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« Soap Blog Coalition | Main | Well, I Will Give Him This: I AM Watching Out »

May 21, 2009

Vintage Suds: Days of Our Lives December 1988

I have been in a soap funk lately, hating GH and being bored by Days (though on the latter point there has been positive progress – more on that in the coming days).  As a result of that funk and a crazy work schedule, my posts here have all but disappeared.  So I thought, what better way to get back in the mood than to watch an episode of the first soap I ever watched, from the era in which I fell for it?  Therefore, I bring you a recap of a Days of Our Lives episode from December 1988.  (I previously blogged about the episode after this one, but then found this old tape (I only have like five soap tapes, so the odds of sequential episodes are low), and figured it was worth recapping.  Particularly since I assume everyone has already forgotten about the last one!  Except the video about Kayla’s wardrobe.  Because nobody can forget that.)

Fair warning:  This post will contain many mullets and shoulder pads.  Reader discretion (and, if applicable, ability to mock things you unironically wore in the 80s) advised. 

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Jennifer, with her 80s outfit and hair that I am certain I coveted at the time, arrives at the community center.  She is nice to Emilio, yet he is a dick to her.  (This was a running theme.)  She is actually looking for Steve, who conveniently arrives at exactly that moment. 

Side note:  As I have previously mentioned, Stephen Nichols has not aged a day in 20 years, and it is a remarkable thing to behold. 

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Jennifer has an idea for Steve:  She and her sorority sisters want to throw a New Year’s Eve party for the community at the community center.  Emilio reacts to this proposal with crazy eyes, because

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…Billy Hufsey was not a good actor.  Steve gives the go-ahead for the sorority girl party, and Emilio is a dick about it.  (Aforementioned theme.  God I hated him.)  He’s all “oh it’s so nice for you privileged girls to condescend to the less fortunate blah blah blah” except with fewer big words, because Emilio is a moron.

Side note:  I need to talk about Emilio’s hair.  It’s . . . astounding.

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Like, there is a mullet, and then there is a MULLET, and then there is what Billy Hufsey is wearing.  That’s not hair, that’s architecture.  Unreal.

Turning to characters I didn't loathe, Roman and Diana are both reading newspapers (how quaint and 1980s of them!) at a table at Shenanigans, which might be a different restaurant on the show now, or might be one of those sets that disappeared one day and never returned. 

Side note:  At this point, Roman is played by Drake Hogestyn.  To refresh any foggy memories, and to be lazy and quote myself because I cannot go through this chronology twice:  "Roman died but not really he came back as brainwashed Roman who was taller and had a totally different face but as it turned out that Roman was actually John Black after the original Roman came back and then it turned out John was really royalty and/or a priest and this mess was all a huge waste of time because Wayne Northrup was never going to hang around anyway except then he came back but as a psychotic doctor out to stalk the woman who all the viewers remembered as his wife and she was his wife but he wasn't Roman he was still the crazy doctor so he was a different husband and he wanted to kill everyone and he couldn't be RealRoman because meanwhile Chris Kositchek had come back without explanation as Roman and oh my god now I know why so many of the Irish are alcoholics."

Roman is being all flirty, touching Diana's hand, but she insists that he stop it.  

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See, apparently they have a bet – about which they are bantering rather adorably – about which one of them will cave and insist on sex first. Diana thinks Roman doesn’t have enough to do with his life, and he’s all, maybe that’s because I’m unemployed.  Oops, that was kind of a dumb thing to say, Diana.  Who are you, me?  Anyway, I don’t remember why Roman was not a cop at this point – perhaps owing to the fact that he was, like, dead for a year or two?  That can screw up your seniority no matter how good a union rep you have.  Regardless, Roman gets a call at the restaurant from a seemingly angry Commissioner Samuels, who wants Roman at the police station, stat.

