Hugh Hefner is turning 86 soon. Since 1953 Playboy magazine has been a part of the culture although some would say it has no culture. But the effect that playboy has had on the American male is without question profound. As a boy approaching manhood girls were a big mystery. Sometime around the age of twelve or thirteen the mystery for various hormonal reasons becomes top of mind. A young male is wired that way and it’s perfectly natural for him to be curious about those mysterious young ladies in sweaters and skirts that we sat near in class.
Playboy, we were told by the older boys, has pictures of these very exciting creatures with their clothes off. Oh my! And so the quest to see the centerfold was on. Now I grew up in a very small town in Vermont. I am guessing that in any town a boy of twelve or thirteen is not going to strut into the newsstand and ask for this months Playboy and get away with it. Besides I think they cost like 3 dollars and that, my friend was a fortune in those days.
So how to get a peek at the gate-fold girl next door? Well the usual path was that somebody’s father had the magazine and it was up to that boy to get us the goods. And so it was that the concept of sex became intertwined with intrigue and outright stealing. And we wonder why sex crimes are such a problem in our society.
Here’s the thing about those playmates. Oh it was exciting for sure to see them in the altogether. But it was hard not to compare what was on the pages of the magazine with what we saw in real life.
My first girlfriend, Carol Dufault, looked about as much like a playboy playmate as I look like Tom Cruise. Oh Carol was a great gorl and a better person than me, but compared body to body to what Old Hugh had in those magazines…well. And so early on I came to this conclusion. Those girls in Playboy, they didn’t exist in real life. They were creatures that were somehow brought to earth, photographed and then sent back to the planet of beautiful and somewhat over inflated women. In a way I think that’s the real damage that Playboy does to men. It raises expectations that can never be fulfilled. At least in my experience.
Hugh’s first Centerfold was Marylyn Monroe. Now that he is turning 86 he has decided that he will be buried next to the blonde bombshell so in perpetuity he and Norma Jean will be together. It’s somehow fitting and at the same time a little weird.