An Ordinary Man

Or, Men 101

It Takes Two to Tango


Bernardo Bertolucci just announced that the stick-of-butter scene in Last Tango was not consensual.  Marlon Brando and Maria Schneider are no longer with us to confirm this, although both had spoken out against the film before they died.  If, indeed, someone has been raped in the course of an artistic endeavor, it is no defense to claim it was for the benefit of the art.  But I’m not sure what really happened here and I am certainly not sure what it means. So let me throw some things out.

1. Study the image above.  Brando’s pants are very tight and up over his buttocks.  Not having first-hand experience with either his anatomy or his tailor, there is still some question as to whether or not an erect penis would be sufficiently liberated to achieve penetration here without substantial discomfort to the male.  For what it’s worth, I have never had sex with my pants that high.

2. Study the image below:


Schneider is lying on the floor, bare-assed, with Brando right beside her, down by her naked hips.  In a real-life situation, he IS going to play with her ass.  And by that, I do not mean simply caress her butt cheeks, but by going deep into the murky depths that lie there.  There are no ‘no trespassing’ signs on any square inch down there; it is ALL on the plate.  Things are going to happen that might surprise both parties absent a nearly constant stream of  feedback.  Do not offer your ass to a male without being fully aware of this, and stay on your back if it’s unacceptable.

3.  Nineteen or not, what the hell did she think the stick of butter was for?  I simply cannot image laying there like that and seeing a stick of butter materialize.  Even if she wasn’t aware of its potential as a lubricant, this clearly was not the set-up for an eating scene and it wasn’t exactly hidden. What was butter doing there?

4.  I am involved in a relationship with a younger woman that we both want to turn sexual, at least once.  She is older than 19, but the proportional difference in our ages is almost the same.  One of the things holding me back is whether or not one is ever really ‘okay’ with what can happen during sex.  Did you really mean to do that? Did you really let them do that? Did such-and-such really happen?  Looking back at last night in the light of today is rarely a good idea.  Consent at the time? Sure, but does that translate into approval the next day, when oxytocin levels have returned to normal?  Sex without a certain degree of second-guessing is not sex I think I’d like.

Our war on good sex continues.

Postscript:  I just watched the scene on YouTube.  She knew all about the butter – she brought it to him.  Wouldn’t she have asked what it was for; what it had to do with the scene?  Maybe she was overwhelmed by it all and let what happened happen because of that, underscoring the fact that sex without true love is always dangerous.


Misery Loves Company

I am acutely aware that my novel about the sexually-frustrated husband, An Ordinary Man, strikes some as nothing more than a pathetic screed by one no longer able to seduce his wife.  I am also acutely aware that it could have been written by any one of, say, ten million American males, one of whom I met last night in my night job as a driver for Uber.

Conversations in my car can turn astonishingly intimate in a very short time, given that participants are shielded to some extent by darkness, seating arrangements, relative anonymity, and the certainty that we are unlikely to cross paths again.

But after finding out I was separated in large part because of the interference of Us (my wife and I) by Them (our children), my passenger quickly revealed that he was headed down the same path; with children aged 5 and 3, sex had become reduced to a monthly event.

He told me he wanted it from her more than from anyone but that he wasn’t going to stand for not getting it from anyone.  I reminded him that something caused him to throw in with her and that he’d be wise to try to rekindle that, but not to expect tangible progress for four to six months, knowing that he, like me, like all normal men, will probably tire of of waiting that long.

America’s divorce rate will continue to climb.


An Extraordinary Woman


I’m not up on either my super models or my sports heroes so I cannot assess the validity of Kate Upton’s complaint re her man not getting the Cy Young pitching award but I do salute her tweet for its recognition of a central, critical fact: she is the only one who gets to fuck her fiance.

And I hope she continues to recognize and appreciate that fact long after they get married because that is one of the key things that makes a woman a wife, partner, soulmate, lover, or whatever she wants to be with respect to a man she has thrown in with.

Richard Wilson, the frustrated husband in An Ordinary Man, thought of it thusly:

That you are permitted, even expected, to sleep with your wife is part of what makes her your wife. She is your fuck. That’s what men mean when they say they ran into your wife the other day, or saw her someplace: I saw the woman you have sex with. It’s not a judgment call, a critique or evaluation per se – it’s an acknowledgment of a central tenet of your relationship. A critical one; it’s common enough to run into, and even befriend, women who are younger, prettier, shapelier, smarter, more attractive than the woman you married on any of several levels. But you don’t fuck them. At the end of the day, there is only one woman there who is specifically intended, designated even, to receive your bodily fluids and you hers. He used to see her in the distance and think, yes, there she is, that one-in-one-hundred-million who you could take home and possess as if you owned her because in a way, you did, just as she owned you in exactly the same sense. The ultimate partnership.

