Women

About the Vagina: 25 Facts You Probably Don’t Know

For many men (and a depressing amount of women,) the vagina is a mysterious cave of wonders that can provide great treasure (the greatest in fact; life itself!) Unfortunately due to the outdated and historically ignorant beliefs of various groups and facets of society, the mystery comes primarily from embarrassment or even shame. Whereas men were often celebrated or gauged by their virility, the opposite was true for women. The concept of female virginity as a sign of purity only served to further alienate women from their bodies.

To this day, far too many boys are still more interested in what the vagina can do for them, rather than understanding how it works. But let’s change that. Guys, if you know how things work down there, you’ll be better in bed and we all know you want that. Meanwhile, ladies, if you understand how your body works, sex will be better for you. It’s a win for everybody. So, in the spirit of education and better sex (for anyone who has or likes girl parts,) here are 25 things you might be ashamed to ask about vaginas!

1.  The clitoris has more nerve endings than any other part of the body.nerves1.jpg

There are about 8000 nerve ending in the clitoris with the single awesome purpose of arousal and orgasm (which, scientifically speaking is to encourage procreation.)  It turns out that number is right around double the nerve endings in the penis.

 

2.  The vagina actually expands for sex.  

In their relaxed state, vaginas are typically about three and a half inches deep (which helps explain why there’s often less room in there for a tampon than, say, a penis.)  As a woman becomes aroused, a process called “Vaginal Tenting” occurs which causes the interior of the vagina to increase in length and width by about 67%.  The message here is that more foreplay = a vagina that’s better prepared for sex, and that’s always a good thing.

3.  Vaginas come in different layouts and sizes (all of which are normal.)

The vulva, labia, and even the color of the vagina can vary greatly from one woman to the next.  The distance from the clitoris to the vaginal opening is (usually slightly) different on every woman.  Further (and often an issue for the self-image of young ladies,) the size of the labia can vary by over an inch.  Porn and cosmetic surgery have given a false “ideal” to the appearance of the vagina, that is both destructive, and false.    

4.  The vagina allows for different types of orgasms. OrgasmType

Depending on how you look at it, the Vagina and all its nerve-filled goodness is capable of 2-4 different types of orgasms:  Clitoral, Vagina, Blended, and multiple.  Blended and multiple are a result of the first two, but have their own unique traits.  Even if you only recognize two, that’s twice as many as a penis gets.  With that said, over 70% of women do not orgasm from vaginal stimulation alone, so make sure to cover all the bases until you know which one(s) you’re dealing with!

5.  The vagina cleans itself.

As a sophisticated biological system, the vagina maintains a specific balance of good bacteria (though far less than your mouth) and is actually slightly acidic.  The pH of the vagina is right around 4.5, putting it on the same level as such wondrous substances as beer and wine (and also tomatoes…  but 2 out of 3 isn’t bad.)  This, by the way, means that douching or using any non-prescribed “vaginal cleaner” is a really bad idea as it will throw off the balance.    

6.  The clitoris is actually a lot like a penis. 

VagPenis.jpgThe clitoris has a glans, foreskin (the clitoral hood,) and even a shaft that hardens when a woman becomes aroused.  Though some swelling may be visible in the size of the clitoris, it mostly goes unnoticed because the majority of the clitoris is buried inside the vagina.  It also isn’t just a “button” externally.  It extends down past the vaginal opening in a wishbone shape, helping increase sensitivity there as well.

7.  Kegel exercises really do a lot for your vagina.

You can exercise your vagina, and doing so has a lot of benefits.  The strengthening of vaginal muscles improves sexual response for both partners (through better contact.)  In addition, when she has an orgasm from said sexual response, the added muscle means it will be longer and more pleasurable.  For those interested, the stronger contractions also mean a higher likelihood of female ejaculation.  Finally, the stronger the pelvic floor muscles, the easier it is for the vagina to bounce back from childbirth.

 8.  Multiple. Orgasms.MultipleOrgasms

Multiple orgasms are distinct in that they literally happen one after another (“like a machine gun”) and generally are exclusive to vaginas (sorry guys!)  The laboratory record (that’s right, for science) for the number of orgasms in an hour is an insane 134 (over two per minute!!!)

 

9.   The Hyman is absolutely no indication of sexual activity or purity.

The perpetuated myth that a hymen represents untouched female purity is just that: a myth.  In fact, some women are born without a hymen to begin with.  For those that are born with them, they range in thickness, toughness, and amount of coverage, meaning there’s no way to determine any sexual information from a hymen check.

10.  Feeling like you need to pee during sex is pretty normal. 

HaveToPeeEven if you pee just before sex, it’s normal to feel like you need to during the act.  This can be a lot of things, but it’s primarily the result of the urethral sponge swelling. That, combined with stimulation causes nerve cross-talk from the clitourethrovaginal complex  (basically it’s misinterpreting the new pleasure delivery) and makes your brain think you need to pee.

11.  Not getting “wet” doesn’t always mean you’re not into it.

Probably the closest thing women can experience to erectile dysfunction is when they are totally into a sexy situation and fully consensual, but for some reason, the plumbing just isn’t cooperating.  No, your subconscious isn’t (necessarily) trying to tell you anything.  It turns out natural lubrication can be affected by a multitude of things from birth control, to breastfeeding, to menopause.  Estrogen levels have a lot to do with the female physical sexual response so anything that messes with your estrogen levels can mess with your lubrication.

12.  Lube makes the vagina happier.

lube.jpg

The good news is, even if your sexual response is good, recent science says that a little bit of lube will do nothing but make it better.  Water-based lubricant increased the sexual satisfaction of literally every category from partner sex to solo play, and (no brainer) anal sex.  It also cut down on the collateral damage to the vagina from sexual encounters.  So if you’re planning to do a lot with your vagina in a short time, best to lube it up.

13.  The vagina communicates with you.

The extremely complex environment of the vagina is designed to give regular status updates. (Like Twitter, but more organic.)  Changes in the smell, discharge amount, consistency, and off-period blood spotting are all indications of what’s going on in there (and not always a bad thing!)  For instance, when a woman is most fertile and ovulating, discharge increases and cervical mucus becomes more transparent and stretchy in consistency. 

14. The Vagina is not a straight line.

Vagangle

Contrary to the belief of many, the vagina is not a straight line pointing in the direction of the stomach/heart/head.  It actually tilts about 130 degrees (towards a woman’s back) and can change as she gets older.

