Tuesday, February 17, 2009
The Loser Gets Playboy Magazine
Every two years or so, the Complete and Total Loser gets mail from Playboy Magazine offering a year's subscription for a dollar an issue, with three dollars added for delivery costs.
Fifteen dollars is low compared to all the other subscription services (cable TV, cell phone contracts, Internet hook ups, weekly magazines, burglar alarms) and the Loser doesn't have cable or a burglar alarm so one time out of two he'll take them up on the offer and write Hugh Hefner a check.
It was in Playboy that the Loser saw his first photograph of a nude woman photographed specifically to titillate. He doesn't remember where or exactly when. He was 12 years old and would be a late bloomer, his first orgasm two years in the future. Owning a Playboy was a coup. Slick, with numerous photographs of several different women, the Loser figured it was all he would ever need to satisfy his growing sexual curiosity. The concept of men requiring novelty at all times was a nascent one. In his early teens there was, briefly, a late-night show once a week hosted by Hefner in a smoking robe, pipe lit, cocktails served by Bunnies, celebrities mingling. It promised sex and glamour and the Loser would stay up late to watch it, volume low, on a small black and white television. All he remembers now is one episode featuring an archer shooting the spade out of an ace of spades from across the room. It'd be great to be that good at something.
Playboy sometimes made news, as when they did their first pictorial of Ivy League women sometime in the 1970s. It made news to the Loser and his friends when barriers fell. They couldn't wait to see the first pictures with pubic hair. They all had great desire to see women's vaginas, which few could accurately picture but that would come to other venues first.
He's been getting the magazine recently. More often than not, he doesn't open it. He has at least twenty of them in his cramped apartment, hidden in their black plastic covers, the Playboy Adviser silent, vibrant nude women unseen, party jokes waiting to have their punch lines read. Last night he opened the current issue, his first in several months.
It is their March issue and the topic is Sex and Music. Last night, in bed, the Loser read the letters, which praised the magazine for running nude photos of 48-year-old Carol Alt and had advice for the new president ("The chief executive should make hybrids the standard for the entire federal car pool, not just the White House"), The World of Playboy ("Hef sightings, mansion frolics and nightlife notes") and Playboy After Hours, a collection of brief pieces (on women's body language: If "things are going well" on a date she will lower her drink from its "initial defensive posture."). He read Mantrack, which advises men on gear and technology, and learned that you can upload your iTunes collection onto the Web and download them anywhere in the world, and that there is a GPS device that shows elevation as well as location.
Playboy is known for their lengthy interviews. This month's is with Kenny Chesney, a country singer. The Loser has never heard of Mr. Chesney, so he skipped it. Of more interest to the Loser, a troubled loner, was My Brother Ted, an account of growing up with Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber, by his brother David. This, the Loser read in its entirety. After an hour or so he put the magazine down and went to sleep.
The next morning it occurred to him that he is passing the midway mark between growing old and being old. The proof; he hadn't looked at any of the pictorials.
Today, to show himself his libido hasn't fled completely, he opened Playmate of the Month part.
This month's Playmate is a very pleasant woman named Jennifer Pershing, of Somers Point, New Jersey. Ms Pershing is 28 years old. She is five feet, eight inches tall, weighs 125 pounds and her measurements are 35-27-37. It's quaint, the way Playboy publishes the height and weight of its Playmates, but the Loser likes it. It makes them real to him. Barefoot, Ms. Pershing would see eye-to-eye with him, as he's just an inch taller than she, and be 55 pounds lighter. Now if he met her he'd be able to buy her a garment of some sort that would be her size. He also would be prepared to converse, knowing that her ambitions include being a stay-at-home mom ("I think motherhood would be immensely rewarding"), run her own daycare center ("Isn't it fascinating to see how children behave in groups?") and follow Dave Matthew's tour bus ("To truly appreciate Dave Matthews, you'd have to follow his tour bus"). She likes bald heads (Hope!), concerts, motorcycle riders (No hope!) a nice smile and cologne "that smells good—not strong!" (Can do!).
Sadly, when the Loser learns an interesting fact in Playboy, he's reluctant to share it with others unless he can quote a different source. If he mentions that BBC News has found that people are walking 10 percent faster than a decade ago, that's fine even though he learned it in Playboy. But as the magazine doesn't give a source for the finding that women buy four out of every ten condoms sold, he won't mention it to others.
Playboy. Once daring, subversive, forbidden. Now it's Bush's smirk, an ascot, a toupee, a 50-year-old in his first sports car, an airbrushed reminder of a gentler time. And the Loser gets it once a month.