Sometimes reading The Writer’s Almanac strikes a poignant or odd lack of alignment to me as did today’s vignette on Lee’s Surrender and Hugh Hefner’s birthday which were juxtaposed side by side. The two men simply didn’t fit on the same page.
Robert E Lee, reserved, stiff and formal, long suffering, was the antithesis of Hugh Hefner, who, for whatever reason, felt he had to loosen some of the screws so tightly jamming the minds of our social structure shut on the issue of sex.
Having hit my virile and hormonal teens in the fifties when the closest look at the female naked form was in the lingerie section of Sears and Roebuck catalog, seeing Marilyn’s boozums and other parts so openly displayed was a shock to me. But I have always felt that things were too tightly wound, having grown up in the oh so frustrating fifties trembling on the lip of the door flung wide open. I knew that once the straps were loosened something new would happen. Elvis’s gyrations offended the Baptists and white anglosaxon protestant mores, and tight lipped narrow eyed closed mindedness. Any images or motion that would serve to stir the reproductive juices had to be squashed. Then “boom” everybody was doing it but me. I was born too soon.
I wonder at the virtue of anticipation, if there is such a thing.. When I learned recently that teenagers in high school were having sex so freely, I was floored. We didn’t. A girl who had opened herself to the thing I wanted so badly but was afraid to try had to be somehow ruined once she had submitted. When I learned she had “done it,” she became a thing of wonder and fear for I hadn’t a clue. Smooching in the car was all there was, though the girl was pleading for something more and I did nothing, terrified at the thing before me I had unleashed. Wow did I miss out. Looking back I cringe at the opportunities lost. If I had had just a little courage and hudspah with my particular libido I would have drowned in excess, or maybe on the other hand, having established my position in the balance of things just normalized and no longer have hung up in mystery and become its willing slave which did eventually happen.
Maybe there was something good in that. When it all happened in the seventies and suddenly doors and legs and arms were flung open wide I was already married with children and felt that somehow life had passed me in its very unfair fashion, leaving me ignorant and unused. Why couldn’t I have learned about this earlier and not have wasted my life so nervous and agitated about it?
It has taken me all these years to finally control the compulsion that I think was created by those early years of self imposed frustration. Whew! I didn’t think I would live long enough to wrest free of the cloying interference with my life. Hugh banged opened the doors that were locked, barred, bolted shut on old Gen’l Lee and me---too late for Bobby and Me. At least I finally reached a point of control, more than a standoff or a draw, with my nemesis, the old 2D monkey on my back. Thank God for small (or amazing) wonders. It is sweet to be free of it—I won. Knowing what I know of Bobby Lee, I think he went to his grave gnawing on it.
Here’s the article.
On this day in 1865, Robert E. Lee surrendered to Ulysses S. Grant, effectively ending the Civil War.
They met at a private residence in Appomattox Court House, Virginia. General Grant was reported to have begun the conversation by saying: "I met you once before, General Lee, while we were serving in Mexico... I have always remembered your appearance, and I think I should have recognized you anywhere."
To which Lee is said to have replied, "Yes. I know I met you on that occasion, and I have often thought of it and tried to recollect how you looked, but I have never been able to recall a single feature."
They talked over terms for an end of the war. Lee asked Grant to commit the terms to paper, which Grant handwrote on the spot. Lee accepted them on the spot. They shook hands. Before Lee rode off to inform his men, the two generals raised their hats to each other in salute.
The site is now a National Historic Park.
It's the birthday of Hugh Hefner, born in Chicago, Illinois (1926). He is the founder, editor-in-chief, and Chief Creative Officer of Playboy magazine.
He was brought up by strict Methodist parents. At the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, he majored in psychology, where he reviewed Alfred C. Kinsey's Sexual Behavior in the Human Male for a student publication. He wrote: "Dr. Kinsey's book disturbs me ... our hypocrisy on matters of sex have led to incalculable frustration, delinquency, and unhappiness."
He was writing promotional copy for Esquire magazine when he got the idea for a new magazine that would be similar but more daring. He said: "What I was trying to create, quite simply, was a lifestyle magazine for single guys. There had never been anything like that before."
He financed the project with $600 of his own money and several thousand dollars from friends, including $1,000 from his mother. He produced the first issue out of his kitchen in Hyde Park, Chicago. It featured a nude calendar photograph of Marilyn Monroe, which Hefner bought from a calendar company for $200. The magazine reached the newsstands in December of 1953 and quickly sold out all of its copies.
He said, "Playboy was part of trying to make the case for a more liberal attitude ... suggesting that there was more than one moral purpose for human sexuality."