It happens every so often. I’ll be at a bar with a guy that’s too old for me, or maybe out with some bi-curious college girls who think it’s cute to make out with one another other when they’re drunk, or maybe I’m talking to my cousins in Costa Rica at a bar near Jaco Beach, that terrible beach town filled with prostitutes.
The topic comes up: When was the first time you saw pornography?
It’s a nice transition into talking about sex. For the older man, it’s a calculated move. Same with the bi-curious girls. With my cousins, it’s not insidious, it comes up naturally.
“I found a magazine under a bed, it was like a movie. You’re too young to remember when porn was something you actually had to buy. With the Internet now, you don’t even have to own up to it. At the video store… god, did you even have video stores? There was a section beaded off, and that was the porn section, and you had to walk into it in front of everyone. Yeah, everyone. You kids nowadays have it so easy, you punks.”
He would be trying to goad me into proving that I was a tougher young person, that I was special, and that my grown-upness and toughness would translate into sex with him.
With the young, bi-curious girls, it’s the “two girls, one cup” viral video, or Paris Hilton’s sex tape. “Was she really shitting, it came out like froyo?” “I heard it was real.” “I heard it wasn’t real.” “I saw this anime tentacle porn where an octopus with a million penises fucked this girl and then a dog started licking her.” “I can’t believe she answered her phone in the middle of sex.”
My cousins with their Imperial beers:
“Mae, so I was with Uncle Roberto, mae, and I was over at his farm, when this huge scorpion stung me. I was terrified. He killed it and said it wasn’t poisonous, but even if it was, we were so far, mae, so far from the hospital. I thought he was lying to me just to get me to calm down. I didn’t trust him, mae, not one bit, and nothing would make me shut up. So he said, mae, he said he would put on a video and leave the room, and not to tell my Mom. And well, it was… that’s how it happened.”
Then I say mine. I always wait to go last, and I always wait until I’ve been asked.
“I first saw porn when I was stuck in Florida in a hotel room with an overweight flight attendant. We were in the same bed. I was six years old.”
This is when everyone stares at me and that sweet taste fills my mouth, the sticky brandy of having taken something too far.
The older man:
“Man, I don’t want to hear this.”
“Oh my god. What? Were you like, raped?”
Cousins, with their Imperials down:
“What? Why were you in Florida when you were six, mae?”
When I have their undivided attention, I take a slow, long sip of whatever I’m drinking, and pretend it’s really hard to swallow. I hold my hand up as though to stop the onslaught of questions from pouring out all at once. Even the older guy, who claims he doesn’t want to hear what I’m about to say, is leaning forward with a snarl and a receding hairline.
“My dad lived in Costa Rica when I was little, and my mom lived in New York. I would fly by myself pretty often to and from Costa Rica, especially after my mom got full custody of me. But that’s another story.
“I was flying from New York to Costa Rica with a layover in Miami, or Fort Lauderdale. I forget which. Basically, when I landed in Florida, I missed my connecting flight.
“It was a late flight, and I couldn’t get another plane until the next morning. But I’m six, you know, they can’t leave me hanging around. My mom couldn’t contact me, she didn’t have full custody of me yet, so she would call but couldn’t verify or something… she had to communicate through the airline people, but not to me directly. It was weird. I forget the rule. But she was screaming on the phone.”
Then I pause. The older guy who was trying to flatter me by calling me an old soul is slowly realizing that I actually have an old soul, and he’s scared. His Don Draper style and 90’s punk attitude aren’t winning me over. He’s shifting back and forth. I’ve dropped custody bombs and childhood drama on him in a span of thirty seconds, and I’m nowhere near done. I still have to get to the pornography part. But he can’t leave: I’m in the middle of my story now, and he’s already invested in me by buying a drink.
The bisexual girls are starting to realize that they aren’t going to be tasting Latina pussy tonight. My cousins keep staring with their eyebrows arched. The yellow eagles of their Imperials are listening, too. Young male prostitutes and older female prostitutes start showing up at the bar.
“So the airline had an entourage of flight attendants following me around. They bought me McDonald’s. I used to get the chicken nuggets and peel them. But only one had to stay with me overnight, in the hotel. It was a nice room, with a Queen or King sized bed… not sure. The stewardess who stayed with me was really overweight. She was this huge woman with skin that reminded me of the inside of a chicken McNugget. She took up most of the bed. The whole time, she was the only one who wasn’t really nice to me. The other flight attendants thought I was cute and sweet but she was really annoyed that she had to walk around with me, and then spend the night with me.
“Anyway, when she thought I was asleep, she changed the channel or something and, well. Yeah. But I wasn’t asleep.”
They can’t help but ask the clarifying questions.
“That is so sick. So you watched it, or did you hear it?”
“What did you see?”
“Did you tell your dad, mae?!”
This is where I take another long, deep, pensive sip of whatever the hell I’m drinking. I’ll nod my head and close my eyes as if to say, “Yes, yes, of course, of course you’d have these questions.”
The older man and the bisexual girls are thoroughly turned off. The man is scanning the bar for other potentials. The girls are still interested in the story, but not in me.
“I had my back to her, and the blanket over me, but I was peeking over the blanket. It was a black man, an Asian girl.”
“Oh, so like, it was really interracial.” That would be the enlightened bisexual girls.
“Uh, yes. So I was watching it, and eventually fell asleep. I didn’t feel her moving or anything. I don’t think she was masturbating.
“When I arrived in Costa Rica, I told my dad right away. I told him that she was watching an ‘adult film.’ I don’t even know how I knew that term.
“At first, my dad laughed, until I started describing what I saw and he was like ‘Oh. Shit. Yeah, that is an adult film.’ He told my mom, who was crying and freaking out, and she made a big deal with the airline. Well, my grandma did, since she was the one who had full custody of me at the time. But anyway.”
I take another sip. At this point, the older man has his new target acquired. The bisexual girls are starting to get bored, now that the only details left in the story involve the potential psychological problems associated with children seeing porn with strangers in hotel rooms. My cousins ask questions about punishment.
“Mae, so what happened to her, mae? And it was a woman, too? I wouldn’t think a woman would do that!”
“She was fired, I think. They could easily tell that she had ordered the porn to the room.
“She tried to claim that I must have done it while she was asleep. But no one believed that. Yeah, the six-year-old ordered porn. Sure. So she was fired.”
I take another sip and finish my drink. I consider it a success when I get a free drink out of this story.
“Like a little kid would know how to order an adult film, anyway.”
Lisa Martens grew up in Texas, where she learned how to climb Walmarts and fire guns. Now she’s an aspiring writer in Flatbush, Brooklyn, where she does neither. She attends CCNY for Creative Writing and her feet hurt. Read her critiques on fictional characters at www.literaryboners.com.