The sentence below comes from Mr. Playboy; Hugh Hefner and the American Dream.

A sly sense of humor often lightened the mood. Hefner once quipped to the dignified Spectorsky, “I’ve figured out why you and your wife are so sophisticated. You practice fidelity for kicks.”

In this passage I want to know the meaning of the bold-faced sentence. Let me tell you what I figured out so far.

First, 'sense of humor' say the sentence in question is a humorous expression.

Second, 'fidelity' refers to faithfulness to one's spouse.

Last, 'kick' means an exciting effect, as in I get a kick out of driving fast cars.

Am I right in figuring out the meanings of each word presented above?

Still, I don't get the meaning of the whole sentence. I know it's used for some humorous effect but I don't know why Spectorsky's practicing fidelity for kicks is humorous.

  • 3
    I can't see anything wrong with your analysis. It sounds like pretty gross sarcasm to me.
    – Mick
    Nov 18 '17 at 6:34
  • 2
    Extreme incongruity is often considered humorous. Here, the situation many might expect is reversed. Nov 18 '17 at 10:10

Considering this as an example of humorous irony or paradox (in view of the terms "sophisticated", "quipped" and "a sly sense of humor") rather than a sarcastic comment, may I suggest that 'kicks' are sometimes obtained by infidelity -- having an extra-marital affair, with 'kicks' being obtained from the excitement of a culturally inapproppriate activity and the risk of getting caught, etc -- so the speaker is twisting it around ironically by saying,

OMG you get your kicks (not from infidelity but) from fidelity! As in, how sophisticated you must be! [ironic humor]

Note that in this context 'sophisticated' is used in the sense of 'advanced and refined, worldly approach to life's pleasures'. There is also the implication that in a free and permissive amoral universe, a sophisticated infidelity is the norm, and fidelity is the perverse life choice.


Yes your commentary seems accurate.

Usually if two lovers are faithful, this would be a natural quality. The fact they practice this fidelity for 'kicks', means they are likely very much in love, and enjoy their fidelity, it's not boring, or humdrum, but exciting for them.

It sounds to me like the quip is said in a playful yet complimentary tone.


In the same way that we practice other things that are hard for “the fun of it,” I believe Heifner is referring to marriage in the same light.

In the same way pilots learn to fly and still get a rush, so too do the monogamous get a rush from the relationship. In my mind, the humor is found in the fact that there is also a rush in Heifner's lifestyle. But which one is harder?

  • Your analogy of pilot drive home to me the meaning. But another question comes up with my getting further knowledge of this sentence. (Before your reply I didn't even know that I don't know it.) That is the meaning of 'sophisticated.' Of the synonyms presented as follows: intricate, subtle, cultured, refined, I cannot decide which fits best for the context.
    – morti
    Nov 18 '17 at 8:03
  • 1
    When looking at the definition in webster's 1913 dictionary, I think it gets even deeper: "Adulterated; not pure; not genuine"
    – Greg Wiley
    Nov 18 '17 at 18:32

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