I drove all over this town and the next last night looking for a copy of the January Playboy magazine.
Used to be, Playboy was a common coffee table magazine, but now that I think about it, I can’t remember the last time I so much as opened a copy.
I felt sort of funny questing for it, but I vowed not to mumble or blush or do one of those big explaining things that women do: “You see, I know somebody who’s being profiled in the magazine this month and his article isn’t online, at least not that I can find, and that’s the only reason I’m looking to buy a copy. Really.” I’d just walk in and ask for the darned thing.
Used to be, you didn’t have to ask. In the 1970s you could just pick it off the newsstand. It was right there next to Popular Mechanics and Esquire. Then at some point it got wrapped in an adult-proof wrapper. And shortly after that, Playboy and its discreet wrapper disappeared behind the counter where you had to request it. It’s been a long time since I even thought about it, but honestly, that’s where I expected it to be.
“We don’t sell magazines like that,” a clerk the grocery store with the biggest selection told me, as if I’d asked for hardcore gay S&M porn with a little beastiality thrown in.
“You’re lookin’ for the Lindsay Lohan issue?” another clerk snorted, getting giggles from his friends standing around.
At that point, I admit I did explain, though not in that dumb way (or at least I hope not). “Yes,” I said, “the Lindsay Lohan issue. But that’s not why I want it. A man I know, Peder Lund, is profiled in it and I just learned that.”
“Playboy? You’re trying to get Playboy in this town?” a third clerk asked. He named a city 75 miles away where he thought I might be able to find a copy.
It was getting cold and frosty out, so I headed home. And hey, you people at Paladin Press, you’re just going to have to mail me a photocopy of the profile on Peder! Or I’ll have to wait and hope Playboy puts it online and not behind some “Cyber Club” wall.
I found the whole thing kind of funny and kind of sad.
The irony is that Peder’s profile in Playboy is about his fight against censorship. And I can’t get a copy of the darned magazine within 75 miles — even if I weren’t looking for the super-duper-sold-out Lindsay Lohan edition.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying anybody is censoring Playboy in the governmental sense. They’re obviously not. This probably has as much to do with the decreasing popularity of old media as it does with community morals. Maybe there’s just so much female flesh online these days that nobody buys Playboy for the pictures anymore. I don’t know.
Still, the incredulous reactions of the store clerks made me wonder.