Behold the Perv-O-Meter. Every male in the world falls somewhere on this spectrum ranging from 1 (Sweet, innocent guy) to 10 (Total Perv).
As a guide to make the ratings clearer, let’s use the following celebrity examples:
Tom Hanks would be a 1.
Hugh Grant earns a 7.
Colin Farrell is an 8.
Michael Jackson is an 11.
Don’t get me wrong, number 1’s probably are not COMPLETE angels (what guy is?), but in the overall spectrum of the male species, they rate as sweet and innocent. I’d like to think that I would be about a 3 or 4 on this meter, but I’ll leave that for others to decide.
There comes a time in a young man’s life when he takes a major step in forming his spot on this spectrum. I’m speaking, of course, when he first goes to a video store to rent a porno an adult film. This is probably an easy and non-embarrassing event for a guy who is an 8, 9 or 10. It is a different matter for those of us who fall somewhere below the 5 marker.
I recall the day it happened for me. I was 18. A few buddies of mine were going to come over to play poker that evening, and several of us decided we should rent an adult movie from a local video store nearby. We all wholeheartedly agreed this was a fantastic idea. The part that was not so easy to decide was this: Who was going to do it?
At this particular video store in the 80s, they did not have a little separate adult room for pervs men to go into and make their choices. No, they instead had a big thick black binder with all the titles of the adult films they had to offer. This binder was behind the counter. So, not only did you have to get up the courage to ask for the dirty book, but you then had to peruse such titles as “Rambone” and “Star Whores” and verbally ask the clerk for the one that you wanted. This was a double whammy of embarrassment for a 3 such as myself.
After a bit of arguing, arm-punching and wet willies, it was decided that I would be the lead guy (the asker of the dirty book) but that two of my friends would go with me to the counter and be my pervy sidekicks. (Looking back, it seems like it should have seemed weirder to ask for a porno while flanked by two male friends than to do it by myself, but at the time I felt I needed back-up).
The evening came, and it was time to do the deed. The three of us made our way to the store while giving high fives and doing chants to pump ourselves up. Upon our arrival, it was time for step one. Step one was to ensure that my female relative who worked in the store was not present that night. A quick peek at the counter confirmed that she was not. It was a go. However, we did not go straight for the jugular but instead worked our way through the “normal” video sections such as Drama, Comedy and Horror. I think we stayed away from the kids’ Disney section because it just would have seemed too sick to peruse that area and then ultimately ask for the dirty book. As we feigned interest in VHS tapes of “Romancing the Stone” and “Footloose” while trying to work our courage into a fever pitch, I could feel a cold sweat forming on my forehead.
Finally, after we had looked at every single “normal” video in the store (except the kids’ section), the time had come. We could not put it off any longer. I gave the thumbs up signal and headed to the counter. My two friends followed nervously behind.
I could feel my confidence slipping away with each slow step I took toward the guy and girl working the counter. After what seemed like a 20-minute walk, I was finally there and the guy said, “Can I help you?” This was good. It would have been worse to ask the girl for the dirty book. My confidence was regained as I asked for the book in a sort of grunt/point maneuver. This is where it all went to hell.
First, I turned my head to find that my two friends had retreated and were heading out the door, laughing nervously. I was on my own in this unknown land of porn. The guy handed the book to me, and I knew I had to go through with it. I slowly opened the book the way a treasure-hunter might unfold an ancient map. The next step was to pick a title that wasn’t TOO embarrassing to request. If you’ve ever seen adult film titles, then you are aware they vary greatly in the gratuitousness of their titles. After much deliberation, I settled on “Fleshdance” which sort of just rolls off the tongue. I requested it, and the guy looked at some magical area below the counter where the films were apparently kept. He said things like, “Let’s see” as he looked for my request. I started to realize after about 10 seconds that this was not working. The guy looked perplexed and then did something horrific. He called out loudly to the girl working at the other end of the counter. “Hey, do you see ‘Fleshdance’ down there anywhere?” Not only did the girl hear him, but so did anyone else shopping in the store, including those in the kid section.
At this point, I just wanted to leave, but I literally felt as though my feet were glued to the counter. Sweat was pouring from me now. After an eternity of looking for the tape, the girl finally located it and handed it to the guy. I paid, and he gave the tape to me.
Things felt a little uncomfortable at the end of the transaction, to say the least. What was the guy going to say? Most of the things that a video clerk might normally verbalize at this point seem inappropriate to this particular situation. For example, phrases like, “Have a good evening” or “Enjoy it” or “Thanks for coming” take on a different connotation when you’ve just rented some porn. Luckily, I think the guy just nodded and simply said, “Thanks.”
I made my quick exit and got back to the car where I promptly chewed out my friends. The anger did not last long as the feeling of euphoria hit me. I was holding an adult video tape in my sweaty little hands. I had made it out of the store with the treasure.
Whether that movie was any “good” or not, I don’t recall. However, I knew I had moved from a 1 to about a 3 with that walk to the counter.