Back to Basics
our miss december is a daughter of the computer revolution
Route Two winds along the Charles River in Boston before leaving behind the red-brick buildings of Harvard, the white sails and the flashing oars, the jogging scholars, to head northwest toward Concord. The shot-heard-round-the-world Concord. It had been years since any girl we knew lived next door to a national monument, but Terry Nihen (pronounced Ni-yen), our first Massachusetts Playmate in recent memory, does. Of course, Concord Bridge is still there, but New England is changing. The Colonial houses are still there, tucked in the dense green New England forests. But at every crossroads, there is a computer company, another building with Data or Digital in the company name. Terry Nihen grew up in this region, in Acton, and she has changed. In a part of the country where every child goes on to college, if not graduate school, she opted to enroll in a technical-trade high school in nearby Lexington. "I wanted to try something new, to test myself against other kids. The school drew people from seven or eight towns. I was thrown in with a new crowd of very bright kids, just like that. I was studying something I was interested in." After graduation, she worked for a bank for four years. She added two more jobs to pay her way through a local community college. She changed direction and went to work for a firm she calls Digital-in-the-Woods. "I looked at other places that were too ultraprofessional. I've learned that what appears to be professional isn't. A preppie look isn't enough. I like something flexible. I get the work done and laugh." She worked in an employment-relations program: "I was relating not just to computers but also to people. The best of both worlds." Because her company had offices throughout the U.S., Terry decided to leave New England. She settled on Atlanta. She had apparently forgotten to pack the famous New England modesty -- lucky for us. "I was a contestant in a bikini contest at a disco. First prize was a trip to Fort Lauderdale. Melinda Mays (Miss February 1983) was one of the judges. She suggested that I try out for Playmate. I was fairly rude about it. There were other girls in the contest who were better-looking. It had never crossed my mind that I could be mistaken for one of the women in Playboy. But I thought about it for a day, then called her." There was no question in our mind that Terry Nihen deserved to be a Playmate. We had seldom seen a woman in such great shape. "I taught an exercise class three times a night. I got shin splints and had to cut down, but I'm still pretty active. I want to get into weight training. I don't want big muscles, just to get everything really hard, to be the best I can be."
As we talked with Terry, we revised our image of New England girls. "I liked Atlanta, but New England is home. I missed the character, the history, the people. Everyone has the wrong idea about New Englanders. We're not cold. We're just not easy. In Atlanta, there were more people willing to open up, but there were also more people willing to take you to the cleaners."
After less than a year in Atlanta, Terry returned to New England to be close to friends and family. "My best friends just happen to be family. My sisters. My mother. They give me a lot of support." The result is an impressive blend of beauty and common sense, warmth and intelligence. "I'm not flighty. I'm not boring. Being in Playboy is a major compliment, but I have to view it realistically." We discussed her plans. She will put some of her Playmate money into a tax shelter. She may break down and replace the 1967 Le Mans with the jacked-up rear end that she uses for a car. She may try acting ("I've been told that I give a good show when I'm upset or happy"). But in any event, she will do well.
Photography by Richard Fegley