Thursday, July 14, 2011

What happened to passion?

Every once in a while someone says something so open and honest that it brings my world to a momentary stop. Most of us would agree: The earnest voice rings loud and clear. It cuts through the rest of the life’s din and penetrates our defenses.

At a recent reading in Babeland — SoHo, such a voice spoke out. A man introduced himself by saying he’d been married for 28 years. He said, I want to find ways to bring renewed sexual passion into my relationship with my wife. We have been together a very long time.

He, like another man in our small circle, had come alone — without their sexual partners — to seek advice. I was there with author Joan Price, whose new book, “Naked at Our Age: Talking Out Loud about Senior Sex,” has just come out. Both of us published our books with Seal Press and we thought it would be fun to do a couple of events together.

. . . . .

Many would prefer to shop for private items like sex toys online. The great thing about shopping in person at a store like Babeland, in particular, is how great the staff is and how little embarrassment you feel as you look at the toys and find out what's recommended.

. . . . .

All I could say to the man was congratulations. Congratulations for coming all the way into SoHo, for walking into Babeland, a pretty store painted pink and run by women who sell “sex toys for a passionate world,” for sitting through this reading and presentation, but most of all, congratulations for taking your wife and your sex life seriously. I applaud you and the other couples in this room who are here for this same reason.

I would have done almost anything — short of a threesome — to help out these people.

I did read erotic passages from my book “Free Fall: A Late-in-Life Love Affair.” I would like to think it helped, not as a measuring stick by which to size up one’s own sexual life but simply as titillation.

Erotica, and here I’m talking about literary erotica like the kind found in “Free Fall” — is the sex toy you never have to lubricate. It doesn’t make any noise, you can’t turn it on by mistake, and you can pack it in your carryon luggage without fear of discovery. Download it onto your Kindle, for example, and save yourself the embarrassment of displaying its cover to other travelers.

Erotica can be downright devastating, in a good way. From the woman’s point of view, erotica can turn that major sex organ you have — your brain — into a single-minded lust organ that begs immediate and relentless indulgence.

So what I should have said to that earnest and searching man was: Buy my book or others like it. I was sad to see that he left empty-handed with no books, no toys of any kind, no lift to his shoulders. Perhaps he already has these things and was looking for more. He was on a mission, in search of some idea, some tip he hadn’t heard before.

Joan’s tried-and-true advice: Reserve some time for yourself and your lover, then begin the dance…whatever it is. Take it slowly. In time, your desire will catch up. This is what works. It’s an act of faith. It’s a little like Gestalt or cognitive therapy. You fake it till you make it, as the saying goes.

A couple of people did buy my book, and they bought Joan’s groundbreaking self-help book, too. They mentioned that they had a hard time finding erotica that wasn’t vulgar and crude and idiotic. There is good erotica but it’s not mainstream; it’s hard to find. Erotica doesn’t have to be explicit. In a book titled “The Literary Lover” published by Viking in 1993 (in time for a Valentine’s Day many years ago), William Kotzwinkle wrote a short story called “Jewel of the Moon,” about the entire delicious year a young groom spent very slowly seducing his new bride. Kotzwinkle, it may surprise you to learn, is also author of “E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial.”

. . . . .

Joan Price was my house guest for a few nights. Though Joan was busy promoting her new book, we had time for a walk along the High Line in Chelsea.

. . . . .

There you have it, an erotic story to bring some fun to date night. A good vibrator that isn’t going to conk out on you or burn delicate tissue can cost more than $100. A stimulator for the brain costs less. It’s hard to find but well worth the search.

And it doesn’t have to be an either-or proposition.

1 comment:

  1. I love your take on this. People at Babeland really enjoyed your reading! I found it marvelously erotic, especially with Jim standing nearby wearing the shirt, "I'm Jim (I'm in the book!)"

    It's time for our age group to step up to buy ad read erotica like yours that is meaningful to us and treats us (at our age!) as the sexual beings we are.

    Thank you for welcoming me into your home and your heart. We're sisters now.

    Joan Price
    Author of Naked at Our Age: Talking Out Loud about Senior Sex and Better Than I Ever Expected: Straight Talk about Sex After Sixty.

    Join us -- we're talking about ageless sexuality at