 

15.  The vagina stretches to over THREE TIMES its normal size for childbirth.

Most people have an idea about this one but it’s definitely worth mentioning.  When having a baby, the vaginal opening can stretch to between 9 – 10.5” in diameter to let the new little human out.  While childbirth can alter a vagina’s look, the interior size and “tightness” usually has no noticeable difference after recovery (which can take six months to a year or more.) 

16. The word “vagina” comes from a Latin term meaning “sword holder”.Sheath

Right… well…  let’s just remember that many scabbards are the prettiest, most distinct parts of the sword/sheath combination.  They also protect the sword from rust and damage.  And damn the patriarchy for this one…

17.  Vaginas and sharks have something in common.

The vagina secretes a compound known as squalane as a natural lubricant.  Since it is lighter than water, it is also naturally found in shark livers and contributes to reducing their density.  When harvested from a shark, this compound is often used as a component in moisturizers and cosmetics.  Let that sink in for a little while.

18.  The vagina can fall out of a woman’s body.

Prolapse

Though extremely rare, the condition is called  “Vaginal Prolapse” in which a section of the vagina literally hangs out of the vaginal opening like a sock.  Fortunately, it’s not only rare but also not typically fatal and completely reversible.

 

19.  Vaginal “farts” are basically unavoidable.

Also known as “queefs” or “varts”, these are the inevitable result of air being trapped, and subsequently released from the vagina (usually due to sexual activity.)  They are generally harmless, clean, carry no odor, and whoever trapped that air in there has absolutely no business complaining.

20.  Consistent or multiple sex partners will not make a vagina “looser.” SexPartners

The myth that is “virgin tightness” is just a myth.  If not appropriately aroused viaforeplay, it’s possible a virgin will feel tighter, but that’s only because her body has not finished getting ready for intercourse.  Otherwise, a vagina will feel the same the first time as it does the 50th time. The only case in which a vagina might feel realistically “looser” is during the recovery period after childbirth.  Sorry guys, none of you are near that big.

21.  Like everything else, the vagina can sag with age.  

A sad fact for almost every part of the human body (assuming you’re human…)  The ways to combat this are the same as the rest of your body: Avoid smoking, keep your body in shape, and do muscle-specific exercises (in this case, kegels!)

22.  Most of the vaginal nerves are located within the first two inches of the opening.

The next time you hear a guy brag about how long his manhood is, let him know that in general, sexual satisfaction comes from girth.  Conceivably, a 4-inch penis with a 3-inch girth will give more pleasure than a 10-inch penis with a 2-inch girth.

23.  Orgasm is more likely right before or during menstruation.

MenstrationOrgasmsJust before and during her period, the blood flow to the woman’s pelvic region (specifically sexual organs) is increased, therefore dramatically increasing sensitivity.  As long as there are no negative feelings regarding sex while menstruating, orgasm is achieved easier, with more intensity.  Sexual activity can also help reduce cramping and shorten the overall duration of menstruation.

24. The Vagina has some serious muscles. 

In 2009, a Russian woman set a world record by lifting 30lbs attached to a wooden egg held by her vagina. With that same strength, it’s actually possible to clamp down on a penis so hard that it can’t be removed.  This is called “Penis Captivus”, and while rare, is a real (and only sometimes intentional) phenomenon. 

25.  What you think is the vagina, probably isn’t the vagina.

ActualVagina

What most people refer to as the vagina is the entirety of all the female sex organs.  But it turns out all of the external components (clitoris, vaginal opening, labia, etc.) are actually what is referred to as the vulva.  The vagina is actually the muscular passageway that connects the vulva and the cervix. (That said, correctly specifying for this article would’ve been far too complicated…)

 

 

You can’t say this wasn’t at least a little educational, I’m willing to be nobody alreadyknew all 25 (I didn’t before I did the research.)  This is a shortened list, as well.  The vagina has many more wonders for us all to discover.  But in the meantime thanks for reading!

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Look at my package!

Yes, I mean my package.  The awesome piece of manhood that’s been chilling between my legs since before I was even born.  Look at it, and if you like, tell me it’s great, fantastic, amazing.

So where the fuck did this come from eh?  I was self-analyzing earlier and thinking about how I look at people, especially women.  I’m big on eye contact, I take a measure of somebody’s confidence and a bit of their soul (though admittedly I catch myself looking away when they sustain eye contact sometimes… It’s instinctive, I don’t like it, I’m working on it…)  The eyes only last a moment on most stranger though, and after a quick take of their face, I immediately do was the majority of men (and a fair amount of women) do: go straight to the boobs or the butt.

Ellen understands.

Ellen understands.

I’ve covered this before in that I’m not really particularly a boobs or butt guy, I sort’ve take the whole.. err.. package into consideration.  But what I noticed is that while I am very conscious of being respectful to women, I’m still actively checking them out on a sexual level.  Granted when it’s a stranger passing by, there isn’t much opportunity to look much deeper and I’m certainly a physical / sexual person, but it still made me think about wether or not it was “disrespectful.”

Let’s be clear that I do not cat-call, make any sort of serious / misogynistic comments (nor do I think them…) or even make it obvious that I’m checking anything except their eyes out.  I’m not sure if I’m comfortable labeling myself a “feminist” (because the definition seems to change depending on who you ask…) but I’m sure you’ve gathered by now that I think women are pretty much the best thing ever and are in every way equal (or better…) than men.  But the fact that I’m looking or noticing on a physical/ somewhat sexual level was enough to make me think about it.  Very rarely (if ever) am I actually even considering/envisioning any sort of sex act with them, it’s more like a matter of admiring and moving on.  I suspect a lot of people do it, but I don’t think a lot of them think about it.

I do the same thing to men, but it’s a totally different category.  With them it’s a matter of comparisons.  What do I like about them better than on myself.  Sometimes I get ideas for haircuts, facial hair, or sometimes it helps motivate me to get my ass in the gym.  It’s not a direct competition, but I have to try and make sure I stack up in the crowd right?  It’s all a part of my dissection process.  I do it to everyone, even if I only see them for a few moments.
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I came to the conclusion that what I notice and how is okay as long as it’s not making them uncomfortable and I’m not being overbearing or obnoxious about it.  But then I thought about it further: “If they don’t know I’m doing it, I wonder how many people do it to me…?”  It turns out I was really, really okay with that.  In fact, I wish I knew how often and how I stacked up.  I realize, of course that a lot of it would probably be nasty… but by now you probably know that I can handle that.  So I decided that I hope I’m being checked out.  I’m okay with strangers looking at me sexually and thinking about me in that manner.  Hell, I’m even okay with them fantasizing, it’s flattering and it’s not hurting me.