You rock, Kate Upton.

Not An Ordinary Man

trump-quoteI’ve billed my novel, An Ordinary Man, as an unflinching look at marital sexuality and describe man’s powerlessness in his pursuit of sexual gratification.  My guy, Richard Wilson, is led to contemplate infidelity when the give and take of married life leaves him wanting a bit more “take” and I make no qualms about justifying his appetite on a biological basis. Indeed, that is what makes him the ordinary man of the title.

Our next president appears to fail to understand that the joy of sex is in consensuality – a word I just made up, maybe, which perfectly joins the words consent and sensuality – bragging that star power permits something the ordinary man does NOT want: non-consensual sex, i.e., rape or, at least, assault.

That he feels that way does not make him extraordinary, it makes him a criminal to the extent he has acted upon it.  There is nothing ordinary about that.


Thanks, Trump. You, too, Howard. Assholes.

On of the few joys left to me as a single man in my sixth decade is the friendly smiles I used to get from women at the grocery store, who seemed to understand that I was completely harmless.  A trip to the grocery store was always enlivened by a younger woman (sometimes much younger) who felt free to give me a friendly smile because she knew she was not thereby opening herself to unwanted attention, that I would just smile back, and continue filling my cart.

That seemed to change this morning, when I went to the store for the first time since The Trump Tape was revealed.  The women seemed colder, disgusted even, and certainly less friendly.  Was it because they have been confronted with the fact that men of all ages can be pigs?  Is it because they wonder if I am thinking about grabbing them by their genitals – a move that, frankly, mystifies me as much as it repulses me?  Am I  a creeper in disguise, if not an actual rapist?

The big surprise here should not be that Trump, a man of considerable means, was lewd and crude, as sexual gratification is the biggest prize of all for many, many men, but that Howard Stern has prospered for years – decades even – with his revolting shtick, having recently received a long-term contract paying him $90 million a year for talking about things such as whether or not it’s okay to refer to Trump’s daughter as a piece of ass.  A celebrity who appears on his show should automatically fall off the A-list.

Don’t get me wrong; perhaps the majority of men objectify women at some point and few of us would want to hear tapes of things we’ve said.  My book, An Ordinary Man, attempts to portray the force sexuality exerts on ordinary men and is not pretty, but you can safely blame men like Howard for helping to make men like Trump. Pigs of a bristle.

SiriusXM shouldn’t come out of this unscathed, either.  Ninety million for Stern’s garbage mouth?  Show them as well what you think of their support for it.



Sex & Politics

Don’t mix. Period. Drop it. Everyone. Now.

I wouldn’t recommend having sex in California anymore

Although several states have extended, sometimes doubling, the statute of limitations on sex crimes, apparently in response to the allegations against Bill Cosby, California has removed them entirely.  Which, plain and simple, means that any person is FOREVER subject to a charge of sexual misconduct, even if they never touched the accuser, or only did so in a fully consensual situation.

I worry for my son, a musician.  At 21 years old, I assume he is having sex, and I assume he is having only consensual sex, based upon how he was raised.  But if he steps foot in California – and even if he doesn’t – and makes it big; anyone in the whole wide world can suddenly decide, twenty, twenty-five, thirty years from now, that he abused them.  How is he supposed to prove he didn’t?  Is he supposed to videotape in full every single second of every single encounter he has with every single person?

Say he plays at a concert and attracts a young woman who loves his playing (entirely possible; he is both good and good-looking), and they have a completely consensual, very pleasant after-show, complete with dinner, a few drinks, and a roll in the hay.  Both leave happy. Fast forward to the year 2038, after he’s a success, and there will be NOTHING stopping her from coming forward and contending that he date-raped her in 2016.

But by this time, all of the evidence will be lost: text messages, receipts, engagement calendars, plane tickets, etc, all of which, knitted together, would expose her lie, or at least cast doubt on her allegations – gone.  Yes, she would have to explain why she took so long to come forward, and my son’s attorney could make much of that, but only after my son has spent presumably large sums in defense of something that never even happened.  And, like I said, it wouldn’t matter if he’d never been to California or met this woman – how can he possibly establish either one?  He can’t.

While I cannot overstate my abhorrence at non-consensual sex in any form, beginning with cat calling, this is absolutely the wrong way to address it.  It requires anyone, especially a young man with a promising future, to consider anyone else a potential threat and adversary.  It certainly doesn’t empower women or do a damn thing to address the root causes of sexual abuse.  If anything, it contributes to them. Wow, that’s tragic.

