When I was a kid, I was such a user.
That’s off-brand for a Scorpio. We’re supposed to be all-or-nothing, I like you or I don’t like you.
With Annie Lewis and Karen Poterman, classmates in middle school, I was more, you bug me but you have something cool at your house, so let’s hang.
Annie, who was new in 5th grade, only wanted to talk about money, designer jeans, Bloomingdales and Fiorucci, which got boring.
She also peed her Calvins every time we sat on the carpeted floor of our Cluster Area and played Chinese jacks. Each time, she’d spring to her feet, feel her wet butt, and say, “Oh my god, I did it again – I sat in a wet spot.”
But Annie had one important quality I looked for in a friend:
A pinball machine. A real one!
The problem was, her family had a whole brownstone, and the pinball machine was on the top floor in her father’s office. She never felt like going all the way up there. Whenever I came over, I’d flex my index fingers suggestively to mime pressing the flipper buttons, and say, “let’s hit that pinball machine.” Annie would say “Nah. That’s boring,” and insist instead that we go to her room and look at her Fiorucci jeans.
You can’t exactly say to someone, “Look, I came here to play pinball. This isn’t working out.” Or, maybe you should say that – but I didn’t have the moral character.
Karen Poterman was a worse case.
She was bossy — not “that girl’s going to be a leader, why must we call it ‘bossy'” bossy, just “do as I say or I’ll insult you” bossy. She had a lumpy, pooch-y body, but she’d grab MY stomach and say, “fat fry city.” I don’t know where she got that, it still sounds stupid.
Didn’t stop me from going over to her house. Why? Because she had cable, and had boasted that she could watch porn. As early as 4th grade, I knew this was something I needed to see.
Karen had two apartments, not joined but across the hall from each other.
There was no parent in either. Her mom was the type who chain smoked and went clubbing at Studio 54 without hiring a sitter, and her dad was always away for work, doing something with oil and Saudis. In both apartments, there were photos of him smoking cigars and wearing an Arab headdress.
The apartments smelled like Karen, or she smelled like the apartments.
I didn’t love that smell, but again, she had cable and porn.
Also, the most rad modular sofa you’d ever seen. It was made up of cubes that you could arrange in any formation. A mountain, a fort, whatever you’d build with upholstered cubes. For Karen, it was a go-go dancing platform.
I’d go for a sleepover, and endure a few hours of Karen playing records and making me watch her dance on top of a stack of sofa cubes.
Then, finally, we’d pour ourselves glasses of Tab (something my mom wouldn’t let me have because the saccharine caused cancer in lab rats blah blah blah zzzzz), add heart-shaped ice cubes from their funky ice tray, and settle in for some Ugly George.
Ugly George was THE premium-cable porn show to watch back then. Or maybe just the only one I’d ever heard of.
I remember sitting in a sleeping bag, watching a parody ad for a TV store, where the topless spokeswoman showed off the size of the TV screen by placing her enormous boobs on top of it.
Karen had bossed me around all evening, but all I could think was, “worth it.”
Were you ever a user?
Did you seek out porn as a kid?
Or, is there any friend’s house that you remember like you’re still standing in it?
TELL ME IN THE COMMENTS.
Barb Pierce says
We were the only family with a pool in the neighborhood, so bingo, lots of friends in the summer. One kid, who we all tried to stay away from, mostly because of his lack of humor and chronic eczema all of his body, would ride his bike up to our pool fence with his swimming mask on (over his glasses) and his flippers on (yes on his bike!) and just hang there until my mom felt bad for him and asked him if he wanted to go for a swim.
He acted all surprised that she figured it out and because of his afore mentioned skin problem the rest of us decided when he came in we needed to work on our tans. He probably became an Olympic swimmer or a nerd scientist…
Oh, you were the use-ee!
I feel so bad for that kid. The eczema’s one thing, but to have parents who don’t bother to stop you from biking in flippers? Doomed.
Janet Griffin says
I usually visited friends who’s Mom’s would cook. My Mom and Dad cooked all of the time, but it was a plus to have people outside of my family cook as well. Plus there was cable (even though I had it at home), video games (also had them at home) and anything else that I felt I had to have. One friend in particular made me eggs over easy whenever I slept over because she knew I like them. Which is why I came to her house almost every weekend. Just for the eggs. Damn, I miss those eggs.
I hated other parents’ cooking, Janet! I remember getting excited for someone’s homemade tomato sauce and then finding it disgusting — because in my house, we had our spaghetti with Ragu.
by third grade I had my radar up for porn, as did most-to-all of the kids in my neighborhood. The boys, anyway. But my backwards-ass home town (Erie PA) didn’t have cable until much later than you east-coast elites, so we focused mostly on printed material. We collected and traded Playboy and Penthouse mags passed down to us by various older brothers. Which sounds creepier now than it seemed at the time.