Side note:  I did not become a General Hospital viewer until a few years after this Days episode aired, so I only knew Genie Francis as Diana.  Of course, I knew about Luke and Laura in general, because hello, I had a pulse, but when she came back to GH in the early 90s, for me it was hey look, Diana is Laura.  I know this makes me a bad soap fan.  I got over it quickly, though, I promise!  Genie Francis is always Laura to me now.  Though seeing this episode reminds me that she can play a very different character, quite well and with the same charm she brought to Laura.  I will stop fawning now.

Eve is being arrested by Abe for the murder of Nick Correlli.  Oh man, remember Eve and Nick?  That whole weird Phantom of the Opera thing, with his maimed face and her drawn-on-with-a-Sharpie scar?  I couldn’t remember whether that was before or after this episode (I think after), so I checked out SoapCentral’s Who’s Who for Eve, but that thing is so poorly written that even after reading it twice I can’t figure out the chronology.  But I digress.  Back in the episode, when Shane, Kim, and Abe all start chanting “you killed Nick” while Eve wails that she did not, it becomes obviously this is a dream sequence.  Shane wakes Eve up from the nightmare to tell her a guy from the insurance company investigating Nick’s death is there to see her.  That can’t be good.

It is worth noting here that Charlotte Ross was so pretty, and she had glorious hair.  

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I always thought it was a bit flat (recall my infatuation with Mary Beth Evans’ bangs), but I totally tried to duplicate her long braided ponytails. 

Side note:  Okay you guys.  You know how earlier this week, scientists revealed the missing link or whatever?  That PALES in comparison to my historical discovery on this 1988 VHS tape.  PALES.  Check out the star of this insanely cheesy Pringles commercial!

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Dorktastic.  Does Angelina know about this?!

Eve doesn’t want to talk to the insurance guy, because she had nothing to do with Nick’s death.  Shane says nobody is accusing her of anything, which is almost always a lie (just as “I’m not saying it didn’t happen the way you're saying it did, but...” is).  Anyway, it turns out this is the one instance in which it might not be a lie, because the insurance guy is actually there to tell Eve that she’s rich because Nick made her his life insurance beneficiary.  But they do have to investigate to make sure he didn’t commit suicide.  The insurance guy asks a simple question about whether Eve saw Nick the day he died and Eve just goes kind of momentarily batshit crazy, prattling on and giving a twisted and confused timeline for that day.  Somehow the insurance guy becomes suspicious, and asks if there’s sure there is nothing else she knows about Nick’s death.  Kimberly, throughout this, looks at Eve with a look of contempt like she always did. 

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Damn, Kim bugged me.  Her character was so self-righteous, which was a weird fit given her history, plus Patsy Pease over-enunciated every word with these exaggerated mouth movements that drove me batty.  That is one reason why her face not moving when she came back last year was so jarring.  And Shane, with his mini-mullet, was really a spineless wimp a decent percentage of the time, looking back on things. 

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Worse, Charles Shaunessy kept that hairstyle well into the 90s and on The Nanny.  Or so I heard.

Back at the community center, Emilio is still being a dick about the NYE party.  Jen claims not to care.  Steve says Kayla thinks the party is a great idea and is going to help.  Jen goes to leave but Emilio keeps being a dick, taunting her about rich people like her and blah blah dickhead blah blah.  Jen gets hilariously self-righteous, including the line “For your information, Mr. Ramirez, we don’t plan on serving liquor and getting bombed.”  Oooooh, burn.  Don’t drink, don’t smoke, what do you do? 

Side note:  You simply must check out this banana clip. 

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Do you think they have one of these in the Smithsonian?  They totally should.

Emilio keeps being a dick, which somehow goads Jen into upping the ante from the party to also a free taxi service for anyone who is too drunk to drive on NYE.  Steve, because he is not a dick, thinks it is a great idea.  He also totally gets what’s going on, because he is not comatose, and gives Emilio a little nudge to stop being an ass just because he has a crush on Jen.

