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
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
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. …