Ah cable. That sweet filler of lost afternoons, late night insomnia attacks, and alternative prime time programming. She's a great invention, but in the wrong hands, much could go wrong.
I grew up in the era just after cable took off and during the age of the "V-Chip." All us kids were in danger of watching something bad and going off and maiming each other, so parents who wanted to prevent that needed to add the V-Chip to their TVs, and they could effectively block all the bad stuff we might watch unattended.
Well, my parents, and my next door neighbor's parents, never got the V-Chip. So when we were left unattended with a TV, we caught some strange and inappropriate things. Like the movie Tank Girl, which may well be my first R-rated movie ever.
I went over to my neighbor's house and somehow, we just started watching it from the very beginning. Tank Girl, despite its candy colors, humor and kangaroo-dog characters is not a movie for kids. But it's also not the worst thing I could have watched, so I'm obviously not scarred for life or out committing hideous acts of violence all because I saw Tank Girl at the tender age of 10 (or thereabouts). Overall, it was just a weird movie with some moments that made me and my friend laugh and a few that scared me (mostly the ones with Malcolm McDowell as the evil tycoon guy).
At one point, my neighbor's mom walked by us and the TV. She kind of glanced at the TV, glanced at us and asked me, "Should you be watching this?" She was smiling because I think she knew what my kid answer would be.
"Ok..." She moved on, still smiling, but I knew she wasn't convinced.
The movie ended (notably toward the end with a animated section where Lori Petty has sex with one of the kangaroo dog things and sports a giant cartoony missile bra), and I went on my way.
Not long after seeing the movie, I was sitting around at home doing nothing in particular. I happen to overhear my dad on the phone at the time though, and here's the words that drifted into the living room. "Fun movie....Tank Girl...I just saw it..." I damn near blacked out in a panic attack at the tender age of 10. I was convinced I had been caught in my naughty R-rated movie watching and was going to receive dire punishment. I sat on the couch breathing deeply in terror. My dad hung up the phone, walked into the living room, and sat back in his chair.
Not a word or mention of having seen the movie or being in trouble. I still don't know if my dad was talking about the movie with a friend, talking to my neighbor's mom and laughing off the incident, or what. Why? Because I never asked. I was too nervous of the imaginary consequences to do so. And, wouldn't asking admit my wrongdoing? I may have been a kid, but I wasn't stupid.