"Uh, just Sports Illustrated, Mom," I said.
"That's nice. How about another sandwich?"
As they say, Eureka! Wonderful worlds were being opened to me and all of them under the scrutiny of my own mother.
Looking back on it, it seems to me that was the day I banged my nose into adolescence. There I was, thinking about Joe Namath and Bob Gibson and Willis Reed, and all of a sudden I looked to the sideline and noticed the cheerleaders. That was the last day sports meant everything in the world tome.
The swimsuit issue must have that kind of life-history hold on a lot of friends my age, for we have powerful memories of it. For instance, I have asked this question of probably 15 friends: "What is the swimsuit picture you remember the most?" Their answer, without delay, has always been: " Cheryl Tiegs. White fishnet one-piece. Late 1970s."
But where most men's SI swimsuit fantasies stop there, mine went one step further this year. In writing the swimsuit issue travel story—traditionally the most unread words in the magazine industry—I met some of the models themselves. I sat down for dinner one night in Careyes, Mexico, with four of them—Stephanie Seymour, Kara Young, Maria von Hartz and Rachel Hunter. Here they were, right before me. my teenage symbols of womanhood itself. Digestion was out of the question.
By the end of the evening, what I had found was that SI models are 1) more stunning, 2) thinner and 3) richer than I had dreamed. Also, younger. Lots younger. A couple were, in fact, very 19. They talked about Guns n' Roses and the latest Depeche Mode video, and you mean Joni Mitchell used to be good"?
At 30, I suddenly felt old. As I sat there, I thought. Where have you gone, Roman Gabriel?