Humorist. Improviser. Father. In that order.

Essays

The Secret Drawer

When I was a 12-year-old boy, I couldn’t wait to be a man.

I recall my baby face covered in half a can of Barbasol foam as I glided a bladeless razor over it, slapping the excess into the sink. Later I’d hear my dad cursing about how “the cheap bastards over at goddamn Barbasol” were not putting enough shaving cream in their cans.

Sometimes, after my parents had gone to bed, I’d reach inside the kitchen trash can and pull out one of my dad’s empty Miller High Life bottles. I inhaled deeply. I thought the sweaty scent would coerce hairs to pop out between my legs. I equated being a man with having more hair on my body.

The only other thing that I believed would propel me into manhood was seeing a naked woman. Preferably in the flesh, but on paper was fine.

The possibility of actually gazing upon a pair of airbrushed tatas was likely thanks to my neighbor Devin Droudt. More specifically, thanks to his father who, according to Devin, had a healthy stash of Playboys under his bed. This is back when Playboy still featured buck naked women, and before the internet, so anyone with a stack of nudie mags was seen as a God.

I asked Devin one time what his Dad did with all those magazines. “He reads them. Whaddya think he does?” Devin said, blowing his floppy bangs away from his left eye.

I imagined Mr. Droudt sitting in his lazy boy, sipping on scotch, and considering the turn ons and turn offs of Miss October. “She likes men with a sense of humor but hates rude guys. Interesting.” Reading the magazine seemed like a waste of time when there were so many glorious boobies and vaginas to ogle. I suppose seeing naked women is less of a big deal to a man who has unobstructed access.

Mr. Droudt was the perfect man to have Playboys. He was always tinkering with his classic BMW, he rode a John Deere shirtless with a can of Old Milwaukee in one hand, and called everybody “guy.” It made sense. If the marketing team at Playboy was listing out the characteristics of their key customer, Mr. Droudt would be it.

Mrs. Droudt, on the other hand, seemed like the last person to condone bush in print, especially in her home. She would probably handle a Playboy with tongs if she found it, asking the local authorities to take it out to the woods and shoot it to death. She was ridiculously strict in a similar way that Cruella Deville is hell bent on killing dalmatians.

Mrs. Droudt frequently grounded Devin for minor infractions, like letting the front door slam or spilling juice or parting his hair on the opposite side. When she wasn’t grounding him, she was kicking him out of the house so she and Mr. Droudt could have their happy hour.

Devin would show up at my house, his face pressed against the screen door. I’d flick his nose with my finger.

“Your mom kick you out again?” I asked.

“Yep, happy hour. Wanna play?” he said, rubbing his nose.

We’d play board games; our favorite was Stratego until we heard his mom yell from next door. “Devin!” she’d shrill. “Gotta go,” Devin would say, and he’d scurry back home.

One lazy Saturday, Devin and I, and our friend Keith, a mild-mannered boy startled by his own shadow, were throwing clumps of dirt at plastic army men. This usually led to throwing the dirt clumps at each other. His parents were having the front yard re-sodded or something. I don’t know for sure; there was more dirt than grass that’s all I know. Devin’s mom came out of the house.

“Devin!” she shrieked. She didn’t know how to say his name without yelling it, even if he was sitting next to her. “Your father and I are going out. We’ll be back in an hour or so. Stay outside. I don’t want you getting the house dirty,” she said, before lifting at her fur coat as she got into the BMW sedan.

“Ok, mom.”

“We’ll see you soon guy,” his dad added with a point and a wink. He was always chipper, probably because his morning routine included reading a centerfold.

As soon as they pulled out of the driveway, I turned to Devin.

“Let’s go look at your dad’s Playboys,” I said, my eyes wide.

“No way. You heard my mom. She said don’t go in the house,” Devin said.

“Yeah, Gabe, that’s a bad idea. Let’s just stay out here,” Keith whined.

“C’mon you wusses. I just want to see one pair of naked breasts before I die.”

“You’re not dying. Besides my dad would kill me.”

“He won’t even know.”

“My mom will. She’ll know we were inside. She can smell dirt.”

“Guys this is a bad idea,” Keith repeated.

“Just 10 minutes,” I was begging now.

“You’re just gonna look at them? You’re not gonna lick ’em or anything are you?”

“Why the hell would I lick them?”

“Cause you’re sick.”

“Ok, I swear I’m not going to lick anything.”

“On your mother?”

“On your mother? No, thank you.”

“Swear it!”

“Ok, on my mother I won’t lick any Playboys.”

“Fine. 10 minutes. Let’s go.”

“Yes! You won’t regret this.”

“Guys, seriously, this is — “

“A bad idea. We know Keith. You can stay out here and play with your balls if you want. Devin and I are going in to pursue some choice tail,” I said, using a phrase I heard a man say at the WaWa check out line once.

Devin and I made our way inside. Keith nervously scoped out the other properties to see if any neighbors were outside.

“Wait up guys,” he said, before dashing inside stumbling over the front porch in the process.

The three of us stood in the Droudt’s bedroom doorway. We knew a parent’s bedroom was forbidden territory if they weren’t home. You had to be invited in, which is the only way vampires are allowed to come into your house by the way. See The Lost Boys for reference.

The boudoir of a parent was full of strange adult things like oral hygiene products and eau de toilettes. Entering the Droudt’s bedroom was especially dangerous. Mrs. Droudt had a large wooden paddle that she often threatened to use on Devin’s back side if he ever set foot in her bedroom. I could see the paddle, it was more of an oar really, leaning in the corner of the room.

“Well, go ahead,” Devin said, nudging my shoulder.

