Karen found the videotape in a closet. She had decided that the closet needed cleaning out two years ago, but since neither of them ever needed anything from that closet she had only then gotten around to it.
As a child, Karen's home had been characteristic of those of the post-depression era, furnished with a sense of frugality taken to the extreme, with every available closet and drawer threatening to rupture with things that were never to be thrown out. This had imbued her with the conviction that their children would be raised in a household where one could "hang their GD coat."
The closet housed a steam cleaner that had seemed like a sound investment at the time, what with the convenience and ease of steam cleaning the carpets whenever the spirit moved them. This had quickly devolved into a quagmire of expensive steaming solutions and wet rugs; coupled with a ripping fear that the carpets were not drying during the appointed drying periods, but instead were mildewing; that because of her attempts at penny pinching they would forever have a room that smelled "off" somehow, which would necessitate tearing up the carpet. After a week the unit had been remanded to the extra closet, along with board games that were little played or that seemed beside the point. The home games of several primetime game shows were in evidence, as well as puzzles long since beaten, some with pieces missing or bent. Lining the back walls were copies of men's health magazines and Ladies Digests, which Karen grew bored with after having married and lost her virginity, with their cheap innuendo and promises of secret sexual techniques which had seemed so childish when put into practice, and almost without exception resulted in both of them being left confused and frustrated; her with pubic hair in her teeth.
Once these had been picked over and thrown away, Karen was left with the shoebox, and a jumble of jacks and few pieces from a Risk game. The game itself she had thrown away a year ago because she was tired of playing it and even more frustrated at a life spent stepping on the little figurines in the dark and becoming irrationally angry at the game itself, despite the real culprit being her own clumsiness putting the pieces away after exhausting games that seemed to drag on indefinitely. After throwing the pieces away she picked up the shoebox and opened it.
The videotape cover was much larger than normal, and featured unattractive, but voluptuous, women in what appeared to be Greek Toga's. In the corner, a white blotch advertised two full hours of mythological sexcapades. The back contained a synopsis and screenshots from the movie itself.
Karen, upon scrutinizing the back cover, felt ill and vaguely hurt and angry. It would never be something that she could fully vocalize, ever. If confronted she would insist that she felt morally outraged by the pornography, and in doing so would appear patently irrational to anyone listening. The reason the videotape made her upset was much more complicated.
Karen felt stupid. The video made her feel like a stupid person. She had always thought of the sexual journey that she and Joseph had started when they married was somehow sacred. After her honeymoon, she had felt a secret knowledge racing around her brain, felt connected to every woman who had ever lived. And she had elevated Joseph as well, believed that she was his first, believed that she had initiated him as he had her. She had gone through this rite of passage with him, not after, and therefore they shared an unbreakable bond.
And suddenly, their roles in her mind had changed. What she had imagined as making love warped into the pawing of a horny schoolboy; she started redacting their entire sexual history based on this one piece of evidence. She imagined him masturbating furiously whenever she left the house, rubbing himself like a dog at the dinner table, watching the television in the corner.
This was the reason why she had been having so much trouble conceiving. He was draining himself while she was away and leaving her nothing but the scraps. She closed the box with the tape inside, put the magazines back, and shut the door.
She couldn't live like this anymore.