When I was a kid, I was such a user.
That’s off-brand for a Scorpio. We’re supposed to be all-or-nothing, I like you or I don’t like you.
With Annie Lewis and Karen Poterman, classmates in middle school, I was more, you bug me but you have something cool at your house, so let’s hang.
Annie, who was new in 5th grade, only wanted to talk about money, designer jeans, Bloomingdales and Fiorucci, which got boring.
She also peed her Calvins every time we sat on the carpeted floor of our Cluster Area and played Chinese jacks. Each time, she’d spring to her feet, feel her wet butt, and say, “Oh my god, I did it again – I sat in a wet spot.”
But Annie had one important quality I looked for in a friend:
A pinball machine. A real one!
The problem was, her family had a whole brownstone, and the pinball machine was on the top floor in her father’s office. She never felt like going all the way up there. Whenever I came over, I’d flex my index fingers suggestively to mime pressing the flipper buttons, and say, “let’s hit that pinball machine.” Annie would say “Nah. That’s boring,” and insist instead that we go to her room and look at her Fiorucci jeans.
You can’t exactly say to someone, “Look, I came here to play pinball. This isn’t working out.” Or, maybe you should say that – but I didn’t have the moral character.
Karen Poterman was a worse case.
She was bossy — not “that girl’s going to be a leader, why must we call it ‘bossy'” bossy, just “do as I say or I’ll insult you” bossy. She had a lumpy, pooch-y body, but she’d grab MY stomach and say, “fat fry city.” I don’t know where she got that, it still sounds stupid.
Didn’t stop me from going over to her house. Why? Because she had cable, and had boasted that she could watch porn. As early as 4th grade, I knew this was something I needed to see.
Karen had two apartments, not joined but across the hall from each other.
There was no parent in either. Her mom was the type who chain smoked and went clubbing at Studio 54 without hiring a sitter, and her dad was always away for work, doing something with oil and Saudis. In both apartments, there were photos of him smoking cigars and wearing an Arab headdress.
The apartments smelled like Karen, or she smelled like the apartments.
I didn’t love that smell, but again, she had cable and porn.
Also, the most rad modular sofa you’d ever seen. It was made up of cubes that you could arrange in any formation. A mountain, a fort, whatever you’d build with upholstered cubes. For Karen, it was a go-go dancing platform.
I’d go for a sleepover, and endure a few hours of Karen playing records and making me watch her dance on top of a stack of sofa cubes.
Then, finally, we’d pour ourselves glasses of Tab (something my mom wouldn’t let me have because the saccharine caused cancer in lab rats blah blah blah zzzzz), add heart-shaped ice cubes from their funky ice tray, and settle in for some Ugly George.
Ugly George was THE premium-cable porn show to watch back then. Or maybe just the only one I’d ever heard of.
I remember sitting in a sleeping bag, watching a parody ad for a TV store, where the topless spokeswoman showed off the size of the TV screen by placing her enormous boobs on top of it.
Karen had bossed me around all evening, but all I could think was, “worth it.”
Were you ever a user?
Did you seek out porn as a kid?
Or, is there any friend’s house that you remember like you’re still standing in it?
TELL ME IN THE COMMENTS.