Watching Porn at North Shore Towers




At thirteen, immediately after my parent’s divorce, my mother and I moved into what is apparently the only gated community in New York with its own zip code. I’ve recently learned that it also has its own self-generating power plant, so really, who wouldn’t want to live there?

The Towers apparently sit on the highest point of Queens. According to the rather fascinating Wikipedia entry, this “hill” was formed in the “last glacial period.” Now, apparently due to some serious melting, it’s an 18-hole golf course. The height sets off the three buildings so they can be seen from as far away as Connecticut. They cut a rather imposing figure from the Long Island Expressway and Grand Central Parkway. You could literally stand in one place and be in both Queens and Long Island at the same time. My favorite part of their placement is that they share land with Long Island Jewish Hospital where my mother spent time going in and out of the inpatient psych unit. Someone was clearly thinking ahead.

Living in North Shore Towers made me REALLY popular with my classmates who lived in normal, upper-middle-class suburban sprawl and didn’t have a “retail concourse” that included a movie theater and two restaurants underground. It housed the first atm machine I had ever seen (this was in 1979), buttons on the wall of a bank that made cool sounds and spit out money.

This subterranean mall connected three buildings. It was the perfect place for the disgruntled children of bitter divorces and hated stepmothers to run amok, completely unsupervised. We smoked cigarettes in the stairwells in our pajamas and smoked pot outside in the bushes near the pool. We went out for lunch at the deli-style restaurant, The Nibbler, and ordered whatever the hell we wanted. We made the rounds of each others apartments, all carbon copies of the others, and watched game shows after school. Like all other teenagers in America, we got bored out of our minds.

Recently as I’ve reconnected with people on facebook from junior high and high school, I’ve been reminded of the wild parties I used to throw at my apartment. Now very successful business men and women, after the initial “HEY, what-have-you-been-up tos” will say, “Remember those parties you used to have at North Shore Towers? Man, I used to get so drunk!” As soon as they say it, I get an image of well-groomed Jewish teenagers spilling through my door.

I have no recollection of how these parties formed. I guess I’d make a decision to have one, I’d tell one person, and friends would call others and say “Party at Gayle’s.” I would go down to the underground supermarket and buy Cheese Doodles and soda, chips and Lipton onion soup dip mix, M&Ms and called it a day. I have absolutely no idea of how the carpools worked, how late these kids stayed, and, the most vague of all, is where was my mother? Did these parties all happen when she was in the hospital? Was anyone staying with me? I remember just ONE time that she was in her room, in bed, and I went in to check on her with a cigarette in my hand. She asked for a “puff,” mistaking it for the first joint she might ever try. It took me a minute to convince her that it was just a cigarette.

I was not a drinker back then and can probably count on one hand the number of times I’ve been hungover. I don’t know who brought alcohol to these parties and I certainly don’t remember who brought the porn classic, “Deep Throat.” I DO remember a bunch of eager boys sitting on our orange nu buck suede couch trying to act really cool as if this was something they did every day. I remember flitting about also trying to act cool even though I had never seen porn before especially not in my own living room with 20 or so of my friends around. I remember it being really bad quality being played on the Sony Betamax but still being able to make out Linda Lovelace doing some pretty dirty things. I learned a LOT of things that night that I wasn’t necessarily prepared to learn.

The night came to a rather abrupt halt when someone (I remember it as Jimmy Klein but I think I’ve since been corrected) vomited orange soda all over our guest bathroom and then locked themselves in. I don’t know who picked anyone up or how they were ever allowed to come back. People don’t throw up at my parties anymore, and if anyone is watching porn they’re doing it on their i-phones, sitting on a sage green and not an orange suede couch.
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5 Comments

  1. Dan

    Makes my visit to the Towers feel pretty tame in comparison…."Someone was clearly thinking ahead." Hilarious! Keep writing.

  2. hey, i didn't realize you lived in a high-rise gated community. back in the day i'd hadn't heard of North Shore Towers but your description reminds me of an upper middle-class version of Co-op City (with it's own 10475 zip too) where i'd lived. i vaguely recall quite a few parties (somebody must've puked!) but no porn … just "catholic school girls" 😉

  3. Linda Lovelace on Betamax? Doesn't get much more bleeding edge in terms of a melding of porn and technology. Seems to me you remember your youth with and equal blend of fondness and sadness. Mental illness is no laughing matter- I know all about having family members that deal with that.Good stuff. Check out my blog (in its infancy) if you get bored! 🙂

  4. Very interesting! Write more. Where was your Mom during those parties, and at other times. Who did stay with you when your Mom was in the hospital? How long did she stay?I'd never even heard of a "gated community" at that age, although I did know that some sections of beach could only be entered after dark when no one could see.We did not watch porn either. That must have been a fairly advanced party, although magazines were often "found" and at parties once the lights went out …. Well, had video technology been perfected I'm quite sure we would have made our own.Fascinating!

  5. Any post that starts with "Watching porn…" is sure to draw me in! (Not to sound like a total perve or anything…) Thanks for checking out my blog, and I will be sure to keep up with yours. Feel free to guest post for me anytime. 🙂

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