Now, let’s be clear that this is a touchy subject and I am not encouraging anyone to objectify anyone else.  I might be cool being an object, but that doesn’t mean it’s okay for everyone else.  Part of the point of this writing was to question whether or not I was, in fact, objectifying women with my habit of checking them out sexually.  But I decided that because I already know I don’t see women as objects and I in no way act in a manner that makes them feel objectified, I’m probably safe.  But with that said… look at my package if you want to, I hope you see something that impresses you.  I’ve said before that I’m not huge, but I’m not small either, and even soft, god knows the folks at the gym see something they may or may not want to see when I’m on the crunch ball, incline, or bench pressing.   (Lets not even get into my running shorts…) It can’t be helped really.

Let me clarify further, that this business about what somebody is wearing making somebody do something is garbage.  Sure,

Like photoshop for your brain...

Like photoshop for your brain…

part of the point of this particular blog is the habits and thoughts that come naturally, but the difference between thoughts and actions is also the point.  If you can’t control your actions when you know better, then you’re worse then any animal out there (because they generally don’t.)

So go on, look at it. (No, I’m not posting it here you pervs.)  If you see me on the street and want to think of me in all sorts of sexy, fantastic and crazy ways, I’m cool with that.  Fantasy me is actually your private matter and frankly none of my business.  I’m not saying I won’t have a problem if you try to make it my business, but otherwise get down with your/my bad self inside that sick little head of yours.  But do me a favor and add some really killer abs too (I love my food a bit too much in real life.)

Dear Boys: Stop failing at sex.

**Warning:  This post contains somewhat dirty words and pictures/descriptions.  If you think sex is icky, don’t read this.**

Seriously.  Though i use the term “boy” for a reason, I’m talking to men of all ages, because apparently some of you still think you’re seventeen and don’t know how to do this.  But before we get started, let me clarify something right away:  I’m really not amazing at the actual act of sex.  I’m decently endowed but by no means huge and I’m not all that into marathon sex (because there’s only so many positions to go through before you’d like to get on with your life…)  What I do right is what any guy can do right regardless of all that:  Be about your partner.

(*note that while I’m speaking generally, I’m only (mostly…) qualified to talk about heterosexual sex.  Though much of this is universal I would imagine some mechanics/dynamics are different in a guy-guy or girl-girl pairing, so take that with a grain of salt.)

One thing most of us can agree on, is that emotional sex (or what I refer to as love-making as opposed to casual or recreational sex) adds a powerful and generally better element to the situation.  Though even then, especially after some time as passed, you guys can screw that up.  Let’s also be clear that I know “it’s not always the guy!” but holy crap the number of comparisons and horror stories I hear from ladies is ridiculous!  So let’s get started, I’ll make this super easy and hopefully when you quietly read it you’ll pick up a concept or two.  If not, I won’t be too heartbroken because frankly, guys that don’t make me look good, and are probably responsible for fair percentage of the reason some girls come back to see me.  So without further ado:

Unfortunately you don't normally get signs like this...

Unfortunately you don’t normally get signs like this…

1. Communicate – For the love of god guys put your false ego away, it’s making your manhood look small.  If a woman trusts you enough to let you touch her naked, then she deserves (as much as you do) for you to care and ask her how she wants to be touched.  Newsflash:  EVERY woman is different and likes different things.  So your style isn’t going to cut it every time.  Deal with it and be adaptable.  Ideally this conversation happens before you actually get down to it, so you have some idea what she wants and how she wants it.  Not only does this help build confidence for both parties, but this kind of talk is pretty hot for both parties involved and can definitely help move things along if you haven’t already gotten to it.  Do note however, that talking about it, even if she seems receptive, does NOT mean it’s going to happen.  Do not ever make that assumption.  Also, I realize sometimes things happen unplanned, in fact sometimes it’s ultra hot and spontaneous and that’s great but that certainly gives you something to talk about after the fact.  In rare cases, she may not want to talk about it, if so then she’ll have no trouble telling you (one way or another) to get to it and you can move on to my next tip:

2. Pay Attention! – If not vocally so, your partner will react to things she likes.  Things like muscles tensing, sharp/quick breaths, gripping / holding you in place and (obviously) moans are all great signs you’re doing something right.  On the other hand, different girls like different things.  I’ve met women that have extremely sensitive nipples to the point they can orgasm from having them licked/played with, but on the other hand I’ve known women that find too much nipple play annoying / uncomfortable.  Obviously if you try something and they squirm out of the way or push/pull you in another direction, that’s a clear sign.  Otherwise, if you don’t know the person well, it might be hard to tell the first time.  But as you get to know them, study their reactions, pay attention!  Honestly, this is your job.  This woman decided to share herself with you intimately, the least you can do is try your best to be sure she enjoys it.  That said you have an obvious goal:

Don't be THAT guy...

Don’t be THAT guy…

3. Make her cum – This IS why you’re doing this, right?  Sure, maybe you love her and you want to share intimate moments with her, but the climax of the experience is for you each to reach that great orgasm that leaves you breathless and satisfied.   Well, let’s face it, for the most part, we’re pretty easy.  Guys can usually get off through straight intercourse in most cases (and in some cases, a bit quicker than she would like.)  On the other hand, girls are usually one of three types I refer to as “Inny”, “Outie” and “Both”.  The most common of the three are “Outies”.  These ladies typically get off by having their clitoris (or “clit” for short) stimulated.  The second, less common type is the “Inny” which typically has orgasms through internal or “G Spot” stimulation.  These are the lucky ladies that can more often orgasm through intercourse along with the really lucky ladies who get through “both” or either manner.  Note though, that regardless of type, they won’t necessarily be easy.  Sometimes it’s a bit of (sweet, sweet) work to give a woman an orgasm.  In addition, women are typically more influenced by their mental state than men, meaning the more comfortable and turned on they are, the easier it will be for you to make it happen for them.  You attitude should be enthusiastic, and you should take great pride in your ability to work and make this happen for them.  Since intercourse is not by any means the best way to give a woman an orgasm, start with this:

3. Go Down On Her – If I had one piece of advice overall, it would be this.  Especially if you’re even considering asking her to to reciprocate, you better be ready to do your part.  But the thing about this is, it requires one or both of the previously mentioned steps to be effective.  It is rare (not impossible) for a woman to not enjoy receiving oral sex, but it is not uncommon for different women to like different things, styles, etc.  Generally speaking though (assuming she hasn’t told you what she likes,) start slow, tease her inner-thighs and then gently work your way up to her clit with your tongue.  (If you don’t know where it is… please google it.. for the love of god… there’s some variety, but you can figure it out.  If you can’t, nobody can help you.)  Once you have a clear indicator that you’re hitting the right spot (even if she’s silent, you should be able to tell by tensing muscles and quickened breathing as mentioned above,) you can pick up the pace with your tongue.  (If there’s no reaction at this point, check her pulse, you may have bored her to death.)  Once you have your tongue moving the way she likes it, you can take it up a notch when you:

Here's a diagram.  You have no excuse.

