Impolite Conversations

Gene Twaronite's The Absurd LifeIt seems that whenever we set out on a family visit, my wife takes me aside and reminds me about not discussing certain topics. “What good does it do?” she’ll say. “You can’t change people’s opinions. You’ll just get all hot under the collar. Just relax and be sociable.”

“So what should I talk about?”

“You know! No politics, religion, environment or health stuff.”

“Can I at least talk about philosophy or economics?”

“Hell no. You start talking about the meaning of life and the nature of good and evil, and people get uncomfortable. And you know where any talk about economics will lead. It’s capitalism versus socialism, the 1% and the 99%. You want to start a war?”

The only things left are sports and TV, and even those can lead to trouble. “What’s with their left baseman? He’s got dreads down to his knees. And their catcher’s wearing a prayer shawl and a yarmulke. What are you, some kind of bigot? Speaking of bigots, did you see the Donald last night? Man, what a buffoon! Hey, don’t knock Donald. He makes a lot of sense. I don’t see you making billions of dollars.”

You can always talk about the weather. “Say, wasn’t that some storm last night? My house is underwater, and they say all of Florida will be soon. Well, at least it put out the wildfires. Do you think all these things have anything to do with …? Don’t say it! Say what? You were going to bring up climate change, weren’t you? Actually, I was going to say that it might signal the apocalypse, as revealed in Revelations.”

Maybe I’m being nostalgic, but wasn’t there a time when we could simply talk about things without risking the total meltdown of civilization? Today, there is no real desire to listen and consider anyone’s opinion but one’s own. We launch our talking points like missiles, hoping to score points. “Oh, that was a good one. She got you there.” Instead of trying to digest what people say, we’re too busy thinking about our next clever retort. We ask questions only to embarrass or put off guard anyone who dares to challenge our cherished beliefs. We push our opponents’ buttons and laugh as they get flustered.

Have to admit, I’m not always a polite conversationalist. I grow impatient with small talk. I want to suck the marrow out of you, to know what it is you think and feel down to your bones. As far as I’m concerned, the only topics worth talking about are those which inspire, ignite, or anger us, which may explain why I don’t receive a lot of dinner invitations.

I miss some of the family dinner discussions we had growing up. Not that they were always civil. I do recall a lot of yelling, but no hitting, biting, or scratching. There would be something in the news about some politician, labor strike, or cultural fad, and we were off. The conversation might veer toward diets, as for instance the time my younger sister became a vegetarian. I remember pummeling her with questions. “What’s the matter with meat? Eating meat is natural. What are those canines for, if not to tear flesh? You have to kill something. How is killing a carrot more ethical than killing a cow?” There was much laughter around the dinner table, at my poor sister’s expense. As I look back on it, though, beneath the sarcastic veneer, there was a desire to know and understand her reasons. She must have got through to me. It was not long before I, too, became a vegetarian.

Our family was fortunate to have an official discussion referee. Whenever things got too hot in the dining room, my mother, holding a plate of steaming pot roast, would enter and give us all that look. In a grim voice, she would say, “Nutilk!”—the Lithuanian word for “shut up.” Then she would smile and tell us to eat.

In her quiet, no nonsense way, my mother was telling us that we were still a family and to put away our differences. For her, la famiglia always came first. She saw the dangers of a divided house. Our country is not a family, of course, but as citizens we do, or should, all share a common allegiance to our nation—a nation of many voices, voices that have become increasingly shrill and unyielding. There comes a time when we need to stop shouting at each other and listen for a change. Sit down and break bread. Raise a glass of wine as you toast your differences. And remember to laugh. In the immortal words of both Lincoln and Jesus, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”

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Sex Toys After 50

DSCN0535The cover headline said it all: “Best. Sex. Ever!” You might think it was an issue of Cosmo, but this was the latest AARP The Magazine. Though confused by the punctuation, I was hooked, especially by the subtitle: “Even in Your 70s—We Show You How.”

Excitedly flipping to page 56, however, I found no steamy pictures of attractive people enjoying sex or detailed instructions on exotic sexual positions. Instead, I found a frank discussion of popular questions by AARP “sexpert” Dr. Pepper Schwartz “about how to stay frisky after 50.” I did find the tip on sex toys mildly interesting, which noted that the Rabbit, the Revel Body Sonic Vibrator, and the We-Wibe “are all said to satisfy consistently.”

Well, I’m no “sexpert,” but I do consider myself a frisky kind of guy. After diligent, trial-and-error experimentation over the years, my equally frisky wife and I have found a few sexual toys of our own. You might want to give these a try.

As far as we’re concerned, forget the rabbit. For hours and hours of amusement, nothing beats a little rubber ducky in the bedroom. I’m not talking about those fancy battery-powered models—the kind that swim around in your tub and quack back at you—just a plain old yellow ducky that squeaks when you squeeze it. (This last part is particularly important. It’s amazing what a little squeak can do for your orgasms.) Just imagine all the pleasures you can bring to your partner with the loving application of a little ducky. For added enjoyment, try lubricating your ducky, or have it whisper naughty little things in your partner’s ear.

Still have that old Slinky toy lying around? Remember how it could magically move down a flight of stairs, end-over-end, and you’d run back up and let it go again all afternoon, never tiring of it? (OK, some of us are easily amused.) Well, forget the stairs. That same old Slinky can also perform tricks in the bedroom. Let it run down the gentle incline of your partner’s spine, seductively stretching and reshaping itself. You never know quite where it’ll end up.

Maybe you grew up playing with plastic dinosaurs. Maybe you still do. Well, why not bring those models into the bedroom for some Mesozoic love play? Use your little dinos as surrogate lovers to act out your most primitive fantasies. Just imagine the squeals of delight as your Tyrannosaurus gently nibbles your partner’s neck.

Maybe you played with dolls instead. Take it from us. That old Barbie and G.I. Joe can do wonders for your sex life. (Though boys usually preferred the G.I. Joe, I suspect many would have preferred the Barbie, if given a chance. How else is a boy to learn about the female anatomy? Then again, you really can’t learn much about a real female body from a Barbie.) If you tend to be shy, repressed, or lacking in imagination, dolls can be especially useful. Have Barbie and the little soldier act out new scenes and positions. Dress Barbie in a leather bra and panties and give her a whip. Have G.I. Joe, wearing his usual camouflage undies, try to fend her off, with flowers or maybe a bazooka. If you’re into kinky, dress G.I. Joe in a short pink miniskirt and Barbie as Spiderman. The possibilities are endless.

While I can’t guarantee these toys will satisfy everyone, they might help you loosen up a bit. They might even bring a little laughter to the bedroom, which is not a bad thing. Best of all, you don’t have to visit a sex shop to buy them. You probably have a few in your closet or basement. Or steal them from your kids. They shouldn’t be playing with sex toys anyway.

You can read AARP article by Dr. Pepper Schwartz here: http://www.aarp.org/home-family/sex-intimacy/info-2015/sex-questions-libido-stds-schwartz.html