After drawing me a jasmine-scented bath and undressing me right down to my satin and lace La Perla lingerie, he lit 300 candles, surprised me with a simple antique emerald bracelet, and left me to unwind while he took the steamed lobsters out of their shells, put on Marvin Gaye, and sprinkled fresh rose petals over my silk sheets. Après bath he fed me pieces of lobster dipped in melted butter (he insists that I need to put on a few pounds), then carried me to bed, where we kissed for hours before getting down to the kind of soul-shattering sex generally reserved for people going off to war, those Cirque du Soleil acrobats, and Kim Cattrall.
Where did I lose you? Was it the endless kissing, the shelled lobster, or did you catch on much earlier—say, the wealth combined with humor, intellect, and looks? Okay, so here's what really happened last night: I came home, showered till I noticed the water was rust colored, threw on a Detroit Lions football jersey, tried mightily to get the super to come look at my rust-colored water, phoned a friend whose 3-year-old answered and found my request to put Mommy on the line and all subsequent requests to please just hang up absolutely hilarious, thumbed through a Newsweek from last October, paid my phone bill, ate half a cantaloupe, three slices of smoked turkey, and five green olives, worried that the smoked turkey was six days old, prepared to die a horrible death by smoked turkey, paid my Con Ed bill, got bored and hungry waiting for salmonella to overtake me, ate the other cantaloupe half, watched a little Nightline, and went to sleep.
If I'd wanted unbridled passion, it would have meant putting down the olive jar, arranging a direct payment plan for my utility bills, taping Nightline, and hitting the freedom trail. But surely there's some middle ground between transcendent, headboard-melting sex and no sex at all. Or, as my friend Karen asked when she finally noticed her 3-year-old banging the receiver against the coffee table and picked up the phone, "Is this all there is?" It's a question asked by young and old, single and married, rich and poor throughout history. No doubt Cleopatra/Martha Washington/Miss America looked up from their asp/state dinner/Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade and bemoaned the lack of quality sex in their lives. So here's what I'm thinking: Good sex is up to us. It's our great good fortune that we each have this amazing built-in capacity for genuine, death-defying pleasure—and we must take charge of it.
In a perfect world men would simply show up at your front door with emerald bracelets and rose petals; in this world they don't even show up when you call them because your shower is doing something weird. Rule no. 1 is this: If you want a lover, you need to leave your apartment. Now, the beauty of my plan is that you don't have to put on your highest heels and go hang out at a sports bar, a lumberyard, or wherever it is that large groups of men tend to congregate. All you have to do is remember the words of the late, great John Lennon: "Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans." My friend Ellen decided to take a walk one Saturday morning and ended up madly in love with someone who spent two hours helping her rescue a stray dog. She now has a great partner and a dachshund named Sherman. Form a book club, go skiing, take a wine appreciation course, a karate class, learn guitar, Italian, have dinner with friends. Join the world.
Next: It's time to take matters into your own hands
For the record, I'll take flannel sheets over silk any day of the week, rose petals make my eyes itchy, and I consider long baths incredibly tedious. I do, however, find sex—not the slick MTV kind but the exuberant, klutzy, tender, funny, fiery, mystical, adventurous, creative kind—endlessly fascinating. I'm not sure what love's got to do with it, but I believe "like" helps a lot and lust is essential. I don't have all the answers, but there are myriad pleasure activists out there who believe there's something to be said for just asking a few questions and showing up for the big dance. Good luck, and get busy.