Playboy: The Next Generation
I am serializing Forty Bucks and A Dream: Stories of Los Angeles on Substack. New chapters drop Mondays*. Below is the Table of Contents, with links to what’s posted before. If you like these stories please become a paid subscriber or hit the one-hit button.
FORTY BUCKS AND A DREAM: Stories of Los Angeles
4: The Waxer
7: Punch Drunk
12: Porn for Women
15: Playboy: The next generation
16: J. Lo in the House
17: The Marrying Room
18: Meet the Neighbors
19: The Pathos of Failing
20: Bite and Smile
Playboy: The Next Generation
My boyfriend Din came home from work and asked, “Where’s Tafv?” I told him, she was at the Playboy Mansion, again, whereupon he said, “Oh, great,” heavy on the sarcasm.
I didn’t understand why he was testy; didn’t he think it was sort of wacky? He did not. Was it that he hated famous rich people?
“I don’t hate rich people, come on,” he said. “I just wonder why you don’t say, she’s over at so-and-so’s house. I don’t even know the kid’s name. It’s always, ‘She’s at the Playboy Mansion,’ as though you’re very impressed. I think you think it’s cool.”
Maybe I did think it was cool, I mean, the place is so iconic.
For the record, my 12-year-old daughter had not said she was going to the Playboy Mansion, but to a swim party at the home of her schoolmate ______, who happened to be the son of Hugh Hefner. The first time she went, for a birthday party, she hadn’t even heard of the Playboy Mansion.
“Oh, come on, you have so,” said her friend, as I took a left off Sunset Boulevard, past a man selling Maps to the Stars Homes. “It’s where the Playboy bunnies live.”
“What are Playboy bunnies?” asked Tafv, as a guard checked our name on a list.
The driveway was long and verdant, and opened up onto a circular driveway with a Camelot feel, a lot of turrets and topiary and suits of armor, though I may be imagining these last.
The girls scampered in, and while I always introduce myself to parents, I was especially keen to do so here. I’d seen the child’s statuesque blonde mother at school, and spotted her now in the garden. We chatted a moment; she said she was very happy to have Tafv here, and then someone needed her attention and I wandered off among the peacocks and toward the monkey enclosure, and though I would have liked to be a fly on the wall, it was, after all, my daughter who’d been invited, so made my exit.
I returned to pick up Tafv at nine o’clock; it was dark, and raining, and the jam-up of parents’ cars in the drive was spectacular. I circumvented this by parking to one side, then asked one of the many security guys where I might find my child. He pointed toward the house. I found Tafv’s best friend lolling on a beanbag chair with Hefner’s other son, who thought Tafv might be in the playhouse.
“It’s across that way,” Hef said. He was standing by the front door, in a silk smoking robe. I shook the man’s hand.
I crossed the drive, ducked through some hedges, and went inside a house whose main room was filled with pinball machines and video games, each manned by an ecstatic 12 year-old boy. I walked further, toward voices and a partially opened door, which turned out to be one panel of a mirrored octagonal room, its floor covered in soft black cushions, and on those cushions was my daughter and a pile of her friends, eating junk food and giggling.
“Hi, Mama!” she said. “Isn’t this the coolest place in the world?!”
Yes, it was, I said, as my brain was screaming, don’t touch the walls! I told Tafv we had to get going.
She followed me out to the car, and then, as we were getting in, ran back to get her bag. From my vantage point, I had a view of a set of stained glass windows above the front doorway. The windows were half open, and past them, I could see two young women, and in my memory, they have long blonde hair and are wearing lingerie. And yet I sensed what these women looked like was all mixed up with my recollection of being eleven, and pulling from beneath my father’s bed a stack of Playboy magazines, kept next to stacks of Penthouse and Oui, and looking at the Playmates, and reading that they liked sunshine and intimate times, and disliked cigarette smoke and loud people, and thinking these women were really beautiful, their skin just glowed, their eyes were looking right at me, and looking at them made me get so...
“We can go now,” said Tafv, closing the car door.
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