Thursday, March 06, 2008


I got my swimsuit edition of Sports Illustrated in the mail a couple weeks ago. Normally this is cause for a celebration that rivals the Irish whooping it up for St. Patrick's Day. Instead, I haven't even cracked its cover.
I was whooping up a storm as I walked in the kitchen, mail in hand, already anticipating a night of Marvin Gaye, low lighting and soft, slow turns of the page. It's a tradition I've loved since I was 13, when the Internet didn't exist, we didn't have cable and its generous helpings of Cinemax every night and the Sears catalouge sometimes had to do.
The SI swimsuit, compared to the Sears catalouge, rocks.
I used to bargain with my friends. We would trade Paulina Porizkova for Kathy Ireland as if they were baseball cards and when I stumbled upon the old Christie Brinkley issues, I was treated like the guy with the best snow in Miami. Fortunately reason took over me at the last second and I turned away the sissors, preferring to keep Ms. Brinkley whole, the way she should always be, before Billy Joel got to her.
I still have all the issues in a box up on the shelf, next to the Kansas Jayhawk Final Four editions and when the Royals won the World Series.
Only when I walked into the kitchen, my two girls were staring up at me, happy and excited to see their Daddy home.
And I remembered when I gave my brother a Girls of KU calendar for Christmas one year. We were both new parents. Our children were just a few months old, and I thought it would be fun to relive our college days.
I had a son. He had a daughter.
Kate looked at the calendar.
"Maybe Sofia will be in there one day," Kate said.
She knew exactly what she was doing. Brian laughed for just a second, and then his mouth slowly turned into a grimace, then a frown, and finally, a new expression I hadn't seen before, one with wide eyes, a slightly downturned gnash and a wrinkled nose.
It is probably the face of any father the first time they see their daughter walk down the stairs in her prom dress, or when they take a family trip to the beach and notice that their little girl has boobs.
The three stages I saw in Brian, just like any father, I would imagine, were:
• Holy Shit.
• Wait, I remember what I was like when I was a teenage boy.
• If anyone touches my daughter, I'll KILL him. With an axe. While I laugh merrily and sing "Helter Skelter" by the Beatles or maybe, in a pinch, the Motley Crue version.
I didn't go through all those stages just yet. I blocked out my thoughts, and my hearing, and ran downstairs before Kate could see the magazine and ruin it for me.
But the vision of my two, smiling, innocent faces is enough to make me pause and think "that's someone's daughter" when the TV brushes across Cinemax late at night.
Before you think I've reformed, let me tell you I haven't. That would be too easy. I'd throw the magazines away, block Cinemax and smash all my extra-special videotapes that I keep downstairs. And that would be the end of it.
But I'm torn, and it's not just because the 15-year-old in me says "WAIT, WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING?" with his voice cracking under puberty.
I really don't think what the women are doing is immoral. I'm not exactly the church-going type, anyway, but the photos in SI are tasteful and professional (at least I think so, I haven't seen them yet) and, though they border on Playboy material these days, the models do that for a living and make damn good money doing it, in fact.
I don't even have a problem with stripping or, I suppose, porn. I dated a stripper once, and she was a good woman. We had a good time together.
And I'm still a guy and love beautiful women who like to get naked.
Finally, it bothers me that a woman who models or strips or even does porn is a whore but the men who do it are studs (or gay, but that's not what I'm talking about here).
Yet I can't help but wonder, especially when it comes to strippers and porn, that for every liberated, well-spoken woman who chooses to do that for a living because it's great money and because she feels great about herself and her body, there are dozens who do it because Daddy fucked up, or Step-Daddy fucked her, or Uncle Johnny stared at her a little too long and did something about it later that night.
Or her parents ignored her.
That makes me sad.
At one point, they were daughters in their high chairs, happy when their Daddy came home, just wanting him to love them.
That's the image I can't get out of my head when I look at that Sports Illustrated issue.
That's why, for now, it remains closed.


Irish and Jew said...

aw great post! I think this is such a universal theme- women in magazine becomes real person, real person becomes your daughter/niece. Anyway, i think it's great that you're into who these girls are as people- and SI isn't tacky at all, read on!


HighOnPoker said...

Hey bud. Just wanted to give you a heads-up that this year's cover girl used to be a model for Perfect Ten magazine. You can see some pics at this link:

And rumor has it, she was genetically engineered by scientists in some off-shore lab, so you don't have to think about the fact that she used to be someone's kid! But you may have to fear that she is the start of a superhuman race that will eventually subjugate us all, which is kinda hot in a way, too.

Jared Fiel said...

I'm so happy I have two boys. I can remain depraved.
Can I borrow your magazine?

Brooker Douglas said...

um...I don't remember the Girls of KU calendar.

lightning36 said...

For some reason, I never cared much about the SI Swimsuit Edition one way or another.

While I was an undergrad, however, I knew a guy who memorized all the information and statistics about every Playboy centerfold that ever existed. You could ask Zimm about any month or year and he could tell you everything you needed to know. Scary. I never checked his porn for fear that the pages would always be stuck together ...

bayne_s said...

Wait until the 1st time a daughter walks through a room with a towel on and the towel slips and you find yourself creeped out to see boobies.

It is a shock, shock to the system.

Probably more so because it really hits that the daughter is growing up.