I feel like Ken Kesey’s Nurse Ratched each time I say it, but my dog Buddy is much easier to live with since his operation, the one that makes men cross their legs in painful commiseration. He’s still ninety pounds of rough-and-tumble Australian Shepherd, but the primordial drive to become Alpha Mutt has subsided along with his testosterone level. More mellow now, firmly in touch with his feminine side, he’s discovered a universal truth women know instinctively and men seldom concede:
Life is simpler without sex.
That’s the good news. The bad news: well, no sex.
But you’re alone again, at least until the next Mr. or Ms. Wonderful comes along. Till then, I suppose, the thing to do is figure out what it was that sex with a partner provided you and see if you can create the same fireworks by yourself. Or a reasonable facsimile thereof. Or if you miss the pyrotechnics at all.
For sex, satisfactory or otherwise, has been deemed indispensable to human happiness since long before Freud ordained it a prime requisite of psychological health, which is why many therapists consider those who eschew it to be slightly off plumb.
What she misses most about being in a relationship isn’t the sex, claims Alexis Padfield, sixty-one. “It’s having a ‘buddy?and the boyishness men never seem to lose. I miss having a pal to inspire me when I can’t get myself up for that morning jog, lifting weights, or whatever’s better done or more fun with a partner. I miss the spontaneous, available companion who’s ready to run off to a movie at a moment’s notice or haul out the kayak because the water looks great. I miss the teasing, the pranks, the male energy, and boyish humor.?
Yet, it’s been so long since she’s had sex, she reveals, “I wonder if I’ll ever feel passionately alive with sexual excitement again, whether I’ll cross over that tremulous line into delirious desire once more. But the drive isn’t nearly as demanding as it was when I was in my forties, therefore self-gratification has been fine.?
A vibrator, Holly Hunter remarked in the movie Copycat, has become modern woman’s “tool of survival.?
“I still like to be with men,?maintains Margaret Russo. But she makes it clear in exactly what ways: “I like one next to me in a movie. Or across from me shadow fight 2 hack at dinner. Or on a hike. I’d adore it if a man asked me to go ballroom dancing. But I don’t miss having one in my bed.?
She considers herself lucky to have a “stable?of good male friends for the occasional “man fix,?adds Russo, sixty-six, but stresses again that she calls on them only for companionship. “When I’ve had a nice lunch or an enjoyable evening with a man, I feel renewed, spurred on, more alive. That’s all I’m looking for. I haven’t had a sexual interest in anyone for so long that I don’t think I’d be bowled over again, not to the extent where I’d forfeit the joy I’ve found in being alone. Not to say the old machine isn’t as lively as when I was a teenager,?Russo points out.
“But it would take all the skills of a very unusual man to get me to share my body with him. I’m smart enough to realize that hooking up again would lead me back to dishpan hands, back to snoring, farting, and bad breath in bed. Not only would I be taking him on but his kids and grandkids.
“I’d be back to fretting over why he didn’t mow the lawn, back to waiting an eternity for him to do something I could have done in five minutes. Worse, there would be my own resentful, deliberate tardiness in getting things done to his liking, to his satisfaction, to his specifications, and so forth and so on, ad marital nauseam.?
“I’m also aware that most men—poor fools!—would prefer someone much younger than me,?she continues. “By the same token, I don’t intend ever again to be with anyone older. And if I did attract a man younger than shadow fight 2 cheats myself, kill shot bravo hack ios I’d suspect he was more interested in my purse than my physical charms.?
“Yet I have women friends, some approaching my age, who openly admit to wanting a man to come along and sweep them off their feet, to pay the bills. One of them is still placing and answering personals ads toward this self-delusional end.?
So she’s put her Joy of Sex books high on a shelf, says Russo. She’s thrown her How to Please Men books in the garbage, and goes guiltless through her days, indulging herself in ways that have everything to do with sensuality and nothing to do with sex.
Married when she was nineteen and pregnant six weeks later, Russo was the mother of two sons and two daughters before she turned twenty-seven, had a hysterectomy when she was thirty-seven, and was divorced two years later. She is nurtured now, she says, by the twenty-one people she calls “family,?including her eleven grandchildren and the ex-wives of her two divorced sons.
“My physical tensions can be relieved by bringing my trusty vibrator to bed,?Russo readily admits. Or finding a good jet in the hot tub.
“But it isn’t something I think much about anymore. I’ve replaced my sexual joy with the purely sensuous pleasures of working in my garden, wearing as little as the law allows so I can feel the sun on my skin.
“I inhale the scent of lavender and santolina, stir to the touch of branches and leaves caressing the insides of my arms and elbows, finding erogenous zones no man ever discovered.
“I drink quarts of water as I grow thirsty, feel my hair curl in the humid air, not caring whether twigs or mud perch within. I revel in the squish of mud between my toes as I work the soil barefooted, feel my muscles loosen, my skin grow hot and flushed and languid.
“My garden is my empty canvas, my yoga mat, my suntan booth, my weight room, and my marathon route. It’s my soul restorer, my mud bath, my lover. In its earthy embrace, I plan my life—deciding what to pursue, what to ignore. It tests my memory, hones my fitness, enhances my endurance, strengthens my resolve.
“In my garden, I feel the sun on my face and lift my head to the sky in gratitude for the abundance of my life.?