When my friend Ronnie was moving out of her apartment, not only did her boyfriend help her pack, but he arranged to get the rugs cleaned without being asked, and texted her: carpet guys coming Friday 9 a.m.
“Whoa!” I thought and nearly spit out my fried rice when she told me. “That’s not normal male behavior. Is he terminally ill or something?”
“Nope,” she said and chomped on her sushi. “Healthy as a horse.”
Arranged to get the carpets cleaned! That is so sexy. My buddy Bernadette puts it more succinctly when she shares pretend conversations with husbands or boyfriends: “Hey pal, don’t play with my nipples,” she’ll say. “How ‘bout you warm up my car on a February morning? Huh? You wanna get laid? Try being nice.”
Also, please fix things. It really is that simple. Just be nice to us, and fix stuff, and we’re more likely to want to have sex with you. When I gave this simple formula to Cowboy Bob nine years into our relationship, he furrowed his brow like a Cro-Magnon man.
“Be nice?” he said, looking confused, and then: “You wanna feel my biceps?”
“No, I don’t want to feel your biceps. Nice means doing things without complaining or without a big flourish or without being asked.”
“Sounds hard,” he said and dragged his knuckles downstairs to watch war movies.
I’ve known Clara for decades and she still smokes and somehow makes it look cool. When we’d waste time in man conversation she’d say stuff like: “He complains all day and scratches his balls in front of the TV all night. Then he crawls into bed lookin’ to get laid and acts all put out because there’s no porn sex waiting in the marital bed. For the love of God what is wrong with them?”
Ah, the unanswered question. It gets worse as you get older. Sex just seems, well, kind of stupid from time to time, and your hormones stop working and you grow fat and hairy (women, that is). Guys start panicking because Mr. Happy goes on vacation from time to time. An older friend recounted a conversation with her BFF of 40 years who called her up and said: “I gotta ask you something. Is David’s penis broken yet?”
“Just about,” my friend said with a sigh. “We got some last gasps going on.”
I read these articles about people in nursing homes wanting privacy to have sex and how old people stay sexually active into their 70s and 80s, and I’m sorry, but that’s just plain gross. Have you looked at your old ass in the mirror lately? When Bob and I hit a turning point a few years ago, he made me watch this AARP video of old people getting laid. It was horrible, and sort of gave me nightmares worse than any remake of The Exorcist. When feminism busted things up in the ‘60s women felt empowered but realized shortly that it only meant that we still had to work twice as hard for half the pay, go home, and do all the house work, and still be expected to act sexy at night. Before feminism women stayed home and did housework and at least got to pop Valium. Post-feminism we get to work full-time, raise the kids, and then act sexy when the guy gets horizontal. Mostly, I think, feminism has just made us more tired. Things change. Of course you have sex like rabbits at first, and things are all aglow, but then someone has to put out the recycling and the car needs an oil change. It’s not that men are lazy. It’s just that they’re unaware, generally, of everything that needs to happen to make life run smoothly. They are often lost in their fantasies of great food and naked women and can’t tell when the trash needs to go out.
As you age, in addition to butt sag and body hair, you forget everything and men — who don’t listen attentively in their 20s — seem to really go into the zone in their 50s and beyond.
“So, you work today, right?” Bob will ask on some random day when I’ve never worked. It’s like he’s trying to stay active and involved, but the neurons aren’t there. So to weave random acts of niceness into his behavior at this point is probably wasted effort. I beseech the younger women, then, to stop “hinting” at stuff and be really direct while you still can make eye contact with your man without him falling asleep. Remember how Helen Keller used to “talk” by sort of slapping words into her teacher’s hand? Try that occasionally, because I think speaking alone often isn’t enough. Whatever you do, ignore the advice of marriage counselors. They’ll tell you to try and “communicate” openly and lovingly. That’s about the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. Write a sign that says: PLEASE DO THE DISHES AND THEN YOU WILL GET LAID. This makes much more sense than “I feel” statements and “loving paraphrase.”
I guess this whole being nice thing can apply to both genders, right? What’s hotter than folded laundry or a full tank of gas? What if I made that odious phone call to the insurance company without complaint? Better than big boobs. And you want to really turn your partner on using your mouth? Say: “thanks for doing that.” Nothing, NOTHING, is sexier than gratitude. Hmmm. Kindness as foreplay. Who woulda thunk it?