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May 02, 2004

The Sublime


Iím going to be 50 in a month or so, and that may account for a little phenomenon that Iím about to describe, but then again it may not.

As Iíve aged, the urgency factor in my sex life has decreasedóno big surprise there. These days I feel that I use my sexuality; in my twenties, it pretty much used me. My lovely wife, on the other hand, who is either four or five years younger than I am depending on what month it is, seems to be enjoying a larger and more complex experience than ever. I feel like Iím playing a harmonica here, so to speak, while she seems to have moved up to a double orchestra. It sometimes feel like Iím navigating a very large, dark ocean in a very small, rickety boat.

Again, as I mentioned, age is the obvious explanation here. But thinking back to my younger days, Iím not so sure that the disparity between the masculine and feminine sexual experience wasnít always present. I just donít think I was prepared to acknowledge it when I was 25. Which is too bad, as the awe that I feel these daysóand I canít think of a better word for itóis a real and remarkable addition to the whole experience. Maybe the diminishing role of my ego is opening up a space for a certain amount of the sublime to enter in.

Live and learn, I guess.



posted by Friedrich at May 2, 2004


Well, there is an interesting physical phenomenon, in that with age the relative levels of testosterone/estrogen(or is it progesterone) reverse between men and women.

In other words, male levels of testosterone decrease with age, and although estrogen does not increase, it effectively does, because there is less male hormone to inhibit it. And vice versa.

Men become more "feminine", women more "masculine". I have heard said the female artists like O'Keefe peak in creativity later than males. That women would make better CEO's and other managers, because at 50 they have a more balanced mix of assertion and cooperation.

This is all very marginal, of course.

Posted by: bob mcmanus on May 2, 2004 1:41 PM

Dem broads is a race of supermen!!

Posted by: ricpic on May 2, 2004 4:18 PM

The grass is always greener ...

Posted by: Tim Hulsey on May 2, 2004 6:13 PM

I wonder: had we been Europeans, would we have grown up knowing all this? My impression, from my five minutes in France, was that they do. That there are widely-known and widely-acknowledged phases women go through, and men go through. I didn't bother observing the men much, but it seemed to me that the standard pattern for Frenchwomen was something like:

* unconscious Bardot-like acting-out phase. Probably involved making Mom really annoyed, sleeping with Dad's best friend, causing hell in a few families, and then setttling down with some guy with good prospects. This is all about teasing, being sullen and resentful and vain, and landing someone desirable.
* the chic-mom phase. Having landed somewhere OK, your function as a reproductive organism takes over. Looking good, running a household. Realizing yourself as a breeder and a mom.
* the waking-up-to-your-sexuality phase. The impregnate-me-now bloom of youth is past, and the kids are on their own feet. Phew! Now what? Well, a decade or two of looking good and feeling good remain. One is no longer the slave of one's biology; one is now in charge. Scarves, boots, younger men, afternoon assignations ...
* the fat-old-lady-with-cats phase. Overnight, you chage from being a worldly seductress to being a grand-mama. The hair goes up in a steel-gray bun, the figure spreads out low and wide. Gardening, cooking, writing your memoirs and passing along all the worldly wisdom in enigmatic, philosophical, short chapters.

Come to think of it, I wonder what the Euros, with all their worldly wisdom and cynicism, consider to be the typical phases of a guy's life. I do remember once reading that the Chinese call adolescent boys "sperm fountains," which sounds about right.

Anyway, I find that the phrase "but your enjoyment is my enjoyment" comes in handy these days ...

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on May 2, 2004 10:29 PM

Yes, I think the fun we can have with our silly little squirtguns pales compared to the oceans of pleasure they ply . . .

Oh well, at least we can take a leak standing up. Outside. One of the more amusing things in life.

Posted by: dude on May 2, 2004 10:55 PM

Come to think of it, I wonder what the Euros, with all their worldly wisdom and cynicism, consider to be the typical phases of a guy's life.

I don't know, but one suspects there's a cushy government pension in it somewhere.

Posted by: Tim Hulsey on May 2, 2004 10:58 PM

Does anyone know of a society which wholly approves of a non-maternal yet sexually active female life-agenda?

