Scary Old Sex

Scary Old Sex

I read with my phone.

Not on my phone, although I do a ton of poking and scrolling during the day.

But when I read a newspaper or a magazine or a book I’m constantly looking things up, I want a richer experience, I want to know who these people are.

Like the folk who write the Sunday “New York Times” Modern Love column. Are you addicted to that? I surely am. Truth is always stranger than fiction and life is about relationships and to view the world through another’s eyes, is both thrilling and informative.

The L.A “Times” is now imitating it. Truly, you can get along with the “New York Times” alone, I’m thinking about canceling the “Wall Street Journal,” forget the right wing politics, it used to be the definitive business paper, but since Murdoch bought it and turned it into a mainstream outlet it’s neither fish nor fowl, you can’t rely on the WSJ alone for hard news and it’s just not definitive and in-depth enough in business.

And the L.A. “Times,” which has come back from the brink a bit, it’s a bit longer than a pamphlet now, still struggles with second city disease. The paper is parochial, it called back the international and Washington, D.C. correspondents, and when you read Saturday’s L.A. Affairs column it sounds like people who didn’t go to college telling stories with no ending.

Oh, you didn’t go to college?

You don’t have to, there are numerous alternative ways to learn, especially in modern society, but most people don’t, they just park their ass in front of the television and soothe their brain cells, because life is complicated and overwhelming and we’re all looking for a little relaxation.

But who do we tell our hopes and dreams to, who do we ask about the meaning of life?

The baby boomers’ parents were especially tight-lipped. I got no sex education. Then again, studies show that most kids learn about sex via the internet today, at least in America, we’re a puritanical country, focused on the young, and when it comes to sagging skin and lumpy bodies everybody says “ewww” and moves right along.

Which means every baby boomer is on their own.

And, if you’re lucky, one day you too will be as old as the baby boomers, and it will probably be no different, you’ll be in the rearview mirror, noticing not only that your cheese has been stolen but you just don’t care that much about it.
So I’m reading the “New York Times” and I see a review of “Scary Old Sex.”

Here, you can play the home game, you can read what I read:

Review: In ‘Scary Old Sex,’ Arlene Heyman Mines the Details

Maybe the title intrigued me. But the review kept the flame alive, I wanted to check this book out, so I downloaded the sample chapter to my Kindle.

Oh, you’re still reading physical books, maybe listening to vinyl records too, I pity you. You really don’t want the history of literature at your fingertips? You’d really rather lug around a slew of heavy books on vacation? I know, it roots you to the past, it makes you feel better. Why is everybody in America so worried about their image? And why does everybody believe if they march forward they’re going to leave an irretrievable piece of their past behind.

The future is happening, they’re making new minutes every day.

And eventually time runs out.

And today no one’s got any time.

So, it’s easy to check out a book at home. I certainly wasn’t going to pay for “Scary Old Sex” sight unseen. That paradigm is history. People are afraid of disappointment, bait and switch, they want to be able to touch and experience before they lay their money down.

And the truth is I did not want to read the sample chapter of “Scary Old Sex” at that time, I wanted to watch “House of Cards.” But Felice was taking a nap and I’d just finished Ethan Canin’s “A Doubter’s Almanac“…

I don’t recommend it. Canin is so busy including words you don’t know, that aren’t even in the dictionary, there are multiple instances on every page, that it gets in the way of the plot, which is about an award-winning mathematician and his mathematician son. I loved that part, but there was so much math it’s a nonstarter for most people. But reading it I felt… Separate. You know how you surf the web and come to believe we’re all swimming in the same pool, circling the same drain, that everybody knows everything about everybody else?

Well, in truth it’s not like that. We’re all private people doing things most people don’t care about, unless we break the law. It was refreshing to read “A Doubter’s Almanac,” about an academic, living a life far different from my own, having life experiences equivalent to mine, that no one is interested in.

That’s life, a continuum of small moments.

But back to “Scary Old Sex.”

That’s what the first chapter, in fact a story, it’s a book of short stories, was all about. Not scary as in unwanted or untoward, but as in how do you meld your youthful desires with your aged body and persona? What happens when you’ve had enough life experiences that you don’t dream it gets better than this, but that this is all you’ve got.

And the truth is old people still want oral sex. And they’re still concerned with who’s on top and who comes first. And I’ll admit I got a bit squeamish reading, but I also couldn’t stop, I felt the writer was tapping into a reality I knew but could find nowhere in art.

And that’s when I went to my phone. I was intrigued by the author, Arlene Heyman. She’d trained as a writer, went to Bennington and gotten her MFA at Syracuse, but she’d chucked it and gone to medical school, she became a psychiatrist.

What kind of person does this?

A Jewish one.

I know, because I’m a member of the tribe. Our parents want us to achieve, our parents want us to be able to not only pay our own bills but provide for others. They don’t want us to wander into the wilderness on a whim, following our muse.

So I was intrigued, I wanted to know more about Ms. Feynman. Now in her sixties, she’d deprived us of her insightful work, had forgone an artistic career, in search of safety and comfort. Not that the world doesn’t need psychiatrists, I’m sure her patients benefited, but you can’t get this kind of insight and identification elsewhere. She’s one of a kind in the art world.

So I’m telling you to buy this book. Especially if you’re over sixty. Because you’ve got the wisdom and experience to understand it. The first spouse is never like the second, Feynman nails this. It’s not that you dislike the second, or are settling, it’s just DIFFERENT! You’re more understanding, more accepting and forgiving, and you don’t have the fantasy that your life will work out, that you’re entitled to be with Mr. or Ms. Right, you know it’s not a perfect match.

But you soldier on.

The people in “Scary Old Sex” soldier on. Even when their spouses die, even when they hit career roadblocks, even when they just can’t make it right. That’s what life’s about, perseverance, hanging in there long enough for not only good times, but wisdom.

So download a sample chapter to the device of your choice. I actually know people who read books on their phones, especially the new giant ones. It’s FREE! You’ll know soon enough whether “Scary Old Sex” is your cup of tea or not.

And if it is…

You can go to Barnes & Noble or the indie store of your choice and hope it’s in stock, how antiquated. Or you can even order a physical copy from Amazon, and if you’re a Prime member get it in two days.

Or you can have the book downloaded to your reading device of choice instantly.

That’s one of the benefits of the new economy.

So on one hand I’m telling you to get with it.

On the other I’m burdened by everything that happened to me in the past, the broken relationships, my upbringing, my losses and victories. I thought it would all make sense, I now know that it won’t. Everything so important to me will become meaningless soon, I told a twentysomething that our mutual friend Peter Benedek’s wife Barbara had written the “Big Chill”…

He’d never heard of the movie.

An iconic boomer flick if there ever was one, who can forget the intro with the Stones’ “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.”

Nobody who saw it.

And that’s the essence of life, you don’t forget.

Then again, one of the characters in “Scary Old Sex” can’t get over the fact her husband cannot remember sex with his second wife, which he said was so good. As for his first… That was a disaster, which lasted twenty years, why did he match up with someone so inappropriate, was it because he was afraid of women?

I’m afraid of women.

I’ll leave it there.

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