Sunday, November 23, 2008

Found a bug

I wrote some porn one time, when I was in high school. Why? Oh, that's kind of a dumb story. Wait, but... I have a blog. What the hell else is this thing for?

Goes like this: one of my best friends in high school was a boy named [Jim]. One morning, as we walked to school, Jim confessed to me that he thought he might be gay. So I bought him four pornographic novels.

Wait, you did what? No, shut up, let me tell it. I bought these novels, or, got someone older to - keep in mind we lived in the suburbs and this was 1982 - because... I thought Jimmy needed more information on the subject, and I wanted to help. It took a fair bit of conniving on my part.

And, well, of course, Jimmy didn't need more information: I didn't realize, then, that when a boy says "I think I might be gay," that doesn't mean he has had a disturbing dream about Ricardo Montalban in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. No, "I think I might be gay," usually means "I have recently had some of that-there homosexual sex, and I really really liked it."

Well, what did I know? My understanding of homosexuality was limited to Victor/Victoria, and while Jim could do an excellent Julie Andrews imitation, I was rational enough not to equate that... with... wait. I may have been wrong about that. Too. What is more, the only porn I'd ever seen was the occasional Playboy in my dad's briefcase when he came home from a business trip.

But most importantly, I was utterly, utterly without experience myself. A purer eleventh-grade virgin there never has been. I'd never even been on a date, and while I was concerned about what that said about me, Social Pariah-wise, I wasn't otherwise all that interested.

Now that I'm thinking about it, I believe I mail-ordered these books (which would explain why my parents got the International Male catalog for so many years). And when they came, I read them, and I was appalled. Outraged; betrayed. THE WRITING WAS JUST SO AWFUL!

Yep, THAT's what bothered me about my first exposure to material that was intentionally sexual in nature. The fact that there was no editorial hand in evidence.

And of course Jimmy thought they were boring, and I didn't understand anything, so I was like, "I KNOW! They're terrible!" So, as night follows day - and this is a common, common phenomenon in my life, and an impulse almost never to be trusted - my next sentence was, "Hell, I could write better than this!"

So for a day or two in College Algebra (sorry, Mr. uhh... the guy who said he didn't believe in South Dakota, oh by the way I am here to tell you South Dakota exists, and it's fuckin COLD) I did nothing but write porn. In pencil, on lined spiral-bound notebook paper. I may even have it somewhere still. There was a stable boy, and a "Washington Monument of passion," and testicles the size (and texture! where on god's earth did I get that?) of overripe plums.

My art teacher, who was patiently waiting for me to graduate so that I would leave town and not get him fired for giving me rides home from school on his motorcycle, got ahold of this thing at one point. Not my fault, believe me - that thing got Xeroxed and sent all over the county. I saw a copy in the boys' locker room of Hereford High School, which is practically Pennsylvania. I was kind of famous for a while there.

Anyway, surveying my parodic penile prose, his comment was, "You know those things don't... get that big..." and when I assured him the whole thing was a joke, he said, "Good. Yeah. Because otherwise... you're going to be pretty disappointed."

Last week I read the last entry in the ten-part graphic novel series Y: The Last Man. It's nominated for a Cybils Award as a Teen Graphic Novel. And it's a good series: funny, well-drawn, with an interesting premise: all the males on Earth have been wiped out (I think there was a virus, I can't recall exactly), except for our hero, Yorick, and his pet monkey. Anyway, the ten books cover five years in which Yorick rambles all over the planet, running from, er, Israelis (among others) and looking for his girlfriend, Beth.

In this last book, Yorick and Beth are finally reunited. Naturally, they immediately get a room and have a whole batch of rowdy sex, which is implied by the disheveled nature of the apartment when we see them next: having sex standing up in the middle of the room. Yorick is entirely supporting Beth - no table, no wall.

They finish their shenanigans, and he puts her down. They stand together talking. She moves a few feet away, and they talk some more. Then they argue. Then he gets his clothes on and storms out. ALL STANDING UP.

I am not being entirely flip when I say that this sequence kind of messed up my ability to read the book. It's not like Yorick is some bodybuilder: he's an emo-looking, slight guy. His knees, his calves... look, nobody has sex standing up and doesn't sit down right afterwards.

Luckily, I cannot draw to save my life, so I'm not going to all of a sudden throw up my hands and go, "THAT'S IT. I can write a better graphic novel than this." Because... seriously, no. Brian K. Vaughn is a terrific graphic novelist.

It's just, if it's being marketed to teens... I don't want them to end up disappointed.