Recently, I got into a discussion with a young woman who was a bit shocked when I said that, in my opinion, women who do not wish to engage in reproduction in any form are -- to cut a long discussion short -- being unfeminine. I wasn't placing a value, plus or minus, on being feminine, but was instead trying to establish that being feminine and being maternal are very closely allied (this is, in my opionion, such a truism that it's a bit hard to even write it down). Of course nuns have existed as a phenomenon in a number of societies, but in a sense they earn their place in society by being nurturing towards the community around them, while suppressing their own sexuality.

I was surprised at my young friend's shock. Her view was that this idea is not well-received in feminist circles. I.e., for anyone to say that a woman MUST be a mother (or, at the very least, must demonstrate a desire to be maternal) in order to be considered properly female, is frowned upon by feminists.

I am puzzled now. Is the frowning only because it(the femininity/maternity link) is so obvious that no-one likes to admit to it? Would the French women described in recent posts in this discussion-thread be considered equally feminine and socially acceptable if they had deliberately avoided any connection with reproduction?

Posted by: aliental on May 3, 2004 5:50 AM

Since "feminine" is an entirely a social construct meant to emphasize particular aspects of being female, it means what you want it to mean.

You choose to emphasize the reproductive or maternal aspect. Many others choose to emphasize the female sexuality aspect. There are many other definitions. Since the argument would only be about the definition of the word, it seems a pointless debate.

Posted by: Tom West on May 3, 2004 6:24 AM

Watch it, guys, we're reading what you're saying here and filing it away for future reference...

Part of the answer, aside from physical changes that occur in mid-life to both sexes, is a mental attitude--no more fear of impregnation, being comfortable and relaxed, and feeling free.

On the physical end, who knows; nature has its reasons. Could diminishing sexual drive in the male perhaps have something to do with a natural selection process? Survival of the fittest?

Heh, heh, heh.

Posted by: susan on May 3, 2004 7:55 AM

"Maybe the diminishing role of my ego is opening up a space for a certain amount of the sublime to enter in."

I've tried and tried and tried my damndest to make myself read any of the great thinkers but it just won't happen, so my excuse is that I'm not old enough to immerse myself in their thought just yet. Ages and stages.

Posted by: Neha on May 3, 2004 8:20 AM

It's all about the blood. As a "yut", one's lower regions seemed to demand and then receive more blood than one thought was physically needed or possible. With age, regions above the shoulders finally started receiving their due supply. With more blood came more oxygen which, in turn, brought on more clarity (and abundance)of thought. The trick now is to spread out all those good thoughts into areas one's ever-loving spouse is thinking about these days. Perhaps standing on one's head will fool the mind?

Posted by: DarkoV on May 3, 2004 9:50 AM

Compare to this line of celebrity Russian stand-up comedian Zhvanetsky: "Have never been a woman. Interesting, what do they sense?" It landed on him around same age.
May be your wife's enjoyment you're describing is a direct result of this awe - and subsiquent 'attention to detail' on your part?
Just a thought.
Otherwise, keep talking, guys.

Posted by: Tatyana on May 3, 2004 11:39 AM

And why are we still deluding ourselves that women enjoy sexual encounters *at all*? They tolerate them for impregnating purposes only.Which is why women are infuriated and resentful of Viagra, Levitra, and Cialis.

Posted by: Sybarite on May 3, 2004 1:16 PM

So have you come across any good concerti for harmonica and orchastra? I'm looking for a soundtract for my waning years.

Posted by: LowLife on May 3, 2004 3:16 PM

Harmonicas are also known as "mouth organs" -- an interesting factoid in light of this discussion.

Posted by: Tim Hulsey on May 4, 2004 11:35 AM

..and if we're talking about harmonicas, who can forgot one of the premier white harp players, Mr. Magic Dick, of the J Geils Band (any Boston, MA folks remember him ?)

Posted by: DarkoV on May 4, 2004 12:29 PM

I married a woman seven years my senior. This post makes me think I've made a pretty smart move. Good times ahead!

Posted by: Nate on May 4, 2004 3:48 PM

It sometimes feels like Iím navigating a very large, dark ocean in a very small, rickety boat.

If that's what sex is like to you, then you have my condolences.

Posted by: fugio on May 8, 2004 1:16 PM

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