In 1968 he wrote, "My steady girl threatens to cancel my SI subscription if there are any more covers like that." I called Mike to congratulate him on having been ahead of his time.
"I was—the year was 1968?—only 19 years old when I wrote that," he said. "I can't believe it. I've been married now for 16 years. Same girl. I can't believe it. Same girl and I still get the magazine."
I asked him if those were the first words he ever had published anywhere. He said sure, that it was his journalistic start.
I think the letters are getting better. I am not sure why that is. I went through all the published swimsuit mail to find a couple of Letters Hall of Fame selections and eventually picked two from 1988 that were as good as any.
I particularly liked the one from Nancy Clarke of Newport, N.Y.: "A friend of ours was greeted by the youngest of his four daughters, the swimsuit issue in her hand. She proudly showed her father how she and her sisters and their mom had colored dresses on every lady in the magazine."
And I liked the subdued exuberance of James Kuznicki of Pittsburgh: "This year's issue is the final straw. My wife and I are considering canceling our subscription. She thought a strong letter reprimanding SI was in order. So here it is: Next year, no swimsuits or else!
"P.S. O.K., she's left the room. Forget everything and keep those issues coming."
One more thing. I would like to revise my prediction in the cancellation pool and move my number up to, say, 250. I figure that I should come in high since this is an entire issue devoted to the swimsuit business.
Wow. Cancel my subscription only if it affects my performance in the pool.