Neither Diana nor Roman knows why he’s been summoned by the commissioner.  Roman cutely mocks how overly concerned Diana is, and they have a nice back-and-forth, including about their bet and who can’t keep his/her hands off who.  I liked them together so much.  (Part of it is that this is at least a decade before Drake Hogestyn descended into that kind of Smell-the-Fart-I’ve-Got-a-Fishhook-in-my-Eyebrow acting for which he ultimately became [in]famous.)

The fabulous Jane Elliot as Anjelica is scolding Jo Johnson about the latter’s poor cleaning skills.  Is there anyone who plays Rich Bitch better than Jane Elliot?  

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I think that there is not.  (Also, please note the size of those earrings.)  Jo starts to call Anjelica "Mrs. Deveraux" but catches herself halfway through to correctly say "Mrs. Curtis."  Because the Rich Bitch has just married the Handsome Doctor on whom the Maid has an Enormous Crush.  Soapy!  Anjelica continues to give Jo a hard time, but fortunately Adrienne and her GIGANTIC shoulder pads (part of an outfit that is, per usual, 25 years too old for her) show up and interrupt. 

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The poor girl practically had to turn sideways to get through the door.  Anjelica steals Adrienne away to talk to her (perhaps about how Justin is in bed?), and Jo seethes.  As they walk away off-camera, Anjelica lies and tells Adrienne her coat is “lovely.”

Emilio is still being a dick and Jen is still finding it oddly charming.  Ugh.  Emilio continues to insult everything Jen is about, including calling her and her friends “a bunch of ding-a-lings” (yes, seriously), and after unsuccessfully demanding an apology, Jen says she’s “done with” Emilio.  Oh, Jen.  Would that that were true. 

Eve begs off further conversation with the insurance guy by claiming a headache.  (And using the Bambi eyes – that girl rocked the Bambi eyes.)  

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On re-watching, Kim’s hatred for Eve is palpable.  This is her expression as she utters the line “Do you need anything, honey?”

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I wonder whether Charlotte Ross was ever worried about meeting Patsy Pease in a dark alley.  Even before Pease went officially [unkind comment that may have included the phrase "crazy crackers" redacted], I mean.

Eve leaves the room and insurance guy basically tells Shane and Kim that Eve’s story is fishy.  So it turns out, as is always the case, that “nobody is accusing you of anything” was a lie.  Insurance guy leaves, so Shane and Kim are left to discuss what’s up.  They both think Eve is hiding something, and Shane – who, despite his ISA bigshot credentials, was always a wuss – nominates Kim and her “counseling experience” to do the deed.  Shane leaves and Kim pages Eve back to the living room (which I’m reasonably certain is a set that was slightly modified to create the current DiMera living room).  Kim, the experienced counselor, does what any such trained professional would do; looks like she would gladly bite Eve’s head off whole if given the opportunity.

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Diana is chatting with Vern about the Spectator’s financial situation (she owned the paper at this point).  The solution is a big story that will sell papers, and Vern has a guy who might have that story.  The guy is Rusty, who worked for Sen. Jack Devereaux, back when he was still a senator, and he has all kinds of records of shady goings-on.  As Rusty recounts all this to a delighted Diana, who should walk in but Jack himself! 

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Oh, Matthew Ashford.  Remember how much fun this show was before those hacks took over and killed your character 19 times for no reason?   

Roman arrives at the police station and it turns out that this was all a ruse – Roman is getting his Commander job back, as a helpful, totally-not-realistic-for-a-local-government-budget banner informs us.

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Side note:  As we have with others, let's ponder Roman's hair for a moment.

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Again, this mini-mullet persevered nearly to 2000, if I recall correctly.  Tragic.  Somehow Drake H pulls it off better than others, though.  Is it his overall persona?  His tendency to embrace the cheese?  Or perhaps he just has an extra-long neck?

Abe and everyone else laughs and Abe gives Roman his gun and badge back.  Original Lexie lurks in the background.  It is a true testament to how boring I find the character that I have never once given a crap about Lexie, no matter which of the three (or 14?) actresses was playing her.  There was that one glorious day on which she cartwheeled and hissed her way out of a tunnel underneath a piano bar, but a day like that only buys you so much goodwill versus 20 years of uselessness.

