One of the swell things about moms is that they stand by their sons.

For a year in junior high I attended a suburban Maryland private school, Bullis Prep, and -- I don't mind saying it today -- I earned pocket money by selling dirty books and magazines to upperclassmen. Those publications of the early '60s were tame by today's standards, but cheesecake is cheesecake. And I found as a seventh grader that I wasn't shy about taking the bus downtown and forking over dollars for porn. Like Adam before apple, I knew no shame, and it was a couple of years before I fully understood why older students were so enthusiastic about my wares. Even at twice retail.

One afternoon my inventory was confiscated by an administrator who broke the lock on my locker. I expected to be summoned to the headmaster's office. I expected expulsion. I expected my parents would be very upset about the no-refund tuition policy at the school.


To this day I don't know why I was never punished, but I do remember how I managed to quit the school which was held in higher esteem by my parents than by me: I told them the place was filthy with pornography.

Some years later, as an adult, I confessed to my mother that the reason the place had been littered with dirty books was because I was merrily selling the stuff. And that was when I learned something about mothers. She didn't believe me. I swore I was telling the truth. She granted me a patronizing chuckle.

Today she says she believes everything I write in the newspaper. But I have no doubt that just this once, she'll make an exception. And not spend more than a minute wondering how a son as fine as I am could develop such a wild imagination. CAPTION: Illustrations 1 through 3, no caption, O. Soglow. Copyright (c) 1932, 1960 The New Yorker Magazine, Inc.