P.S. I also have a daughter who has been taught how to protect herself ….

Crossing a Line

It is after closing time when the young woman gets into an Uber with her three friends.  They become lost in conversation in the back seat so she smiles at the driver and tells him she is drunk, and she is, but pleasantly so; quietly, almost thoughtfully (even if those thoughts are somewhat muddled). She is from Canada and tells about clearing customs where the lone agent, a man of advanced years, tells the same hoary joke to everyone as he carries out his duties; that he’s against marriage, whether it’s traditional or same-sex, but especially the latter because it’s the “same sex, over and over.”

I groan, politely, embarrassed for my not-that-much-older gender representative. “He crossed a line, didn’t he – telling me that joke?” she asks, and I agree; young women should not be exposed to off-color humor from a man old enough to be their grandfather (or anyone else they don’t want to hear it from).  But, I wonder, did she cross a line telling me he told that joke?

I certainly wasn’t offended, even though it called up images of her performing certain actions, repetitively.  Like so many things male/female, it’s hard to tell and harder to say.  She gave me a lovely smile at the end of the ride and thanked me for what she obviously did not realize was a privilege for me, having someone like her in my front seat.

It Can’t Be That Simple (and Isn’t)

Interesting article in the New York Post today, run under the headline In All Likelihood, You’re Ruining Sex For Your Lady and credited to Alison Maloney of The Sun.

According to the article, a new survey by the Sex Information and Education Council of Canada and Trojan condoms found that an after-sex cuddle boosts female satisfaction by 30%, but that 53% of the dudes “bolt” after they’re done.  The study’s author, Robin Milhausen, PhD, states that staying in bed with your partner is “the easiest way” to improve your relationship.

This makes a lot of sense, intuitively – a quick exit might well leave her feeling unloved, used, cheap, etc, and I completely understand that.  In fact, I loved to stay in bed to enjoy the physical and emotional after-glow and was surprised that leaving the bed – as opposed to falling asleep – was so common.

Which makes me ask why do they leave?  At least a small part of me, in keeping with everything else I’ve written here, wonders if the sex was as consensual as they would have wanted it – was it freely, enthusiastically, willingly, supplied, or was it a grudging if-you-have-to?  I would cuddle the provider of the former until the cows came home, but flee from the latter on almost any pretext.

While it is easy to measure how many guys leave the bed, it is harder to measure how many guys were enticed into staying.  But yes, he should stay (and stay awake).

Porn is for Losers, but ….

He usually wasn’t ashamed of resorting to pornography because he understood many, if not most, married men used it to satisfy themselves periodically, just like they sometimes grabbed a slice of pizza on the run instead of sitting down for a real meal. The pizza might even taste better, depending upon the circumstances; a full course dinner took time, was expensive, and required a partner of matching appetite to properly enjoy. And even a quick, clinical release was sometimes better than none at all, as any masseuse offering a happy ending could tell you. Many wives would be surprised at how frequently their husbands relieved themselves like this; he was pretty sure his would be among them. From what he had gathered, it also appeared that few of these wives would be willing to take on the additional responsibilities needed to make that unnecessary, which is why porn sites, strip bars and massage joints would always be around. – An Ordinary Man

Pamela Anderson recently came out against pornography, saying it was “a public hazard of unprecedented seriousness,” “for losers” and “a boring, wasteful and dead-end outlet for people too lazy to reap the ample rewards of healthy sexuality.” She was predictably hit with allegations of hypocrisy in view of her (limited) participation in the industry, but her point is valid.*

The paragraph above, from An Ordinary Man, reflects the views of Richard Wilson, who, feeling the press of sexual desire, picks porn over waking his sleeping wife, who has not been very enthusiastic of late.  As Anderson says, it is a loser’s move, but it takes two to tangle and Wilson, a man, is not going to forego his pleasure just because the consensual pleasure he would prefer is once again not available.

This, of course, leads to a potential dilemma that an article on about Anderson’s essay does not address: suppose Wilson’s wife were to extend an invitation to him, but only after he has already relieved the pressure by himself on the assumption she would not extend one, because, at least in his view, she does so so seldom?  Left with little choice but to demur, because he probably cannot perform anymore, she will now feel as unattractive as he has been feeling, and that part of their relationship will continue to deteriorate, to the detriment of the entire relationship.

The vicious cycle snowballs quickly.

*her essay, written with Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, appeared in the online edition of the Wall Street Journal on August 31, 2016.