Only the really elite of the elites had cable. My family didn’t get it till 1983 or so. I had to make due with found materials, too.
I’m not going to play this Wayback Wednesday thing. Because I was a piece of shit when I was younger. SO mean to my friends, not even funny. And, if that wasn’t enough, I had severe OCD, so I don’t even want to think about what watching porn would have done to my obsessive thoughts.
Thank god I outgrew those fucked up behavior patterns, or I’d be a miserable human being today.
I think it’s funny if you were obsessively mean.
Since artificial sweeteners seem to be a recurring reference in your posts, I must ask the question “What have you got against sugar?” Yes, it is harmful and highly addictive, but so are most artificial sweeteners and it tastes a whole lot better. You may say that sugar makes one gain weight, but I just found this on the web: “Artificial sweeteners appear to disturb the body’s ability to count calories and, as a result, diet foods and drinks may wind up encouraging weight gain rather than weight loss, an expert contends.” (I suppose the operative word in that sentence is “may” if you want to keep using these products.)
And the interesting thing is that all I typed in the search engine box were the words “Do artificial sweeteners” and the first suggestion that came up was “Do artificial sweeteners cause weight gain?”
Personally, I think the best way to not gain weight is to be born into the kind of body that just never gains weight no matter what that body ingests. I recommend this to all my patients.
Bruce, my question to you is: Do you have a pill to take to acquire that body if one wasn’t “born into it”? If so, I’d like an appt. with you, I’ll fly out from Cali.
Maybe if I just stop using Splenda…
I keep trying to be born into that body, Bruce. If you said I could do that by crawling into someone’s womb and then back out, I’d do it.
If you think artificial sweetener causes more weight gain than sugar, look at the size of a kid drinking from a liter bottle of Grape Ne-Hi.
Khyle Deen says
I never exactly scoped porn out as a kid, but I remember being about 7 (back in 1998) and a friend telling me that it was something adults watch and I instantly wanted to find it.
Then I was looking at a TV guide and saw “The Fantasy Channel”, I said “haha what a silly name for a channel”, then my mum told me it was an “adult channel” I did the maths (maths, not math, I’m British 😉 and worked out that that was what my friend had told me about, then aged 8, I got cable in my room, and hello Playboy 10 minute Freeview, artsy softcore pornography, it’s been my fav kind of porn ever since…. Too much?
Also aged 7, I used to go to my friend’s house to play a Street Fighter-esque game, my first time ever going to a friend’s house, and also basically my last because his dad roared at him and I cried and ran home and on some deep level kind of became scarred for life…
Happy Wayback Wednesday, mini therapy lesson from Mrs Belgray here
Definitely was part of a group of users. Using kid’s various large Long Island homes w parents that were missing or didn’t care for all the bad teenage stuff one could think up.
Oh young soft-core Khyle…you have so much to discover!
I wish you could see the Hustler Magazine I found at a motel when I was 11. I think it’d be a revelation to you, even as an adult.
Wowie for Way Back Wednesday! I was actually thinking about you this morning on my walk to school. I was remembering Way Back to the summer and you talked about going out to get watermelon chunks and I was inspired to do the same and so did! I totally copied you – using you for your great idea! Well, it’s not so much the same this morning because it is a frigid, thank you polar vortex (whatever that is!) for the -22C temp with a loving (em)bracing ‘feels like’ -29C.
Anyway, I do remember still Nicole Page’s living room, c 1967. Her parents had a polar bear rug on the living room floor – full head with jaws in perma-growl. It was creepy but she was fun to hang out with. I guess you could say I used her to get away from my very noisy House of Five Siblings.
And I’m still totally using you right now because I’m at school and should be getting my stuff ready for my fun grade 7s. I still have 10 minutes.
I’ll be eating watermelon chunks until they disappear from the shelf. So far, so good – and it’s Mid-November. Cross fingers for me!
I always wanted a bear-rug kind of home.
You know, if you pressed the 3 and the 7 on the cable box at the same time, you might be lucky and get the Playboy Channel. Admittedly, it was not a clear picture: static-y, rolling…kinda like trying to find the nipple on a Picasso nude that’s whirling around the Wheel of Fortune at 40 r.p.m. But it was there. It was best on a Saturday night, because if the parents came home between 9 and 10pm, you could immediately switch to ABC and say “we’re watching ‘The Love Boat'” or between 10 and 11pm ‘Fantasy Island’. It’s good to have your story ready when you’re a kid and sneaking porn.
I remember switching from Midnight Blue really quickly to…the Korean Channel. A lot less convincing.