can't wait 'til it's christmas.

back in the day, when i was four or five, my adopted cousin grace was visiting from the philippines. she and i hung out in my room, but i didn't have much to entertain us. it was my idea that we grab the macy's catalog from the kitchen - it was an issue that featured all swimsuits and lingerie - and look it over. it didn't matter that grace was a girl, obviously, because in my five-year old mind, everyone loves boobs. so we leafed through pages, looking at girls' boobs and legs. i couldn't really tell you what was going through my mind. i just liked seeing all that skin, smooth and shiny as it was.

suddenly, my mom barged in. i threw the catalog under my desk. "what are you guys doing?" she demanded. she had that wicked tone in her voice, the one she used when she knew i was up to no good. "nothing," i said, turning pale. "looking at comics," i lied. i was obviously a terrible liar. she grinned. "where are the comics?" she demanded. i knew it was over. she would raid my room like the police until she found these so-called comics. i pulled out the catalog. "mmmhmm," she said, disappointed. i was ready to break down, the guilt was overwhelming. "it was grace's idea!" i blurted out. grace just looked at me. she wasn't angry. it was more like a "what the hell are you talking about?" look.

"come to the kitchen," my mom said. walking down the hallway, grace turned to me. "why did you say it was my idea?" she asked. "because you're a girl," i said. duh. wasn't it obvious? unless she was a lesbian, she was just skimming the pages for some new clothes. worse yet, ate was at the table, waiting for us. my mom lectured me on lying. i expected ate to scream at me. she had a reputation for knocking claire around in an airplane bathroom once. i could feel my number was up.

surprisingly though, she said nothing. it was like one of those moments, one of those stories you read where the adult is so upset he/she can't possibly find words to express himself/herself properly. but then again, maybe she just didn't care. after all, it was just a goddamn macy's catalog. for the next couple of weeks, my mom teased me about it. "magaziiiiiine," she'd coo. "magaziiiiine, magaziiiiine." it was a nightmare. every time someone would say the word, she'd have to repeat it, and i'd know exactly what she was referring to. if there was a pretty girl on tv, she'd say it: "magaziiiiine." catholic guilt much? the joke finally subsided one day. as we were driving to san francisco, we passed magazine st. on 80-w. i held my breath, knowing what was coming. i know that she had read the sign. silence. it ended there.

because of this, of course, i developed a fucked up complex. on sundays, once we received our sacramento bee full of advertisements, i discreetly cut out pictures of women in bras and panties, and i pasted them into a spiral notebook. i did this for weeks, until the notebook was completely full. to add to the suspense, i was still sleeping in my parents' room, so i had to hide my secret stash underneath their bed. i knew if my mom found it, the magazine chant would start all over again. still, i had to keep cutting and pasting. i had to collect them all. they changed every week, after all, and once a picture, a model, was gone, she was gone for good. i couldn't stop.

so every weekend, the notebook would get thicker and thicker, easier to spot underneath their bed. i had to get rid of it. i had to rid myself of the addiction. i would throw it away on a monday, because that's when the garbageman came. and this christmas was on a monday. i remember that once i connected these two things, i sang in my head the line: "i can't wait 'til it's christmas!" i think it was a jingle from a television commercial. anyway, i could finally purge myself of guilt, of sin, of a notebook full of scantily clad, open-mouthed models.

i was too young to realize that nobody worked on christmas day.

i don't know what happened to my notebook, or when it was finally picked up. all i know is that my mom never found it. i still had a chance at being a good kid.

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