My Second Bar Mitzvah, When All The Rules Changed

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To celebrate President Obama’s victory, a victory dance was held at the Chillmark camp recreation hall (as I refer to the place), to which I wore my tuxedo with the adjustable waistband. I danced away the night with many women as I thought about how Anita and I had loved to dance. Dancing, that is, to the type of music where you actually hold your partner. The next day a friend told me that she had already received three calls about my dancing with everyone.

While some of us today had great marriages, others may not have had a positive physical and emotional relationship with a former spouse. Now in my second manhood, and despite all of today’s sexual openness, the women I know may be as unsure as I about what we want to do with our evolving relationships. To be more specific, I wonder if the women I know presently have the same doubts, concerns, or thoughts about their sexualities as we men, in particular, as related to today’s changed sexual mores. Of course, there are also those who have given up on a sexual life or are repressing those feelings.

It seems to me that sensuality and sexuality are present in many of us who have reached 80-plus years and remain active and in good health. Because of our country’s love of youth and youthful sexuality and sex, we older folks have to psych ourselves to think, “Hey, I am very much alive and feel good about having these feelings. I even have a hell of a lot more experience to pull this off.”

All around me though, thoughts of sexuality and sex appear to be looked on askance or with laughter by those my age. I sometimes feel like I am spitting into the wind. I am also trying to figure out how we chronological octogenarian seniors can juxtapose our WWII sexual mores with today’s sexual mores and be able to have healthy, non-promiscuous and mutually enjoyable sexual relationships that include feelings and friendship.

Harry Chapin sang about an earlier sexual revolution in “Halfway to Heaven”:

“You see someone played a trick on me.
They set me up so perfectly
They gave me their morality
And then changed the rules they set for me.

How the world’s accepting now
What they once would not allow
Back in my younger days
The world has changed in so many ways

God Damn, I’m one horny mixed up mixture of a man.”

A while ago, a younger married woman asked me whether I had a girl friend. Before I answered, a codicil was added to the question: I was told that having a girlfriend required having sex with her. If we were not having sex, she was just a friend.

A while later, a second question from another close woman friend drew a laugh from me. The question was worded diplomatically, but to the point. This time, my married woman friend mentioned the woman I was dating by name, and asked whether I was getting any “benefits.” Subsequently, I learned that the colloquialism “a friend with benefits” or simply “FWB” means friends who, upon occasion, without any commitment or strings attached, have sex. The movie, “No Strings Attached,” is an example of FWB, and a there is also a movie actually titled: “Friends with Benefits.” There are also the terms hooking up and booty call – quick shtups supposedly with neither feeling nor emotion.

Of course, a good man does not kiss and tell. Therefore, I did not answer the question per se. I was emphatic, though, that any so-called “benefits” should be mutually fulfilling, valued, shared and enjoyed during and afterward. Well, after I became a man in 1941, we men talked about wishing we were young again and knowing what we knew then. Hence, my man’s still-functioning but older and experienced brain is still trying to comprehend what women, sex and friendship are all about. Despite all those words, as a WWII-era former Brooklyn boy, happily married for 54 years, no matter my sexual fantasies, I find I am programmed to be monogamous.

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