Why am I so nervous?
There I was, well over age 18 and deep into my 20s. I fumbled out of the car, anxious as hell to get this over with, and walked into the bookstore to purchase a Playboy magazine.
Not for myself, mind you. No, my brother was turning 18, and I decided I’d give him a Playboyfor his birthday - right in front of my parents, as we all sat around watching him open gifts. It would totally be hilarious and embarrassing for him, until he opened it up, at which point he’d realize that it was only the cover of a Playboy, which I had torn off and glued onto a copy ofSouthern Living (that way, I could keep the magazine and we’d all get a hearty laugh).
Fact remained, though: I still had to buy a Playboy.
Getting older never makes this prospect easier. When you buy one at 18, it’s two parts thrilling and eight parts embarrassing. When you do it at 27, it’s just embarrassing.
Here’s the first thing about buying a Playboy: You always hope, pray, that the cashier is a guy. Because he’d understand. No such luck for me, though. Nope, this was the worst: Innocent-looking young woman who had no business seeing grown men procure pornography. I was stripping this young woman of that innocence, introducing her to a world where she would now understand that men enjoy looking at attractive, naked ladies. She probably didn’t even know Playboys or porno or naked women existed, I thought to myself.
She looked to be about 22 and had a tat on her right arm.
I walk past her, pick up the plastic-encased mag off the adult rack that was labeled “Check This Out, Losers” and head to the counter. I try not to make eye contact with the cashier, who was so innocent-looking that I assumed she’d never even had a crush on a guy, despite her tongue ring. And here I was, one cold night in December, buying a Playboy, and destroying this young woman’s life.
“Anything else?” she asks. What the hell you trying t’do to me, lady, just ring it up and shut your mouth, don’t draw attention to this transaction. There are three people in line behind me and you’re asking me if I want something else? Hurry your ass up and, well actually, I guess I wouldn’t mind a packet of gum, though, $2 for Dentyne? No way. Hey, why do italics automatically make it look like one is thinking thoughts in their head and not speaking them?
“Nope, that’s it,” I reply, just as the world’s biggest pervert on the whole entire planet and probably even the universe would do.
I hand her my card, she swipes it, asks “Bag?” (A: “Yes please”), bags it, hands me said bag containing the Playboy, tosses the receipt into the bag and hands me back my card. My card. That card. That card is gold. Which is not the color of my debit card.
But which is the color of my company AMEX.
“Oh no, you have to take that off the card, that’s my company card,” I say, deep into a panic, fumbling for the debit card. Five people in line. I think. Couldn’t count.
“Oh, okay,” she says politely, taking my other card as if it’s no problem that everyone here knows and cares that I’m buying a dirty magazine, which they definitely were.
“It’s not for me, it’s for my brother. Well, he didn’t ask for it. And I don’t even need the whole thing, just the cover. You can have the rest of the magazine. Not that you’d want it.? I love your?black ?eyeliner.? It’s a prank, see, I’m going to put a cooking and southern women’s lifestyle magazine on the inside…he’s turning 18…it’s not mine,” I say.
“I love and respect women.”
She smirked, handed me the bag and corrected receipt, and I walked ??out ?the door ?with my?head ?down? ??into the vast ??expanse ?o?f? ?t?h?e? ?r?e?s?t? ?o?f? ?m?y? ?l?i?f?e?.??