I had come back with the definite opinion and the attitude about the nudity. Though I have never been married, my partner Carolyn and I lived together for thirteen years and are proud parents of now thirty four year old daughter Anjuli. In our household, the nudity itself never was an issue. Not that we ran around in the nude all the time, but we never necessarily reached for a cover during our normal day-to-day living.

The display of the magazine I worked for and loved, was never a problem in our home. But in some people it could conjure up all sorts of weird ideas, as should be apparent from the comment by my dear friend Karen (Abbott) posted about my announced blog entry of this week: “That’s nothing. I worked for Playboy and, of course, had PB mags all over my living room tables and stuff. Some of the cute male phone techs or workman thought I was a lesbian. So what do you have that matches that? Pretty funny!”

Not exactly, mainly because of our genders. Why would anyone think of me a gay man because they found in my house magazines with naked women? In fact, once they found out I worked for Playboy, it lead to some wishful conversations, nothing more. But once I found myself in an eerie situation. A refrigerator technician was in my house fixing the compressor. He must have noticed copies of Playboy in my living room. As he was diligently fixing my fridge, I stood not too far from him making small talk.

‘Do you read them magazines lying in your living room?’ I didn’t notice it quite then, but in retrospect I remember the tone of his voice changing from friendly to critical.

‘I sure do. I work for them.’

‘You do?’ Now I sensed a certain amount of disdain in his voice, sounding almost menacing. The kind that comes from someone all too self-righteous: I  have found the way, and you ain’t. You are doomed to go to hell kind. Earlier in the conversation he had mentioned that he was “born again”. That explained.

“Well, good for you!!!” He said. But his sarcasm and self-righteousness didn’t escape me. I was never as relieved to see a workman leave my house than when he did.

The time when I had gone home to Bombay to visit my family soon after I had started working for Playboy and had “smuggled” in several copies of the magazine, my parent’s bedroom seemed to have turned into a curious little gathering containing of male family and friends.  Everyone practically waiting their turns to be able to page through one of the issues. It would of course begin with me showing them my name listed in the masthead, which certainly was a pride factor for everyone. But how could my name by itself compete with those beautiful and bare breasted  fräulines? Once the mob thinned out, my Dad sat down and gave one or two issues serious look and then exited leaving us four brothers alone. My brothers obviously asked me questions. We joked about some figures and the poses. Soon they each took a copy or two with them to show to their friends, leaving on the living room table only one issue. Which neither I, nor anyone else felt necessary to remove from there.

Must have been a couple of hours later, when everyone had dispersed or taking their afternoon naps, I found my mother sitting on the floor by the table and slowly turning the pages of that lone issue. She couldn’t read English, let alone German, so she was obviously checking out the women. At the time I was thirty-four, so my mother was barely fifty, still in good shape and quite good looking, despite her having had nine of us. When younger, she was actually a very pretty woman.  As she scanned those near perfect female bodies, I couldn’t help but wonder whether she were comparing her younger self with any of them. Wasn’t beyond the scope for a wife of the Rasa Manjari reading husband.  Hearing me come and sit down, she didn’t flinch or shut the magazine close or slough it away. She took her time before slapping it shut.

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