Christmas porn

I think I’ve mentioned before that the holidays were always a little strange for my sisters and me growing up. Sometimes we spent Christmas with our dad in Illinois while our mom stayed behind in Georgia. She was always incredibly sad about the holidays anyway, having lost her own parents tragically and having no real family to speak of, so being without her kids was an extra painful blow. My sisters and I had our own struggles, feeling nomadic and uncomfortable about having to spend Christmas with extended families that did not feel like our own. One of the most distinct emotional memories I have of childhood is feeling like my sisters and I were an island, the three of us being the only people in the entire world who understood where each other was coming from. We banded together at Christmas time and talked each other through the disappointment of always seemingly being the kids in the room who ended up with less gifts than the other kids, the three of us not really belonging anywhere. It wasn’t entirely about the gifts, though that bitterness is hard to fight as a youngster. It was more about feeling adrift in the world, like we didn’t belong to anyone. I would posit that there is not a single American adult who is without baggage related to the holidays.

In recent years I have often spent Christmas mostly alone, or taking some time to hang out with my mom. This year I was alone. Friends and others find that sad, but I couldn’t have imagined having to be “on” for people. I wanted to sit quietly and eat food by myself and watch reruns of Grey’s Anatomy. At home on my couch was exactly where I wanted to be on Christmas. As was illustrated in my last post, I have not always had a home or a couch of my own where I could just be, and it is truly a luxury in my adult life.

Feeling unattached and alone on the holidays was one thing in my childhood when I at least had my sisters to offset some of the loneliness. On Christmas ten years ago, my semi-homeless boyfriend and I had nowhere to really go. His relationship with his family was delicate and mostly broken, and my nearest family members were three hours away. He and I both had mastered the art of finding places to crash and survive either together or alone, depending on what most readily facilitated us each having a warm place to sleep, but the holiday season changes everything. People want to be alone with their own families, and a subtle hint that you are not entirely welcome becomes an overt request that you leave. The house where we both had been staying most often was suddenly a place where we were no longer wanted at all, so we had to make alternative arrangements.

We both started working a lot more hours at the restaurants where we were employed because at least when you’re working you have a right to be there and it’s warm. And if you’re lucky you can sit down in a break room or on a milk crate in the kitchen or maybe even at one of the tables to eat some soup at the end of your shift. I opted to work both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day that year. He worked Christmas Eve too, and spent the time when I was at work on Christmas Day celebrating the holiday with his family. When my shift ended mid-evening and my coworkers all went their separate ways to be with their loved ones, I climbed into the gold Honda Accord in the parking lot where my boyfriend was waiting for me. Though he had been sitting there for over an hour, the interior of the vehicle was chilly. If he kept the engine running too long, the ten year old car would get hot and the clutch would start to fail.

We knew this lonely night was coming, but we had not yet decided on an approach. We sat in the parking lot of the Bennigan’s where I worked – a restaurant that was connected to a hotel packed full of what I imagined to be warm and jovial people, either snuggled in with their families or preparing to see their loved ones soon. We sat in the car with the engine running off and on, both of us exhausted and dispirited. It was Christmas and we wanted to be able to enjoy that to the fullest extent we were able. So we sat on cold cloth maroon seats bundled up in our winter gear in an empty corner of the parking lot watching the abandoned roads while we brainstormed how to spend this holiday.

After much deliberation, we drove toward the Mississippi River to an unassuming cinder block building just off the Interstate 74 bridge. There, situated by two gas stations who were in constant competition to have the chepest cigarettes around, resided the Traveler Motel. We often joked about it with our peers. It was a place where you could rent rooms by the hour (or so we thought). Likely when it was built in the 1950’s it was truly geared toward travelers, and I imagine many a wholesome family occupied its modest rooms over the decades. But on Christmas in 2003, when my boyfriend and I decided to try and spend the night there, its reputation was less to do with road weary tourists and more to do with hookers and blow.

We climbed out of the car, me still in my work clothes, covered in food that I could not afford to buy for myself but that I had spent the holiday serving to strangers. As we entered the tiny lobby a warm wave of stench consisting of must, dust, and sadness greeted us in the face. The clerk was a man who was probably only a little older than I am now, but he seemed haggard and grizzled, the type of person who has probably seen more bizarre manifestations of the sexual depravity of humanity than most of us will encounter in a lifetime. His greasy hair hung lifelessly, a couple of tendrils clinging to his filmy temple.