Eve doesn’t want to talk about Nick, but Kimberly does.  She reminds Eve (and me) that she has a radio show on which she helps lots of people, yet she is unable to help her own daughter.  Kim wants to get to the bottom of things, and wonders what was up with Eve and Nick and Jake on the day Nick died.  They go back and forth for a while with Kim wanting Eve to spill her secret, but of course Eve will not, because this is a soap opera and this is only the first conversation these two have had about said secret.  Their fruitless conversation is interrupted by the arrival of Jake. 

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You may remember Jake’s portrayer, Scott Reeves, from subsequent appearances on other soaps or in uncomfortably controlling interviews in the soap mags about his marriage, but back then, he was just a smarmy-vibed young guy using too much hair product.  And if you stood out for using too much product in 1988, that is truly saying something.

Eve asked Jake to come over, so she sends the ‘rents to elsewhere in the mansion and tells Jake about how insurance guy is investigating Nick’s death.  Eve is really worried they “are going to get caught” and that they “killed [Nick].”  I’m not going to lie, at the time I was wrapped up in it, but I now have no idea what the hell this whole murder-mystery was about.  Was this the time that Nick wasn’t really dead, or the time that he was?  I have no idea.  I'm also distracted by Scott Reeves' duh-face.

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Emilio is boxing a punching bag while Steve hangs some decorations around the community center and tries to offer Emilio some friendly advice.  The advice can basically be summed up as:  Dude, stop being a dick.  It was a bit more involved than that, I suppose:

Steve:  When I stopped nursing my grudge against the world, that’s when I started to live.  Now don’t that sound corny?  But it’s true, dude.  Look at me.  I’m a one-eyed, one-kidney man with a beautiful wife, no job, and a new haircut.  Now how did I get here? Ask yourself that.  Well, I’ll tell you.  I got here because I listened to somebody who was trying to help me out.  Trying to show me that things could be different.  That’s it.  End of lecture.

I used to love it when Steve got all wise.  There is something about wisdom from a dude with an eye patch that seems all that much more sage.

Adrienne arrives and calls Steve “baby,” which – while I loved those characters and their portrayers – I always found creepy as shit.  She has news!  She is throwing a New Year’s Eve party at the Kiriakis mansion tomorrow night and wants Steve there. Steve wants to attend the community center party instead, but Adrienne is insistent, and entices Steve with something about teaching Victor a lesson, once and for all.  “Once and for all” is a phrase that I think might exist only on soap operas.  Anyway, Steve worries that nobody will be around to help Jen and her ding-a-ling crew, but Emilio volunteers. 

Roman and Abe shoot the shit at the station, with Roman filling Abe in about the bet. The deal is, Roman and Diana got engaged and moved in together, but Diana worried they had lost the magic.  So Roman stupidly (seriously, why does anyone ever do this?) suggested they not have sex until their wedding night.  Abe responds with an awesome and appropriate WTF face,

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and then laughs uproariously. Abe’s like man, just take it back.  But oh no, there’s the bet – first one of them to ask the other to bed for something other than sleep loses. 

Jack interrupts Rusty and Diana’s conversation to ask after Rusty’s wife and kids, etc.  Rusty makes a quick exit and Jack hangs around to harangue Diana about the paper doing shittily.  Evil Jack was fun.  Except for that whole wife-rapist thing.

Eve is writing Shane and Kim a note explaining why she’s running away – she’s done something terrible!  She mentions Andrew in the note, which reminds me that he really should come back on canvas.

Downstairs, Shane and Kim try to figure out what’s going on with Eve.  They don’t figure it out, because they never really figured out anything.  Kim, in particular, could never figure out how not to totally sleep around on Shane, unless I'm misremembering.

Original Lexie (Lexie should most def have stayed a cop instead of becoming the worst doctor in the world, y/y?) got shot at but is fine. 

