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The Centerfold

by Carl Peterson ©2002

The age of puberty and adolescence is a wondrous time in life. The mind is opened to so many new ideas and possibilities. Ideas that had not previously entered oneís mind not only appear, but also can become the primary focus of attention. Like everyone else, I too had these experiences. My first experience with a magazine centerfold was an unplanned event, but was revealed as if part of a greater plan.

I was always a rather geekish, scholarly type. I always enjoyed reading and read almost anything I could get my hands on. Without a lot of money and only a small circle of friends, also hindered by a lack of driving privileges until sometime much later than when this story takes place, I did not go out much (sadly, it appears only the status of my driving privileges has changed). But as luck would have it, I had managed to get out to a movie one evening. I had told my parents that a few of us wanted to go to a show but had been elusive about the title and they did not ask many questions (rather unusual for them). I named the parents who would take us, but neglected to mention they were not going to stay. With the stage set, permission obtained, my friends and I were out to see a movie. All went well. My friendís parents dropped us off at the theatre (there were three of us) and we purchased our tickets. We were the youngest people in the crowd. We took our seats, trying to look older than we were, as if this were a common event for us too. And the movie began. Right before us unfolded adventures we had only begun to dream of. Persons doing things we could only barely imagine. Alas, too soon it was over. We left, giddy with the images fresh in our minds; people pressed close together, their bodies heaving together and straining with ropes, trying to get everything to come together, burning sunshine beating down on their bared bodies, and rolling swells and breaking waves of a seascape in the background.

At home over the next few days, my mind reviewed the scenes and recalled the events. I fantasized about scenes from the movie. Then suddenly my eyes found a magazine at home. There, on the front cover, was a scene from the movie I had seen just nights before. The smooth, graceful lines, the interesting curves, the roll of a sea swell rekindled my imagination. I knew the magazine held pictures of never-before-seen parts exposed for my exploring eyes. I nearly tore the cover from the book as I raced to find the article that captured my interest. And then I found the centerfold. I quickly opened the pages and righted the book for the proper angle. Displayed in all her glory, there was the Kon Tiki. I folded the pages back and threw myself into reading the article on the adventures of Thor Hyerdahl and his team of scientists of the Ra Expedition. They reconstructed a boat made of papyrus and sailed in cramped quarters from Africa to South America. Despite storms and taking on of water, the crew made it. Armed with the article and images in my hands, I could finally talk with my parents about the movie we had seen. Iíll never forget the euphoria of finding the centerfold in that National Geographic magazine and the anticipation I still have each month to see what new mysteries are revealed in its pages.

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