Monday, May 9, 2011

Mustard After Dinner

"I, who am on my way out, would readily resign to anyone who came along what wisdom I am learning for dealing with the world. Mustard after dinner - I have no use for a good thing of which I can make no use. . . . It is an insult and unkindness of fortune to offer us presents which fill us with a just resentment that they failed us in their season."
           - Michel de Montaigne, Essays (Book III, Essay 10, "Of husbanding your will")

Age brings in its wake benefits exceedingly dubious. To your face people call you "senior" and offer you "senior" discounts, while behind your back you are simply another old fart. Younger people are described as "fit," "athletic," or "buff"; older people are merely "active," like yeast or fungus, or (worse yet) "spry." And upon turning 50, there are the sudden attentions of the AARP, the American Association of Retired Persons. Ready or not, retired or dead, you begin to receive publications, notices and advertisements from an organization whose solicitations, a month earlier, you would have hotly regarded as an insult. 

But imagine my horrified surprise ("I, who am on my way out . . .") to find, in the latest screed from AARP, a full-page ad with the banner line "Sex. It's Never Too Late To Learn Something New." This page flogs a 50 percent discount on "4 Better Sex Videos" plus three free videos entitled "The Art of Oral Loving," "The Art of Sex Positions," and "The Art of Orgasm" (which latter promises "secrets for intensifying 'the Big O'!"). (Oh, please.)

 "You didn't even take off your turban"

I say horrified surprise because . . . well, for any number of reasons. First of all, this appears in what I had taken to be a staid and age-appropriate publication, never previously having troubled myself to thumb its graphically perky but otherwise dreary pages. I mean, thought I to myself, this is like learning that my grandfather might have used Viagra, had there been such a remedy when he most had need of it. 

Before Viagra

It seemed unbecoming to find such explicit rubbish in pages I had supposed devoted to "senior" issues like how to choose a Medicare plan or how the latest Congressional shenanigans will hasten the End Time.

But fundamentally I found it horrifying because I thought that sex was what I had been doing for nearly five of my alotted decades. I've been around that block often enough; I'm familiar with the Grand Tour, so to speak. I've pretty much done it all - the instinctive and puzzlingly-named Missionary and the Missionary-cum-Pony variation, Roy Rogers and Dale Evans . . . 

. . . the Seal and the Nun, the Walrus and the Carpenter, the Priest and the Bicycle, the Lotus and Bamboo Shoot, Little Red Riding Hood . . .

- you name it (thought I), I've probably done it. Or haven't I? Maybe what I've been doing wasn't sex?  No, I realized, what they're selling here is better sex. It's technique. They think to change the rules of engagement, which as everyone knows is a) the Approach With Bribe,

"I brought you a little. . . ummmm . . ."

. . . b) Getting Her To Your Place . . .

. . . c) Getting Her Settled . . .

 "I won't be a minute, just checking e-mails . . . "

. . .  d) and the Engagement, or more vulgarly, the Business:

Four simple steps. How much could all this have evolved? And why offer all this new information now, as though to rub my enfeebled nose in it? Why weren't these lessons included in My Weekly Reader when I was only eight and might have profited by them sooner and for longer?

 "Sure, I've got a firehose, kid."

But on calmer reflection, I realized that these things are as much a matter of Nature as they are of Art. "The laws of Nature teach us what we rightly need," my alter ego reminds us. From time immemorial, on any other Grand Tour, things have remained pretty much the same - whether it's the Vuelta a Espagna, the Giro d'Italia or the Tour de France, a man rides a bicycle pretty much as he has always done.

Uh-oh - what the hell is this?!!

1 comment:

  1. Followed your comment on my blog ( back to its source...
    It seems that AARP ad hit a raw nerve (or funny bone) in more than one of its readers.
    Enjoyed this post and the illustrations.
    My husband is Indian. We actually have the first illustration in your post, painted on a piece of ivory (or something pretending to be.) I have it hidden away for fear of the wrong audience coming across it.