N.B.: The first part of this entry was originally posted on July 22, 2004. I repost it now so as to be able to give you an update. Also, if you find the post and/or the update amusing, I hope you’ll consider buying my book.
One of the many things I like about my relationship with E.S. is that the sex is consistently fabulous. However, he being a first-year resident at a hospital, there are perforce occasional periods during which we don’t see each other for a while; at such times, I have not infrequently performed certain endorphin-releasing activities on my own. On these occasions I have been content to use as visual aids the small stash of pornographic videos I collected in the early 1990s, when my taste in such things seems to have been formed. The haircuts are most unfortunate, but I find the body shapes on the whole more pleasing than those in videos being made today.
However, a couple weeks ago, I ordered a new video from the folks at TLA (that link is safe for work, by the way, though certain pages on the site are most certainly not). The detailed review of the movie on the web site indicated that it contained a scene involving a fairly uncommon sexual activity that I find particularly arousing. The one or two times I’ve actually participated in this activity, the experience has been unerotic and, in fact, somewhat distasteful, so I have no plans to try it again; nevertheless, the idea of it remains exciting.
A few days later, the TLA package arrived–on a day, it so happened, when E.S. was going to be on overnight call at the hospital, so I had ample time to enjoy my purchase. The film started off promisingly enough, with someone who could conceivably be a high school student if high school started at age 26 entering what could conceivably be the principal’s office if principals’ offices were badly-lit rooms empty of all appointments save a curiously bare desk. Someone who could conceivably be the principal entered and began to castigate the student for spending so much time sucking cock that his grades were suffering; the scene progressed satisfyingly if predictably from there to its inevitable conclusion. The next scene had similar credibility issues but was equally fulfilling–from a mathematical perspective, in fact, it was twice as fulfilling, as it had twice as many people in it.
The third scene was the one in which, according to the review, the activity for which I’d purchased the movie occurred. I watched as the school janitor (the first well-cast role in the piece) chanced upon some contraband material in a student’s locker and took the student down to the boiler room to punish him. Strangely enough, these two were inclined to behave in the the same manner as the principal, the detainee, the athlete, his coach, and his two teammates; however, after a while they stopped doing that, and seemed to be preparing to do something else. Breathless with, um, anticipation, I awaited eagerly the extensive scene the TLA review had described–
–and got about thirty seconds of the tail end of it, after which the two actors moved on to something else.
I went nearly mad with shock and dismay. After finishing the task at hand–not nearly as pleasant an accomplishment as I’d expected it would be–I called up the web page and reread the review, thinking that perhaps my wishful memory had played me false. But no: right there in black and white–with full color photographs–was a description of events that did not take place in the movie I had bought.
Clearly this was an untenable state of affairs. But resolving it was going to be tricky. After all, the all-but-omitted sexual activity was just enough beyond the pale for me not to feel comfortable calling the company and identifying myself as an aficionado in an effort to correct the error. True, I could simply return the movie for a refund, but that would destroy any chance I had of actually obtaining the movie I’d thought I was buying, which was of course the most desirable outcome.
Eventually I hit upon the brilliant solution of sending TLA an e-mail into which I pasted the relevant paragraphs from their own review; I bolded the parts that had been left out and asked them to let me know how I could get a copy with those parts put back in. That way I didn’t even have to refer to the damning sex act by name–whoever got the e-mail couldn’t very well turn his nose up at his own company’s language. Pleased as punch with myself (and full of endorphins, however unfulfillingly released), I went to bed.
And woke up the next morning to find an e-mail in my inbox saying, “Pardon the inconvenience, but please contact us by phone to resolve this issue.”
So today, when I got home from the gym, I called them.
“Hello, this is Nick,” said the guy on the other end of the phone. “How can I help you?”
“Well,” said I, “I recently bought a video from you that seems to have part of a scene missing. There’s a scene described on the web site that isn’t all there.”
“Oh?” he asked, concern filling his voice. “What was the movie?”
“It was [Name of Movie],” I answered, after which I gave him my order number.
“So you say there was part of a scene missing?”
I was silent, hoping against hope that Nick, wonderful Nick, cute, understanding Nick, would know exactly what the problem was without my having to explain it.
