Friday, May 30, 2014

Scrambled Channel - full story

Lately I’ve had these telltale signs that I must be getting old.  I intellectually know that at 29 I am arguably young.  You are as young as you feel.  I didn’t feel old when at breakfast the bartender didn’t even card me.  I didn’t feel old when at Macy’s some random woman offered me eye cream.  It was strange being that I was in the Home-Furnishings section but I went with it.  I didn’t feel old when my mother told me that I was too old to be a young parent.  None of that fazed me.  I did however feel old when a 20-year old asked me “What’s a scrambled channel?”
I officially realized that I, like the elastic on Mariah Carey's clothing officially am old.  

I explained that a scrambled channel was that magic place between channels.  If you didn’t have HBO or Scinimax this was what you lived for.  I realized that this kid didn’t know the pain, excitement and exhilaration of trying to watch scrambled-soft-core porn.  Looking at a scrambled channel was like looking at one of those Magic Eye pictures from the 90s.  Where your friends asked if you saw the image beneath the image.  You would stay no every time, then just lie and say you saw it just to get them off of your back.  This kid didn’t know what it was like for us to find porn before the Internet.  You had to have a friend, sister or National Geographic.  It was hard.  This kid never knew the thrill of arguing with a buddy if that was a mole or a tit.  He just didn’t know.  He looked at me like I was speaking alien.  I explained how we as children in the cable-age became masters of our domains when our parents weren't looking.  He didn’t know about how it became a talent to switch channels fast and slow enough to see a remnant of a scrambled tit just because we could.  We ALL did it.  At least those of use without that relative who had that illegal cable box.  The trick was to not get caught.  This was a primitive time right before the Internet became our peephole into the universe.

I realized that this kid didn’t know that there was a time when life was harder.  Where we didn’t download music.  We joined these CD clubs.  We would get 10-15 CDs in the mail without any intention of ever joining or paying.  It was a different time!

 This kid didn’t know that there was a time in our recent past where we were so primitive that we would purchase Internet in increments of time.  When you went on you had to know where you were going.  There was no time to waste!  Each Internet Company would try to sell you their Internet connection by giving you CDs with 10-100 free hours at a time for an introductory thing.  If your family was broke like mine, you never paid for the Internet.  Once you were done with one, you would cancel the membership and switch to another company for more free hours.  After a year or so of bouncing between free Internet deals we got the Internet sweet spot America Online.  We had never used AOL before.  This was the place that connected millions little boys to dirty chatrooms.  It was also the first place many young boys like myself searched for porn.  It was great.  I became great friends with porn.  I also, like all young boys innately knew how to clear the web browser.  It’s just how we developed.  You got a boner and automatically knew how to clear a browser.  I thought I covered my tracks well.  No one would be the wiser.  This was before we knew how the world worked.  This was before we knew what cookies were and that AOL would send commercial emails from sites you had visited.  I didn’t know this either.

Weeks went by since meeting my good friend Internet porn.  My mother and I went to dinner.  Being that she’s Russian and English was her second language, sometimes there would be words she didn’t completely understand.  Between the burger and the shake my mom asked, "What is boo cake and can I eat it?" The world has never been the same.

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