Here’s a diagram. You have no excuse.

4. Use Your Fingers!  – You know what the difference between passible (maybe) oral sex, and good oral sex is?  Multi-tasking (and really that goes for both genders!)  This means while you’re working that tongue on her, you can put those two hands/fingers to work.  Start by slowly sliding one of your fingers into her vagina.  Do not just ram it into her, work it in slowly, using some that saliva and her fluids to allow it to slide in smoothly.  Once you have one finger sliding in and out, work it around a little bit and gently try to slide in a second finger. (The number of fingers a girl prefers can vary, but two is generally a good universal number to start with.)  Once you have both fingers sliding in comfortably, you can go for the internal button (aka “G Spot”.)  Keep in mind again that on some women internal stimulation doesn’t do too much, and the “G Spot” itself has no real effect for them, but you probably won’t hurt anything but going for it, and if it does do something for them, you’ll probably be able to tell.  The exact position is individual, but you’ll generally have a good chance of finding it by inserting your fingers all the way in at an upward angle, and then running them along the top of her vagina (assuming she’s on her back) in a “come here” or hooking motion with your fingers.  As with before, start this motion slowly until you hit what you think is a good spot.  One of the benefits of having your fingers inside of her is that when you’re hitting good spots you can often feel her muscles tensing around your fingers (yay feedback!)  Once you’ve practiced that to the point you’re comfortable, move on to:

5. Multi-Task! – I know, you’re already multi-tasking.  But you have another hand and you might as well use it.  There’s a number of things you can do here.  The safest options are to reach up and fondle one of her nipples if possible.  You can also reach around and (gently) pull up a bit on the area above her clit, this often makes sure you you have better access with your tongue (always a good thing.)  Likewise, on some women, if you apply gentle pressure on their lower abdomen about two inches  above where you are licking, there is a nerve cluster that can enhance the sensation noticeably for them.  One other major option is to use your other finger for anal penetration.  Many women actually enjoy this (probably more than are willing to admit.) However, this is a bad idea unless you are well established with your partner for two reasons: First, if they don’t enjoy those sorts of things and you do it, it can literally and instantly kill whatever progress you’ve made toward their orgasm and possibly take them out of the mood.  Not worth it.  Second, even if they do like it, a great deal more trust, care (and lubrication!!) is needed to comfortably pull off that move.  Again, not until you know it’s something they want and how they like it.  Regardless of the accepted multi-tasking ends up being, there’s a pretty important rule:

You get the idea.  But over and over...

You get the idea. But over and over…

6. DO. NOT. STOP. – (Until you’re told to.)  There are multiple reasons for this, but the primary two are as follows:  First, consistent rhythm is key to allow her to build to orgasm.  Women tend to gradually build higher and higher (I know one woman who describes it as a roller-coaster ascending slowly before the fun part) and if you stop at any point during this ascent or the orgasm, you run the risk of not only lessening the build-up, but possibly resetting it.  Meanwhile stopping during the orgasm will very often reduce it’s intensity and length, which is just depressing.  The second major reason you don’t stop is that some of our lady-friends are endowed with the incredible ability to orgasm over and over.  Some have one gigantic one like many of us guys do, some have two or three before they are done and some can have well into double digits before it gets to be too much.  Regardless of which it is, they will have no problem scrambling away, pushing your head back, or otherwise signaling that they have had enough.  That’s not a bad feeling, when she tells you she needs a break because it’s too much.  Typically, I think a fair ratio is that she should have (at least) two orgasms for every one she gives you.  Obviously, you should give her hers first because in most cases, when a guy is done, he’s pretty useless in bed (at least for a while.)  So get good at all the above and you’ll find it’s pretty simple to:

7. Have GOOD sex! – First of all, if you’ve done all of the above, she’s already satisfied, so the pressure is off.  If she’s the type who has multiple orgasms, she’s probably much more primed to receive you now and enjoy it a lot more than if you’d gone straight to the sex.  Even if she’s not the type to have multiples or to cum during sex, she’s probably going to be pretty happy to do what it takes to give you yours and enjoy herself along the way.  And if you happen to be quick that day, she probably won’t mind, because you did your job.  There’s always the chance she’ll offer to orally return the favor and you’ll get a blowjob in addition to or along with some great sex.  In most cases, there’s no downside to making sure she’s taken care of first. However:

See?  This is important!

See? This is important!

8. Communicate! – After your random hookup or the first time that was quick and passionate and in the moment without communication, there’s no excuse.  Talk to her, find out what she likes and how she likes it.  The above is a guideline but there are so many variables.  Some really enjoy the initial penetration of sex right away (and THEN oral!)  Some aren’t comfortable with oral at all and would rather you use fingers, and some want you to put yourself somewhere else entirely!  The point is if you’ve been intimate with her, there’s zero reason to be shy about figuring out exactly what she wants.  Once she knows she can tell you without you feeling threatened or judging her (if you do, you need to move on) she will happily tell you and feel more comfortable / excited that she can.  DO NOT ever get irritated or upset about instruction, especially during, because all it will do is make you more of a rockstar for her and make her happier that she can trust you with her desires.

As long as this post is, it’s only a small fraction of what you can do.  There’s so many variables, tricks and elaborations using any number of positions (using your body or fingers to rub her clit during sex) and factors (toys!)  But start with this, and I can comfortably say the majority of women you are involved with with enjoy themselves.  As I said in the beginning, the key is to go into this being about your partner and doing your best for them.  With that attitude, everyone cums out happy.

(In)fidelity

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Worth Reading!

