Formative Years

First Draft Disclaimer: Most of this is a rough first draft. I haven’t paid much attention to crafting each sentence, spelling, grammar, etc – I’m just getting the ideas down, the polish will happen in a phase between this, and publication. Take it all with a grain of salt.

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I’m going to sound like an old man for a minute here – Kids these days. They don’t know how easy they’ve got it. We had to work hard for our porn when I was a kid. 

Despite my parents best efforts to raise me as a sweet, innocent Mormon boy, I was always wildly curious about the things of the world. Sex, drugs, rock and roll. Look no further than the bathroom in my parent’s house for the answers. 

My parents never moved. I had the rare fortune of growing up in the same house my whole life. Our house was built in the 1890’s by great great grandfather. The house has remained in the family ever since. When my parents got married, the house had been previously habituated by “Uncle Henry”, who had let it run into great disrepair prior to his death. My Grandpa and Dad cleaned and fixed the house up in preparation for my parents to be married and begin life together there.  

“Your grandpa Jensen picked out the wallpaper without consulting me”, my mom says of the wallpaper adorning the bathroom wall right next to the bathtub. “I think he thought it was funny because he knew it would bug me”, she says, rolling her eyes.  

That was in 1975. To this day, the wallpaper still hangs above the bathtub I grew up using, and explains a lot of things about my early childhood development and who I am today:

To this day, it amazes me that my mom never had that replaced. If she does, I want to recover this amazing artifact and install it in my bathroom.


Another old man story for you: When I was a kid, if we wanted to learn something, we had to look it up in a book. Back in the day, volumes of books were produced that contained the bulk of human knowledge. They were called “Encyclopedias”. (Yes kids, this is where the term “Wikipedia” derives from). There was typically one book for every letter of the alphabet, with topics being arranged in them alphabetically.  For instance, if you wanted to learn about the origin of apples, you would retrieve the “A” Encyclopedia and would find several pages of text and illustrations somewhere about 2/3 of the way into the book. If you wanted to learn about vaginas, that was found near the beginning of the “V” volume, and contained disappointingly vague line drawings and very boring text.  Even as a kid, I was disappointed to find that the encyclopedia was not written in the style of Penthouse Forums… “I never thought this would happen to me, but one day after work….”

The JC Penny / Sears catalog was better. I quickly learned that approximately half way through the massive book, one could find the lingerie section. It was always a thrill to see a new catalog arrive and to discover whether or not this edition’s lingerie models were any prettier or revealing than the last issue. Ladies – go ask any man over 30 to tell you about his adventures with the Sears catalog. He might lie with his words, but his blushing will tell the truth.  

Creased pages and catalogs that automatically opened to the lingerie section because of frequent use – the original browser history. 

One man’s trash is another boy’s treasure: 

I never knew how they were discovered, but somehow one of my friends would discover a dumpster behind a certain business that would, on a fairly regular basis, contain a discarded Playboy or Penthouse.  I could never understand why any sane person would throw such a treasure away. Nevertheless, I was grateful for the wastefulness and resourcefulness of all involved in procuring said porn.  

It was a crisp fall night. My best friend and I had just finished playing in the pep band at our high school football game. We were walking home. It was about 10:30 pm, and the neighborhood was very dark. We walked past a canal. Somehow, despite the darkness, my peripheral vision caught something laying in the bottom of the 3 foot deep water. Something that needed rescuing. 

Something heroic switched on inside me. Without even a microsecond of contemplation, I executed on that which must be done: I jumped into the water, reached to the bottom of the waterway, carefully pulled it up from it’s watery grave, and gave it a chance at life: [ppp_patron_only level=”5″ silent=”no”]

I don’t know what magazine it was, exactly, as the covers were gone, but it was a bit raunchier than anything we had seen before.  I must have been an archivist in a past life – somehow I just knew exactly what to do in order to save the precious pictures on the waterlogged pages. Over the next two days, it dried out and we were left with a new (albeit wrinkly) addition to the library. 

One recurring pattern in my life – I can only observe a thing for so long before I aspire to try it: This instinct is responsible for some of my best adventures. 

Adventures in Photoshop 

When I was a sophomore in high school, our tech lab was stocked with Macintosh II computers (5” black and white screen,  had 10 mb of hard drive storage, ran Photoshop 1.0, and cost $1900 (equivalent to $3500 in 2019).   We had access to a primitive digital camera. It stored 480 pixel black and white images on a 1.4mb floppy disk.  

At the time, I was the new guy on the school’s stage crew – we ran the school audiorium’s light and sound for all events. We had a lot of opportunity for shenanigans – I was Ferris Beuhler with a fanny pack full of tools to fix stage lights and an unusually liberal arrangement with the school’s attendance secretary. 

Our fearless leader, Curtis, proudly announced to me one day that he was inducting one of his former girlfriends into our ranks. “Her name is Dana, but I call her ‘Golden Ass’, and you’ll see why”. 

When you are a 14 year old boy, high school seniors seem like full grown adults. Dana was particularly so – she was a vision of womanly magnificence, every curve fully developed and fully displayed.  She was a cross between Marilyn Monroe and the poster of Christina Applegate that was hanging in my locker. 

One day while working with the stage crew on a project, I took the tech lab’s camera out for a spin and began taking pictures of Dana’s posterior.  Soon the 1.4mb disk was full, and I trotted back to the computer lab like a kid on Christmas morning to review and edit the photos – a harbinger of things to come. 

A year later, our family got our first computer – a generic IBM compatible clone from Fred Meyer. It ran DOS, had 2 MB of RAM, a 40 MB hard drive and a 20 MHz 386 processor. My computer nerd friends quickly hooked me up with a 2400 baud modem so that I could join them in online shenanigans. 

2400 baud is an obscure reference – Let me put things into perspective. The computer modem would plug into the wired phone line and would dial up to various internet service providers and other contact points. At this point in 1993, the Word Wide Web had not yet been invented, though the Internet has been around since the 1960’s (The Internet was originally created as a national defense initiative via DARPA, the idea being a way for decentralized communication to take place, making our nation resistant to defeat by nuclear attacks on various cities). My friends and I would dial into stolen internet accounts on our local university’s mainframe system for email and FTP service. This would allow us to exchange graphic files with one another…. Graphic files of what, you ask? 

Sexy ladies, of course. 

Being the good mormon boys that we were, we limited ourselves to images from the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, as they were often essentially naked, though technically still not nudes. (Mormon ethics are a funny thing). 

Side note – in some regards, I think those SI Swimsuit photos are hotter than any straight up naked picture. Engaging the imagination is an incredibly powerful thing. 

Another old man tidbit: the files we were exchanging were in the .GIF format. In modern parlance, GIF’s refer to motion graphics and animations.  GIF stands for Graphics Interchange Format – which also settles the debate over how to pronounce “GIF”. It’s a “G” sound, not a “J” sound.  The GIF format allows for animations, though it’s not exclusive to that. Many still images are also GIF format. My nerd is showing, I digress. 

Back to the 2400 baud explanation: Each GIF file might be 250k in size. It would take all night long to download 3 of them. Yes, it would take 8 hours the computer occupying the phone line uninterupted to download 3 pictures.  You can’t even find cell service that shitty any more. We didn’t think of it as shitty though – it was glorious!  Waking up each morning to see how the downloads turned out was a real teenage boy joy. 

This state of affairs continued with small increases in speed and efficiency until it was time for me to prepare to serve my Mormon mission. 


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