Category Archives: love

Why I’m not sad about sex

Do you have Facebook friends you’ve never met? I do. Mostly they’re friends of friends I’ve met through writing, specifically at Erma Bombeck Humor Writers workshops. Usually I read something funny, laugh and comment, connect, and there you go. I also have some “friends” who I honestly don’t remember at all. It may be time to weed out the list, I’m thinking.

If I were a better writer, or one trying to sell this essay, I would know better than to start out writing about something that seems irrelevant to the headline. You’re supposed to go in strong, not wimp along for several paragraphs until you get to the point. I’ll get there eventually, I promise. While many bloggers have moved on to other media, like Twitter and Instagram, I’m still here. I kind of think of it as exercising my writing muscles now and then. Or keyboard masturbation for the mind.

Anyway, one Erma acquaintance suggested I might have something in common with a friend of hers and due to the sensitive nature of this post, I’ll try to be vague enough that no one will figure out who I’m talking about.

So I “friended” the woman, who I’m going to guess is in her mid 50’s, had split from her husband, moved overseas, and is having what seems to be a pretty steamy romance with a lovely-looking man. Lovely-looking, as in, someone an oldster like myself would consider attractive.

It’s clear that they are having sex. Not that there’s anything salacious being posted, mind you. It’s all very tasteful and kind of sweet. They are positively beaming in the selfies she shares. Her friends (presumably women who, unlike me, actually know her) comment that they’re so happy for her and oo-la-la and “you deserve it,” etc.

I’ve become a kind of hanger-onner (I know that’s not a word – zip it) who was supposed to have something in common with this lady totally unrelated to her new middle-age-to-elderly sex and semi-geriatric love. I think I need to unfriend her because I’m beginning to feel like a voyeur. If she notices my name at all (I occasionally “like” a post – but not the ones about her dating life), she’s probably wondering how I ended up following her and why.

But here’s the thing – every once in a while, when I read or hear about someone in my generation starting a brand new love affair, I can’t help but wonder if that’s something I should consider, too. Should I admit that I’ve finally called it quits FOREVER? Do I care?

The fact is, for every December love affair I hear of, there are a few dozen long-married friends who say, who needs it? They haven’t had sex in nearly as long as my own lengthy period of circumstantial celibacy – and they have a partner sprawled next to them in the California King every night. They may humor their husbands a couple of times a year, but to hear them tell it, it’s with a yawn and the desire to get it over with and go to sleep or at least back to watching whatever movie’s on the Hallmark Channel.

Now, I am NOT writing this to instigate an informal online poll. Spare me if you and your husband are still “active” and think Viagra is the best thing since the creation of floppy discs. You go, girl. Yay. But there is no need to weigh in here for or against old people sex. Please.

I’m going to get very honest with you here and admit that I’ve been celibate for 26 years. I think some people may wonder if I’ve decided to play for the other team, but that’s not the case. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, as the Seinfeld crew would say.

No, I decided to stop dating – to halt my quest for Mr. Right – to give up kissing frogs in the vain search for my prince – at age 41. At the time, it was not my intent to never date or have sex again. My son was about 15 and at an age where the mere thought of his mother being kissed (forget the rest of it) was alternately enraging, disgusting, and ultimately embarrassing. It seemed wise to go on hiatus. It’s hard enough raising a teenager without throwing that mess into the mix.

I certainly don’t miss being in a relationship (see previous post outing myself as an introvert). After living alone for so many years, I honestly can no more imagine someone living in my house – let alone hogging the covers on my bed – than me putting on a tutu and fright wig to launch a new career as a rodeo clown.

It’s not that I miss sex, especially. If you do without it long enough, the urge does pass. Maybe menopause played a big role in that, as well. And on the odd occasion, I can be the queen of my domain. I do miss Seinfeld.

Here’s one more thing  about my generation that doesn’t get much air play, but I’m going to say it anyway:  who wants to fuck an old person? I guess if that old person is someone you knew when he/she was young and pliable, perhaps the wrinkles, sagging, pouching, etc., comes on gradually enough that you don’t notice too much (especially in the dark). But taking off your clothes in front of some old guy who also is going to get nekkid with you and you’ve pretty much only just met? Man. That takes guts, IMO.

Me 1992

Me, circa 1992. Shoulder pads were great to show off my tiny waist. Yeah.

The plus side of giving up sex at a relatively young age is that the last man I slept with was gorgeous. Big, strong, handsome, old enough to know exactly what he was doing – and still able to do so for an extended period of time. He eventually broke my heart, but thank you, T, wherever you are. Nice job!

And why wouldn’t he do a good job? I looked like this!

So, good luck and best wishes to the Facebook lady with the white-haired honey. May he make your toes curl, even yet. But as I reflect on the fact that I am 99% certain I’ll never be in love or have sex again, at least I find comfort in knowing that my memories are pretty ones. And hot. Smooth-skinned, pretty, and hot indeed.

