Saturday, December 13, 2008 

Dream for an Insomniac

That's the picture that started it all for me. And by "all" I mean EVERYTHING. I think that single image jumpstarted my interest in women overall, brunettes especially...hell, anything "sexual" whatsoever. And I still remember the first place I saw it.

I couldn't have been any more than seven or eight years old and I was tagging along with my dad. He was at one of his buddy's houses, playing cards and drinking beer as was typical for him to do on Saturdays and I was roaming around this strange house, trying to find the bathroom. I don't remember the portrait but I will never forget the postcard that was jammed into the lower right hand corner of the frame that hung in that hallway. It was that exact postcard you see above. And no exaggeration necessary, it changed my life. I remember standing in that hallway, almost trying to memorize it, so that I could take that image home with me that night.

I became so infatuated with that voluptuous bikini-clad vixen that I began to dream about bronze-skinned brunettes whenever I slept and I started to target and focus on them just as much in my waking hours, as well. I recall having a matchbook with the legendary pin-up's nude image on it that I kept in my underwear drawer. My mother found it, made my dad have a "talk" with me about it and then made ME throw it away. My obsession eventually led to me finding out the name of the woman on that postcard and I remember that moment as being...well, it was akin to a heathen finally finding Jesus Christ. A weight had been lifted and it felt like the end of a very long journey or scavenger hunt. Little did I know, it was only the beginning.

It's always been my goal to educate those around me and the first chance I got, a written assignment in English class, I wanted to share what I had learned about Bettie Page and what I had learned, I thought, was a very interesting story and certainly one worth telling. Maybe not appropriate for 4th or 5th graders, which is what I was, but I didn't know any better. I gathered what information I could (and back then it was scarce, which is what made Bettie so mysterious and twice as interesting as say, Abraham Lincoln. In those days, people assumed Bettie, once one of the most well-known women in the world, had simply vanished at the height of her fame and popularity) and poured my heart into probably the best one or two-page biography ever written by a 10-year old. My reward? A trip to the principal's office and a phone call to my parents. At this point, it wasn't the first time such a thing had happened and it surely wouldn't be the last but this was the one time I didn't understand why.

They say people and personalities never really change and that particular aspect of mine was carved out from Day One. Today my parents are never really surprised at their only son's interests, the company he keeps or the types of trouble he routinely finds himself in. I'm not sure they'd trace it all back to the iconic Bettie Page and a postcard, either. But she had an impact, an influence on me and so many others that can't and won't ever be accurately measured, some of which we take for granted and don't even realize. I realize. And I am grateful.

R.I.P. Bettie Page April 22, 1923 – December 11, 2008