The reception area was more brightly lit than I expected and there were splashes of glossy color in every direction. Dildos and vibrators and lined one paneled wall. The counter top was crowded with various sized bowls of flavored lube, fancy cock rings, and flashy condoms for every need.

Ribbed for her pleasure! As if sex being in any way for “her” pleasure should be notable and commendable.

Fruit flavors! Chocolate! Tastes like Skittles! Somehow I struggle to believe that any flavor in the world besides maybe hot sauce can mask what I assume to be the disgusting flavor of latex.

Gold! So you can pretend your wiener is King Midas, I suppose.

Studded and extra tight for both your pleasure! At least this one was less heteronormative than the others.

Sex was the furthest thing from my mind as we shifted our weight from one foot to the other and whispered back and forth trying to decide how long we could afford to stay. The clerk was direct and curt, his grease-sheen face never changing expression. He advised us that rooms could be rented in three and a half hour blocks. Customers came in and out as we deliberated. Apparently the lobby that doubled as a sex shop was a busy spot, especially on this holiest of days. We settled on paying for two blocks. Seven glorious hours could be hours for the low price of about $65. In retrospect, we probably should have sought out other motels, but we were here and it was late and even a mere sixty-five bucks was painful to part with. Plus it was Christmas and we were just so damn tired.

I pulled dirty bills from my purse and handed them to my boyfriend, who completed the transaction. We got our key and pushed past a line of impatient patrons who presumably just had to buy those special holiday anal beads right now.

We drove the Honda around the building to our room and parked. We pulled our bags out of the back, everything we owned in two dirty bags that had been carted from house to house and tossed in the trunk of this car countless times. We had a rare opportunity to take stock of everything we had, to organize our meager belongings in privacy instead of hastily shoving them into whatever crevice could handle them.

Everything in the room was a colorless dingy beige that may have been white once upon a time. The bedspread was all old synthetic material, rough and definitely highly flammable. Or maybe it was coated in a thick layer of highly carcinogenic flame retardant. The room was just big enough for a Queen sized bed. A modest TV was bolted up high on the wall and thick, vinyl-lined curtains hung on the dingy window. The grout in the tile of the bathroom was black with mildew in some places and the bathtub was half a century old. The plastic bathroom counter top had half a dozen cigarette burns of various sizes on it and the toilet had a permanent water stain. The walls were cinder blocks. The bathroom towels were a sad gray color and they exuded the strong smell of bleach.

It was a veritable shit hole.

It was truly awful, and it did not matter one bit to either of us just how gross it was. We were in a private space. We had four hundred and twenty minutes of uninterrupted time alone. Nobody could chase us out of here. We didn’t have to worry about offending anyone. This was our space for the next seven hours, and we could do whatever we wanted. We could sleep in a real bed, not on a couch or a floor or a sad pullout mattress. We could take one long, hot shower after another if we wanted. I could take a bath, which I had not been able to do in ages, and which I used to very much enjoy. For a moment we looked around the room, grimy tin ashtrays on every flat surface, and we each breathed in, taking stock.

And then we put down our bags and we leaped onto the bed, laughing hysterically. We flipped on the television, looking forward to mindlessly watching whatever we wanted to watch. Except on the first channel there was porn. A woman and two men, the usual degrading fare. On the next channel was an interracial gay couple. The third channel was all women. Every single channel was crystal clear sex of every kind for every fantasy. Turns out, if you pay for so many different dirty options, there probably isn’t much left over for actual cable channels, so the Traveler did not have much to offer us in the way of regular TV.

We filled our bellies with bacon cheddar potato soup and french fries from Bennigan’s, food that we had eaten slowly and deliberately, cross-legged on top of a thirty year old bedspread, objectively watching and critiquing a pornographic film shot in a supposed dream sequence and starring a well known adult film star. We discovered that the first channel in the line up was a local station, and we fell asleep under scratchy sheets to the muffled sounds of an old Christmas movie and someone having sex in the next room and traffic on the bridge nearby. In the morning before we left, I took a second bath, and then stood up to shower off. It was glorious.

This Christmas, as I sat on my soft couch with my silly dog splayed across my lap, I thought about where I was ten years ago. As I took stock of my own apartment with no ornaments and no tree, just a handful of gifts on and around the table where my television sits, small tokens for the most beloved in my life, I couldn’t help but smile. Certainly I cried for my mom, and I wiped my tears with the soft beagly ears of my dog. I ate too much and I ran the heat at eighty degrees and I took more than one bath that day and I watched whatever the hell I wanted on TV. And I had myself a merry little Christmas.

next year's Christmas card

next year’s Christmas card

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