Lover vs. Beloved

This morning I was sitting on the beat-up wicker chair in my bedroom, tying my shoes. I looked across to the bed just as Little Richard tippy-toed over to cuddle up next to Mick, nestling his head on top of Mick’s upper back. Is it love? Or a show of fealty, acknowledging Mick’s dominance in their relationship?

Boys May 13

Little Richard is the white dog with his arm around his buddy, Mick Jagger. Naturally, Mick Jagger is alpha over Little Richard, in the world of humans, as well as dogs.

I can’t read dogs’ minds, but I can tell you this – it’s always Rich seeking out Mick. Always. If Mick is curled up in the dog bed near my desk, eventually Rich will join him. Rich is the cuddler (lover) and Mick is cuddled (the beloved). They are pals, but not equals.

It seems to me that love is rarely equally given and received. Now, I haven’t been married for many, many years, so I’m only going to lightly touch on this topic in regard to marital love. It appears to me that the Lover vs. Beloved relationship isn’t static. Illness, retirement, empty nest – all kinds of life events can tip the seesaw of who is overtly loved/cared for versus being the one in a more supportive role.

Anniversary

My parents on their 50th anniversary. Retirement (and all of us kids being gone!) seemed to soften my dad. I liked that he called Mom “honey” more often.

How about parents and children? It’s my thought that in the best of circumstances, parents love and the children are beloved. I’m not saying kids (of any age) don’t love back. In fact, we all know of sad situations where an errant mother or father may be unconditionally loved by a child long after the parent’s behavior ceased to warrant that love or respect. Under less-than-ideal circumstances, the love between parents and children can be complicated, to say the least. Best case, it’s pretty balanced. But — when you are a parent, part of loving is hoping that your child will one day find a partner that she or he wholeheartedly loves – above all others. That includes Mom and Dad.

And between friends? I think this can be the most interesting dynamic of all. If I am fortunate to have many friends, does that dilute the amount of love that I can share with each? My thought is we can say we love our friends, but I’d say that one of the more important ways that we demonstrate that love is by spending time with them. Can someone be one of your dearest friends if you rarely spend time together?

I’m not saying that only face-to-face time counts. Certainly in our world of social media, free phone calls to anywhere in the U.S., and various modes of transportation that at least make it possible to get together (imagine being a pioneer woman leaving her best friend behind when she went West with her husband – likely to never set foot back home again), today it’s very possible for a long distance friend to remain a cherished pal with whom we regularly communicate.

It wasn’t that long ago, by the way, that good, old-fashioned letters were our lifelines to loved ones far away.  When I went to Australia to teach in the 70’s, weekly letters to and from home were my only communication with family. Phone calls were so expensive, we spoke just on Christmas and on my birthday. I received letters from friends only very occasionally. We all were so busy with our young lives; that’s just how it was. Everyone was pleased to see me when I came home, and vice versa. But those friendships were pretty much on hold during the years I was gone.

Sue and Dan Austria 2016

My old friend Sue and her partner Dan. A group of us went on a Viking River Cruise last fall (here they are in Austria) and had a blast. Sue and I are going to Tuscany in October (thanks for sparing your sweetie, Dan!).

Today, when I look at different degrees of closeness in my relationships with friends, I sometimes see the Lover vs. Beloved dynamic in play. For instance, as a single person with several very dear married friends, I see myself as the Lover. That’s because my friends with partners must (and hopefully want to) put their spouses first. I understand that completely and wish those I love to have happy, loving relationships with their husbands or other partner. I’d be a pretty lousy friend if I thought otherwise.

The consequence is that it is rarely, if ever, that my invitation to get together takes precedence over plans with a spouse. I’ve had friends who I feel very close to, and have known for years, who I have seen on a weekend fewer times than I can count on one hand. I think women may be more accommodating to husbands in this regard, but again, not being married myself, I’m not sure.

With more casual friends and acquaintances, it’s nice to get together when the opportunity arises. The love is there, but not as deep, you know? The effort to meet needs to be reciprocal, however. If one friend is always the one to suggest lunch or a movie or any activity, she may tire of nurturing the friendship if it seems that the effort is one-sided. To have a friend, you need to be a friend.

We all suck at that sometimes, don’t we? Good friends know when life is challenging and you need that extra nurturing for a while. Don’t drop a friend who seems uninterested in initiating plans unless you have a chat about it first. In my case, I sincerely enjoy the company of some wonderful people, but I’m an introvert. A homebody. If I have more than one or two things going on in a week, I begin to feel like a turtle, wanting to draw her head back into her quiet shell for a while. It’s not that I don’t love you. Promise.

You are beloved.

So. Lover vs. Beloved. Do you sometimes see those lines drawn in your relationships? Does it flow back and forth between you and your partner, friends, or family members?

And finally – does it matter?