I recently finished Paulo Coelho’s newest book titled “Adultery”. The subject is exactly as the title states and involves a woman’s journey from marriage to the temptations of an extra-marital affair and the ultimate resolution/consequences . I won’t give too many details as I don’t wish to spoil it for you, but I will say that thought the middle of the book got a little bit far-fetched, the overall story, thought processes and moral dilemma presented were solid and realistic. (Do note that “realistic “ is often not necessarily a happy ending.)

As you know, during my recent trip to my Seattle, I had the opportunity to discuss this (and many other) subjects with an old high school friend of mine, and contrast my lifestyle to hers. As a regular reader of my blog, she followed up with me and was interested in elaborating her views while asking me to write about mine. Since I really enjoy answering questions and providing feedback I ‘ll all to happy to oblige, especially because this is a subject that comes up a lot.

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You know who you are. Get on it!

My friend is the portrait of what many people see as the ideal relationship / marriage. She has been with her high school sweetheart for some seventeen years now and still very happy in her marriage. I haven’t seen or spoken to this man since high school, but he was good-natured and devoted to her then, so I have a feeling he is much the same now (judging especially from the photos and what-not I see on Facebook.) They have a house, two adorable children, and if they don’t have a white picket fence, I’m going to suggest she get one. Her marriage is one of two I can think of that have the chance to be that rare, older (not even “elderly” really) adorable couple celebrating their fiftieth anniversary.

At some point during our conversations in Seattle, my friend(s) and I got to talking about relationships and those that sometimes decide to include a third party (or more) in their sex life.  I’ve been involved in situations like that in the past (both as inviter and invitee) and I mentioned I’ve observed it bringing a new element into the bedroom and sometimes reviving a situation that may have become routine or mundane.  Later, my friend commented that she believed that if that happens with your partner, they may not be the right person for you.  She said: “I believe that when you are with the right person, sex should only get better and I don’t think that you need to add additional parties to make this happen.”  Further in the conversation she elaborated that every couple has problems, and the key was to attack those problems when they are small.  She gave an example of a friend of hers who is married but hasn’t had sex with her husband in (literally) years.  She hit the nail on the head when she said the solution was communication, and should’ve happened a long time ago.  The years (or even months barring medical conditions…) without sex are abnormal and destructive to the marriage.  I agreed that it was a total communication breakdown at it’s core, but where her and I may differ is that I actually believe that such communication is MORE important even than basic monogamy.

Wise man. (I can't believe that's a legit quote...)

Wise man. (I can’t believe that’s a legit quote…)

Allow me to explain: I often wish / fantasize about having the sort of situation that my friend has.  I won’t say everyone does, as times are changing and the “ideal” relationship can differ very much depending on the individual.  But many people (including me) still dream of finding “the one” on some level and living happily ever after.  However, finding that person is difficult and as my friend pointed out, even the  “perfect” marriage goes through dry spells and requires effort on both parties to continue to be a giving situation for both.  So, when things go wrong you encounter one of two scenarios:
 

1.  This is a problem we need to work out, but we’ll get past it and get stronger.

-or-

2.  One or both of us is no longer the right person for this relationship.  Either we weren’t from the beginning, or things have changed and instead of growing together, we have grown apart.

There’s nothing “wrong” with either of these situations.  Sometimes things simply are what they are and no amount of good faith effort will fix them.  But let’s focus on situation one, because once you’re in situation two, it’s just a matter of admitting and accepting it (which unfortunately can take a number of years anyway… and I can blog about that in the future…)

Cute/Funny but...

Cute/Funny but…


When a problem grows into an otherwise great, loving relationship, the vast majority of the time is the lack of honest communication.  When almost any issue is addressed straightforwardly, constructively and honestly, the majority of the time it can be resolved.  If they cannot, there’s a good chance you fall into situation two above.  VERY often I hear a primary issue of long-time couples is a stale or near nonexistent sex life.  I can tell you now that even as a 35 year old bachelor I don’t have the obsessive drive I had in my mid twenties, but I’m talking a couple of days off as opposed to weeks, months or years.  Why does this happen?  Routine? Insecurity? Too busy?  All of the above?  It happens because one or both parties is no longer excited about the prospect, it’s not longer turning them on.  Then, the situation becomes one-sided and turns into “work” instead of “play” for one or both parties.  Situations like this are what lead to people finding alternatives: Porn (individually.. and I’m not saying this is necessarily bad as it can excite one of both partners..) Toys (again, CAN be a good thing, all about how they are used…) and eventually other people (my friend doesn’t agree, but this can also end up a positive situation.)

The solution again is wide open communication.  But what get in the way is that people are afraid to tell their partners what they want.  After years, they worry about damaging their ego, being judged for something different they are craving, or coming across too needy or unreasonable for being wanted.  But I believe there’s nothing wrong with wanting something else or having expectations of your spouse on a sexual level.  If this is an ideal “forever” pairing, a partnership, both have to try to give the other what they need.  So many people are brought up on the outdated belief that love and sex have to be exclusive (and if that’s your preference more power to you), but it’s scientifically proven that this is simply not the case.  But instead of talking to their partner and being wide open about their deepest, darkest desires, they bottle it up, feel ashamed and tell themselves they are “wrong” for wanting these things. Then they try to pretend they are okay with the routine they have, but lying to yourself like that never ends well, and the all too common feeling of feeling “trapped” sets in.

Oh jesus.. THAT guy..

Oh jesus.. THAT guy..

One day, they come across somebody who is flirty and seems interested in them superficially.  Normally they probably wouldn’t even give the possibility a second thought, but two things come into play: 1. Human nature magnifies the feeling of wanting something when you feel you can’t have it (the initial desire has to be there first though.) and 2. Compared to their spouse, this person is not connected to their “real life” and is for all intents an purposes, a toy.  There is no marriage, no children and no responsibility to be an ideal spouse in this situation.  The opportunity arises to be fun, flirty, desired and greedy.  They get to demand what they want and if the person doesn’t like it, they are more or less discardable without issue.  The freedom is a huge turn-on, especially for somebody that has gotten into the habit of having to repress themselves.  I hate to bring Disney into this conversation, but this is the chance for them to “Let it go.”  Sometimes it’s a fling and nothing comes of it, others they are found out, or can’t handle the guilt and the world comes crashing down.  But it’s only a temporary solution either way, eventually the problem marriage still exists, or it’s been destroyed.

