I’m lying on my couch watching This Gun for Hire, a film noir classic from 1942 starring Alan Ladd and Veronica Lake. I made myself linguine in white clam sauce earlier for dinner and chased it down with two glasses of Sauvignon Blanc. Now, as my stomach noisily digests the mash of pasta, clams, and white wine, my eyelids start feeling heavy. My joint custody dog Buster whimpers softly as he sleeps near my feet. Probably chasing a squirrel though canine dreamland. I look at my watch. It’s almost eleven o’clock on a Friday night. What an exciting life I lead.
As the black and white images on the television screen tell the story of a killer’s brutality and eventual salvation, I think about other movies I’ve seen with similar themes. Whether its James Cagney’s tough guy in Angels with Dirty Faces or Luc Besson’s illiterate hitman, Leon, in The Professional, I’ve always enjoyed stories about people who redeem their lives at the last moment through acts of truly selfless heroism. Maybe that storyline appeals to my hardwired Catholic sensibilities. Anyone can be saved, everything will be all right in the end. That’d be nice.
Suddenly my roommate shouts from inside his bedroom, “FREE PORN!”
“What?” I say, rousing myself from my sleepy theological reverie. “What did you say?”
“Come in here!” my roommate shouts. “Before it goes away!”
Much to Buster’s annoyance, I toss aside my blanket, get off the couch, and walk into my roommate’s bedroom. When I look at the LCD television on top of his dresser, my eyeballs are immediately greeted by the sight of two shapely, naked, and big breasted women doing intimate things to each other. Well, they’re almost naked. But somehow I don’t think thigh high leather boots counts as clothing
“Wow,” I say, involuntarily. Impressive breasts always make me say “wow.” I think that’s hardwired into my system too. The nuns of my youth would whip me with their rosary beads if they could see me now.
“I told you someone was watching porn over at the cable company,” my roommate says. “Now do you believe me?”
“How do you know that a person’s watching it?” I reply. “Maybe it’s just a glitch in the system.”
“Keep watching,” my roommate says. “You’ll see.”
My roommate and I continue watching the “actresses” as they grind against one another with practiced enthusiasm. The moaning and groaning coming out of the television speakers, however, sounds like someone in the throes of demonic possession instead of orgasmic rapture. Then, without warning, the film fast forwards to a part in the scene where the actress are, ah, a little more exposed.
“”Holy shit!” I exclaim. “Somebody’s watching porn at the cable company.”
“They’re probably jerking off right now,” my roommate says.
“We should call the cable company and complain.”
“Nah,” I reply. “I’m not going to get some guy in trouble just because he wants to rub one out at work.”
“How do you know it’s a guy?” my roommate asks. “Its two lesbians having sex. It could be a woman watching.”
“Only a guy would be stupid enough to watch porn and jerk off at work.”
“True,” my roommate mutters. “True.”
Buster decides to make an appearance. He walks into my roommate’s bedroom, looks at the television for a full 30 seconds, and then walks out – unimpressed.
“Buster doesn’t like porn?” my roommate asks.
“Why watch porn when he can see the real thing?” I reply.
My roommate laughs. “I’ve seen what happens when you try kicking him out of your room. He goes nuts.”
“Oh my God,” I say, shaking my head. “The whining and scratching at the door got so distracting that I finally had to start letting him in the room.”
“Doesn’t he bother you?”
“He usually hides under the bed or falls asleep on the easy chair in my bedroom. Occasionally, however, he tries joining in.”
“A threesome?” my roommate asks, grinning.
“Nothing like being in the throes of passion and having a hairy dog trying to lick your ass,” I reply.
“What can I say? Sometimes dogs just wanna have fun.”
“What do you do when Buster does that?”
“I toss him back under the bed saying ‘The woman is mine!’ He usually gets the hint.”
“That’s so weird.”
“Trust me,” I say. “Most couples that have dogs encounter this problem.”
“How about cats?”
“They just sit on the headboard and watch. Very creepy.”
“I’m never getting pets,” my roommate says. “Never.’
Suddenly the video fast forwards again. Now a man and woman are on the screen. Dissatisfied, the viewer at the cable company fast forwards past the obligatory “dialogue” until he gets to the part where the “action” starts.
“So why do you get free porn on your TV and I don’t?” I ask.
“Because the digital signal going to the plasma in the living room gets filtered by the cable box,” my tech savvy roomie replies. “My digital television’s hooked up directly to a coaxial cable so there no way to block the signal.”
“The TV in my room’s hooked up directly to cable,” I say. “Why don’t I get dirty movies?”
“Because the TV in your bedroom’s not digital. It’s analog. You won’t get the signal.”
“So the only way anyone can see free porn is if their hi-def television get its signal directly from a coaxial able and not the cable box?”
“How many people hook up their expensive hi-def televisions to coaxial cables and bypass the cable box?” I ask.
“Almost no one,” my roommate replies. “By using the coaxial you don’t get all the channels you’re paying for and the hi-def signal’s not as good.”
“Looks like our porn loving friend at the cable company found a loophole in the system,” I say.
“That makes sense,” my roommate says. “He can watch his porn in the control room and almost no one will notice.”
“These cable people are idiots anyway,” my roommate says. “A couple of months ago a mother ordered a Disney pay per view movie for her kids and got porn instead.”
“Sound like someone mixed up Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs for Snow White and the Seven Whores,” I reply dryly.
My roommate’s from a far away country, I explain to him that many porn movies take their titles from established Hollywood films.
‘Little Oral Annie?” my roommate exclaims. “That’s disgusting,”
‘You should see what they did with Forrest Gump,” I reply.
“I don’t want to know.”
As I watch the man and woman frenetically humping each other on my roommate’s television screen, I chuckle to myself. Come to think of it, there are probably porn equivalents of The Professional and Angels with Dirty Faces too. I wonder what the San Fernando Valley would do to This Gun for Hire? Hmmmm.
“Oh well” I say, “That’s enough fun for me. I’m going to finish watching my movie.”
“You’d rather watch that old stuff than this?”
“My movies have better dialogue,” I reply. “Besides, life’s too short for bad porn.”
“You’re right,” my roommate says. “Goodnight.”
I flop back down on the couch and finish watching a young Alan Ladd trade shots with an impossibly young Robert Preston. When the movie ends I floss and brush my teeth, check the locks on the doors, and go to bed. My dog burrows under the covers and takes up station near my feet – but otherwise my bed is empty. No “real thing” for Buster to watch tonight. As I drift off to sleep, images of Veronica Lake and the two lesbians in thigh high boots compete for space on the back of my eyelids.
What an exciting life I lead.