S*x Ed*c*tion

You know how back a thousand years, adolescent boys were told that if they indulged in a certain forbidden pastime, they might very well go blind. There they would be – a cohort of sightless teenage boys with the hairiest palms you ever saw, lounging around the neighborhood. (Nothing was ever said about the teenaged girls, I guess the working hypothesis was that they would never …, so why worry?)

I thought about this when I read this piece about ED drugs doubling the incidence of conditions leading to severe visual impairment. Really, it was that old link between sex and going blind coming ’round again, but in a new form. And one with better documentation.

Just to review, here are the big seven examples of what we were taught happens if we … you know … too often.

  • blindness
  • loss of hair
  • hairy palms
  • shrunken genitals
  • mental illness
  • you become a total perv

I never did a formal poll, but I seriously doubt that fear of any of these outcomes was ever an effective deterrent.

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From The New Yorker

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My own sexual education consisted of information gathered from three principal sources. The first two often led to more questions than they answered:

  • Words written on sidewalks and the sides of vacant buildings (often misspelled)
  • The salacious tales related by a childhood peer of what he witnessed by peeping through the keyhole of his older sister’s bedroom door

The third and most valuable was my slow reading of a copy of Dutch physician Theodore van de Velde’s book entitled Ideal Marriage, Its Physiology and Technique. The book was for sale in the student bookstore at the University of Minnesota, and although I could not afford it, I would stop by regularly and read a few pages, masquerading as an actual customer.

Certain pages I read several times, in silent astonishment.

The image shows how the dust cover might have looked when I had finished going through its contents for free. I am afraid that at that point the bookstore could no longer sell it as new, with all of those sweaty fingerprints on the pages.

The book was first published in 1926, so when I committed it to memory in 1956 I was at that point only thirty years behind in my education on this important subject. I have judiciously maintained that position ever since then as a sort of point of honor.

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From The New Yorker

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I think that the point at which I finally realized that s*x was responsible for an amazing amount of the wackiness of the world as well as a good deal of the misery, was when Wilbur Mills, a powerful congressman, was arrested one night near the Tidal Basin in Washington D.C.. He was drunk as the proverbial skunk and in the company of an exotic dancer named Fanne Foxe.

Wilbur and Fanne onstage

A the time Mr. Mills was the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, a respected husband and father, and a moderately frumpy gentleman in his sixties.

The first whiff of trouble broke about 2 a.m. on Oct. 7, 1974, when two United States Park Service police officers spotted Mr. Mills’s car speeding with lights off near the Jefferson Memorial and pulled it over. Apparently panicking, Ms. Foxe bolted from the car and, yelling in English and Spanish, tried to escape by jumping into the Tidal Basin, a Potomac estuary with an average depth of 10 feet.

The officers pulled her out, handcuffed her when she tried to jump in again and returned her to the car, where they found Mr. Mills and several other occupants intoxicated. Mr. Mills was bleeding from his nose and facial scratches, and Ms. Foxe had two black eyes. An officer drove her to a hospital and the others to their homes.

The incident might have gone unnoticed, but a television cameraman came upon the scene and recorded it. The police filed no charges, and Mr. Mills issued a statement that cast events in an innocent light. But within days the outlines of a political sex scandal began to emerge. Mr. Mills, facing voters in November, returned home to campaign and was narrowly re-elected to his 19th term.

But under withering publicity detailing his alcoholism and peccadilloes with Ms. Foxe, including an impromptu appearance at a Boston burlesque stage where she was performing, Mr. Mills checked into an alcoholic-treatment center, resigned as chairman of the Ways and Means Committee and did not run for re-election in 1976, ending a 38-year congressional career.

New York Times: Fanne Foxe, Who Plunged Into the Tidal Basin and Emerged Famous, Dies at 84, February 24, 2o21.

As this scandal unfolded back in 1974 it dawned on me that if this old dude’s hormones could get him caught up in such an adventure, what hope was there for anybody? My question for myself was what portion of the world’s misfortunes could be blamed on s*x and its various permutations. I am still gathering data, but all of my information so far indicates that it is ginormous.

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The forsythia in our neighborhood have had their shot for the year, but the trees have yet to start flowering. To me, that’s when I know that Spring has really arrived. Those trees are cautious creatures, and don’t risk their reproductive moments if they can possibly avoid it. Most years we have lived in Paradise there have been a few fruit trees that were not wise (sometimes a lot of fruit trees) and were caught out by a hard freeze.

When the growers of Palisade peaches are hit hard by a freeze, we get out our black armbands and go into mourning right away, not waiting for late summer. Because we know two things: that the supply of these delectables will be limited, and that those that do make it to market will cost an arm and a leg. We will still buy them, of course, neither one of us is strong enough to resist the joy of having that peach juice run down their chin on that first bite. But we may have to give up something else like taking vacations, or healthcare.

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The singer/songwriter/guitarist Richard Thompson does loss and sorrow awfully well. Too well to have had only a casual acquaintance with them, I think. I have called upon his talents on painful periods in my own life quite often. To sense that here is a person who has been through fear and/or heartache and come out solid on the other side makes one feel less alone when it is exactly those feelings that threaten to overwhelm.

Most people eventually earn the right to wear the I’ve Got Troubles So Bad patch on their jackets at least once in their lives. Some more than once. Thompson’s beautiful poetry and muscular playing are on display in the songs that follow, which I offer to any readers who are struggling at this moment.

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My Rock, My Rope by Richard Thompson
Beat the Retreat by Richard Thompson
How I Wanted To by Richard Thompson

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FYI Department

Last summer several of the short nylon straps on my six year-old Osprey daypack simply started dissolving and falling apart. As if I’d poured acid on them (I hadn’t). Robin and I have a total of six Osprey packs between us and never experienced anything like this before. But … it was now an unusable tool.

I went to the Osprey website to see if there was any relief there to be had and lo and behold I found that there is a life time guarantee on all of their packs of which I was unaware. The following text is from their website.

If something goes awry, you contact them, get a repair number, and then ship it to their repair center. Here’s the only hooker – you must pay for the return to the factory. They will look it over and either do a repair or replace it with the same pack or one of similar style, capacity, etc. Osprey pays for the shipping back to you.

So I have a brand-new daypack coming my way later this month. It’s refreshing to find so generous a warranty.

(BTW: Not only do I not receive any material benefits from mentioning Osprey’s name, but outside of one person in their repair department, they are completely unaware of my existence.)

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