So, how do you avoid a situation like this?  I keep mentioning communication, but on a whole different level.  I’m talking about a soul-bearing, demon revealing, perverse, fucked up, this might hurt your feeling but you need to know this, holy shit this is scary but only you are worthy of this level of communication.  This is supposed to be your life partner, so you have to be willing to tell your deepest, darkest secrets and show them all the sides they signed up for before you end up feeling like you need to show that to somebody else.  Once the communication is on that level, you can figure out how to work it out (or not.  As it’s possible they simply can’t handle what you have to say, at which point I would be more likely to say you fall into option two above.)

Problem... solved?

Problem… solved?

Regardless sometimes that communication alone will solve the problem through new activities (red room anyone?)  But where I disagree with my friend I mentioned earlier though, is that when this communication takes place, it’s possible that another person, or even some other people might be discussed.  As far as I’m concerned, that’s ok.  It doesn’t necessarily mean you’re with the wrong person.  As long as the relationship has a totally open and honest level of communication, including potential feelings of pride, jealousy and inadequacy, and they are addressed respectfully with a constructive solution sought, then I don’t believe infidelity has occurred regardless of who does what with who.  The bond between two people who love each other is not merely based on the physical, and to say that somebody being involved with a different person negates a legendary bond of love is just ridiculous.  What matters is the trust.  If that is intact, so too should be the bond.

Oh son of a…

When I have these conversations, people try to flip it on me.  They say: “Well that’s very ideal, but what if the love of your life came to you and told you she wanted to be with somebody else sexually, or that she already had but she still loved you!  Could you really still be with her?”  Short answer: Yes, probably.  Longer answer:  If she had already done so, I would be pretty upset, pissed even to the point I might need some time.  But would I end it right away?  No.  I would try for the level of communication I mentioned above.  I would need to understand why she needed it, and what the solution was.  If I was satisfied with it, and I felt I could trust her based on that communication, I could stay.  In fact, once, a long time ago I already did.  But then many years later when I was similarly tested, I couldn’t open up and be that honest, I couldn’t bear my soul and make myself vulnerable, and so, I lost.  Rarely is it the actions that will kill a real relationship, but the reasons behind them that are locked away and never addressed.

When love and trust and that level of communication exist, I believe the right people for each other can overcome almost anything.  Then again, that’s awfully romantic of me… what do I know?

Homecoming: A Long Epilogue

Coffee + Magical Sky Juice = Writing Fuel!

Coffee + Magical Sky Juice = Writing Fuel!

I’ve been in the air for a little over an hour now (likely somewhere over Idaho) heading toward a short stop in Texas before the second leg of the trip back to Orlando. I think the most important thing I took from the short trip in Seattle is that I like it there. I like the weather, I like culture, I like the city and I like the people (My friends, arguably more so than I used to.) My path and the place I belong now is Orlando, but if and when the opportunity to return to Seattle made itself know, I would follow it happily. Granted there are many places that I would be willing to go in order to take the next step, but Seattle previously carried a stigma to it that no longer exists. In fact, because of my familiarity and the people I have there (friends and family both) it carries a specific appeal for sure. I have a hometown.

Shortly after my last post I was picked up and spent the evening (after all too iconic Seattle traffic) in Bellevue catching up with three young ladies from my high school days (all three of whom I’ve had a crush of some sort on at some point or another.) We began at a Mexican restaurant, three of use with appetizers and shots of tequila while we waited for our fourth to arrive. We told many stories of our classmates, and ourselves, went through some 16 total margaritas (combined), took many selfies and laughed about our misadventures in high school and since.

Tequila!

Tequila!

What was fascinating about these discussions is that each of them knew me in a different way. One hadn’t really kept up with me over the years (in fairness neither had I kept up with her…) but was the fortunate enough one to be stuck in traffic with me, allowing us to get a head start on catching up. We’d covered some relatively deep subjects, so when I began telling stories to the group she had a contextual reference the others did not. Another is a regular follower of my blog, so she had a great deal of background information both recent and historical. The third has been keeping up with me on Facebook and through regular messages for some time and was probably the most knowledgeable on my current life status.

I told them one thing I was quite jealous of was their children. As of now, two of them are married (one to her high school sweetheart) and the other is an amazing single mother (as evidenced by the stories of her children.) For the longest time I’ve wanted a child (preferably legitimately) but obviously I have to find the right person first and so far not a lot of headway has been made. In the car ride (traffic) over I had mentioned that we always want what we can’t have. So (especially in our thirties) some that have long established families and routines look at my lifestyle and see it as adventurous and free (I do my best anyway…) while I listen to the stories of their children, families and well-established careers and can’t help but wonder if I’m falling behind. Of course, as it stands, I don’t think any of us would trade, and though all three have two children (ideal in my mind), they are each in pretty different set of circumstances (perhaps I will elaborate on them a bit more in a future blog.)

As the night carried on we wandered the mall called Bellevue Square that we had spent a great deal of time at as high school kids. One had promised a friend she would pick up nifty scented bath soaps/oils of some sort and then we (predictably) found ourselves in Sephora (a makeup store) at which point one of the girls who hardly wears makeup and I slipped away to find more drinks. This was an education for me as I was introduced to Nordstrom’s having a full bar dead center in the middle of it’s store. Prices were surprisingly reasonable considering what the clothing usually runs. Eventually the other two caught up to us and after more discussion/selfies we made a quick stop to see my car (Tesla!!) and moved on to our final destination.

It was a Dark and Stormy night..

It was a Dark and Stormy night..

One of the girls had promised her friend she would take a photo of a huge blown glass chandelier that was crafted by a famous local Seattle artist (kicking myself at the moment for not having a photo to include in the blog.) When that mission was accomplished we moved upstairs to a pool hall I had talked to them about called “The Parlor”. Shortly before I left for Orlando I had spent a fair amount of time there. It had an upscale vibe (because Bellevue…) but was reasonable on prices and had pretty good happy hour specials. With fifteen minutes until happy hour we settled in for our last round.

Perhaps it was the drinks adding up or the hours getting later (in truth it was only 11:00 PM but people have families now and it was a Tuesday…) but the conversation turned to sex and was primarily based on me. As it happens I have a number of entertaining stories (don’t worry to some of you reading this… probably not THAT one… probably…) that had reactions ranging from laughter to a great deal of eye rolling (a not uncommon reaction.)  We finished off our drinks that accompanied some really great happy hour appetizers and decided to call it a night.   (I should point out that those who were driving had moderated their drinking responsibly as the night went on… and those that weren’t… probably felt it the next day.)

