I guess I should see it as a compliment that one of my guy friends feels comfortable enough to watch porn in my presence. Channel-surfing, he hesitated when he came to the Playboy channel, glanced at the bored, indifferent look on my face, then set the remote down on the carpet.
My friend sat on a velour-covered easy chair, so close to the television screen that any mother would have screamed had she seen her child sitting that close to Saturday morning cartoons. The chair’s color was midway between a faded green and a fluorescent highlighter yellow; its shade depended on the incoming light and one’s mood. To a grass-roots fanatic, it was definitely green. To an inebriated frat boy, the chair probably took on a less verdant tone and more of a puke-yellow shade.
With my friend sitting on the only real chair in the apartment, I opted for the worn-down, carrot-colored beanbag. When I sat down, the beans swooshed to either side of me, snugly reforming to the intrusion of my butt. I was just leaning back when I saw a broad, tan-colored wrist place the elongated, black control on the floor.
Complacently he watched, with one hand periodically retrieving his can of Budweiser and the other hand gently set on his protruding tummy. I watched my friend, as he watched TV, and I tapped my fingernails on my thigh. His thin white shirt barely covered the remaining bulge of stomach fat. And when he raised his hand to sip the room-temperature beer, I could detect small holes on the sides of his right underarm. Nonetheless, in spite of his sub-par appearance, I couldn’t help but smirk inside. A great all-around guy—I couldn’t help but be drawn to his quick wit. We had met at forestry camp in college and because of his sense of humor, I had spent a whole summer laughing heartily.
Stagnated on the nostalgia of pine trees, wooden cabins, and bright yellow hard hats, I didn’t notice the irritating buzzing sound a few decibels greater than normal until moments later.
“Dan!” I screamed, looking from the TV to his fat ass. “You can’t even see anything!” It was true. He didn’t subscribe to the Playboy channel, so all we could see were zig-zagged clips of a scene which distorted the picture altogether.
“Just wait. Just wait.” He chided, anxiously diverting his gaze from these imaginary naked figures on TV to the resting remote control, thinking that with my fiery impatience I just might have the guts to switch the channel for my own viewing pleasure.
“Ooohhh,” I muttered. I figured I might as well disrupt the silence. Dan’s the talker. I’m the listener, but when I listen, I like to punctuate the conversation with those monosyllabic filler words to let the other person know you’re actively listening—words like, ‘yeah,’ ‘wow,’ ‘oh,’
“Oh see! Look at that!” His voice rose in excitement as he physically perked himself up with his forearms. The folds in his stomach increased both in number and magnitude. “You see that?” He posed the question, then eased into a broad smile.
“No. I really can’t see anything.” I patronized. But I was in truth lying because I could see some flesh, just not distinctly. I really couldn’t see anything very clearly, so I squinted several times, hoping the ridged lines would smooth out.
“It’s a tit!” He resolved emphatically with a big fat grin on his face. Just like the Cheshire cat—so smug and annoying. Dan’s face lies hidden beneath a barrage of thick, black curly hair and an unruly beard that he likes to scratch and play with. His pretty green eyes light up amidst the darkness of his physiognomy. And when he smiles, the grooves of his mouth expand from ear to ear, just like the infamous cat when Alice in Wonderland asks for directions.
I squinted again, hoping to catch a clearer view of the scene. With my brain still processing the input of information, I looked restlessly from my watch to the TV. But finally it clicked. Although the scene was distorted, I could make out the images flashing across the screen. I made a game out of it, trying to recognize what had previously been unrecognizable. Intermittently, the screen would go blank, then images of nude flesh would appear, giving rise to explicit scenes of sexual intercourse.
“Oh, Dan! ENOUGH!!” I cried. I hardly felt comfortable watching Playboy with a male friend.
“Fine.” He relented, issuing me the power over the remote control. He proceeded to finish his Bud. Excitedly, I scanned the plethora of channels. After two thorough scannings, I was content to watch the eighties TV show ChiPs. Bringing his head down from the last gulp of the can, Dan glanced at the TV, then looked at me with imploring eyes, accentuated by his wrinkled forehead and furrowed eyebrows. “What the fuck is this?”
“Dan,” I explained calmly, “it’s ChiPs. It’s a classic.”
“A classic piece of shit,” he retorted. “C’mon,” he summoned. “Don’t you have to go to Church?”
“No,” I murmured. “But for once I might as well be early.”