Go to Destination: Scandal!

'We Know It's a Dull Life, Mrs. Jenrette'

By Art Buchwald
March 3, 1981
© Los Angeles Times Syndicate

Playboy magazine has just done a lovely take-out on Rita Jenrette, the wife of the former congressman from South Carolina.

Apparently, Playboy was searching for an in-depth feature on the typical congressional wife, and by chance came across Mrs. Jenrette while she was making love to her husband on the Capitol steps.

This is how the story came about. A Playboy editor, who was on his way to see his senator to protest higher mail rates for magazines, tripped over the couple and said, "This is a great honor for me. I never thought I'd meet a congressman and his wife in the flesh."

Then he explained that Playboy was planning to do a long spread on the trials and tribulations of what it was like to be married to a congressman.

"Congressional wives lead an awfully dull life," Mrs. Jenrette protested. "We just go to parties given by lobbyists, where other politicians proposition us, and sometimes people attempt to put drugs in our drinks, and other times a governor might try to grab us in the shower. But it doesn't seem worth a whole story in Playboy."

"To you it might sound dull, but to the average reader sitting at home reading the hi-fi ads in our magazine, it sounds very exciting. After all, you're at the seat of power."

"We're just like everyone else," Mrs. Jenrette said. "We attend our husband's trials when he's caught in an FBI sting operation, and we keep a stiff upper lip when he goes off the wagon, and we hide our cash in a shoebox."

"That's just the point of our story," the Playboy editor said. "Despite the glamor and the heady atmosphere of Washington, you're still just plain simple folks at heart. Let me ask you something. Do you always make love on the Capitol steps?"

"Not always," said Congressman Jenrette. "Sometimes we wait and do it at home."

"Terrific," the editor said. "It shows that a congressman's wife understands his work and, if he can't get home, she's willing to spend time with him on the Capitol steps."

"Are you planning to illustrate the story with pictures?" Congressman Jenrette asked.

"It would be nice to show Mrs. Jenrette around the house when she wasn't all dressed up to go out. It would depict the human side of a congressman's wife."

"That would be fun," Mrs. Jenrette said. "No one ever wants to photograph me at home when I'm in something real comfortable."

"Well, honey, I think it could help my career and make everyone forget about Abscam," Congressman Jenrette said. "If Jerry Falwell can appear in Penthouse, I don't see anything wrong in you appearing in Playboy."

"Then you'll do it?" the editor asked.

"If you think it will help the readers of Playboy understand how our governments works, I don't see why not," Mrs. Jenrette said.

"Great, I'll have the photographer call you tomorrow morning."

Unfortunately, by the time the article was scheduled to appear, the Jenrettes broke up, so the idea of how a typical congressman's wife lives in Washington went out the window. The Playboy editors decided to change the theme of the story to how difficult it was for a congressman's wife to stay married in Washington. Fortunately, they didn't have to shoot any new artwork to go with the feature.

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