Men: Are you proud of your behavior? If your grandfather was here today, would you be able to look him in the eye? Are you a man of the world, caving to whatever temptation it puts under your nose?
Or do you want to be uncommon, a great man? Do you want to be proud of yourself?
— EthanE (@ethan_ethos) October 21, 2020
A beautiful sentiment to hold in the back of your mind.
I remember when I was a kid, maybe 10 years old, my brother and I were round my grand-parents one night, staying over. This is back in the days when the Big Bossman, Mr. Perfect, The Ultimate Warrior, Ravishing Rick Rude and Hulk Hogan were ruling the WWF – my grand-parents had a Sky dish just so we could watch the wrestling. I think my Mum and my Nan had gone to the bingo, a rare night out for them both. We had been left with my Grandad. Now, at this time, my Grandad was recovering from a stroke, it was pretty severe, he was housebound for the most part, and shuffled along slowly instead of walking. He could barely talk, and it took him a few seconds of inhaling sharply to get a word out – and even then it was short and to the point because of the stutter caused by his brain and mouth being out of sync. He was cared for primarily by my Nan, so her having a night out was much deserved. I vaguely remember him before his stroke. A mountain of a man, always with a grandkid or two hanging off his thick forearms, a beer in one hand and a fag in the other. A gentle giant. I’ve been told that I take after him a lot.
My brother and I had been bathed before Mum and Nan left for the bingo, and we knew that as soon as they got back it was our bedtime. I was just discovering my sexuality – women had suddenly become mystical, alluring creatures. It was getting late and we were all in the front room, watching Sky, and my brother had fallen asleep and I thought Grandad was asleep too. I was flicking through the channels, and all of a sudden, up popped a vision of seductive beauty. Three or four women doing a raunchy striptease type dance, skin on show all over the place, naked legs and stomachs, with the odd flash of boob and a very rare glimpse of a triangle of pubic hair. This was probably one of the first times I actually remember taking time and paying attention to how these visuals were affecting me physically. I turned the TV down so as to not wake anyone, to prolong my time watching them, and I’m not sure if time slowed down or what but it seemed like an hour of being hypnotised by the femininity of these creatures.
They started touching and kissing each other. Men appeared. And all of a sudden, I heard Grandad.
“Iain, son, no”
I turned, shocked, and saw Grandad sat up, shaking his head from side to side. He knew I was too young for this yet. He knew it would be a death spiral into the void. I changed the channel. For him to have sat up, been with it and aware enough to see what was coming next, and for him to speak so calmly, eloquently and clearly was jolting. It had been years since I had heard his voice without him stuttering over his words. It must have been very important for him to have spoken so clearly, and for him to have sat up on his own so easily. But then fathers and grandfathers have that paternal instinct. They know when their kids are in danger. He saw the danger. And despite his condition, he acted swiftly and decisively, and got me out of danger.
See, porn addiction is crippling, for many reasons – our primitive brains are not wired to handle on-demand access to pornography. It fries your dopamine receptors and messes with your perceptions of women and sexual intercourse. It can make you lose focus on remaining sexually attractive for your partner, makes you get complacent, as you can get a quick and easy fix at any time just by opening up a website on your phone. Sure, there was a period in the middle there where I took things to extremes and suffered for it, but I’m back on the straight and narrow now. I don’t use porn. I’ve come to see that it’s not worth it. I feel so much more in control now, and in tune with myself.
Just writing this has brought back so many amazing memories of my childhood that I forgot I still had. And it has made me wonder what kind of memories my boy will have of his time as a child when he is older. It kinda puts things in perspective a little. I can’t really control what he’ll remember, but I’m not going to go out of my way to be a “nice” Dad, or a pushover so the memories are favourable. I hope the moral compass I’ve instilled in him knows how to determine right from wrong, and he’ll remember that I did what needed to be done.
So, grandad, if you’re up there watching, I hope I’m making you proud. I’m resisting temptation. Trying to be great. Trying to be like you.