking at naked men, no sir.
The next morning we declared our experiment to be a success. It was intriguing to see that people always seem to treat porn like a secret, even when it’s on the coffee table.
The magazines stayed there for a while, until the day David’s mother was over to pick him up to take him out for brunch. She had never been to the house and David was giving her a tour. He was with her in the kitchen and suddenly glanced at me with panic and tilted his head to the living room. I just started at him blankly for a moment and then realized – the porn. I managed to make it into the living room and sweep up the magazines, tucking them face down below a school book, just as she walked in. I guess no one is ready to leave their porn out in the open all of the time.
***This is my entry for therealljidol topic: the elephant in the room. Go here to read other people's entries for the week, and thanks for stopping by.***