It was late February or early March 2002, and a friend and I were returning, via I-40 East, to McMinnville from Memphis.
We took an exit in the Jackson, Tenn., area, topped off the gas tank, grabbed some food, and got back onto I-40 East – my friend driving and I rode shotgun.
We’d been back on the interstate only a few minutes when my friend said, “Before, I forget, Mike, there’s the latest issue of Playboy magazine in the floorboard in front of you; I’m giving it to you.”
This friend, an old-school codger, went on to tell me how he, at one time, had enjoyed Playboy and had subscribed to it.
However, he no longer enjoyed Playboy, no longer subscribed to nor paid for it, but kept receiving monthly issues. (“All the girls look just alike,” he complained.)
After finishing my sub sandwich, I reached into the floorboard for the March 2002 issue of Playboy magazine.
The front-cover page read, “Sizzling Porn Star Pictorial,” and featured three attractive, suggestively-dressed, female porn stars.
I tore off the plastic cover that enveloped the magazine and commenced thumbing through it.
When I came across the “Forum Response” section and starting reading a response, I thought, “ah, something’s not right, here, kind of eerie.”
Now, as the late Paul Harvey would’ve said, “it’s time for the rest of the story.”
It was fall 2001, and a lifelong buddy (not the same one as above) called and asked if I would give him some help in learning how to operate a computer.
He knew absolutely nothing about computers, but he had bought one for his daughter, who was in high school, and desired to learn some basics, so he could assist her with homework, when needed.
We agreed to meet at the public library on a Saturday, and, indeed, we rendezvoused as agreed.
At that time, the public library had only two computer terminals for the public.
When there was a waiting list, a 30-minute limit for usage on each computer terminal was instated.
When my friend and I arrived at the public library, there was a female teenager on one computer, and a male teenager on the second computer.
My friend and I signed in to use a computer, and the receptionist told us that the computers would be free in just a few minutes; the two teenagers had signed on at the same time.
As we waited, my friend and I noticed that the two teenagers were behaving oddly.
Back to the March 2002 issue of Playboy, here’s an excerpt from the Forum Response that had caught my interest (page 49):
“They kept giggling and making faces at each other. When they left, my friend and I took a seat at one computer. The screen was covered with adult material. When I closed the browser page, another page of porn appeared. This kept happening. I was trapped. I had to close out 10 pages of porn before I returned to a blank window. Two men sitting at a library computer in a Southern town with porn on the screen is not the best situation to find yourself in.
“Before leaving that day, I told the library director about the incident. She put this rule into effect: No one under the age of 18 may surf at the library without the permission of a parent or legal guardian. That’s as good a measure as I know to guarantee the rights afforded by the Constitution while ensuring the well-being of those who have not yet reached maturity.”
And it was signed, you guessed it, “Mike Vinson McMinnville, Tennessee.”
Due to the genuine “scare” my friend and I had experienced at the library that day, I had submitted the above “response” to Playboy months earlier.
However, I totally had forgotten about it, until traveling down I-40 East and accidentally stumbling upon it.
Still, that very issue of Playboy magazine, in which I addressed screening teenagers from Internet porn, just happened to feature female porn stars as its lead story.
If that doesn’t qualify as irony, I don’t know what does.