“What was missing?” he asked.
Hateful, ugly Nick.
I wondered desperately if Nick spoke French. My French is good enough to return a movie.
Then I realized I didn’t know the name of the activity in French.
“Um,” I continued in English, “well, there’s a [name of activity] scene, and only part of it appears on the disc.”
“Yes, I can see that there’s a [name of activity] scene. But what part of it is missing?”
I attempted to develop spontaneously the ability to project my thoughts into the minds of others, so as not to have to continue this conversation, but I failed.
“Do you have e-mail?” I asked wildly. “I could just e-mail you a description of what’s missing.”
“If you send an e-mail it won’t be dealt with properly.”
I thought about becoming an ex-gay so as to have an excuse not to own this movie, but realized quickly that I like getting fucked too much to become an ex-gay. There was nothing for it but to, um, plow ahead.
“How about if I just read you the section from your web site that describes the part that’s missing?”
“Okay, so see where there’s the paragraph that ends, um, ‘A willing Chad takes stream after stream of Matt’s impressive load in the face without flinching’?”
I considered traveling back in time and preventing human beings from developing the power of speech.
“Yeah, I see that.”
“Okay, well, the next paragraph, the one that starts, ah, ‘Next up is the adorable Billy, who [performs the activity in question on] Eric like there’s no tomorrow,’ nothing described in that paragraph is on the disc I got. And then the first sentence of the next paragraph, the one that says, ‘Then we’re treated to the delightful sight of Eric [performing the activity in another way,]’ that’s not there either. I only have the scene starting from the next sentence, ‘To finish things off before going in for the kill, Billy [performs the activity in yet a third way.]'”
By this point I was strangling with mortification.
“Hmm,” said Nick. “Okay, let me go check with my manager, who’s in charge of ordering these.”
During the two minutes during which I was on hold, I started to check out airfares to Siberia, where I could drown myself in Lake Baikal, the largest freshwater lake in the world. Unfortunately, Nick returned before I’d been able to finalize my purchase.
“My manager says we must somehow have sent you the retail version. He says the [activity] scene is really quite extensive in the director’s cut. Let me give you a return authorization number so you can send the disc back. As soon as we get it, we’ll ship you out the correct version.”
“Oh, great,” I said tearfully, grateful that I would soon be able to hang up and instantly repress all memory of this conversation.
“I’m so sorry for the trouble. Is there anything else I can do for you today?”
“No, thank you.”
And it was over. Slowly–oh, so slowly–but surely, the excess blood began to drain from my face and redistribute itself throughout the rest of my body. My breathing started to return to normal, and I thought, Well, at least I know I’ll never be that embarrassed ever again in my entire life.
Then I realized that my door was open and my brother’s houseguest had been sitting on the couch in the next room the whole time.
Update, June 18, 2009: The replacement video that TLA sent me was similarly truncated, as was the replacement replacement video that TLA sent me. A year or two later I tried again, figuring that perhaps they’d just had a bad batch of DVDs. Of course I couldn’t find the replacement replacement video so I had to buy it again. Imagine my lack of surprise when the [activity] scene was missing the exact same parts. Then when I started downloading torrents I naturally found a torrent of the video, but when I watched the file—which took several days to download completely—it was the regular version, not the director’s cut, so there was even less of the [activity] scene than before. The second time I downloaded it exactly the same thing happened. Then, a few months ago, I found the studio’s website and signed up, credit card and all, and paid to rent the movie for 48 hours, but the file I downloaded wouldn’t open. This turned out to be, as I found out when I e-mailed the studio (I didn’t have to speak with anybody this time; thank God for small favors), because I hadn’t read the platform requirements on the website, and the download-for-48-hours feature only worked on PCs. The customer service representative who explained this to me (the embarrassment I was saved by the representative’s not being Nick was made up for by the representative’s being a woman) wrote that she’d credited me for an hour of the watch-now-online (streaming) feature. The scene turns out to be pretty fucking impressive, but the two times I’ve watched it I’ve been so worried about using up as little time as possible that I might as well have been watching an episode of Flip This House for all the good it did me.
The universe is obviously trying to tell me something.
I’m not listening.