Things have been crazy in the world. It is not just the Trump fans who deny that Covid-19 exists (“I mean, it’s like chicken pox!”), the shortage of Chunky Monkey ice cream, the paucity of paper towels that are actually made of paper, the anti-vaxxers, the optimistic belief that Sweden’s death-defying-do-nothing Covid strategy has turned everything around (Don’t believe everything you read), and the eternal Covid question,”Is this the end of sex?”
I do want to address the sex question. Because from my point of view, it is hilarious.
Take Carrie Fisher, one of my favorite actors and the author of a very good neglected novel, The Best Awful. In the HBO documentary of her comedy act, “Wishful Drinking”(2010), she remarks that Star Wars ruined her life. At 55, Carrie was no longer a babe. People complained she was no longer hot. She did not resemble her 22-year-old self playing Princess Leia in the metal “slave” bikini. And yet, because George Lucas owned her image, there are innumerable Princess Leia posters, dolls, and action figures. She was constantly confronted with the aging question. She says (this is not an exact quote, but probably close): “I admit, I go to comic book conventions when I’m lonely.” And at the convention she saw a Princess Leia sex doll.
She has had far worse traumas. When a male friend died in Carrie’s bed, she was shocked and horrified. Everyone wanted to know if they’d been having sex. She says, “No, he didn’t die in the saddle.”
And here’s the line that stays with me. “I haven’t been naked in 20 years.”
Hilarious! You think she’s just being funny–ha! You’ll see. Once adorable, though never in Princess Leia’s league, I noticed 10 years ago the skin on my arms and legs was striated from the sun . The lines look like waves of surreal sand. Sometimes I get lost in them for four or five minutes. And how about sagging breasts? Who wore a bra? Weight gain? Now if only I wanted to go jogging…
Oddly enough, as we age, there are still misunderstandings between the sexes. A writer whose books I wrote about AT HIS REQUEST emailed me one day to say he was married. Me, too! But wait. Did he think I WAS FLIRTING instead of BOOK-MAD?
At the moment I am reading a biography, Alice Adams: Portrait of a Writer by Carol Sklenicka. Adams, an underrated novelist whose short stories appeared in The New Yorker and women’s magazines, was gorgeous, brilliant, a Radcliffe graduate, sexy (one of her favorite words), and eloquent about women’s love affairs and sex lives. The quote I’m thinking of is from her first novel, Careless Love: “She was tired of screwing, she wanted to make love.”
Déjà vu! Really, in our thirties we all felt like this. I was one of a group of divorcees who still looked pretty good, but the quest for love seemed unobtainable. Although we mocked a silly, much-reviled article that claimed “single women over 40 are more likely to be killed by terrorism than to get married,” life was not easy.
There was no Tinder–that dating game must be humiliating! And none of us signed up for a dating service. We wearily dated men our friends knew, men whom they would never have considered dating. I once went out with an odd little man who collected Pez dispensers–probably even a Princess Leia– but had no books in his house. None. Just Pez dispensers. And then he showed up at my apartment with a gift–wait for it–a toaster. I was so appalled that I actually took it out to the dumpster.
My conclusion: Covid-19 will not end sex. Nothing will, no matter what happens. But I predict you will become fascinated and proud of the surreal lines on your arms. It’s that, or plastic surgery!