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Lost Habits

The seed of our futures.

During the afternoon, some friends and I, all of us now edging on 30 or over the line, discussed the masturbation materials of our adolescence. I told the story of a pal who, at age 12, wearing only a sweatshirt, had been caught by his dad while sitting bare-assed on the living room floor at midnight, watching the video of Madonna in a peepshow.

“'Open Your Heart To Me,'” said Sam. “That video made me a man.”

“That was before anyone had cable. You had to stay up, wait for Friday Night Videos to come on,” I said.

“And it taught you to wait, because you sat through Huey Lewis and Flock of Seagulls, and then you had those three golden minutes to build a relationship.”

“They should put all those videos on a DVD, and call it 'The Ejaculate Collection,'”

“You ever get caught, Ford?”

Later that night I repeated the conversation to my girlfriend.

“And?” she asked. “Did you ever get caught?”

“Looking back, I guess I did. My dad just ducked out of the room, right in and out. He didn't usually duck in and out of rooms. He would come into a room for a reason, get a newspaper, then maybe leave the room. But that time he just put his head in, made a noise, like, 'unh-oh, unk' and was gone. I never really thought it all through before.”

“What were you doing?”

“I was looking at a Swatch ad.”

I waited for her to finish laughing at me.

“It was in Rolling Stone,“ I explained. “It was this woman, it said, 'I feel naked without my Swatch'. And she was naked. Except for her Swatch.”

“Did it have that little rubber band on the top?”

“The Swatch? I don't remember.” More silence. I said, “The cat is really having fun with the laser pointer right now. Going crazy for it. And now he's trying to eat some lint. Now he's back to the laser pointer.”

“Swatch,” she said.


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About the author: I've been running this website from 1997. For a living I write stories and essays, program computers, edit things, and help people launch online publications. (LinkedIn). I wrote a novel. I was an editor at Harper's Magazine for five years; then I was a Contributing Editor; now I am a free agent. I was also on NPR's All Things Considered for a while. I still write for The Morning News, and some other places.

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