Patrick’s dad was a bit younger than mine, and, therefore, cooler. He swam and wore turtlenecks. On TV you could tell someone older was trying to connect with the youth if they wore a turtleneck. It was appreciated. Another way he tried to curry favor was by “hiding” issues of Playboy in the basement. It was clear that they were being hidden from his wife, but still needed to be readily accessible. They were recent issues, not a collection from his bachelor days.
But did he really think he could hide them from kids who knew every inch of that basement? We spent endless hours down there riding bikes in a tight circle at breakneck speed, conjuring up Bloody Lincoln apparitions, and playing “house” with his older sister, Kathleen. All he did was put them under a pile of beach blankets. He had to have known that we would see the pile of blankets was three inches higher. He might as well have put them into Patrick’s Christmas stocking or taken us to a titty bar.
However, keeping with the elaborate kabuki that this was somehow taboo, we decided to grab just one issue and take it to a corner of the basement where we could not be seen from the stairs. We had to choose pretty much at random which issue to take as Playboy at the time had “sophisticated” cover art that hinted more at turtlenecks than areolas. We knelt on wintering patio cushions, an issue from the previous March before us. We looked at each other and drew our breaths. We were about to receive sacred knowledge. We opened right to the centerfold.
She looked like a Breck Girl.
But, true to its name, the good stuff was hidden behind folded paper that didn’t even have the decency to have boobies on it. It was covered with cursive writing not unlike the penmanship chart in the front of class. We lingered on that page only long enough to divine that she most definitely did not like “phonies.” Then we let the page drop. I could not believe how much hair there was. It just leapt at you like a panther out of a gauzy fog. I squinted because I thought it was my eyes making everything out of focus, but it was meant to be that way. It was a reminder that naked women were not to be directly looked at.
I quickly averted my eyes north to the boobies. They were much closer, and therefore more impressive than the ones we saw that night at the drive-in when Patrick’s dad took us to see Papillon with Steve McQueen. I turned to Patrick. “I’ve been drawing them wrong.”
He didn’t say a word and reached out to touch the dark triangle down there. His finger went slowly at first, but when it got an inch away, he went right for it.
“I mean, I’ve been drawing them as circles. They’re sorta pointy, too.” Patrick ignored me; he just kept stroking that perfect triangle down there as if he could scratch away all that fuzz and get to the whatever was underneath. We both knew something was. Personally, I was glad it was just a simple triangle as I was still trying to figure out how I would draw things that were both pointy and round. I would’ve killed for some tracing paper right then. I knew we had some back at my house, but my mom would’ve grilled me as to why I was using it, next door no less.
The poor girl smiled, but she had to be uncomfortable in that position, leaning against closed french doors without actually touching them. The drapes behind here billowed even though the french doors were closed.
“How come the drapes are moving if the windows are closed?” I nudged him. He snapped out of his finger-tracing revelry, but he couldn’t quite figure out what to do with the index finger that had been down there. He seemed to vacillate between wiping it on his pants and tasting it. He saw me looking at his finger and threatened to wipe the finger on me.
“Ewwww!” I leapt out of range of the offending digit.
“You’re not gonna get cooties. Girls don’t have cooties when they’re naked.”
“It’s true. My dad told me.” Wow, his dad wore turtlenecks and openly talked about naked ladies. My dad golfed.
We looked back at the centerfold. She was still in that uncomfortable position. How was this supposed to be interesting if the pictures didn’t move? I understood that this was a magazine, but maybe they could’ve done some sort of flip-book type thing to make her dance or ride a bike. Something.
“Can we look at the rest of it?” I asked Patrick as his finger started towards the boobies. He let out a sigh and folded up the pages. We looked at the cursive page. Apparently, if I wanted to impress this lady, I would have to be a horse at sunset, on a beach.
We flipped through the rest of the issue. Pictures of naked ladies alternated with pictures of men with sideburns standing in front of large stereos. Towards the back was a small cartoon. In it a man was warning his wife, “Remember honey, watch out for fanny pinchers.” The comedy lay in the fact that as he was saying this, another man, unbeknownst to him, was pinching his wife’s fanny. Gold!
We both chuckled manically. I turned to Patrick. “Are you a fanny pincher?”
“Fanny pincher!” he shrieked.
“I’m gonna get you!” I lunged my pinching hand towards his butt. He leapt to his feet.
“Noooo. Not a fanny pincher!” He took off running. I gave chase. We spent the next five minutes chasing each other around the basement, grabbing each other’s ass and shouting “fanny pincher” in as many different accents as we could think of.
All good things must come to an end, and Patrick’s sister Kathleen appeared at the top of the stairs. “You guys need to shut up!” Patrick stealthily re-hid the magazine, and walked to the foot of the stairs. “You wanna play house?” he shouted up at her.
She did and came downstairs. As usual, Kathleen was the wife. Patrick was the husband.
I was the dog. It was quickly pointed out that dogs lack the opposable thumbs necessary with which to pinch fannies.
But I could bite.