"It's your birthday soon," my mother reminded me. "You've usually made a list of things you want by this point."
She wasn't wrong. My birthday's in March. I used to have a list ready by the end of January, just in case my parents needed the time to get a loan or something.
"I don't really have anything I specifically want," I replied, "but I've got a list of things I don't want..."
Which was true. I was more afraid of getting something I genuinely didn't want and having to feign gratitude. I wasn't very good at it, as I'd discovered by this point. The only thing I was really interested in getting was a new N64 game, and I doubted my parents' budget would stretch that far. I was 14, and sinking deeper into depression than ever before, I was beginning to lose interest in things I once liked. I had my books, at least.
In any case, I produced my list of "least wanted" and pinned it to the corkboard. I seem to remember the first one being something vague like "violent things", but at least it gave them a broad range of what not to aim for.
The second thing on my list was more defined:
Anything designed for spotty herberts. Like designer deodorants, "worrying teenager" books and the like... I am NOT an adolescent.
I'd had a lot of conversations with my dad about the definition of the word "adolescent" by that point, and the general consensus had been that adolescence was a state of mind, when one was confrontational, moody and rebellious. I've never been overly rebellious. I had some terrible times ahead, including days when I wasn't sure if I'd make it through the next 24 hours, but at this point, I was okay.
"It's true, though," my mother finally said after puzzling over the odd font I'd chosen to write the list in. "You're not an adolescent. I think you've outgrown that phase."
"Thanks, that's kind of you to say," I heard my mouth saying. My brain was running something more along the lines of
fuck fuck fuck! she knows! she knows i've given up watching porn! she wasn't supposed to know to begin with! don't say anything, don't say anything, don't...
She'd vanished, presumably to do whatever it is she does in her spare time. Dodged a bullet there, I thought to myself.
One of the reasons I'd so strenuously pressed the issue of not being an adolescent is that I had made one of my frequent efforts to stop watching porn. I enjoyed partaking every now and again, but I was underage, and breaking the law by watching it (I think... it's not clear). I knew everyone else did it, and I knew lots of people masturbated to it, which I wasn't doing. But I felt dirty about doing so. I felt unclean. And, for no reason other than the fact that there were schoolyard snickers about it (the laughter, not the chocolate bar), I knew deep down that watching porn was wrong.
So I gave it up. Or, at least, I tried to. Some of my efforts were more successful than others - this one was working quite well. The TV in my room was mostly used to play Super Mario 64 and didn't tune in very well to Channel 5; I used to sneak downstairs to watch Gran's TV when I could, but that was risky; I enjoyed having my healthy teenage erections, but since I didn't wank, I had no idea what to do with them, aside from curling into the foetal position and waiting for them to go away.
As a result, I was kind of getting more sleep (insofar as "sleep" is concerned. I was staying in bed longer; I can never really sleep). This one was more successful - I hadn't even so much as seen an explicit image in over a week. I was making a concerted effort to think about it less, as well. One more month and I'd be totally clean. Of course I would.
i won't do it ever again, because i've given up, because that's the right thing to do, but if i start again she will probably find out, and then i will totally be an adolescent again, and anyway, i made a promise to jesus, so there.
I started watching porn again. She didn't call me an adolescent. I didn't get anything I didn't want for my 15th birthday, and in fact, I got The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, so as it turns out, there was actually something I wanted.
I've never been able to take a compliment, either...