Spice Racks, Hairdos Are Questions More Burning Than Sex

Article excerpt

DON'T GET me wrong. It isn't that I am not interested in sexual behavior - mine, yours, the boss', Bill Clinton's, Michael and Lisa Marie's.

But I'm not curious enough about the ins and outs of American adults' sex lives to read 706 pages of tables, charts and definitive sex survey analysis published this week by researchers at the University of Chicago. Sort of takes all the fun out of it. And anyway, there aren't any pictures to juice up the statistics.

As the authors of the $2 million study state in their prologue, "sexual behavior has many public consequences that make this most private of activities of public concern and a frequent target of public policy. It is both surprising and disturbing how empirically ill-informed we as a nation are about important aspects of sexual behavior."

That is fine and dandy for social scientists, who have to make a living. It's just that I don't think your sex life is any of my business, and vice versa. It's private, it's embarrassing, and as the new research shows (and most of us suspected all along) it's a disappointment.

Truth be told, the average American's sex life is about as hot and kinky as warmed-over chicken pot pie, which is to say a good deal less hot and kinky than Sharon Stone's, Mickey Rourke's or the average blue-faced baboon's. This should surprise no one in the Midwest, although sex is not a subject we care to discuss much. Among Midwesterners, asking someone how often he does IT and how is considered only slightly less rude than asking a farmer how much he owes the bank.

We do think about it, of course, and a few actually do more than think about it. The survey found that 67 percent of the women in this country and 43 percent of the men think about sex "a few times a month" or "a few times a week." Americans have sex about once a week, on average, but a third of adults have sex only a few times a year or not at all. More than 80 percent of Americans had only one partner, or no partner, in the past year.

The survey findings reinforce my image of the average American in the act. Imagine a couple of decent married folks - he of the graying temples and love handles, she of the southbound derriere and auburn rinse - lying side by side in their bedroom in a split-level in Keokuk. After brushing and flossing, folding the laundry, putting the cat out and half of Leno's monologue they grapple discreetly in the dark so as not to wake the kids. Unless, of course, she's too tired, he has a breakfast meeting, or one of the kids has to be at choir practice at 7:30 a. …

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