Release Manuals: One Man's Tortured Journey Through The Wasteland of How-To Sex Books
Typically, sex is a fairly straightforward, Insert Tab A into Slot B (or Slot C or D, or Tab B -- you choose your assembly manual metaphor!) affair, two minutes of squelchin', moanin' good times slightly more fun than the new Splinter Cell game. Then the man (bird) climaxes, rolls over, and falls asleep, leaving the female (bee) of the species to sigh wistfully before finishing herself off to the mental image of Brad Pitt, who, one assumes, can at least keep it up for the 8 minutes it takes to please a woman, and who also does not snore. [To gay readers: I do not know your lifestyle. Is the process similar in boy-boy or girl-girl relations? Do you draw straws at the beginning to see who goes to sleep dissatisfied? Enquiring minds want to know!]
Sometimes, though, sex is like putting together one of those oddly-named Ikea deck chairs. There are too many tabs for too few slots, everything seems to be labeled wrong, umlauts are sprouting in places they shouldn't, and eventually the whole endeavor collapses in spare parts and big, salty tears. Someone storms out of the room or car; a door is slammed. The night is cold and very long.
It's then that we must warm ourselves by the lamp of knowledge, in the form of sexual self-help books.
Let me ask you: are you lonely, alone, and by yourself? Do you sometimes feel companionless, rejected, or even troglodytic? Is it because you are bad in bed? Yes, it is.
What you need to know is How to Make Love All Night (And Drive a Woman Wild) (Perennial Currents, 1995.) Did you know men, just like their ball-less, flawed counterparts, can experience multiple orgasms in one love-making session? According to this book, it's true!
Author Barbara Keesling, a certified sexpert, writes, "Having sex should be like going to Disneyland-tons of different rides, plenty to eat, and fireworks at midnight-only better because you don't have to wait on line. Does that sound good to you?" It sure sounded good to me, because the so-called "sex" I'd been "having" before this book was more like a visit to Auschwitz -- no food to eat, daily beatings, protruding ribs, and flies laying eggs in your eyes! Ha ha, I kid, I kid! But seriously, it was a holocaust of disappointment.
Needless to say, I was pretty psyched about a book that promised me multiple firings of the flesh howitzer. I'd be trading that outdated one-shooter for a Gatling gun of pleasure. "If you are a man reading this book, you are about to enter into a new relationship -- a new and exciting relationship with your own penis," it said. I kinda thought the current relationship with my penis was a bit dull, but OK, maybe I was missing something.
"When was the last time you spent any quality time with your penis?" said the book, and I realized my penis was getting too clingy and that if I wanted someone to guilt-trip me about not buying flowers for our 6-week, 3-day anniversary, I never would've faked my death in that fiery car crash and convinced my brother's friends at the Coroner's office to tell Sharon not to call me anymore. I put two bullet holes in that book and moved on.
To The Complete Idiot's Guide to Amazing Sex (Alpha Books, 2002). The clerk at Barnes and Noble gave me a pitying look, which I responded to by bursting into tears. I wept right there in the store, dampening that poor girl's turquoise blouse as she held me and stroked the back of my head. After an hour my crying slowed; Summer (for that is what her nametag said) pried my head from her shoulder. She looked me right in the eye, hers a deep aquamarine, and said, "You can call me anytime." Then she wrote a fake number on my arm.
"That's only five digits," I said.
"I'm, uh, from Canada ," she said. "Our phone numbers are different up there."
She rushed back into the stacks, blushing. I rushed home and dove into Amazing Sex. There, on the table of contents, it demanded of me: "Part 1: Say Yes to Amazing Sex." I read it again, then checked the front cover. Amazing Sex . Was I ready for that? I thought I'd grabbed OK Sex or maybe Vaguely Tolerable Intercourse . I didn't know if I was ready for Amazing Sex. My heart pounded; my hairy palms began to sweat.
I glanced at section two: "Sexpectations: Understanding Your Sexual Beliefs." Puns! I wasn't ready for that level of commitment. I decided to call Summer.
I listened to a mechanized voice repeat, "We're sorry, your call cannot be completed as dialed. Please check the number and try your call again." The voice sounded kinda hot. I should try to get her number, I thought. Turned out any five-digit number I called was answered by this same voice. Who was this robot woman, and did she like me?
I figured I'd try Summer again later. Amazing Sex had creeped me out. Plus, it was almost 400 pages. I figured I could type "milfhunter" into Kazaa about a billion times in the time it'd take me to pretend to read all that. I used Amazing Sex to incapacitate a passing dog, then picked up a copy of Ann Hooper's Kama Sutra. Finally, the wisdom of the ancients distilled into pictures even an illiterate hillbilly like me could understand. Congress of the crow, indeed!
But again, there were words on virtually every page. Twinning creepers and blossoming lotuses and embracing crabs -- a whole menagerie of esoteric positions demonstrated by what looked to be a skinny, shaved Tobey McGuire. By the time I was done throwing up, I felt light-headed. The Kama Sutra was a sopping mass of ruined paper. Tobey looked out at me from "The Suspended Congress." I threw up again, and passed out.