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(Above) The Renwal Company’s Visible Man and Visible Woman, c. 1960’s; plastic model kit.
WHEN I WAS A KID IN THE 1960s, the Renwal Company came up with the bright idea to show “the insides” of a human body, with their Visible Man and Visible Woman model kits. It must have been a huge success for the company, because within a few years they were flooding the market with The Visible Horse, the Visible Dog, the Visible V-8 Engine and so on and so on.
When I first saw The Visible Woman down at Green’s Hobby Shop I wanted one! Mr. Green was a slight Jewish man with a friendly disposition but he had The Visible Woman displayed high up on a shelf. I could only glance at it as I hung around looking at model airplanes, Rat Fink cards and Superman comic books. What I was really there for was to get a better look at that Visible W-O-M-A-N! Why? Well, you already know why! 50 years later I am coming clean! It was for one reason and one reason alone—so I could finally, actually SEE what a woman’s private parts looked like. OK! I ADMIT IT! I was 10 years old and those things were a big mystery to me.
My plan was simple: Christmas was coming up and I would ask for The Visible Woman kit along with a few other things around it. I’d just throw it on the list like it was no big deal... 7 or 8 down from the top. (I didn’t mention, did I, that there was the counterpart to the The Visible Woman—and that was the totally BORING Visible Man! Ugh-h. “Who would ever want THAT!?” I thought.
I remember going up to my dad as he sat in HIS chair and asking him if I could tell him what I wanted for Christmas. “Isn’t this kind of early son,” he said, “I mean, it’s just August!”
“Well pa, (I always called him “Pa” when I wanted something) I just wanted to get a jump on what I want Santa to bring me for Christmas this year,” I said, lying through my tooth (I had actually lost one of my front baby teeth).
I started reading my list: “I want an Etch-A-Sketch; a Johnny Reb Cannon; a Jon Gnagy ‘Learn to Draw’ Kit, a Visible Woman model, a box of 64 Crayola’s.....”
My father, who was about as fuddy-duddy as they came (he was born in 1910!) cut me off and was immediately suspect. “What do you want with this ‘invisible woman’ thing?” he asked. He called it “Invisible Woman,” but that was a minor detail.
“Well pa, so I can learn about science and stuff! I love models and this is all about science and... and....” I gave it my best sales pitch... EVER!
“We’ll see,” was his answer, cutting me off.
I dropped it because I didn’t want him to know that I was SICK! ... that I was perverted !!! Oh-h the humanity! I was going to hell and I knew it!
Fast forward to Christmas morning 1961—and there it was—a rectangular box (I had memorized the shape down to the square inch). I could have cared less about the other stuff. All those other gifts I told him about was just patter to mask what I really wanted.
“BINGO! This is it!” I thought. Picking it up I was thinking, “oh yea-a-a-a... this is a model alright!” as I listened to all the pieces clickety clack inside. “This is gonna be great!”
Tearing off the paper my heart was thumping outta my chest! Yes! This is it!! Thank you Jesus!” I thought—when it happened. “Wha-a-a-a-at?” the voice in my head screamed! “It’s... it’s... it’s... the stinkin’ Visible MAN!!!”
If one could possibly HEAR the sound of disappointment, well, mine was personified by the loudest freight train whistle right there in our living room; the sound of a screaming woman from the Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Hour, or a head on automobile collision right outside our house. This was the WORST Christmas of my life!
“They were outta that ‘Invisible Woman’” my dad said. “So I gotcha this one!”
“LIAR!!!” I thought!! They had PLENTY last time I looked, which was yesterday—Christmas Eve! I do not know whether he could see the disappointment (the horror) on my face but I tried to mask it so he and my mom and twin sister would not know that I was on a mission from God to see breasts!! And that other female thing, which I had some other slang word for I can’t remember now.
A few months later a buddy of mine did get the Visible Woman, (lucky bastard) and well, it was not all it was cracked up to be. All the good parts were smoothed and glossed over and it was just another of a series of let-downs in my life. Besides—they were called mammary glands, WTF?
It would be a couple more years before I did indeed score big with a stash of men’s girlie magazines I found in neighbor PeeWee Pascal’s house.... and you can read about that adventure from a past post if you click here.