Sex Is Bad

Dragging around the ghost limbs of severed relationships

Via some act of cosmic cruelty, the Victoria's Secret catalog used to come to my address. It's like they had a command center with people making decisions like, "Hey, this guy's between girlfriends. Let's rub it in." It didn't help that my married pal Chris Gaffney would then come over and suggest captions for some of the lingerie models' heads, such as, "Jim, I'm a little liquored up right now. Can I stay at your house tonight?"

One evening, years ago, during such a romantic drought, a former girlfriend called and asked, "If I came over right now, would you ---- me in the ass?" She was young, had never done it, decided it should be in her repertoire and deemed me sufficiently—what?—avuncular to be the one to introduce her to it. There wasn't much on cable that night, so I figured, what the hell? (Incidentally, having pretty well worn out "fuck" in this column last year, I thought it might be more fun just to use "----" for a while, okay?)

About 40 minutes after she called, the former girlfriend showed up at my door, ass in tow, and I proceeded to act as if I knew what I was doing, which I didn't particularly, but it's basically easier than threading a needle and there's significantly more motivation.

If you're a guy reading this, I know what you're thinking, and I know what you're thinking with. You and your Little Elvis are going, "Whoop City! Pencil me in for some of that action!" You poor, pitiful fools. Let me disabuse you of that notion.

For starters, there is no satisfaction in this life. You could be in the sack with Angelina Jolie on your rod, Jennifer Lopez on your face and Gillian Anderson standing by waiting for the first available seating, and you'd still be thinking, "Right, where's Julia, Britney, Kate, Sandra and Tia? Hell, where's Connie Chung? Bring it on!" because in this world of duality and transitory physical pleasure, nothing is ever enough. And besides, Sean "Puffy" Combs could break in and pop a cap in your head anyway, and who wants to be killed by someone named Puffy? It's like being offed by Poppin' Fresh.

There's always something to come between you and satiation. Much of my amorous life has been like Buñuel's Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie—always preparing for a feast but with something always intervening before I get to the table. In this particular instance, my former girlfriend and I quickly arrived at a point where she evidently determined she'd learned enough of the booty basics to earn her merit badge and at that juncture simply said, "Okay, stop now. Out!" And that was that.

Oh, well, I thought, at least I'll probably get a column out of this. Several years from now. When the throbbing ache subsides.

Of course we used protection! You're talking to a man whose first act of youthful intercourse involved a baggie! Why do I admit such things in public? So that you might learn from my mistakes. Baggies, incidentally, aren't a good idea. You'd be better off using aluminum foil, or probably even stained glass.

In the 25 or so pages of sex and personals ads in every Weekly, there are several terms that pop up a lot, including "eager," "kinky," "hottie," "hardbody," "torrid," "ravishing," "sensual," "edible gummy vibrator," and, perhaps to service some conservative kink, one escort who bills herself as a "liberal brunette." But a word you don't see bandied about much is "consequence."

And I don't mean consequence as it might be uttered by the advertised "firm mentor" or "demanding goddess." I certainly don't mean the icky consequence of pregnancy, HIV and STDs. Rather, I'm thinking of the cumulative consequence of sharing such an ideally emotional experience with persons you ultimately don't emotionally connect with.

Gore Vidal has managed a lifetime of compartmentalized sex, keeping his longtime relationships platonic and his one-nighters prolific. I know persons who have slept with scores of people, some with more scores than even Lincoln tallied, who then settled down to happy, married lives—my friends, I mean, not Lincoln, who was married to a nutty tugboat of a woman.

One very active female friend told me that sleeping with a guy was a good, instant way to get to know him—sort of like shaking hands, except you needed Kleenex afterward. Another friend, who taught English to Japanese women at the University of Hawaii, insisted that the best way to learn a foreign language was to sleep with someone who spoke it. There are a zillion reasons to go to bed with someone, a great many of them fun and educational.

There's no good or bad here. All I can share from my perspective, though, is that if you are at all a sentient person, you can't just go around ----, ----, ----ing people willy-nilly without consequence. You might think you're having, oh, just a little drinkie-poo and falling—whoops! —into the sack. But a connection is made, and even if that connection is temporary, by the time you reach my advanced age, you'll find the tattered tendrils of those severed relationships dragging around behind you like so many ghost limbs. Rather than fondly recalling some night of Bosco-enriched debauchery, your soul is pulled to earth by the gravity of the things that went undone and unsaid.

What's my point here? None, I suppose. I just wanted to bum you out. What's sex without regret? I can't stand the thought of all you young people screwing away like rhesus monkeys on a tire swing without any sense of foreboding. Let me be the Ghost of Excess Future here and tell you that you are dealing with some serious stuff; that decades later, you might still be haunted by your good-time girl or guy's goodbye look; that the things you didn't do and ways you didn't connect may outweigh the wild things and ways you did. I'm not saying not to ---- anyone or even not to ---- ---- anyone because you might very well wake up next to some stranger you went to bed with and realize it's the love of your life. I'm just saying you might want to see what's on cable first.

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