I have to buy a Playboy. Due in large part to the Internet, no one buys dirty books any more unless you're an weird old guy who doesn't have a computer. But I really need to see the content of Playboy and I don't feel like starting an online account with Hef and the Girls Next Door. So during my endless walk of the earth, I decide to stop at The Only Place Left In The World That Sells Dirty Magazines (they also sell beer and wine and the good beef jerky). I go in and go directly to the dirty book rack and scan the titles. There is one Playboy: June 2006. I don't want June 2006, I want January 2007.
Clearly, I have to interact with the counter guy.
He is ruggedly good looking and looks way familiar, but I can't quite place him. "Do you have the latest Playboy?" I ask.
"No I sure don't," he says. I'm embarrassed, but also hopeful that he would find me intriguing because I am in search of a Playboy, which he advised I might find at the store down the street thereby nixing the title of The Only Place Left In The World That Sells Dirty Magazines. I turn to leave, notice a few Free Times (in which a couple of letters about one of my columns are printed this week) and pick one up. I place it on the counter and open it to my column.
"I'm the Rainy Day Woman," I say coyly.
"Oh, really?" he says, picking up the magazine. I take two extra copies for myself, and say to the ruggedly good looking guy who looks familiar* and is now surely intrigued by me because I'm a Girl Columnist in search of a Playboy, "Happy New Year," then whoosh out the door.
I know the guy who runs the store down the street. He has the Playboy. I buy it. We chat, during which I explain that I'm buying the Playboy because I write a column and intriguing Girl Columnists have to do shit like that. He remarks that he also has the Free Times and that it is a popular publication.
I advise him to inform all patrons that pick up a Free Times that Erin O'Brien the intriguing Girl Columnist buys her Playboys from this very establishment.
I have now walked five miles and have one more to go before I get home. Of course, I see a neighbor and he stops to chat as well. He asks me where I'm working since I gave up my job at the local paper. I tell him the Free Times.
He looks at the two Free Times bundled in my hand (the Playboy is properly hidden within). He is obviously interested and there is an unspoken awkwardness. Why won't I give him a Free Times? I've got two and after all, they're free.
But I don't want Pam Anderson's glory spilling out all over the place (someone should tell that girl that wearing a panty that features a blazing sequined dollar sign over your zorch is demeaning--honest, but demeaning). So I just sort of end the conversation and walk the rest of the way home, where I relish the satisfying sound of the plastic cover crinkling for a moment or two before ripping it open. I do stop to find the hidden bunny on the cover before going directly to the dirty pictures.
Silly little broads.
*It later dawned on me that he looked like the guy who used to teach my kid Tae Kwon Do. I'm not sure if it was him or not.