Addiction Manifested.

Addiction Manifested.

The following day I slept in and then took the Sounder (Seattle’s rail system) to go and visit my father. It was my first time on the train and I enjoyed the random local conversation along with my ability to plug in my electronics. The ride was quick and easy and before long my father picked my up in Lakeland where he now lives. After a quick stop to show off his new place, we headed out to Potlach (Hood Canal) to the house on the water to visit with his girlfriend and her son whom have become a part of his/our family throughout the years. Naturally as I lounged fireside I was fed and fed well. Meat, cheese and wine precluded my father’s amazing signature buffalo wings of which I ate entirely too many (as usual.) Feeling fat and comfortable I retired to my room for the evening, caught up on some shows and drifted off to sleep with an early morning and a day of flying ahead of me.

The morning went smoothly, I did my best to capture a few images of the water in the dim foggy morning light and we were off to the bus station. I arrived just in time to say goodbye and walk onto the airport bus. Upon arrival, I easily made my way through security with plenty of time to attend some business, pick up my new book (Prince Lestat!) and do a bit of shopping. The plane is completely full, and I’m in a middle seat, but I’m fortunate enough to have relatively small people on either side of me who seem to have good personal hygiene (the girl sitting next to me is also pretty cute. Bonus!)

The house on the coast.

The house on the coast.

As I near my landing in Texas I just keep thinking about the combination of familiarity and newness that Seattle has now that I carry a fresh perspective on it. It’s easy to see why people who travel there fall in love and never leave. Additionally, with the disappointing recent results of the Florida elections, it’s also easy to see why living in such a liberal state would be appealing. Seattle has culture, food and a specific vibe that is hard to find anywhere else. My father tells me every time I return that I need to move back and go back to school, he will be going for his Master’s soon and thinks I should follow suit. I might. But as much as I would like to say that my goal is to move back and live there indefinitely, I cannot. The truth is I will go wherever it takes to take the next step, to “make it”. When I do, I can visit, and catch up as I did this time whenever I like. It may or may not be home again someday, but it will always be my hometown.

You Get What You Pay For – Part 1: Women

You probably already know I don’t subscribe to any specific theology, but I will be the first to tell you that world and the universe are alive and connected to you (along with everyone else.)  I don’t see karma as the divine reward/retribution that many portray it as because it’s very black and white (and this is, after all, the grey area.)  But what I do see is that in this world, you get what you pay for.  Not just with money, with action (or lack thereof) and even your way of being.

On Sun-day.  (Get it?)

On Sun-day. (Get it?)

For example, I have hinted in the past that I have been pretty successful sexually (no seriously, you wouldn’t believe some of it…)  The ladies I involve myself with are quality individuals who are smart, strong and beautiful in their own ways.  Of course like anything it ebbs and flows.  In my arrogance of comparing myself to a central celestial body, I liken my lovers to planets on varying sorts of orbits: very few pass daily or weekly, and then others once a month or two, 6 months, a year and sometimes even years.  But the key to my success is that I carry some sort of long-term relationship with each of these people.  The currency is patience and respect.  It is a mistake to discount anyone as not worth your time based on their current situation in life because the one constant in this world is change.  While that can be a scary thought to those you treasure now, the bright side to that concept is that new, and even those estranged may be brought back into your life.  It is in this manner that a woman I was drawn to over a decade ago might find her way to my affections in the present.   You can often have what you want if you’re willing to wait for it… NICELY.

Let me reinforce too that when I mentioned respect above, it was not a small part of the equation.  Most that know me, know that I’m much like Adam Levine and his fantastic quote (from my Misogyny post):“Maybe the reason I was promiscuous, and wanted to sleep with a lot of them, is that I love them so much.”  While in most cases I’m very hesitant to use the word “love”, I am not afraid to say that I respect and admire women completely.  In fact, I often state that they are much smarter than the majority of men whom I openly dislike for a number of reasons.  There are exceptions on both sides of course, but as far as I’m concerned, women are pretty much the best thing in the world.  The great thing is, they know when you regard them in this manner.  Some part of them unconsciously understands when you actually respect them as powerful, equal (or better!) individuals.  This automatically makes them feel comfortable and familiar with you.  At that point, if they feel the same physical attraction that you do, it’s only a matter of time (and respect.)

She'll tell ya!

She’ll tell you!

Let’s talk a little more about what respect means.  Because even if you don’t like the guy she’s with now, SHE has her reasons.  Perhaps it’s love, perhaps it’s security, sometimes it’s purely a situation that arose from a mistake.  But regardless of the circumstance, you must respect them.  You do not have the right to interfere with her life, make waves in her relationship, or cause awkwardness for her or her friends.  If you truly want to show respect, even if you don’t understand what she could possibly see in that guy, you will respect her situation and maintain your relationship on a level that she is comfortable with (like the weird concept called “friends”.)  This also means cheerfully accepting that some people have something truly amazing and rare, and that you will in fact never have them (to this day these make up some of my best friends, they and their good men both.)

The major thing that will bring all of this crashing down around you (and many relationships really) is being possessive and/or jealous.  For the most part I am not a possessive person, I value and am grateful for the honors I am given in terms of the women who share themselves with me (physically/mentally/emotionally.)  But just as you move on with your life, they do as well, and it’s none of your business what they do with the life they choose not to share with you.  There are exceptions, when they choose to involve you in another’s jealousy, or attempt to put you at risk through poor decisions, but that’s the point hen you draw the line (respectfully) and simply be a friend.

Preach.

Preach.

Further, you must be careful not to fall into the trap of introducing negativity through jealousy.  I am not completely immune to this, I admit that I have (on a couple of occasions) in the past fallen victim to this trap, but for the most part I’ve got a good handle on it.  You have to because introducing that sort of negativity into a relationship is poison, and will usually get you exactly the opposite of what you want.  Possessiveness and jealousy are concepts that reduce a woman to an object in order to be owned.  THAT sort of thinking is what will destroy any type of positive relationship; It is a complete lack of respect for her as a woman and as a person.  Ideally, you will earn her time, affection, adoration and even love by showing her the same.  It’s a price you should be excited to pay if you’re doing it right.

