Price Breaks and Heartaches
A journal of retail and failed romance
Still Not Quite What They’re Looking For
When I wasn’t gaming there was college and work. I only really ever came home to sleep, eat and write. More and more of my paycheck was being lost to postage and all I was getting back was rejection slip after rejection slip; Sometimes I got little checklists explaining the things that had made my story unacceptable. Did Clive Barker ever get those little checklists? Did Lovecraft?
Around the one hundredth rejection slip or so I started cutting back on mailings deciding instead to spend my extra cash on gaming supplies. I made no effort to put money away. Why should I when I could just mooch off my family for tuition and car repairs?
Besides there was a new drain on my finances, pornography. Now I don’t mean the odd Playboy, I mean actual dyed-in-the-wool-my-god-that’s-not-wool-and-that’s-not-dye pornography.
You see Tallulah had done more than break my heart, she had also activated my libido. A libido I was quite literally hard-pressed to find an outlet for. Once again please remember that this was an era when smut was something you were supposed to feel guilty about, not make in your basement with a webcam and a shaved monkey. It was something to hide in a plain brown wrapper. I was so embarrassed to be buying it that I would only go to newsstands and sex shops at least thirty minutes from my house.
For a man of the late 80’s/early 90’s pornography came in three formats; Video tapes, magazines and paperback novels that hid their true purpose behind a veneer of manly adventure.
Being a literary guy I had great affection for the Spaceways, White Squaw, and Blade novel ranges but in the end I found magazines with top heavy British lasses were my preference.
As my weeks and months of unintended celibacy wore on I found myself growing ever more pervy and desperate.
At least I wasn’t the only one…
Midnight Video was on the outskirts of Troy and more than half an hour’s driving distance from my house. It was pretty much your standard independent video store of the time, new releases mixed with an eclectic backlog of oldies, classics and lots of smut.
But Midnight Video had one thing that set it apart from the other stores- automated VHS vending machines. You see the owners of Midnight Video worked bankers hours so in order to make the whole ‘midnight’ thing a reality they installed two specialized vending machines in an after hours vestibule that only subscribers could access with the aid of a special swipe card.
But how did I, Marv, Kevin, Ida and Corey end up there?
The short answer is that Marv had a membership. The long answer is that we were all single. The hippie chicks had caught Corey and Kevin watching a Rambo movie and broken up with them. Joanna had dumped Marv, he didn’t say why but I was just relieved that I wouldn’t be seeing her around anymore. Ida always kept his personal life personal but he was always game for whatever the rest of us were up to.
A long bitter talk about women had led us to the idea to spend our night with Ginger Lynn and Barbara Dare. What better way to reaffirm our shattered masculinities than make a few lovely ladies pause and rewind to our will?
Too bad we couldn’t agree on which title to get.
“Al,” Ida said, “Hey Al!”
At first I didn’t hear him. A poster of Christy Canyon had caught my attention and set the blood roaring into my ears.
And other places as well.
“Al! Are you going to help pick this movie or not?”
“What?” I turned around, “Do we really need to make this into a big production? Pick any movie, I don’t care what it is. Just make sure there are no redheads in it.”
Marv nodded, “I understand, you don’t want to think that someone out there is giving the bone to a girl you still love.”
“Yeah.” I hissed, “That is exactly it. How very perceptive of you.”
Kevin tapped the glass of the vending machine, “How about this one? Oversize Load?”
Marv cleared his throat, “Uh, the label says that one has an all male cast.”
"Just look a little more carefully next time OK?"
Corey said, "I don't care what we get as long as there is no religious stuff in it."
"Come again?" I asked.
He explained, "If there are any chicks dressed like nuns or if any of the guys are wearing crosses I'll feel too guilty to watch."
"You know..." Ida pinched the bridge of his nose, "...that isn't the kind of thing they'll tell you on the label. Unlike something like, oh I dunno, if the movie has an all male cast."
Kevin slumped, "I'm never gonna live this down am I?"
"Not if I can help it."
Marv said , "Guys just pick something willya?"
Kevin paced the vestibule, the air was starting to become rank with the odor of sweat and frustration, "You ever wonder why it isn't as easy to get laid in real life as it is in these movies?"
"Actually it is," I replied. "If you're my Dad, or my brother or if you don't know the PH balance of the soil on the planet Skaro."
Corey tapped the dirty glass of the vending machine, "OK. How about this one? The Cockpit."
There was a long pause and then Marv pointed to the VHS in question, "What does it say there under the title?"
Cory blushed, "Sorry, I didn't notice."
"Say what it says, say it out loud," Marv’s tone was as gentle as it was sarcastic.
Corey blushed even harder, "It says all male cast."
Kevin shouted, "See? The print is too small."
Ida said, "I am starting to think this was a bad idea."
"Why don't you choose Al?" Corey suggested.
"Yeah," Marv agreed, "you're the one with all the dirty magazines in the trunk of your car."
Now it was my turn to blush, "Don't judge me. I have to hide them someplace."
Marv said, "Just pick something Al. Just nothing with any black guys in it."
Ida slapped his forehead, "Here we go again."
"What does the color of the guys matter?" I asked, "Black, white or green they're all gonna have terrifying and demoralizingly large dongs."
"No. Black. Guys."
Suddenly I just wanted to get out of there, I kept wondering what would happen if Tallulah or Lilly drove by and saw us here?
Or what if Tallulah and Lilly drove by on the way their to a mud wrestling contest where-
It is never a comfortable experience to feel tears and an erection welling up at the same time, I jerked a thumb at one of the videos “Just… let’s get this one and get out of here.”
Everyone stared at the random title I had pointed to. Marv’s voice was a whisper, “What the Hell is wrong with you guys?”