Two of Hugh Hefner'sÂ three girlfriends -- 20-year-old twins Kristina and Karissa Shannon -- are moving out of the mansion.Â Wonderwall, msn.com
I've come to the Playboy Mansion on a mission of mercy.Â Hugh Hefner, my good buddy, has just lost two girlfriends inÂ a single day!Â It can't be easy for him, rattling around in a 22,000 square foot bachelor pad with just one remainingÂ live-in girlfriend to console him.
As I turn off Charing Cross Road into the circular driveway, my way is blocked by the Kilgore Rangerettes, the famous all-girl precision marching team, and six full-size buses with signs to indicate the affiliations of the passengers within, including theÂ National Association of Female Actuaries, the faculty of Bryn Mawr College and theÂ Jacksonville Juice, Florida's entry in theÂ American Women's Football League.
Kilgore RangerettesÂ Â Â Â Â Jacksonville Juice
"What's all this about?" I ask Eduardo, the valet who takes the keys to my 2002 Toyota Highlander--the "LE" edition with the plush velour interior.
"You know Mr. Hefner," he says.Â "He is a real 'people' person."
I make my way to Hef's room, where I find him--as always--working in his circular bed, sipping a Pepsi Twist, the lemon-accented cola drink that is mother's milk to the notorious mammophile.Â He doesn't notice me at first, engrossed as he is in editing a short story by Philip Roth, author of "The Breast".
"Hef?" I ask tentatively.
"Hi--say, which sounds better:Â 'Her left boob, which was visible beneath the scoop of her leotard', or 'that was visible' et cetera."
"I'd go with 'which'.Â "You use 'that' to point something out, and 'which' to refer to the only one in question."
E.B. White:Â "That breast of yours is totally bodacious."
"Hmm--that's a pretty good yardstick.Â Where'd you pick that up?"
"Strunk & White--you know E.B. White, right?"
"On the nosey."
"Has he written anything lately?"
"I don't think so--he's been dead for 23 years."
"Too bad.Â We pay top dollar, you know."
I could tell that this was so much nervous chatter, the idle babbling of someone with something else on his mind.
"Hef--do you want to talk?"
For the first time in the forty-odd years I've known him, HefÂ shows an introspective side.
"I'm in a bad place right now," he says softly after a moment.Â "It's not easy getting by on justÂ one live-in girlfriend."
"I know what you mean," I say, although I don't.Â "You need a change.Â You know what Sir Topham Hatt says, right?"
"Who's Topham Hatt?"
Sir Topham Hatt
"The little fat man in the Thomas the Tank Engine movies."
"Oh.Â What does he say?"
"A change is as good as a rest."
Hef takes this in for a moment, but his reverieÂ is broken by the sound of footsteps and girlish chatter on the steps outside.Â
The door bursts open and in come the girls of Scout Troop #473, Vallejo, California--all 36 of them.
"Hi Mr. Hefner," says Kelly Oswego.
"Hey there, Kelly!" Hefner exclaims, genuinely glad to seeÂ his young proteges.Â The breast and highbrow literature magnate has quietly kept this rag-tag collection of freckle-faced young girlsÂ from a life of white slavery by placing six-figure orders for Thin Mints, Do-Si-Dos and Tagalongs for the past three years.Â It's the quiet philanthropic side of a very prominent manÂ that he keeps from public view.
"How're you girls doing?" Hef asks.
"Fine, Mr. Hefner," they reply in unison.Â "But we heard you were very sad," adds Courtney Fabre, a cute redhead in pigtails.
"Sort of," Hef admits, his warm smile breaking down just a bit now that he's been reminded of his troubles.Â "I lostÂ two girlfriends."
The girls groan in commiseration.Â "Did you look in your laundry hamper?" asks Cindy Wenderman.Â "Sometimes I find stuff there--or under my bed."
"Nope--they're gone," Hef replies, and he does a poor job of masking his unhappiness.
"I could swear I had three live-in girlfriends this morning."
"You know what you need?" asks Cherie Sala, an olive-skinned girl of Italian descent.
"What?" Hef asks.
"You need to go on a Spirit Quest!"
