The Power of Playboy Bunnies and the Sexy Side of Running
by: Jack McClintic
Some of the greatest things in life really do not have a beginning or an ending. And I suppose I shouldn’t even second-guess why miracles happen. However I did ponder the origins of miracles as I found myself in the Bayou City Classic 10K tied to five Playboy bunnies! They had it all too, the cute faces made prettier with authentic smiles of joy. They had those killer running legs, perfectly shaped, but with that extra flash of muscle that really makes a guy take notice. They topped it off with the trademark ears and tails, and some of the tails even bounced up and down in a seductive way as they ran! What was even more special, these bunnies were running bunnies. They had beautifully carved their own figures with thousands of miles of running.
So what landed me in any male runner’s greatest fantasy? I believe it all began with catching the wild and whimsical spirit of the bunnies themselves. I run most Saturday mornings with three of the original bunnies, Natasha, Paige and Terry. During the month of February, I listened as they flexed their creative muscles in deciding upon what their centipede was going to be. For those of you who don’t know, a centipede is six or more runners tied together, wearing costumes, representing a theme. These centipedes run the Bayou City Classic 10K together as a team and compete for artistic prizes, like best movie theme for example. There is however a category for the fastest centipede. All three of my running partners had done a centipede before, and it seemed like this year they really wanted to go all-out. One of them suggested dressing up as sexy bunnies. After our run was over, they felt that they had to fit their wild centipede into a category. Paige, probably inspired by caffeine suggested the 50th anniversary of Playboy so they could enter under the current events category.
So all they needed to personify the theme was Hugh Hefner! I am not sure if they contacted the real Hugh, but perhaps thinking that he couldn’t keep up with their pace for six miles, they set upon finding a Hugh impersonator. They readily found their Hugh in the person of Nag Rangarajo, one of our training partners. Nag is the nicest guy, he always says yes, especially when confronted with a little bit of pressure from the gals! He is also all of 110 pounds and harkens from India and is of the Brahman cast. So not being there and finding out about the final centipede theme, and picturing Nag in the middle of those five hot bunnies, I could not resist an email to him. I was in awe of him and asked him if he felt he was elevated into Nirvana. But I also had some fun and tried turn up the heat on Nag to see what his thoughts were. I did offer to be Hugh in his place, but this was just wishful thinking. He replied that the bunnies would be heartily approved by the Brahmans, but that he felt the pressure of this kind of a social situation.
Well I am an expert at miscommunication. I thought that Nag despite the immense social pressure of running the streets of Houston in pajamas and being surrounded by five sexy bunnies, was going to go through with it. I spent the next week trying to find that one extra elusive bunny for the gals. But then with just five days to go, the head bunny Paige told me that I was Hugh! The moral of the story is don’t be nervous about being Hugh in front of the bunnies! I couldn’t believe my luck; getting the most coveted racing position in the entire Bayou City 10K. I immediately accepted and then asked what Hugh wore. I was told to buy a black smoking jacket (a long silky robe), pajama bottoms, slippers and a pipe. I am one of the worst shoppers and really dread it, but this time I started the next day scouring second hand stores for these silky pajamas. An elderly couple from our Church, who asked if they could help me find something, staffed the first resale shop I went into! What should I tell them? Being somewhat adept at obfuscation, I only mentioned that I needed a long silky robe. They had none and I thought to myself that I should have just explained that I needed a smoking jacket. I sort of figured even church goers were used to the Hugh Hefner’s regalia. After all, our pastors loved wearing long, black, shiny robes in the pulpit, all they needed was the pipe! I went to seven more stores before finding the smoking jacket. It was the image of me and the bunnies that kept me going!
I had my Hugh outfit in hand only two days before the big race. I even made three by two foot signs that said things like: “They are even faster when you throw covers over them!” I copied the famous bunny logo off of the web and pasted it to the top of each sign. I was going to do all I could for my bunnies! I wanted to be a good Hugh. The guy at Burlington Coat Factory outlet had recommended the red-hot pajama bottoms to go with the black smoking jacket. When I tried it on he was right, the red contrasted well with the black; and just maybe it would bounce some of that bunny heat back off of me! My problem was with the seven-dollar Wal-mart slippers. I knew I had to tear them up and use a hot glue gun to attach them to some old running shoes. Somewhere way back in my upbringing I was taught not to waste anything and so I just couldn’t do it. Plus I did not know how to use a hot glue gun.
So I put the slippers on my bare feet and ran slowly across the house. They felt good. I turned them over and it boldly said on the bottom that they were hand-stitched in Mexico. I next decided to put this craftsmanship to a more rigorous test. I slipped out the back door at ten o’clock at night and looked down the street. And would you know it John and Sherry Davis were walking their evil dog Ginger! They saw me with the slippers on and so this time I confessed that I was just ready to give them a road test as part of my Hugh Hefner costume. I explained the whole centipede competition so they wouldn’t call the constable! John then told me that Hugh had always been his idol. And when he heard that I was to be accompanied by five beautiful running bunnies, I noticed his eyes light up in admiration. I thought to myself, “this is going to be good!” I then ran off down the street and the slippers started humming. They stuck to my feet and were lighter than racing flats. I felt like the authentic Hugh himself, running in his actual slippers!