It’s easy to draw the conclusion based on my recent past and the things I write that I am anti-relationship, but this is not the truth.  I both want and respect real relationships.  It is also not my place to judge what is and is not a real relationship.  Monogamy is a pleasant and ideal situation for some (seems more and more rare these days) and I like to subscribe to the idea of meeting “the one”.   But for many it is not the only way, and I do not, by any means believe it is the only right way.  Many of the happiest and most functional couples and parents I know are in “non-traditional” relationships. (Silly term anyway considering historically, orgies and polygamy in various forms was commonplace.)  What makes a real  relationship in my world is love, trust, communication and respect.  Everything else is the business of those in the relationship and whomever they choose to share it with.

The Sunset of Misogyny

Adam Levine is a great man.  I read an article a while back in Details magazine (did I mention I’m occasionally accused of being a bit metrosexual?) in which he said:

“There’s two kinds of men: There are men who are fucking misogynist pigs, and then there are men who just really love women, who think they’re the most amazing people in the world. And that’s me,”

-and followed that up with-

“Maybe the reason I was promiscuous, and wanted to sleep with a lot of them, is that I love them so much.”

Perfect.  The moment I read that article I gained a new and lasting respect for the man (I’m a fan of Maroon 5 to some extent, but nothing like my obsession with DMB.)  Honestly the only thing I would add is to specify that he meant there’s two kinds of straight men in the world.  The gay guys out there add a whole new dimension (and are probably much more diverse.)    Those close to me know that I really don’t generally like men much.  Too many times I’ve come across men that the epitome of the “misogynist pigs” Adam talks about and don’t even realize it:

3t872bReally think women only “belong” in the home raising children? Pig.  Get upset when you come home and house isn’t perfect or dinner isn’t ready yet? Pig.Think that women shouldn’t be CEOs, soldiers, police, firefighters, mechanics, security guards, or any other profession? Pig.  Get mad when she goes out with her girlfriends (even though you’re out late with women often…)?  Pig.  Think women should get paid less than men for the same work? (Is this even a fucking question!?) Pig!!

I get it guys, you’re insecure.  She’s pretty, charismatic and intelligent.  If you let her out alone for too long, she’ll probably wise up and leave your ass.  Lucky for you they seem to have a programming flaw built into their system:  They’re generally pretty damn loyal too.  But, they are NOT stupid, and even if they don’t leave your ass, if you don’t put some effort into giving them reasons to be happy, they can and will go out and find their own reasons on their terms.  Is that a betrayal?  A violation of trust?  Well it’s about damn time.  The statistics say that historically married men have cheated on their wives 2 to 4 times more than the other way around, but that ratio is beginning to shrink.

Legit 50s Ad.  Points for honesty...

Legit 50s Ad. Points for honesty…

See it’s not like the good old days.  Though the term “Nuclear Family” initially shows up around 1925 or so (in the Oxford-English Dictionary), the concept got really popular in US culture around the 40s and 50s.  Those were days when you had the “ideal” family of the Husband and Wife and their children.  They were respectable members of the community that attended church every Sunday.  Father was the breadwinner that went to work all day while mother stayed home and cared for the home and children.  It all sounds very balanced and idealistic. Straight-up “Leave It To Beaver” style.

Except that it’s a bullshit facade.  Let’s talk about what was really happening.  First of all, Daddy was the master of the house. Let’s be clear that though the United States has made great strides in the modern era (there is still work to do,) it was founded very much in favor of the white male.  So sure, daddy went to work all day, and often had to go on “work trips” for days at a time.  Even when he was home, he often had to stay late or go out with his co-workers for drinks after work.  It’s just what you did as a professional.  Daddy worked very hard to be the master of the house.  I suppose this is true, because in reality daddy was probably seeing his mistress(es).  You see, in that ideal time men also had a great deal of power over whether a young lady got a job, was promoted, or kept her job. It certainly wasn’t every case, but if you think this didn’t happen and often, I suggest you do your research. Regardless of that, daddy didn’t have trouble finding a mistress because, after all, he was the man.

Meanwhile mommy was at home and is probably well aware of the mistresses.  Deep down it probably hurt her, but she had no real recourse.  As a woman you didn’t divorce in that day and age because then the church/society blames YOU for breaking up the family.  You were then no longer “family material”, and your skills and experience wouldn’t lend themselves well to the

I can't make this shit up...

professional world (unless you planned to work you way up the ladder as a mistress… again at the mercy of the men you serve.)  So what was mommy to do but accept her prison and make the best of it?  She needed him and she had to serve her husband and children or she had no real value to society or in the eyes of the church (and therefore god!!)  She once sought out her pastor for advice in dealing with her husband’s infidelity, but his response was that she must learn to forgive and maintain her “duty” to the family.  He also wanted to talk to little Billy (who is an Alter Boy!) to be sure he was remaining well-adjusted at home with mommy under stress.

Though it seems far-fetched, that a very realistic (albeit generalized) rendition of life for a US housewife in the fifties. Basically, throughout history, and in those “ideal” times when the “Sanctity of Marriage” that the anti-gay bigots like to toss around was the center of society, women were getting a pretty rotten deal.  But lately, the misogynist’s worst fears are coming true.  Women know they are strong, and smart.  In fact, they are very possibly in better shape than you are right now and I know a few that can pretty definitely kick your ass.  It’s also very likely they were smarter than you to begin with.

She'll kill you.

She’ll kill you.

So what’s a man to do?  How do you keep your interest/girlfriend/wife from going off and doing what she wants to do?  It’s simple, you can’t.  The harder you try to restrain her or hold her back, the more likely she’ll resist (just like you probably would were the roles reversed.)  Once you get jealous, and angry, and controlling… once you start making her feel bad or guilty for wanting to be herself, then you’re in trouble.  Because then she already feels bad about herself, about you and about your relationship.  Then you’ve created exactly what you were scared of and even if she doesn’t leave, she might very well find something to make her feel better and forget about things for a while.  At that point, it’s hard to blame her.

Modern relationships must be a partnership. Equals.  There is no longer a “master” (well.. unless you’re into that.. but that’s happy-old-couple-108591_200x200your business…)  Further, the most important parts of any equal partnership are trust, respect and (positive) communication.  If we truly want to be the one and only for somebody in the modern world, we’re going to have to work for it and earn it.  Not just in the beginning during courtship or the “honeymoon” phase, but one, two, five, ten, fifty+ years down the line.

It’s not easy, I believe most honestly can’t wholeheartedly pull it off.  As much as I’d like to think so, I’m not even certain I can.  But sometimes I come across one of those old couples celebrating their 50th anniversary that both seem genuinely happy.  They figured it out, maybe some of us can too.