Oh, Shoot!

Death solves all problems - no man, no problem.

- Joseph Stalin

All life demands struggle.  Those who have everything given to them become lazy, selfish, and insensitive to the real values of life.
The very striving and hard work that we so constantly try to avoid is the major building block in the person we are today.

- Pope Paul VI

Source: Anderson Valley Advertiser 11 May 2000

Dear Abby,

I have been engaged for almost a year.  I am to be married next month.  My fiancée's mother is not only very attractive but really great and understanding.  She is putting the entire wedding together and invited me to her place to go over the invitation list because it had grown a bit beyond what we had expected it to be.  When I got to her place we reviewed the list and trimmed it down to just under a hundred.

Then she floored me.  She said that in a month I would be a married man and that before that happened, she wanted to have sex with me.  Then she just stood up and walked to her bedroom and on her way said that I knew where the front door was if I wanted to leave.  I stood there for about 5 minutes and finally decided that I knew exactly how to deal with this situation.

I headed straight out the front door.  There, leaning against my car was her husband, my father-in-law to be.  He was smiling.  He explained that they just wanted to be sure I was a good kid and would be true to their little girl.  I shook his hand and he congratulated me on passing their little test.

Abby, should I tell my fiancée what her parents did, and that I thought their "little test" was asinine and insulting to my character?

Or should I keep the whole thing to myself including the fact that the reason I was walking out to my car was to get a condom?

But No Problem!

The problem with people who have no vices is that generally you can be pretty sure they're going to have some pretty annoying virtues.

- Elizabeth Taylor

Source: Funny Times November 2001

How Can I Bring Up the Subject of ... Duh ... Sex?

Bring up the subject of sex?  This isn't a question, it's a riddle.  It is a social riddle posed by many single people these days.  As with other riddles, I always wonder what it really means.  Is this question coming from someone who is trying to think up a more seductive line?  Is it a rhetorical question to start a dialogue on gender relations?  Or am I dealing with someone who, through no fault of their own, has had inadequate exposure to radio, television, books, and movies?

The question itself has a kind of flat and heavy finality to it.  Bringing up the subject of sex ... like throwing a big dead fish down on the kitchen table - (Thump!  There!) we can't avoid deciding whether to cook it fast or get rid of it.  Apparently, a lot of people are trying to figure out how to slap that fish down in front of each other.

Good old yankee ingenuity is clearly at work with some people when they bring sex into a conversation.  A certain dignified gentleman I know brings it up by casually mentioning his HIV negative status: he mentions it in his personal ads.  Yes.  He mentions it in his phone conversations.  The first call.  He mentions it over the first coffee date.  And on every subsequent date after that, if he has any.  What do you think he is trying to convey?

One stupefyingly attractive women is more fashionably flamboyant: at some point in the course of an evening she manages to show off her elegant condom carry-all, hand-crafted in an exotic, tie-dyed silk, with silken drawstrings and tassels.  She is always able to stimulate some discussion in this way.  And she is making something perfectly clear.

And of course, many people have developed a personal version of that romantic classic: "Say, let's talk about you and me and your last blood test, baby."  Bringing up sex indirectly by bringing up disease is certainly one way to make a point.  But which point?  The health test is healthy but doesn't exactly convey desire.  And to tell the truth, this approach doesn't provide the best answer to the original question.

Again, I say that the question cited above is a real puzzle, because while it points to sex it is really about something else.  When someone asks how they can bring up the subject of sex, they don't really mean that.  No, no, no.  Millions of years have shown us that we don't have to bring sex up.  It comes up on its own.  It ... arises.  It is bigger than our conversations.  And by the time it has arisen, there are other critical issues to deal with.  The riddle of how to bring up sex is really about two sexually related issues, intimacy and safety, which sometimes seem diametrically opposed.

Domesticated by talk shows, therapy, movies and live experience, many of us have reached the point where physical and emotional intimacy in general is recognised as essential to The Good Life.  The same influences have shown us that physical intimacy can be health-life threatening.  Intimacy and safety, these are the hot coals no one wants to toss back and forth very much.  It is not sex, but the related issues of intimacy and safety that have to be dragged kicking and screaming into the conversation.

The riddle could be restated more honestly in this way: When sex comes up, how can I talk about the issue of protection without offending my potential partner?  Or it could be expressed in a more down-to-earth way: How can I bring up safety without ruining my chances for sex?"  Now it has become that good old-fashioned brain-buster of how to have your cake and eat it too.  And in this case it is a possibility.  Men and women are logistically capable of arranging relatively safe physical intimacy.  So let's start by getting honest about what the real issue here is.  It's not how to "bring up sex", but how to have it while actually avoiding open communication.  In other words: How can I get close enough to someone to have sex without having to talk to them about intimate matters?  Yep, a lot of people really want to know how they can be gratified sexually, have fun, stay healthy, and avoid intimate discussions.  That is the dilemma that bugs so many contemporary, up-to-date, free-willed, single men and women now ... and results in them playing dumb and asking "how to bring up sex?"

As a former guerrilla terrorist in the sexual revolution of an earlier decade, I hardly count myself a prude.  But I know enough to recognise that the-times-they-are-a-changin'.  For a lot of reasons, we recognise the need for more genuine intimacy in our lives and and we have to be more survival-conscious on behalf of health issues.  Caution cannot be thrown winds, darn it.  Men and women are juggling these two things like flaming swords.  It seems we don't know how to integrate them into our lives.  At least, not with any finesse.  But at the risk of sounding like the good mental hygienist I am, I would like to offer one possibility: If it is too soon to talk about something, it is too soon to do it.  This is not a moralistic position.  It is the basic common sense many of us cast overboard in the 60s and 70s.  We now know that it is not possible to reach a safe and reliable intimacy with someone while hiding out.  Without gradual and appropriate self-disclosures on both sides, sex will surely come up ... but intimacy will not.

It is called "getting to know someone."  Once that is accomplished you can talk about anything and that awkward question at the beginning of the page will disappear.


If you want to read about love and marriage, you've got to buy two separate books.

- Alan King

Source: Funny Times January 2001

Women Do Need Men for Some Things...

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