An open letter to Hugh Hefner, founder of Playboy magazine:
I’m turning 50 this weekend. It seems to me the world has gone topsy-turvy, and I’m not referring to the spread you did recently featuring those Siamese twins.
What’s got me puzzled is that wisdom is suddenly being associated with the youngish. That leaves us oldsters with nothing to do but clog up the healthcare system.
When the Democratic candidate for president of the Excited States is only 47, the Republican candidate for vice president is a comely 44, and the 72-year-old Republican candidate for president is being portrayed by the media as a doddering coot, things have definitely changed.
Remember Winston Churchill? He reigned over Britain into his 80s. Time was, grey hair equaled gravitas. Now, gravitas is probably the name of a running shoe.
The key accessories for any world leader are no longer a hefty dictionary and a good cigar, but firm abs, a youthful spouse who drives a snowmobile (or could, if forced), and a handful of adorable, and adoring, tykes.
These new requirements have put me out of the running for several key positions that I’d assumed were reserved for the day I abandon my hugely lucrative typing career. President of this, vice-president of that, CEO of heretofore -- these, I believed, were my destiny.
But, Hef, it’s dawned on me that a firm, well-moisturized trigger finger, such as one might find on v.p. candidate Sarah Palin, is really what’s wanted in this day and age. Never mind her antediluvian viewpoints and cheesecake past ‑- this gal once won Miss Congeniality. Hell, she can even trap the raw material for her own fur hat. Surely that’s enough savvy to lead a superpower whenever John McCain is napping -- which will be often, if you catch the fourth estate’s drift.
I hope I don’t sound bitter, Hef. It’s just that we have a certain image of our ultimate selves, early on in life -- around 40, say. Then, when we turn 50, we find out that 40 wasn’t actually too early to get started on attaining that ideal, but way too late. It appears that instead, we are fated to toddle out to pasture, following the bran muffin that’s dangling from the proverbial stick.
I ask you, is this fair?
I know that Playboy is not exactly in the business of promoting fairness, except in terms of proclaiming who’s the fairest in the land, but it seems to me that it’s time for your magazine to make a major U-Turn. The babes of today are clearly far too busy to don garter belts and drape themselves lasciviously on library carts, pretending to be “The Girls of Harvard.” The real girls of Harvard have got countries to run and whatnot. (In fact, Sarah Palin only received her degree in communications-journalism from the University of Idaho. But you get the idea.)
Some journalists (not mentioning any names) stay home for eons, typing and aging, aging and then typing some more. Others, like Palin, go the beauty queen route, study a tad in a potato-producing state, squeeze out five sprogs, and then get right on that mayor-governor-vice-president of the United States treadmill.
Do you think these young go-getters want to hang around with wizened lechers like you, Hef? Hardly. We women of a certain age, however, would love to brush up against a satyr of any description. It would make such a refreshing change.
I don’t expect you to take nude pictures of us or anything. There’s no need to run away screaming like that. You simply must shake up your subject matter. Anyway, now that the world has enjoyed 82 billion centrefolds of gorgeous naked young women, surely it’s seen them all.
I suggest you turf the photos of nymphs in truncated hockey sweaters staring moodily out the window, and instead run photo spreads of feisty females in terrific togs from Talbots, doing the sorts of things that get us “hot.” Picture this: Jowly Ladies Eating Hummus and Playfully Splashing Retsina at Each Other on a Greek Restaurant Patio.
How could you go wrong with Lady Chatterley’s Lover-ly Gardening Tips, in which Lady Chatterley, a trim 60 in immaculate Tilley shorts and matching hat, reveals exactly how to coax a cutting garden out of the most brutally unforgiving soil?
What about a foldout entitled Triple X Action -- Hot Costco Appetizers, Cool Mojitos, and Book Club? Honestly, Hef, you have no idea who that could turn on. Entire herds of men might throw off their rumpled trench-coats and rush out to buy Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Matrons in hopes they’ll finally meet the kind of woman who knows the meaning of the word “dickey.” (For those younger than you and me, Hef, it’s a collar that falsely suggests a blouse or turtleneck beneath a sweater or jacket.)
Of course, there are more exciting activities you could chronicle. (I suggest you use the word “chronicle” often in an effort to connect with your new, mature readership.) For example, 50-year-old Jujie Luan just competed for Canada in fencing at the Olympics in Beijing. I say wrap her in the flag and let her do whatever she wants with her sword. She may use it to spear some baloney and a gherkin. Who cares? It’s a sensible snack.
Some of us Boomer Bags even climb mountains, and surf, and run marathons around the world, and have the figures to prove it. (“Figure” is another word to add to your glossary.)
Hef, you’re 82, and at this point you never even get out of your pajamas. (Much like John McCain, I gather.) Your daughter is 56, the chief executive at Playboy, and in 2005 was ranked one of the 90 most powerful women by Forbes magazine. If Christie Hefner’s not willing to shuffle off into the sunset, neither are the rest of us.
As a show of loyalty to womankind, you and Christie must urge the young ladies clamouring to be featured in Playboy to give up that ambition and instead head up NASA, solve the problem of climate change, and cure world hunger. They’re always pledging to do that at their stupid beauty pageants; it’s time to make good. No more dilly-dallying.
Leave the brainless posing to those of us who’ve discovered, to our horror, that we’re too grizzled and opinionated to be considered world leaders -- now, or at any time in the future. We could certainly use the ego boost.