Not only did I want to look the part of Hugh, like any good impersonator, I wanted to become Hugh. I had the advantage of birth, both Hugh Hefner and I were born in the state of Illinois. I told my wife that I was Hugh Hefner, but she did not go right out and buy a bunny suite! On the other hand, she didn’t divorce me either. So not being able to act out Hugh at home, I went to the Internet for clues! I discovered some of the Playboy philosophy, you know the stuff that goes with the pictures. I read that the playboy was all about sexy not sex and sophistication not vulgarity. Being a runner for nine years this playboy attitude just clicked with my subconscious. Granted, I love to run for the sheer pleasure of it and the companionship of my friends. But as an extra benefit, all of our bodies do become sexier. It is not that all of us runners win the good looks gene lottery, but we do have muscular legs, a thinner waist and a glow of heath about us. Runners are sexy! And if you still do not believe me, just run in Houston’s Memorial Park on a July evening. I am not so certain that we are all sophisticated, but during speed workouts I do come up with some sophisticated excuses!
Having my entire Hugh Hefner wardrobe in a small satchel and my bunny slogan signs to boot, I drove to downtown Houston and found my bunnies. They were sexy! All the male eyes within a 100-meter radius were on them! I wondered how they felt to be the object of every man’s desire. Did these men know or even care that they were sophisticated too? I changed into my silky red pajama bottoms, smoking jacket, and slippers. I felt a little different dressed this way in the line to pick up my running chip. I put my pipe in my pocket and tied my chip to my slipper.
We had a last minute bunny emergency, as Natasha came down with back pains. Our fearless bunnies found another willing recruit, Yong, with a little over an hour to go. Even though Yong did not have the net stockings and black outfit, she looked beautiful and saved the day! So there we were the five bunnies: Yong, Terry, Paige, Cortney and Karen, accompanied by Nag and me. I asked Nag to be our bunny sign barrier and he agreed. I gave Nag a lot of silent credit being part of the bunny brigade without being a focal point of it. He would prove to be an enormous help in getting the bunnies water at the water stations (they didn’t have any Scotch for me!). We all had our parts in the bunny centipede and we all were filled with excitement and anticipation!
We tied ourselves together with a dainty pink ribbon, which matched the bunnys’ ears. We took off at a leisurely hop towards the starting line. It felt good now our heart rate was catching up with our pulse. We just so happened to cross the entire starting line crowd and then sweep past the line of runners. I could see all eyes upon the bunnies, not just a casual disinterested look, but a penetrating look of lust. It would have been interesting to hear their thoughts at just that instant. We happened to come within a few feet of Jack Lippincott, the iron man of the Houston marathon. The power of the bunnies transformed his usual good-natured face into a wolf-like grin. In a second they turned iron man Jack into wolf man Jack! The bunnies were a big hit! I thought to myself, there are going to be a lot more PRs today with the bunnies, for they were transferring all these guys pre-race jitters into pre-race pleasure. Plus maybe a few guys would be motivated to run a little bit faster in order to impress the bunnies! This scene proved that there was a positive correlation between sex and running! What would happen when the post race beer was added to this heady mixture?
The gun caught us by surprise and we were soon off on our six-mile bunny run. The temperature was cool at first, but the bunnies were hot. A very large man to our left kept growling and barking at the bunnies. I thought for a moment that I would have to employ Nag as their bodyguard. But fortunately for the bunnies and Nag, they were just too fast for this big dog! They were traveling at 8:30 mile pace as I saw the Ferris wheel operator break into a big grin and give me thumbs up. This was good! I started wishing this would be a marathon instead of a 10K, I didn’t want it to end. Nag relayed to us that a policemen looking at the bunnies said, “this is why all the traffic is stalled!”
Katrina, one of my running club buds, shouted to us that we were the second place centipede. I noticed our lead bunny, Terry, sort of lower her shoulders in pursuit of the first team, the Mars Lander, Spirit. I felt the rest of the bunnies start to pick it up too. They were not only sexy, they were competitive bunnies with attitude! Alas we had two equipment breaks as the ribbon snapped twice. We lost about a minute and the Spirit team would go on the beat us by about the same time. It would have been something to see the gals pass them with their ears flopping in the breeze! Despite being edged out by Spirit, we passed dozens of runners in the last three miles as our pace quickened to almost 8:00 minutes flat. It was fun to see some of the macho guys’ faces as the delicate bunnies were dusting them. These guys had been ogling them at the starting line, but now their eyes betrayed humiliation and terror. Their fantasy had become their nightmare! I couldn’t resist teasing a few of them. I said, “Come on, you guys can keep up with these bunnies.” One guy replied, “I want to, but I can’t.” He was beaten by the bunnies! I wished I had written on one of our signs: “Beaten by a bunny? I owe them a lot of money!”
We finished the race with a sprint and clocked a very nice time of 51:30. We ran right into the exhausted Spirit team just ahead of us. You could see the look of relief in their eyes. We untied ourselves and collected our finisher’s T-shirts. I had to leave early before the awards presentation, in which we won the media award (best magazine?). I took off my pajamas and was no longer Hugh. I was now off to coach my son’s 10-year old basketball team. But my friends and colleges kept calling me Hugh over the following days. Maybe I really was Hugh and those gals will always be my bunnies. I certainly hope so. I did learn from the Bayou City 10K that life is not just a race going to the same old finish line fast. Life is truly a collection of meaningful experiences that stretch you and hopefully make you a richer person than you were before.