"What's that?" Hef asks.
"You get a flashlight or a lantern, and you walk around your neighborhood and you talk to your friends, and by the time you get back you've forgotten all your troubles!" Courtney says.
Hef is not one who's much into the outdoors, or out of the indoors, but the idea strikes his fancy.Â "What do you think?" he asks me.
"I'm game," I say.
"If you're game, somebody might shoot you!" Kelly says, and the other girls laugh.
"Do we have enough supplies for everyone?"Â I ask Hef with concern.Â "You've got that football team, the actuaries, the professors from Bryn Mawr, and now the Girl Scouts."
He nods his head, all business.Â "Let me check."Â He picks up the phone and dials down to the mansion's supply room.Â "How many wholesale cases of Viagra do we have left?" he barks into the receiver.
He seems satisfied as a tinny voice is heard through the earpiece.Â "126?Â Okay--that should be enough.Â Thanks."
He turns to the girls as he replaces the receiver.Â "We're all set!" he exclaims.Â "Just remember to fill up your canteens in the kitchen!"
WeÂ walk downstairs and grab flashlights and Coleman lanterns from a closet, then head down the driveway, the Kilgore Rangerettes leading the way with their crisp choreography.
We make our way into the Hollywood Hills and, after a fewÂ miles of hustling to keep up with the high-kicking Rangerettes, the 82-year-old magazine publisher and media magnate begins to tire.Â "Now, on a Spirit Quest, do we ever get to stop and cuddle with each other?" Hef asks Cindy, who has recently completed the field work required for a Bug Collector merit badge.
"You can if you want, but you don't want to get left behind."
"Well," the 82-year-old says, "I may not be able to keep up with you.Â I think I'm going to rest for a bit with the top-ten-ranked members of the Womens Professional Bowling Tour," he says.
"Okay," Courtney says.Â "Take one of the flashlights."
"I don't think we'll need it," Hef says with a smirk in my direction.Â What a card!
"If you get lost, you can find your way back by looking at the stars," Cherie Sala tells him.
"How do you do that?" Hef asks.
"See the Big Dipper?" she says as she points skyward.Â "It's a constellation up there thatÂ looks like a Playboy Rear-View Mirror Air Freshener."Â
"Say--you're right," Hef says.Â He takes out his cell phone and calls his twenty-four hour on-call intellectual property lawyer.Â "Hey Mort," he says into the mouthpiece.Â "There's a bunch of stars up in the sky tonightÂ that lookÂ like a Playboy bunny--are we getting licensing fees from them?Â No?Â Well, get on it right way, okay?Â Thanks."
He snaps his flip phone shut and the girls walk off, leaving him alone with a choice selection of female bowlers.
"Hef," I ask as I avert my gaze.Â "You've always been so fortunate with women, and yet youÂ have really high standards."
"That's key," Hef says as he nibbles the earlobe of Katy Zlieciewcz, a fresh-faced southpaw fromÂ a Polish neighborhood of Chicago who has just won the Lady Gillette Invitational at the Columbus, Ohio AMF Bowladrome.Â "I like girls with that wholesome, girl-next-door look, who like candlelight dinners and long walks on the beach, andÂ who have a set of homongous knockers."
I nod in appreciation of a man who aims high, and yet still achieves his goals.Â As I quietly contemplate how different my life might have been had I only capitalized on the innate desire of large-breasted women to expose themselves to public view, as Hef has, I hear a rumbling above us.Â It's one of California's notorious mudslides, headed our way!
"Hef!Â Look out!" I yell as I scramble for cover beneath an outcropping of rock.Â Hef dives into a small depression and lies flat, just in time to avoid several tons of mud and rocks that rumble down the mountainside, wiping out 237 women and leaving us shaken and, once again, alone.
"You okay?" I ask Hef, and he pats himself down, checking to see whether he's still in one piece.
"I guess," he says, as he pulls his cell phone from his shirt pocket.Â He dials the mansion, and when he connects, speaks in a subdued tone.
"Hi--it's Hef.Â I'm going to need somebody to come pick me up," he says, a little out of breath.Â "And can you send over the Playmates of the Month for January through June of 2009?"