As a part-time employee of a convenience store, I see an awful lot of people who want to buy pornographic magazines. I also see a lot of people who end up getting humiliated in the process, or who behave in such a boorish way that we have to throw them out of the store. I thought I'd provide some advice so you can complete your transaction with efficiency, courtesy, and a minimum of embarrassment.

Select a Store

Find a place that's relatively out of the way, where you probably won't run into people you know. It's a bit difficult when, as you walk out of the store clutching your brown paper bag, a cute girl you know comes up and says "Hey, man! So--what'd you buy?" (Here's a hint: they won't believe it's for a class.) It also depends on the kind of magazine you want. If it's Playboy, you can find it in some bookstores like Waldenbooks. If you're looking for anything harder-core, you'll need to go to a convenience store or an adult bookstore. If there's a sign in the window saying that the store sells magazines, then it likely sells porn.

Case the Joint

If the cashier is a woman, turn around and walk out. Unless you're in an adult bookstore, never buy a porno mag from a woman (and if I have to explain why, grasshopper, you have a lot of learning to do). If the cashier is a man, but seems openly hostile, go elsewhere. He may suspect that you're underage, or a thief, or he may have some other reason. Whatever the cause, he doesn't want to sell to you.

Cashier okay? Good. Now check the position of the porno mags. Ideally, the porn rack should have a clear view of the entrance, and should also be right next to a rack of non-pornographic mags. That way, if your kindergarten teacher suddenly walks in, you can discreetly dump the copy of Hot Wet Live Nude Shaved Teen Bisexual Girls you were pawing, slide over, and pick up a copy of National Geographic. Then you can both pretend that that's what you were reading all along.

Browse Briefly, Showing Respect for the Merchandise, Then Make Your Selection

First, assume the position. As I mentioned earlier, you need to stand in a place that allows you to keep an eye on the door. At the same time, you need to position yourself and the magazine so that a casual passerby cannot glance at you and see something she doesn't want to see. Believe it or not, some people don't want to see a young, beautiful woman fellating a well-muscled stud. Weird, huh?

If a woman or child approaches, put the mag back on the rack, and endure the dirty look. Be particularly cautious of kids, because they're sneaky--they have a nose for naughtiness and will slip under your elbow before you know it. The mother will, of course, blame you for allowing the kid to see a porno mag.

If a magazine is sealed in plastic, don't unwrap it. It's illegal to display unsealed porno mags in some places, so if you open it, the cashier has to throw it out or risk being fined. This doesn't endear you to the cashier and may get you thrown out of the store.

Put the magazines back where you found them. Otherwise, other customers won't be able to find what they're looking for, and at the end of the day, the cashier has to spend a lot of boring time straightening them out when he could be watching the game. He won't thank you for this.

Browse for a few minutes at most, then buy something or leave. The store is not there to provide you with free smut; we have the Internet for that. It's fine to glance through a magazine to see if it's good this month, but if you want to stare at it for longer, buy it.

On Stealing

Please don't. The guy running the store is not some big rich fat capitalist. He's just some guy trying to make a living, just squeaking it out a lot of the time, and each magazine you steal is money out of his pocket, because he has to pay for any magazine that he doesn't return to the distributor. Oh, and if you do steal, you can stop pretending that you're a hip socially-conscious young radical who cares passionately about the struggles of the little guys in the working class...because you just proved, via your actions, that you don't give a fuck about him and his family. Yeah, your friends won't know you're a phony, so they'll still be willing to moan with you over income disparities as they sit and sip your Starbucks mocha latte--but deep down, you'll know what you really are. Not a good feeling.

Besides, think what happens if you get caught. How do you explain to your mom that you were caught stealing Shaved Snizz?

Finish Up and Head Out

Make your selection(s) and head to the counter. This is the crucial part, because if someone you know walks in, you're almost certainly busted. Have your money ready before you get there, and ask for a bag. If the worst happens, and someone you know enters, don't panic--if you've behaved courteously so far, the cashier will sometimes help cover for you. Slip him the magazine, say "Hang on--I need to get something else," and give him a significant look. If he's a good guy, he'll slip the magazine under the counter.

So that's that. Once you're done, find a nice, private place, kick back, and revel in the beauty of the naked female form.

The Experiment:
Seeing how a stranger would react to a woman buying both female and male pornography. Expected reaction: mild amusement or discomfort.

Selecting the Store
I didn't choose an out-of-the-way place to conduct this experiment. In fact, the large chain book/music store I chose is right next to the mall. I suppose I am a risk-taker. I have never felt ashamed of my interest in porn, although I'm sure I would be embarrassed if I had to explain most of the pictures on my hard drive to, say, my mother. I should note now that my mother and I have always been frank and open about sex. Recently, at a barbeque, her boyfriend swatted her behind with a spatula he was taking to the grill, and I shouted after him that I plan to buy them gift certificates to Eclectica (the local porn/sex toy shop, run by the the godmothers of the local gay community) for Christmas. He shouted back that they already have several things from there; I plan to buy the gift certificates anyway. I chose not to buy the porn for this experiment at Eclectica because most of the employees there are friends of mine.

Casing the Joint
I sought out the female employee in the books section to ask her where they'd moved the pornographic magazines. She seemed not at all perturbed, and helpfully led me to the right rack. It was near the front of the store, and situated in such a way that, had I been a bit taller, I could have seen the front entrance. It was also situated in such a way as to make it difficult to sneak up behind me. This would be beneficial to those less comfortable with their porn habits. The porn was also conveniently located between the sports/outdoors magazines and the financial magazines.

Making My Selection
All of the pornographic magazines were wrapped in plastic that was black until just below the magazine title, so I didn't have much to go on. I decided that for this first experiment, I would go with softcore, and familiar titles. With an extremely uncomfortable-looking middle-aged man standing next to me, quickly flipping disinterestedly through the financial magazines, I chose PlayBoy and PlayGirl and made my way to the check-out counter.

Checking Out
There were two men at the check-out counters; one was roughly my age, and the other was probably my father's age. I chose to go to the younger man, partially because I thought he might be more likely to react to my purchase. I paid with cash.

Results
The young man who was my cashier made friendly conversation, without comment upon my purchase. He seemed neither amused nor uncomfortable. Next time: Hardcore.

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