“You go first. It’s your parent’s room,” I answered.

“It was your idea.”

“You guys it’s not too late to turn back and forget this whole thing,” Keith added from behind us.

“Man, any time you want to go home and get your diaper changed, feel free,” I shot back. Things were getting serious now, and this was no place for cowards.

“Alright, I’m going in,” Devin said, taking the first steps.

We tiptoed like prowlers committing a B & E. We made our way to the side of the bed and, lying down on our bellies; we peered under it. There, just as promised, was what looked liked as about half a million Playboys. Or maybe about 20. It was more than I’d ever seen anyway. Devin reached under the bed and dragged the stack into the light.

“Holy shit. The motherload,” I said.

“How the hell does my dad find time to read all of these,” Kevin wondered aloud, incredulously.

“Ok, we found them. Let’s go play legos, guys,” Keith said, his brow sopping with sweat.

“Let’s open one,” I said.

“Yeah,” Devin said, lifting the top one by the middle of the cover’s edge, raising his arm up high. The centerfold spilled open like a woman eagerly spreading her legs. We swallowed. Miss December was in the buff, her cantaloupe-sized breasts with soft pink nipples stared back at us like a pair of enormous eyes. The breasts commanded us to gaze down the page. Our heads tilted in unison.

We locked in on a strip of hair that shot up like an exclamation point from her vagina.

“This is the best day of my life,” I said.

“She's so beautiful,” Devin said, wiping a tear from his eye.

Keith was catatonic. I shook him to snap him out of it. He looked at me as if he’d just awoken from a coma. We sat on the floor leaning up against the bed and divvied up the magazines, each putting a few copies on our laps. We muttered to ourselves and occasionally shared a particularly mind-blowing picture.

“Jesus, look at her,” I said, holding up the erotic pose of a brunette.

“Oh yeah, how about her,” Devin said, shoving a buxom blonde in my face.

Keith hoarded his stack protecting each issue like a newborn. Something had changed in him that day. Naked women can do that to a boy of 12.

We had gone through every Playboy, and we let out a collective sigh, in the way any man would after a hard day’s work. About 40 minutes had passed since we first found this treasure trove of sexual content.

“Ok, fun’s over. Let’s put these back,” Devin said.

“Hey, I bet a guy like your dad has more than just Playboys,” I suggested.

“Whatta you mean?” Devin asked, starting to collate the magazines.

“I mean, he’s probably got some hardcore mags around here too. Like Hustler.”

“No way man, this is all I’ve ever found.”

“Well, maybe you’re not looking hard enough.”

“Oh yeah, where would you put stuff if you’re such a pussy aficionado?”

“I don’t know. Probably a drawer.”

“Dude, that’s so obvious,”

“Just open some and find out.”

“Ok, man, then we’re going. So stupid.”

Devin opened the top drawer of his dad’s nightstand. We leaned over and peered in. Nothing but mints, pens, and a few credit cards. He opened the second drawer. This one was deeper than the first. It had random office papers.

“Last one,” Devin said, his fingers on the handle of the breadbox-sized drawer.

“Guys, let’s leave. We’ve seen enough,” Keith said, finally regaining the power of speech.

“There’s nothing but junk in here man,” Devin reassured him.

“Open it already!” I yelled.

“Alright. Jesus,” Devin said, rolling his eyes.

Like a magician opening the door of a disappearing box, Devin quickly pulled out the last drawer. The weight of the contents caused the drawer to give way and derail, some of it spilling out onto the floor. We sat on our knees, mortified. Inside was not more Playboys. They weren’t Hustlers either.

Dildos. The drawer was filled with dildos. Not just a few dildos. It was as if a pinata of fake wangs was busted open. A plethora of dildos of varying shapes, sizes, and colors. Some had nodules on them, and others were smooth. Some were battery powered, some were not. A particularly veiny, Caucasian, and large dildo, or at least large to 12-year-old boys, had a little blood on the tip.

“What the fuck man. Your parents are sick,” I said, gazing at the pile of silicone penises.

“These aren’t theirs,” Devin said, shaking his head.

“What?! You think they’re holding them for somebody like they’re mail?” I said.

“I don’t know! It doesn’t make sense.”

“Let get out of here,” Keith insisted.

“Of course it makes sense. Your parents take turns shoving these things into every hole they’ve got,” I said.

“My mother would never,” Devin said, his voice cracking as he furiously tried to realign the drawer and close it.

“That’s her kick man. She acts all uptight on the outside, but in the bedroom, she’s a minx.”

“You’re crazy. These are just a joke of some sort.”

“No joke man. Your mom shoves them up your Dad’s butt I bet.”

“Shut up!” Devin exclaimed, seething.

“Guys, stop. We need to leave,” Keith pleaded.

“Oh! Now I know what happy hour means,” I said.

I moaned the words “happy hour” while picking up the blood-stained dong by the balls. I rubbed the tip of the dildo on Devin’s lips. He let out a high-pitched scream and slapped it out of my hand. It bounced off Keith’s face and flopped onto the floor.

“Fucking gross!” Keith yelled, hopping up and running out of the bedroom.

“You goddamn pig,” Devin said, wiping at his mouth. “Help me clean these up.”

But I had already jumped up and was running closely behind Keith.

His feet gave way, and he slid halfway down the stairway. He regained his balance and leaped from three steps up and landed in the foyer. He swung the front screen door open and ran full speed towards his house. I caught the door just before it closed and ran the opposite direction towards my house. Devin wasn’t far behind. He ran out onto the front lawn hysterical.

“Come back! Help me put these dicks away!” Devin pleaded.

At that moment, as if on cue, the Droudt’s BMW pulled into the driveway.