By Don Klein
They were back at KFC-Taco Bell, the winter haunt of retired men at seaside. Sam munching on the usual chicken breast, original recipe, and Mario enjoying his bean burritos with the enthusiasm of an epicurean dining at a Waldorf feast prepared for gourmands.
"What would you think of an 84-year-old, twice divorced, guy who is marrying a shapely 24-year-old blonde saying, 'This is it. This is a very, very special one. I expect to spend the rest of my life with her’?" Sam asked.
"I’d say the rest of his life is not going to be very long," Mario snapped back, adding after a pause, "Is this a hypothetical question or are you talking about someone you know?"
"This is not a fictional character. We all know him. You know him also." Sam started to chuckle as he considered the prospect. "Who do you know who would marry a gal 60 years his junior?"
"Most of the guys I know these days would consider marrying a woman 60 years of age as robbing the cradle." then challenging his friend, Mario asked, "You are almost as old as that guy you are talking about, would you marry someone that young?"
"I said you knew him, aren’t you interested in who he is?" Sam ignored the question about what he would do.
"Yeah, who is this nut who plans to end his life in the saddle earlier than otherwise?"
"Why none other than your good friend Hugh Hefner, the founder and recipient of the Playboy fortune."
"Hef’s no friend of mine."
"Sure he is. I guess you were a Playboy devotee in your wayward younger years, slobbering over those buxom young playmates month after month. We all were." Sam claimed.
"I’ll admit I read a few copies of the magazine, but I didn’t pay much attention to the Playmates in it. I spent my time in reality. I preferred real live women and will admit I was a bit of a ladies’ man in my day." Mario confessed.
"Yeah, you told me you were a bit on the wild side before you settled down with your wife for good. I suppose you didn’t have time for Playboy. Now it was different with me. I'm old fashion, I'm a one woman guy and have been married for over 50 years. But I was a regular Playboy reader for a couple of years."
"So Hef is getting married you say. And the bride to be is only 24 years old?" Mario noted.
"That’s correct. I thought Charlie Chaplin was stretching things when he hooked up with Oona O’Neill in 1943," Sam said, "He was 54 and she was only 18 when they were married. And despite the age duifference they had eight children."
"I don’t remember anything about that. I was just a child at the time, but I read somewhere that Oona’s father, Eugene O’Neill, the playwright, was not very happy about the union."
"He certainly was not -- in fact he disowned her and they never spoke to each other again."
"Well who is marrying Hef?" Mario asked.
"Her name is Crystal Harris," Sam said, "There was a picture of the two of them in The New York Times magazine a few weeks ago. He was seated on a throne-like chair in black silk pajamas and a red silk robe looking like an ancient potentate and she was standing next to him like a teen concubine dressed-up to look older, with long blond tresses and a too short skirt." Sam tried to be explicit.
"I thought it was laughable. I am younger than Hef by a few years and have a granddaughter almost as old as Crystal," Sam continued, "In fact Hef has a daughter who is 58 years old. She could be Crystal’s mother."
"Imagine a 58 year-old woman with a 24-year-old stepmother," Mario laughed,
"only in Hollywood."
"It sounds like you think Hef has never grown up and still thinks of himself as a young buck ready to sniff any female that comes by like a dog in heat," Mario suggested.
"Don’t get me wrong I give the guy all the credit. What other octogenarian do we know who can still command the interest of those young birds," Sam said, almost with admiration, "But I am not ready to concede that his appeal to the kitty crowd is sexual. He cannot be much of a partner there, but he pays well. He has to realize they wouldn’t be there if he didn’t. That must be his real allure."
"How do you know that?" Mario asked.
"Well the story said he pays the young things that agree to stay at his luxurious Hollywood mansion keeping him in a sensual Valhalla $1,000 a week and picks up virtually all their expense, like autos, clothes and so on. The mansion costs over $3 million a year to run."
"I sort of feel sorry for the old geezer," Mario became very thoughtful suddenly. "As they say there is a time in life for all things. Time to be born, to grow up, to get married, to raise a family – and a time to enjoy the autumn years relaxing and reviewing the vicissitudes of life."
Then he pondered, "Poor Hef he tries be appear debonair but never grew out of the teenage years. He still hangs out with chics. An old man, who will be 85 in two months, cannot find adult things to do with his life so he pays young women to parade around his bedroom without clothes on and occasionally join him in Viagra-buttressed sex."
"That’s an avocation reserved for young men." he declared wistfully.
"Dammit," they simultaneously agreed.