This has me flustered for a small moment. Both of us breathing on our side of the line. While I am still trying to form my next sentence, I hear his curt

‘Speak!’

Or

‘Hi Arthur, this is…’

‘What do you want?’

And when I try to explain the reason for my call, he would cut me off abruptly.

‘Come to the point. I don’t have all day to talk to you.’ The gruffness of his voice scratches the skin of my ears.

Sitting in my windowless office, I imagine the frown on Arthur’s face, his eyes squinting behind his thick Coke bottle glasses. And when I do get around to tell him why I was calling him, rest of our conversation is brusque.

‘Why do you want me to meet with a bunch of Hungarians and tell them what you have already told them?’

‘Because you’re the head guru.’ Or, ‘So that they can hear directly from the horse’s mouth!’ While I’m just a chela, I am thinking.

He is not in the least flattered.

‘Cut it out. Have Mary (Nastos) call me later and I’ll look at my schedule.’

Done! Whew! And I take a breath of relief. I am on the edge of my chair, but now push my butt backward and make myself comfortable before picking up the pile containing that morning’s faxes from the editions around the world.

Arthur, if  you are wondering, was the Editorial Director of Playboy magazine for the thirty of it’s first fifty years up until he stepped down in 2003. He had started at the magazine as an associate editor to A.C. Spectorsky in the mid-Sixties, he took on as its editorial director in 1972, the year I too had joined Playboy, stationed in Munich, Germany. I don’t remember ever having met him up until 1979 when I was brought to Chicago. Even so, in my job as the Production Director for the international editions – if not for Lee (Hall) having handed me the organizing of the annual international conferences, I would have no reason to cross paths with him. And eventually working my way into everything international publishing including assuming the same title as that of Arthur’s, the Editorial Director, albeit of the International Editions. But even years before it had fallen upon my shoulders to orient and train the creative teams of every new edition that were launched over the years, being one of the most frequently traveling members of the division – based on my sheer fondness and acquired knowledge of the magazine, I would end up answering questions that were way beyond the realm of my job description and the responsibilities. Something that didn’t go unnoticed – resulting in me eventually running the whole show.

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