Friday, March 24, 2006

Hugh Hefner would never win any "father of the year" awards but he had a huge impact on men of my generation. The current issue of the The New Yorker contains a book review of "The Playmate Book: Six Decades of Centerfolds." (Note: on Page 145 there is a sampling of centerfolds from 1955-2004. Pubic hair in The New Yorker!)

The reviewer, Joan Acocella, uses the review to take an overview of sex and nudity in the last 50 years. As she notes (and the thumbnails on P. 145 show) Playboy went from showing the girls with carefully draped towels, then progressed to bare breasts, then full frontal nudity complete with pubic hair.

My first experience with Playboy came in 1964 when I was in junior high school and we passed around dog-eared copies (and we were not interested in the interview with James Baldwin). In those days Playboy was only sold in liquor stores, so most of our copies had been purloined from dad or bought from an older brother).

Commenting on the evolution of the centerfold, Acocella notes "The very remoteness of the women is their attraction...This (image) is not so much sex, or a woman, as something more like a well-buffed Maserati."

I concur. In the '70s, my girlfiends never shaved their legs. One didn't even shave her underarms. It seemed perfectly normal at the time. Now women shave their legs, their underarms and create "landing strips" on their mons. Call me old fashioned, but I like a thick bush.

What does this have to do with fatherhood?

Towards the end of the review Acocella opines

That, in the end, is the most striking thing about Playboy's centerfolds: how old-fashioned they seem. This whole 'bachelor' world, with the brandy snifters and the attractive guest arriving for the night: did it ever exist? Yes, as a fantasy. Now, however, it is the property of homosexuals. Today, if you try to present yourself as a suave middle-aged bachelor, people will assume you're gay.

I don't remember ever enjoying bachelorhood. I had a wonderful childhood and a great mom and dad. One of the best things about being a parent is that you get to experience childhood again. Unfortunately, when your kids get to high school, you experience adolescence again, and that's not so much fun.


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