When my successful numbers racket was busted and disbanded in fifth grade at Barclay school, I needed another way to feed my addiction to video games, gummy bears and smoke bombs. After my cool 500 clams a day (fixed lottery drawings and my spinning toy roulette wheel) dried up, I felt like my quaint Upper East Side ‘hood had become my own personal skid row.
I turned my parents’ library, lined with my mother’s books on decorating and my father’s leather-bound tomes on subjects like (snooze) the Russian Revolution and novels written in French, into my own X-rated movie theater. On weekends, my parents went to Southampton and I was left with Lourdes, our cook, who thought I was the golden child. I invited a select group of ten classmates to watch The Robin Byrd Show, a cable program where a stoned-looking Robin Byrd interviewed strippers and porn stars before making them dance naked to her theme song. To add even more cash to my porn empire (I used the dining room chairs lined up movie theater style in front of the TV), I sold candy bars and soda (at double mark-up) that I charged to my parents’ house account at Zitomer Pharmacy. Lourdes only came in once, proudly holding a tray of her famous chocolate chip cookies. “For your friends, Charlie,” she offered sweetly as I tried to politely nudge her out of the room. I grabbed the tray and announced to my “customers” that each cookie was $1, which was a much better price than Kathleen’s Cookies. The kids gobbled them up and my wallet got fatter. Soon, weekly showings of The Robin Byrd Show grew and grew until kids were sitting cross-legged and crammed in the library. This went on for months.
Then one Sunday around 11 a.m., my mother woke me up having decided to leave the country early. With rage in her blue eyes, she dragged my sleepy head into the library and pointed to the channel and said sternly, “I know exactly what you and your friends were watching last night and your aunt Bitsy told me how to lock that horrific channel.” I immediately responded with, “You’re crazy. I don’t know what you are talking about.”
“Lourdes,” my mother called, “please come in the library. Charlie wants to apologize.” My shoulders slumped. I loved Lourdes and didn’t want her to get in any trouble, ever. “I’m sorry Lourdes,” I said flashing her a smile and my most innocent-looking eyes. “I don’t know anything Mrs. Campbell,” Lourdes told my mother, looking down at her white shoes. “Charlie just watches TV with nice boys.”
“Charlie and his friends are no longer watching TV, Lourdes,” my mother proclaimed. “Charlie will be coming to the country with us every weekend from now on and you can have the weekend to visit your sister in New Jersey,” my mother declared, as if addressing the nation. Lourdes nodded her head and scuttled back to the kitchen. My mother ordered me to go back to my room and “study.” I skulked down the hallway as if marching to the electric chair…
With my porno theater shuttered for good (my mother miraculously did figure out how to lock “that dirty, disgusting channel”), was my reign as the Hugh Hefner of Barclay school kaput? No. And my addiction to sugar and gadgets was getting worse, so overnight I devised a new XXX enterprise to score candy and toys without ever spending a single penny. [end scene]