The Day My Mom Found My Playboy

A boy’s interest in girls begins before conception, when the god Eros takes his soul out for a night on the town, and whispers titillating secrets to the boy he’ll never forget. Uncle Rufus may be 95, deaf as a post, and sit in his wheelchair playing dominoes all day, but he’ll still have an educated opinion on which nurse in the home is hottest. Any man who disagrees with this should probably not admit it.

When I was a teenager, I had this friend. We’ll call him Gene, since Gene was his name. And Gene’s dad had one, and only one thing, going for him. He not only had Playboys in the house; he actually subscribed to the magazine. I mean, his name and address were right there on the cover. I was shocked, and very eager to pilfer an issue first chance I had.

That chance soon came. Tucking the magazine into my boot, I smuggled it into my Southern Baptist home, and stashed it in my bedroom where no one would ever find it. Like most new converts, I became exceedingly zealous in my worship of these unclad goddesses. I’d lie to you and tell you how beautiful the women were, but, honestly, I don’t recall focusing much of their faces.

Nor do I recall focusing much on the face of my Mom when, after school one day, she sat me down to tell me that, while cleaning my room, she’d found my “book.” Thirty years later, I still recall wondering why in the name of all that is unholy, would she call my Playboy a “book”? In what will go down in my biography as quite possibly the most embarrassing interrogation I’ve ever sat through, she questioned the original owner of said “book”, whence its acquisition by her son, the amount of time said “book” had been in her son’s possession, and several other items of interest to the court. If she’d have beaten me with a 2x4, but never uttered a word, it would have thrilled me to no end. Anything but this. Finally, in mercy, she said that she didn’t plan on telling my Dad, but that such material ought never enter our home again. I received the maternal admonition and absolution, wiped the sweat from my brow, and retreated to solitude to bemoan not only the loss of my religion, but the newly acquired shame that was eating its way into me.

I am old enough now to know that pornography is as real as a politician’s honesty. And I am also old enough to know that the real body of a woman is better, worlds better, than the images that shine on glossy magazines or writhe on computer screens. For the female body is poetry—the best, most exquisite kind. For here is rhythm and rhyme that a man can make love to, that will bear his children, and into whose breasts he can sink his face and cry when his world collapses round about him.

Woman may have been created from the rib of a man, but it is the woman that makes the man.

It is not good for the man to be alone; God never uttered a greater truth.