Years ago during a television interview I heard Playboy Magazine founder Hugh Hefner explain that one of the reasons he began publishing Playboy was because he missed high school so much. He said that he had such a fantastic time in high school he wished he could have stayed there the rest of his life.
What in the hell kind of high school did Hefner go to? I realize that the 50s were a different time and all, but WTF?
Apparently Hef (as I call him) was the editor of the high school newspaper. I guess I can picture him there in the newspaper office. He’d be wearing a starched white dress shirt with a skinny black tie and cufflinks the shape of martini shakers. Over his shirt and tie he’d be wearing a smart navy blue blazer or maybe one of his dad’s old leopard print smoking jackets. There would be a stack of jazz records playing on the phonograph and in the corner of the room, under a sign that read EDITOR-IN-CHIEF would be hanging over a moth-eaten stuffed gorilla with an oversized pair of bongos clenched between his toes. The gorilla would have a Shiners fez on his head at a jaunty angle and one of Hef’s spare pipes stuck between his teeth.
The room would also be populated with reporters, most of which were a regular part of Hef’s crew. They would be writing stories about all the madcap adventures happening all around the school. (Like what happened at last week’s Homecoming football game, when a certain unidentified party kidnapped the opposing team’s mascot, Gus the Mule, and led him onto the field dressed in a brassiere and girdle, supposedly belonging to the frumpy school nurse, Comrade Fletcher.)
Of course there would be plenty of girls sprinkled around the room. Some would still be in their cheerleader outfits from afternoon practice, while others would be wearing tight Capri slacks and form fitting, sleeveless blouses. Some of the girls would be sipping on bottles of Coke through blue and white striped straws. Off to the side would be the official school photographer named Shades, named that because he always wore sunglasses, even at night. He would be snapping photos of a cute blonde cheerleader for a pithy editorial Hef was working on titled “Who Took the Rah-Rah Out of the Sis Boom Bah?”
I’ve had high school on my mind recently because my daughter Dakota is beginning her freshman year in a few months and has been peppering me with a barrage of questions. I’m sure that her high school days are going to be as different from mine as mine were from Hugh Hefner’s. I don’t have the exact answers for a lot of her questions, but the thing I keep pushing whenever we talk is that she’ll get the most out of the next four years if she goes in with an open mind. She’s got a lot of preconceived notions already in place that I’ve been trying to tear down. Most of it is crap that she’s seen on television or stuff that kids just make up out of thin air. Overall, I’d have to say that she’s doing a lot less stressing about the situation than I did when I was in her place. And that’s good.
In the end I’m sure she’ll do fine this fall. Not as fine as Hef did when he was her age, but not all of us can be blessed.