It’s never a good thing when you’re reminiscing over Facebook chat with your best friend, and you find yourself typing this:
Remember that time I made out with the magazine salesman on work release?
In my defense, I didn’t know he was on work release. I just thought he was a very attractive magazine salesman.
Somebody ought to tell the naive members of society that this is what they do with the more well-behaved convicts who have earned parole for not shanking their cellmates.
I remember it like it was yesterday.
I was 22 years old and had just gotten home from my first professional teaching job. (Somebody ought to tell the respected members of society that they shouldn’t hire skanks who make out with criminals-turned-door-to-door-magazine salesmen.)
I was sitting on the couch, wondering how long it would be before my roommate got home and we could commence our nightly discussion on where we would go to drink beer that night.
Suddenly, I heard a knock on the door. I was somewhere between excited and annoyed: An unexpected visitor was a rare treat, but at the same time, I’d just sat down with my roommate’s takeout dinner leftovers and needed to finish them before she got home to stop me.
I flung open the door, a carton of Chinese takeout in my hand.
My eyes rested on a very good-looking brown-haired, blue-eyed guy who looked to be right around my age.
“Wow,” he said.
I immediately got defensive as I saw him take in the sight of me. I had worn black slippers to work that morning, not realizing that they were black slippers. In fact, I had been wearing them for 2 weeks straight and a co-worker had just that day decided to point out what a dumbass I was for wearing black slippers to work for 2 weeks straight.
Perhaps those assholes at Payless shouldn’t display them so close to the regular shoes, I was angrily thinking to myself as I stood there. This is what came out of my mouth: “They’re a bunch of assholes at Payless, you know. “
“Totally,” he breathed.
“So the slippers aren’t my fault,” I continued.
His look turned quizzical, but he shook it off quickly. “I wasn’t expecting…it’s just that…you’re so pretty…”
Okay, peeps, let me explain something here. I lived in a college town. This asshole had probably used that line on no fewer than 152 other girls that day.
But I was most likely the only dumbass that fell for it and let him in for an afternoon ciggie and sexless dry hump on the couch.
In my defense, I had just started bleaching the shit out of my hair, and I was still learning. It’s powerful stuff, that bleach. It’ll make a gorgeous magazine salesman look straight past a huge nose and pair of black slippers worn as shoes and invite himself in to make out.
It would take me a long time—aka The Skank Years—to figure out how to deal with that kind of heady power.
But in the meantime, I’d spend a couple of hours making out with a magazine salesman and sharing my roommate’s lo mein noodles with him, Skanky and the Tramp style.
When my roommate got home with my best friend Leigh and a case of beer in tow, I cracked one open, waited until I had their full attention, and then began to regale them with my story. Funny thing was, they hardly blinked an eye when they heard about my afternoon. Just another day in the life…
“YOU GUYS. He was so hot…so distinguished. He’s a magazine salesman, you know.”
I saw Leigh shoot my roommate a glance which should have raised some alarms for me, but I was too excited…too smug to care.
“Have you ever seen Death of a Salesman?” I asked. “It was like something straight out of that play.”
Leigh looked at me with a smirk. “Have YOU ever seen Death of a Salesman?”
“No,” I responded impatiently, dismissing her question with a flick of my wrist. “But that’s not the point. The point is that he’s a dignified salesperson.”
I said this last bit while raising my shoulders and giving a self-important little head shake. There’s no British in my blood, but goddammit, you would have believed there was with the accent I’d just sprouted.
And that’s when Leigh had had enough; she decided to burst my bubble, along with my dreams of a little magazine salesman husband and a little magazine salesman family. “You know he was on work release, right?”
I stopped. “Wh-what?”
“It’s some sort of program for prisoner re-entry into society. You really didn’t know?”
At first, Leigh looked stunned at my blissful ignorance of the world around me. (Why hadn’t my dad warned me about things like this, by the way? Even if he’d just assumed that his daughter who oddly resembled a horse wouldn’t have to worry about situations such as these, hadn’t he realized that I would someday grow into this mile-long face and that the good-looking guys would be literally knocking down my door—albeit with a stack of magazines in hand to peddle?)
Leigh’s shock at my naivety only lasted a second before she burst into hysterical laughter and nudged my roommate. “She had no idea she was making out with an ex-con!”
“Do you think he had crabs?”
I have no idea why I blurted this out. Probably because I was horrified. I was an innocent small-town girl whose only knowledge of ex-cons was from the guys in high school who’d gotten arrested for running the more prestigious bathtub meth labs in town. And I didn’t even know much about them, since they’d deemed me too uncool to hang out with them while the measured and mixed—no matter how much I’d begged.
I suppose I just figured since he’d been to jail, he must have some kind of STD, and crabs, the big buzzword at the time, was as good as any. I wasn’t even sure what it meant, as I had only gotten my braces off a few months earlier and hadn’t yet had a lot of time to try out my slut chops. I had no idea how hard—or how easy, as I feared the case may be—it was to contract a nasty case of the crabs.
My best friend didn’t skip a beat. “Don’t all ex-cons?”
It was a flippant response, but I didn’t know that. I started to freak out, trying to be all stealthy while scratching my crotch and flipping the imaginary crabs that I swore I saw crawling all over my pants in Leigh’s direction. “I don’t know, do they?”
That’s when my asshole roommate decided to speak up: “Shay, if he was as good-looking as you said he was, then a case of crabs is the last thing you have to worry about. He probably got something much worse while in prison. Poor guy had to have some way to make a few extra pennies for those ciggies you say he liked so much.”
Holy shit. Holy shit.
When my lower lip started to quiver, my friends decided to take pity on me and stop teasing me. They spent the next three hours (at that particular evening’s chosen bar) assuring me that no, you could not get crabs or any other disease just by kissing someone—and that actually, he’d gotten the short end of the stick when he probably caught the raging case of lip herpes that had started to flare up on my lower lip from the stress of the whole situation.
For some reason, that thought comforted me.
*Author’s Notes: In the years since, I have come to learn that my salesman was not, in fact, a convict on work release. Nor was he a former juvenile delinquent getting a fresh start on adult life—or a college student hoping to earn a trip abroad.
No, he was none of these things. What he was, most likely, was part of a band of con artists pretending to be all of the above things in order to obtain account numbers and drain people of all of their money.
So see, Leigh, you smartass, you? He hadn’t even been to jail yet because he hadn’t been caught.
Big difference. Big difference.
My only regret is that I didn’t give him my account number. I think he deserved the $1.50 that was probably in there at the time. I’d say the self-esteem boost that I received that day was worth at least that much, and anyway, the Campho-Phenique he’d need for that canker cost like 10 times that much.
Also, I realized while writing this post that I seem to have an affinity for all things magazine. Read more about it here.
And finally, if this wasn't enough for you and you're looking for more reading to pass the time at work, I got around this week. A couple of my very funny blogging BFF's mentioned me in a couple of hilarious posts this week, and I think it's worth noting that this is what the internet world thinks of me: The posts are titled "Laser Light Shows and Skanks" and "A.S.S. in a Can." Check them out! You won't regret it.