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Abe was so worried, because he looooves her (news to Roman).  He, understandably I suppose but totally paternalistically, reacts by telling her he’s taking her off patrol duty.  Lexie and her quintessentially 1980s French braid argue with Abe and his huge 1980s mustache, ultimately winning the argument by saying she’s careful and has a lot to live for.  Well, that’s different than virtually every other cop . . . not at all.

Jack continues to mock Diana for her dropping circulation and talks about how great it must be to own a newspaper and have all that power to make or break people.  Seriously, can you imagine anyone saying that about a small-town newspaper today without getting laughed out of the room?  Sad.  Anyway, Jack gets in a last dig and heads out of the restaurant.

OMG, NBC's late 80s Thursday-night lineup! 

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I may have had an audibly gleeful reaction to this promo.

Jen arrives at the door of the community center with a ton of party supplies.  Emilio is like, why didn’t you yell from the car so I could have helped you?  What a gem.  Emilio explains that Steve isn’t there so he (Emilio) is going to help.  First up is hanging the disco ball.  Emilio ignores Jen’s instructions and therefore injures himself, because, as we have discussed, Emilio is a moron.  As Jen and her shoulder-padded cotton sweater (for real) try to help bandage his moronically injured hand, he reaches out behind her and tries to secretly stroke her giant hair.  It is creepy.  I don’t know whether I thought that at the time.

Diana shows up at the station to see Roman, who declares it “showtime!” in a rather adorable way and then proceeds to put himself in handcuffs and tell Diana that he has been arrested and is going to jail because of what he did to protect Diana (I have no idea what that is).  Diana is no idiot (she is not related to Emilio) and catches on, so “agrees” to forget the bet and let Roman get some.  Of course she’s lying, so when he reaches in, tightens his handcuffs and takes the keys.  He’s all “You wouldn’t!” and she’s like “Have you seen this coat?  Obviously I would do anything.”

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Jack sneaks up on Rusty on the pier and lights his cigarette, muttering a thinly veiled threat.  Rusty is a wimp and takes off running.  I miss you, Evil Jack.

Eve has her suitcase packed and tells Shane and Kim she’s headed to a friend’s house for New Year’s weekend.  Shane is a good dad and also a little gullible (despite his profession), so sends Eve off after making her promise that she will enjoy herself.  Eve hugs both Shane and Kim like she’s leaving forever (which you’d think would have been a clue to the super-spy…) and then she’s off.

Jen and Emilio have the center all decorated, and Jen asks whether Emilio will be coming to the party.  Surprisingly (if it’s Opposite Day), Emilio is a dick about it, saying he will if he has nothing better to do.  Jen tells him not to bother and storms out.

Roman and Diana are back at Shenanigans, and he admits that he wasn’t playing fair in his attempt to end their bet.  He thinks she doesn’t play fair either, and she’s all “well, I never!” until he brings up that she prances around in lingerie and rubs up against him during the night.  She looks self-satisfied and when he says she drives him wild, thinks she has the bet won.  But Roman recaptures his resolve and re-starts the banter we heard at the beginning of the episode, including a reference to PJs he has ordered from “Strictly Male,” while Jack eavesdrops.  Ha.  Why can’t this show have banter like this anymore?

Eve mails Shane and Kim her goodbye letter from the docks and looks terrified.

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So, this wasn't some hugely momentous episode or anything, and I can't really put my finger on why I think the show was so much better back then.  Because on re-watching, a similar number of characters annoyed me then and now.  I was less bored then . . . but I was also in high school.  I was more easily entertained.  I guess overall I would say the show had more heart back then, and more of a sense of humor.  Though increasingly I do think it's possible that my opinion that soaps were ever "good" and are now terrible by comparison is total revisionist history.  What do you think?

Comments

OMG! (insert my fangurl screams here) Becca, can you read my mind? I was wanting one of these posts so very much.

