(3 of 3)
It was becoming clear that the way to spice up my marriage wasn't by bringing in more people but by listening to Cassandra, given that my attitude toward sex is about as subtle as my attitude toward writing, only without bothering with that introductory-paragraph part. So I signed up for a seminar at Toys in Babeland, a sex shop run by lesbians in Manhattan. Thirty other men in their 20s and 30s showed up for "Sex Tips for Straight Men." It turned out lesbians know a lot about how to have sex with a woman. They suggested conning your partner into doing things by making a dinner date to talk about your sex life, or, if that is too difficult, earmarking a dirty story with a plot you want to try and leaving it on her bed stand. This all sounded reasonable until I realized that the instructors were holding a giant vagina hand puppet and standing next to a giant sign that said HOW TO PICK YOUR HARNESS!
Basically, I learned that women think of sex as some strange form of relaxation therapy instead of as the rigorous sport it's meant to be. Also, I learned that there's nothing in the world funnier than 30 guys licking their palms to see what it feels like.
To learn more about Cassandra, I had to find out what women say about sex when they're alone. To do that, I sat quietly in the back of a Bronx, N.Y., apartment, shopping for sex toys with 30 young women, many of whom were drunk elementary school teachers. In a 21st century twist on Tupperware parties, women invite their friends to buy X-rated products at home events. Passion Parties is a 10-year-old company with $20 million in sales whose slogan is Where Every Day Is Valentine's Day. Every day also seems to require a package of AA batteries that would make Costco blush. I quickly learned some very unspicing lessons, like that women hate to give oral sex and aren't all that fond of men in general, which is ironic, since they like absolutely anything vaguely shaped like a man's genitals. There was a lot of giggling and passing stuff around. I never got tired of tapping the woman in front of me with a vibrator. Eager to continue tapping, I checked out Passion's competitor, Temptations Parties, where company founder and November 1982 Playmate Marlene Janssen taught a dozen women in a Manhattan apartment how to test vibrators on the tips of their noses. Apparently, if it makes you sneeze, you won't be able to tolerate it. Although that information was surprising, the most shocking revelation was that it takes a group of women 45 minutes before someone starts using a sex toy as a fake microphone.
Through all of this, I learned that our society has a long way to go before it will be able to confront sexuality seriously, and that I have a lot further to go than that. The entire, Redbooky marriage-spicing industry is skewed to make couples feel better about their lame sex lives. Sure, it's hard to tell your spouse what you really want--especially because for many women it seems to be eight hours of bathtub back massage as foreplay--but honesty is better than getting to the point where you have to watch that Advanced Sexual Techniques tape. We'd all be a lot better off if my mom just told people that. Especially me.