LotteryticketBack to the mailbag.

Uh, Artie,

As a newly single twenty-something, I had my first rite-of-passage blind date experience last night. We were set up by mutual friends, met for drinks and dinner, and proceeded to bludgeon our way through forced conversation for about 45 minutes. After recognizing that we couldn’t possibly be more ill-fit (he’s voting for McCain after all), we wound up splitting the check and laughing off our failed attempt to find a soulmate via matchmaking.

He walked me to my car, and just as I was about to thank him for being so honest, he said, "Well, we don’t have to make the night a total loss. Would you like to come back to my house and have sex?"

How’s that for honesty?

My question is this, Artie: When did sex become a recreational sport among my generation? Am I missing something?!? I thought physical intimacy was reserved for only the people we fall in love with, and even then, only the people who can take dear care of our hearts and bodies? I was in a relationship for almost four years, so I know I’m out of the loop, but come on! Is there another Eyes Wide Shut movie out that I am unaware of? Geez. So much for romance.

"Democrat With Standards"

Dear "DWS,"

I’ve been wondering. Is there a blogger out there who closes every post with this humble proposition: "So that my blog isn’t a complete loss, would you like to come to my house and have sex?"

Or a grocery clerk, saying, "Hey, sorry the avocados aren’t ripe. Perhaps we can go to your car and have sex?"

"Perhaps we might have sex." is the new "Have a nice day." ("Have a good one!" takes on a whole new meaning.)

You Don’t Ask, You Don’t Get
I know there are issues with cheap sex (immoralty, disease control, unwanted pregnancy), but — I must admit — I appreciate the chutzpah of those who can ask the question with a straight face.

I can remember — back when I was in the market for premarital sex (cheap or otherwise) — how I feared raising the question even after several evenings of mutual deep sharing and the heartfelt laughter of true soulmates.

I was afraid of being rudely presumptuous. I preferred to wait for the question to be asked of me — and that hesitation, as you might well expect, considerably reduced my RBIs.

So, when I hear of someone popping the question outlandishly, I’m somewhat struck with admiration.

But This Is About You.
And you asked, "When did sex become a recreational sport?"

Sex has always been recreational. That’s an English major’s perspective.

When we think of "recreational," we think of "re-creational." As in: a renewed act of creation.

Popular media want us to think of sex as naughty, naughty, but making humans is surely a central purpose.

So, your Republican blind date offered you — a Democrat, no less — an impersonal re-enactment of the act of creation. Sex is Creation. (A teacher of mine says sex is the sound of God laughing, because He’s really into creation.)

In other words, your Republican was offering you the home version of Big Bang, in the form of a bi-partisan reach across the aisle.

But you didn’t come here for theology. (And I have a reader who is already, by now, typing a note to me to please quit writing about such issues.)

So what about this…

What Are The Odds You Might Have Said, "Uh, OK, sure. Let’s go!"
After all, you might have said, "Uh, OK, sure. Let’s go!"

And, if you had, you would have found yourself in bed with a Republican, engaged in the act of potentially creating an Independent voter or some third party supporter.

Instead, you went home and wrote me a letter. I’m glad, I guess, to play my part in the role of your temporary celibacy.

But what were the odds — from his point of view — of any female Democrat replying, "Uh, OK, sure. Let’s go!"? I mean, he must think himself reasonably handsome. And the wine at dinner might had led the female Democrat to a certain thoughtless playfulness. And perhaps the female Democrat might have a momentary, sudden, strong carnal yearning.

And perhaps the female Democrat might want to try swaying his politics in bed.

He was playing some long odds. But you might have said, "Uh, OK, sure. Let’s go!"

Remember: we live in a world that is so ill educated that millions of Ohioans buy lottery tickets.

What are the odds? One in a million? Probably better than that. One in a hundred? I think better than that. Maybe one in 25 Democrat women would say, "Oh, OK, sure. Let’s go!"

Since one third of American married people cheat on their spouses, I have to think that at least one in five unmarrieds would substitute casual, meaningless sex for an awkward kiss on the cheek after a failed blind date. (This still places your integrity in the top quintile.)

So, if it is one-in-five, he’s bound to hit the spot in any month of Saturdays nights. And, frankly, what did he have to lose? You could have slapped him. But I bet you just laughed. And off he went, searching for a romantic Republican.

But This Isn’t About Him. It’s About You.
Isn’t the real question: "Dang. If I choose the high road, will I live to regret it? Will I ever be sorry that I didn’t accept a few quick romps?"

I know that — in my experience, or lack thereof — I can think of several opportunities that I should have embraced. Of course, those embraces might have created complexities — intra-office challenges, potential disease or unwanted pregnancy — and I’m glad I missed those.

But do know of happy, well adjusted people who lived through their early adult years in a perpetual extracurricular orgy. And I admit to a little lingering envy.

For Issues Of Intimacy, We Turn To Experts.
Coming to me was apparently a wrong turn.

I’d turn to Warren Buffett, the Oracle of Omaha, the greatest investor in the history of the world.

This week, Mr. Buffett said that he likes to have cash on hand so that he can, oh, put $5 billion into Goldman Sachs when he wants to. "But holding cash," he said, "is like saving sex for old age."

No sense in that.

So, In The End, I Firmly Believe In The Following Two Answers.
I hope you can handle inconsistency. Here comes some:

  1. As a parent of a daughter, I’d say, "You were right. Loose sex is trouble. Walk away. There is no such thing as a once in a lifetime opportunity."
  2. As a middle-aged long-married fellow, I’d say, "Go for it. Use protection from disease and pregnancy. But go ahead. Find out if the Republican parties."

Frankly, as I read those two answers, I don’t like the second one. It’s clearly the stupider one.

But Wait. Here’s A Third Answer.
Trust your radar. If you think (or feel) you should walk away from a proposition, walk away.

I think you said it best, 30 paragraphs ago: 

"I thought physical intimacy was reserved for only the people we fall in love
with, and even then, only the people who can take dear care of our
hearts and bodies?"

Beautifully written. (And it might work if you whisper it to an English major.)

Otherwise, if you live by the "dear care" philosophy, the worst you might suffer is wondering — in middle age — what a few foregone opportunities might have produced.

As I Wander Into The High Holy Days
Though this comes from my tradition’s prayerbook, here are some universal values. They are put in the form of asking forgiveness:

…For our failures of love…we ask forgiveness:
For confusing love with lust
and for pursuing fleeting pleasure at the cost of lasting hurt.
For using others as a means to gratify our desires,
and as stepping-stones to further our ambitions.
For withholding love to control those we claim to love,
and shunting aside those whose youth or age disturbs us.
For hiding from others behind an armor of mistrust,
and for the cynicism which leads us to mistrust the reality of unselfish love.

Imagine. We read this aloud in a large community. It stirs the imagination.

And I don’t think anyone has the chutzpah to say, "No sense in Rosh Hashanah services being a complete waste. Want to let my spread my lox on your bagels?"