Tuesday, September 18, 2007


Horatio writes: Few figures loom larger in our lives than Good Old Dad. Reuben Polak submitted this thoughtful nomination to our hall of fame:

"Spare the rod, and spoil the child" as the good book says, is rarely truer than when it comes to matters pornographique. Basically, there are two kinds of father-son relationships in this world. Those who have no shame about their love for the porn, and those who seek to keep their sexual proclivities a dark secret. Either way, it is interesting to think about the impact their predilections have had on our psyches. Consider, if you will, the Dad's with porn addictions so far gone that they keep the mags out in the light of day. Hardcore in the bedroom, immense collections filling boxes in the garage, leading to childhoods like Augustus Gloop's let loose in the Wonka Factory. Sweet summers gorging on porn, inviting select groups of friends to come over and partake, as long as they did so quietly, and in different corners of the room.

My father was of the other kind with serious books all over the house, but not a dirty mag to be found. Shelves stuffed to the gills with such classy tomes as the Inner Game of Golf, Winston Churchill's History of the English Speaking People, and Phillip's Illustrated Atlas of the World. But around the age of twelve, I came to notice four books tucked away in the corner of the highest shelf. The thing that first drew me to them was that they all were shelved with their spines facing inwards. A mistake surely. Innocently, or obsessive-compulsively, I reached up on tippy-toe to correct this oversight. And like Alexander Fleming and Penicillin, accidentally uncovered the greatest discovery of my life. Living is Loving (great cover), The Art of Sensual Massage, The memoirs of 1920's sexual revolutionary, Frank Harris, My Life and Loves, Complete and Unexpurgated and my favorite, the lo-fi aesthetic of Variations on a Sexual Theme. The thrill of discovery was quickly tempered by a sense of mystery. My mind was filled with questions such as:
-- what on earth are these books doing here and who could have left them?
-- Does my father know?
-- How should I break the news to him?

As I flicked through the pages full of calm yet explicit descriptions accompanying pictures of hippies doing it, it dawned upon me that these were actually the property of my parents and that they were doing stuff like position 32 ("Wife leans forward and nestles herself between his feet). I am a practical man, a trait I get from my father, so the overwhelming sense of disgust i experienced was quickly replaced by a calm realization that I had uncovered a secret trove that would occupy my waking hours for the next five to seven years. At first, I used to replace the books painstakingly back into the exact position I had found them after using them for my own devices, but then it dawned upon me that even if my father realized I was putting his precious books to use for my own purposes, just how was he going to broach the issue with me? I am happy to report that I was just home last week and the books are still there. Spines still reversed to maintain the air of middle class propriety and appropriate sense of decorum. Photos below. When I took them, I experienced the same thrill of doing something so irresistibly sacrilegious as when I was a kid.

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