My name is John, and I'm a registered sex offender.
Not in the classic sense of the title, however. I'm not a rapist. I've never exposed myself to any kids. I think Bill Cosby's comedy sucks.
But there is something that follows me whenever I change my address — credit card offers. Tons of them. An entire forest in the Pacific Northwest has been sacrificed so I might be tempted by predatory lenders. I would think that these companies would know not to pester me. My credit score is so low, it has to be measured in fathoms.
This all started during my first week of college. The campus was flush with duos of shady men sitting behind 6-foot banquet tables and giving out free T-shirts. All one had to do was fill out a form that asked for every shred of personal information imaginable — date of birth, social security number, etc.
As I passed a table, I noticed a shirt with the Heineken logo emblazoned across the front, except it said something like "Highneken" with a marijuana leaf. Yeah, I know. Give me a break. I was 21.
I approached the two gents at the table. They looked like Beavis and Butthead had escaped from television and responded to a help-wanted ad in the back of some sleazy free newspaper (like the one you are currently reading).
"I'll take the shirt," I said, breaking into a nervous smile and rocking back and forth on the balls of my feet.
"I think he'd rather have the video," Beavis said.
"Yeah, I think he'd rather have the video, too," Butthead replied.
"Video?" I enquired.
"Yeah," Butthead continued. "A 'Girls Gone Wild' video."
For those of you still in your 20s, the cornucopia of disgusting smut available on your iPhone did not exist in 2001. If one desired erotic material, he or she would have to travel to a bad part of the city and venture into a dirty, sticky building full of perverts and the ever-present threat of a raid by federal agents conducting an organized-crime investigation.
The alternative was a series of "Girls Gone Wild" videos advertised on television and available for mail order. By no means hard-core pornography, the videos were basically 60 minutes of drunk 18-year-old white girls being exploited, ironically enough, for free T-shirts.
"OK, I'll take the video." (Give me a break. I was 21.)
I took the video home and put it on. It didn't say "Girls Gone Wild" on the cover and, upon a single viewing, appeared to have no topless women at all. It seemed to be someone's home video of spring break in Panama Beach or South Padre Island. I turned it off when six or seven frat boys pulled their flaccid penises from their cargo shorts and jiggled them for the camera.
I'd been had. I imagined Beavis and Butthead off having a chuckle. My girlfriend wouldn't stop laughing.
I should have taken the T-shirt.