Who should we be more worried about: the man who rents 18 hours of porn movies, or the man who rents 18 hours of Disney cartoons? — From a Talk Back posting at Ain’t It Cool News
When we are children, we are fascinated with the facets of the adult world. This fascination, no doubt, comes from the mystery of said world. We discover that there are certain things off-limits to us because we are too young. We can’t go into a bar because we are too young. We can’t buy lottery tickets because we are too young. In our teen years, the fascination reaches its peak, and so we use the alternative methods to get into these forbidden zones. Thanks to clerks who neglect to ask for ID, or just have trouble spotting a fake one, teens get their hands on their much coveted beer and lottery tickets. Then, after they’ve gotten a taste of this contraband, they ask the immortal question: “Why was this kept from me for so many years? It’s so lame.” By the time they can acquire this contraband through legal means, the fascination has worn off. Like most, I, too, was fascinated with these vices I was deemed to young for. I have sampled beer, decided it sucks, and don’t drink. I have bought the occasional lottery ticket, but don’t play, simply because, well, I know I’ll get a million dollars sooner by saving the money I’d spend on lottery tickets. But there is still one aspect of this adult world that I have yet to indulge in. There is one facet that I have yet to venture in to. I have yet to walk through those swinging doors in the corner video store. I am talking about the world of adult movies.
Don’t get me wrong, I have tried to satisfy this curiosity once in the past. I was still in university and had just returned some movies to Video Update. It was before lunchtime, and the store was deserted. After I dropped off my movies, I began skimming over the new releases, pondering whether to get something for that night. As I followed the wall of new releases, I soon came to the swinging doors. I looked at those doors. I took a quick look around. The store was still empty. The clerk wasn’t even visible. He must have been behind a shelf returning the movies I had just returned. I summoned up my courage, and ventured through the doors. I was greeted by the loudest squeaky hinges I’d ever heard. A SCREEEEECH echoed through the store. But I had made it to the other side. I just glanced at the walls around me. They were covered with videos featuring women in various states of undress. I didn’t venture forward any farther. I didn’t even randomly grab one of the videos off of the shelf to read the back. Only one thing dominated my mind. “I’m on the other side.” Completely stunned that I had gone this far, I didn’t know what to do next. So, I turned around and walked back out. Again, I heard the SCREEEEECH. It were as though it were screaming “PERVERT!” The clerk lifted his head up from the counter, took a quick glance at me, then went back to work. I breathed a sigh of relief that only one nameless clerk knew of my sin, then began the walk back to the university.
My friend Chuck once worked at this Video Update, and one time I asked him how many people actually rent porn movies. He told me that it wasn’t very many, but those who did seemed to fall into a type. What he described to me sounded a lot like what most of us expect a porn enthusiast to be: middle aged, balding, wearing a trenchcoat, and just a little secretive in their behaviour. This was a huge contrast to an article I had just read online. It was from a video store clerk who was talking about his first day on the job, and in his first few hours, he was completely stunned by how many people actually rented porn movies. Maybe Camrose is just removed from Los Angeles in more ways than one. My image of the typical adult film enthusiast tends to be that of Fox Mulder, perhaps the most prominent character on TV with that kind of hobby. Here he is, a distinguished professional in his field, who enjoys adult movies. He doesn’t go out of his way to hide it. He doesn’t go out of his way to proclaim his love for them. He just likes them like how I like cartoons. They’re just another genre of movie to him. So, if one of the iconic television heroes of the last ten years can adopt this attitude, why can’t I? I mean, I’m not one of these perverts that Chuck told me about. I’d just be renting one to see what it’s like. Or maybe two, because Tuesdays are 2-for-1 at most video stores, so I may as well get the free one if I go though with this on a Tuesday.
Well, right now, I do have geography working against me. I’m living at home. I’m sure my parents would have some pointed questions if I came home with one. There’s your ideal family viewing. And it’s not like I can just wait for a weekend in which I’ll be home alone. With Mom retiring from politics this fall, she’s going to be around home a lot more. With Dad taking a new job that’s closer to home, he’s going to be around home a lot more. Nope. It looks like I won’t be able to do this until I move out.
Then, we come to the whole relationship that I’ve established with my video store. The one I currently frequent is Video Headquarters, which is just down the street from where I work. I’ve been known to stop in and rent a couple of new releases and classics on my way home from work. Hell, I’ve even been interviewed to work there. Most of the movies I rent tend to be cartoons of the 80s. I remember the glee I expressed to a clerk at finally being able to watch Go-Bots. I remember that one clerk sarcastically saying to me, “I think I see a theme here” when I rented all the Alien movies. I’ve continuously harassed the management over not getting an anime section. I remember requesting to the management that they get more Stanley Kubrick films so I can finally experience his work. They know me and my habits. That image is going to be shattered as soon as I walk out from behind those squeaky doors with a movie under my arm.
But then, I guess I should remember that those clerks are idiots. “Do you have Princess Mononoke?” I asked. “Mono-WHAT?” they responded. “Do you have pi?” I asked. “Cooking movies would be in special interest,” they responded. “Do you have Cannibal: The Musical?” I asked. “No, but here are some other horror movies about cannibals you might like,” they responded. Should I really be valuing the opinions of these people? No. I of all people should know that customers tend to blend together after a while, so their memories of me are probably fuzzy at best.
My curiosity about adult movies is really starting to get the better of me. It doesn’t help that, during the last re-organization of Video Headquarters, they moved the DVD section to surround the swinging doors. Now, every time I’m looking to rent a DVD, I’m confronted with the swinging doors. I’m sure those clerks must be running some kind of pool by now, as whenever I pass those doors, I linger, wondering if I should go through them. “I betcha he’ll go in this time,” one must say. “I’ll take that bet,” another probably says. I go through the same questions I went through that day at Video Update all those years ago. If those clerks ever got a good look at what I was doing, they would see me squinting my eyes, trying to peer through the crack between the doors. I want to go through, but the thought of humiliating myself keeps me out.
Last time I was perusing the DVDs and glancing over at the swinging doors, a man came out from that room. He must have had 16 films tucked under his arm. And that’s when the fear hits. The real reason why I don’t go through. What if I do rent one, and I like it? What if I begin going though those doors more and more? What if I turn into that guy? That’s the problem with being mature and finally being able to realize the consequences of your actions. When we all took that first sip of beer, we weren’t thinking, “What if this turns me into an alcoholic?” When we bought that lottery ticket, we weren’t thinking, “What if this turns me into one of those nuts who spends hundreds of dollars on this and doesn’t win anything?” We looked around. There are millions of responsible drinkers. There a millions of people who just spend $5 a year on lottery tickets. There are millions of people who indulge in these vices and are normal, so we knew that nothing would come from one beer or one lottery ticket. So why can’t we think the same about porn movies? Why can’t I think the same way about porn movies? It should be no big deal, but to me, it is. I guess, even though I’m legally an adult, I’m still too young.