For me this was definitely the golden era of DOOL. Your whole post made me warm with nostalgia and giddy with giggles. My vote at the bottom was hard to cast. I am torn between choices # 1 and # 3. It was great in the 80's, but it was and has always been crap too. But not like today's crap. That crap of old was the fun entertaining kind. It did have heart and humor which made the cheesy stuff fun and not insulting or annoying. Does that make sense?

Anyway, your retelling with insights was delightful and I thank you for making my morning more fun.

It also gave me a casting idea for GH of all things. I know the ages are all wrong, but on GH and soaps in general age is relative. The utter meanness and dumbness of Julio jumped out at me and screamed.....Billy Hufsey is Dante Falconeri Corinthos!!!!!!

Right? I mean anyone that clueless, nasty, and dumb enough to hurt his rico suave self hanging a disco ball - but still thought it was safe to run his hands through over producted late 80's hair as a romantic gesture is just dumb. annoying, and evil enough to play Sonny's lost son with that cougar harpie who thinks she's a sage, Olivia. Do you think he still has that masterful permed mega mullet? It would be a great contrast to Sonny's slicked back dye job no?

I'm so blissed out by your post I might go on e-bay to buy a banana clip or some jumbo shoulder pads :-)

Thanks for the trip down memory lane, Becca. I think the episode was a little blah just because Kayla and her fabulous wardrobe were not included, but that might just be my bias talking.

I do think the show was better back then because it did have more heart and more humor. But it also had patience to tell a story and hit all the necessary emotional beats and character development moments. They knew that not every show or even every week had to be DRAMA!! ACTION!! ROMANCE!! to keep fans from leaving in droves. And while there were times when I remember things dragging back then, I'd take a slower pace with much more depth to the story in a heartbeat now.

HA! That Pringles commercial is amazing.

I love the trips down Days memory lane, because I get to read about stories I've never seen, and I also get to re-live the absolute worst fashion trends of the 80s! I am transfixed by Emilio's hair.

This is REALLY funny! Confessions of a Teen Idol was on VH-1 a couple of months ago, and I watched only because Christopher Atkins was on there (friend of mine and I run his official web site). Anyway, Billy Hufsey was also on there, and he came off as SO SMARMY to me, but just second to Chris, this guy was just SWOONED over by women! Now that I've seen him from Days back in the day (sorry, I was a GH watcher even then - when it was GOOD), I can't believe women fell for that! My smarmy assertion was right! BLEH that hair!

::sigh::

Thank you for that. This episode makes me all kind of excited, because Jack is about to take over the paper and encounter Jennifer and then they will work together and become the best couple ever and . . .

Wait? You mean it's NOT 1988? And I can't turn on DOOL today and see anything remotely resembling an awesome love story, romance, adventure, or character driven, fun storylines?

Damn it! I'm going to read this over and over again . . . if I squint my eyes hard enough, maybe I can pretend it all happened in 2009 and the fashions are back in style again.

Well, except for Billy Hufsey's hair. I could poke my eyes out and still know it's wrong, wrong, wrong.

I think this stuff is the makings of a whole other blog. It might outlast the show, and get better ratings. I suggest asking for tape donations, but that might really piss off your postman.

Oh yeah, viva Jack. Good or evil, it was much better than when the hacks made him simply cartoonish.

i want you to do more of these trips down memory lane .. perhaps at some point you watched Santa Barbara and still have some old tapes? I would FLOVE a recap of SB :) But all other old recaps work for me too :)

there is only one thing that i like about soap opera shows of the past is the hung and horny hunks in speedos and in bikini underwear briefs i like hunks like that because i am into the machosexy lifestyle when i was sleeping i dreamt that i was a young horny looking hunk in a bikini a woman said to me you look dead sexy in a bikini and i said to her thanks a lot

there are several things that i like about hunks jocks beefcakes and studs is the pecs the arms the butts and their childhoods when they were little kids they were living with their mothers and fathers who were divorced and they started doing very silly things and they got spanked because of their childish behaviour

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