An Ordinary Man

Or, Men 101

Month: July, 2014

A Sex Calendar?

In the novel, An Ordinary Man, Richard is complaining to his friend about how sex seems to have disappeared from his life. In response to his friend’s question about what’s going on, he says:

“Actually, pretty much nothing. I mean, I’m not keeping a calendar or anything but it feels like several months can go by without anything happening. Anything at all. I got her a fancy nightie for Valentine’s Day last week and it’s still in its box. Like I said, it’s like she woke up one morning and said, ‘whew, we’re finally finished,’ as if we had better things to do.” Richard paused to shake his head. “She seems to have come to the conclusion that I have lost interest in sex. But where ever would she get that idea? Otherwise, why wouldn’t she take fifteen minutes out of her day to do something that makes me very happy? I mean, if I could do something for her that I knew would make her that happy, of course I would. Wouldn’t matter what it was. Why not? Wouldn’t you for Sarah?” He felt himself getting a little angry as he spoke.

Well, here’s a news story from the New York Daily News about a guy who actually did keep a calendar, and sent it to his wife before she left on a business trip. She apparently posted it to Reddit, asking for advice. That’s an easy one, unless it’s already too late. Guys who keep notes like this are doing one of three things: 1) hoping to make the problem concrete to a wife who is not hearing them, 2) justifying a divorce, or 3) justifying an affair. Remember, if he’s not getting it from you, he’s thinking about other sources.

Done at Forty-Two?

Esquire Magazine has held that 42-year-old women can still be hot. With all due respect, I can only say, “no shit.” I remember taking a candid photograph of my wife on her 45th birthday as she sat reading on the patio in shorts, thinking she “still” had perfect thighs.

The Dark Side


“That left Richard to look across the table at Heather, who was trying to follow their conversation while picking at her dessert, but occasionally catching his eye.

Such a lovely person. Would she marry the philosopher? He’d be getting a good deal, her maybe less so. Of course all women tended to get cheated in a marriage. They went into it all high-minded about true love, white knights and all that. Men went into it for something a bit more basic; is this woman good enough to be the last one I’ll sleep with? The answer to that was often colored by love and other commendable feelings, but men don’t marry because of fate, or destiny, or any other romantic notion, and none of them wore white for very long. She seemed very affectionate towards him and he certainly was mindful of her but the odds were so long. No one ever would have suspected he and Liz would be hanging on by their fingernails. You only borrow love – just as with life, you never own it.”

Although we might like how you laugh, smile, cook, knit, balance accounts or replace faucets, guys don’t get married for those reasons; sex is what makes us ache to see you when we’re separated. There’s always the nudie bar – or worse – if she has forgotten that.

Robin Thicke & Mateness Points

Three hundred million views – 300,000,000 – of Blurred Lines on YouTube seem to have blurred some lines with its singer, Robin Thicke. Not to mention the topless, nearly nude dancers surrounding him in the video, the infamous twerking during whatever music awards those were, and whomever it was that tolerated his ass-grab during a me-with-a-famous-person shot. While it must have been fun while it lasted, it all resulted in his long-term mate, the quite lovely Paula Patton, moving out.

Now he is in the midst of a very public, and rather strange, effort to win her back. I’m not sure it’ll work. For many years, the couple had apparently enjoyed an equilibrium in their mateness points; he was successful enough to please her, and she was woman enough (with all that that entails) to keep him in check. Then a smash hit and notoriety upset the balance and he, apparently/possibly, felt he had points to spare. He didn’t; JFK might have, Robin Thicke didn’t. It wasn’t you, man, it was their careers those lovely ladies were focusing on.

But if he wins her back with an embarrassingly public display, she may be ceding him even more points, as in she couldn’t resist me, so I must have more mateness points than she does. I hate to see a long-term relationship fail, but striking that balance, reconciling accounts, making adjustments, rebates, etc., is something that needs to be done in private.


Good Sex Means Better Communication

“Do me a favor, would you?” He wasn’t sure they were close enough for him to ask but feared for her.
“Yes, sure; anything.” She looked at him like he was going to ask her for a kidney and gave him the impression she would be willing to if he did.
“Make two lists; one of all the things you love him in spite of, and the other of all the things you do that he likes so well. And I mean all of the things.”
“Richard!” Mock outrage.
“I’m serious. He has flaws; flaws that you know about right now and appear willing to overlook. Write it out: I, Heather Greenwood, hereby acknowledge that Nicholas Sheridan always leaves his dirty socks on the floor and I love him anyway.”
“And the other list; now, what might that one say?” she said, teasingly, inviting him to consider what she did, or permitted him to do, that Nick liked so well. Richard felt himself blush a little as he did exactly that.
“I can guarantee that there won’t be too much on that one that he’ll ever stop liking, so be graphic. And complete.”
“I won’t need a list; I won’t forget.”
“It can be fatal if you do, so I don’t suggest trusting your memory.”
“It’s hard to imagine where one would keep such a list.”
“In your underwear drawer. Sealed in an envelope.”
“The maid might steal it.”
“You have a maid?”
“No, but I could someday.”
“Worry about that then.”
“You’re serious, aren’t you?”
“Yes, I am. Of course I am. Nothing else promotes communication quite so well, and nothing is more important to a marriage than good communication.”
“Oh, so it’s not just about the sex itself?”
“No, although that certainly doesn’t hurt anything. It’s the intimacy, the private time, the closeness, the sharing. The absence of barriers, of resentments. The openness. The camaraderie. Plus, you’re not going to solve issues with someone you resent.”

In the scene above, Richard is encouraging his former student and current colleague to keep a “naughty” list to remind herself deeper into her forthcoming marriage how much her husband-to-be liked certain, um, activities (they’re close enough for him to do this). He was recently proven correct; that sexual intimacy is important to maintaining communication in a marriage has recently been confirmed in a study published in the journal, Communications Monograph, following a study of over 250 people. The New York Daily News summed it up thusly:

Researchers found that increases in levels of oxytocin combined with decreases in stress hormone cortisol make positive post-coital conversations easier and create an environment where partners feel safe to spill their secrets.