Speaking of sex, and what else is there to do about it, in this touchless time -- I've been watching it on television. Can't hardly avoid it, anywhere. Nor the feckless flood of inadequacy it produces.
-- They're going to go at it again. I don't want to look I don't want to I don't want to. I know too well how it will bring me down, I know the pain, the pallid pathetic mind pictures it will call up, the self-flagellation -- if only the flagellation were not merely mental, it could bring me at least a millimetre closer to their world -- the wretched reminders of my own risible flaccid reality...but I can't tear myself away. I have to watch, and pant, and suffer, and...here they go again, omigod, here they go...
We know about body shaming. Fat shaming. Age shaming. Gender shaming. Fashion shaming. Parent shaming. But what about the one nobody talks about -- surely as insidious and damning as any of them: Shtup-shaming?
Look at them, on every screen: Shtupping, shtupping, shtupping. But not just shtupping: Sensational shtupping. Combustible. Consuming. Combative. Colliding. Giving whole new meaning to the battle of the sexes.
Witness the ectoplasmic ecstasies. The Vesuvial heat. The scorching want. The transformative transcendent pawing and pleasuring; the apocalyptic orgasm. Shtupping so urgent, so feral, so scorching that you should be wearing asbestos even to watch..
They're body-perfect, that goes without saying, never mind age. Their eyes lock. And WHOMP. Mash, slam, go their bodies, smoorsh go their open mouths. Hands dart, claw at heads. This time she's first by a millisecond, gets him by the back hair, fingers gouging his scalp -- sometimes one or the other fastens onto an ear for purchase -- he's got a fistful of her neck in one hand, her jaw envised with the other. Mouth to gaping mouth, lip to churning lip, faces smooshing and heads swivelling and swerving like robot vacuums determined not to miss a corner, mouths sump-pumping...and pow, it's garment-gashing time, he's ripping her top, she's biting off his shirt buttons, ferocious fingers fumbling with fly, trousers trampled, skirt skewed, and back on the bed or the kitchen counter or the wall, and then up, down, in, out, backwards, forwards, over, under, above, below, pant, gurgle, gasp... before they flop apart, glassy and gorged...
Is it ever this way in your house? In anyone's? I ask myself, gaspy and sweaty in their afterglow.
Who can ever match it?
Can Tindr or Grindr or Cindr produce anything like the intensity? The jagged drooling urgency? The transportative conflagrational animality that puts the standard timed pre-allocated 2.5 monthly encounter to shame?
It's not just that they're doing it. We know everybody is doing it. It's not just that they're going at it like rabbits. It's that they're going at it like maddened jet-fueled rabid rabbits.
It can be any kind of partnering: He and she, he and he, she and she, they and them, plus any combination of the above, any colours creeds or ages -- on most shows it's de rigeur to feature the widest possible selection from the ever-expanding range of categories. The constant is, participants have to have the most scorching demanding needful gotta-have-it-now shtup ever in the history of the world, and look fabulous bare nekkid.
This is a boon for the personal-training industry, and the world of body doubles.
But how can the rest of us live with the almost intolerable pressure? Or, not to put to fine a point on it: the shtup-shame?
I'm okay with most of the standard shaming. The body shame, the age shame, the fashion and parent shortfall. I know I should never have have introduced my son to martinis. I know my bosom doesn't burgeon, bellybutton doesn't twinkle, buttocks don't stand alone like Kim's and the others'. Can embrace the reality that I will never run around a turtle sanctuary wearing a Valentino gown whose price is only available on request, like the models in the NYT fashion mag. Also that I'm not remotely near 21 or unafraid of tattoos or able to eat big meals after, say, 6 p.m.
But if Meryl Streep and Jane Fonda can slam so urgently into Alec Baldwin and Bob Redford, and roister rowdily enough to raise the roof, what am I missing? What are the rest of us missing?
(Mercifully, except for a flutter in the Tony Armstrong-Jones episode of The Crown, we have been spared any display of Royal shtupping -- I say mercifully, because it's hard enough to erase mind images of a prince and his mistress whose idea of love talk involves imaginary tamponing.)
At this point, I must interject that I'd always felt my sex life was, well, finety-fine, thank you. Through all my relationships, even though most of them were marriages.
But when the shtup-shamers started to get to me -- well, it started to gnaw. Fine? Fine?
Looking back, I began to ask myself, as the astronaut said when he made a wrong turn around Saturn: Did the earth move?
Should we be trying this at home? Loved one comes through the door -- evening, after a day's work; or, morning, yawning and scratching. Fix him / her/ them with seething eyeballs. Grab by the ears. Slash off the shirt, rake fingernails across flesh. Pant. Slurp. Slam. Suffocate...
Yes: All models, all expectations, all imaginings fantasizings hopes needs goals have been knocked awry by this planet-wide spectacle of ceaseless all-pervading all-reality-erasing shtup-shaming.
How quaint, today, the lyrics to I Wanna Hold Your Hand.
Should we really be surprised at the burgeoning of sexual derelictions? Your Cosbys, your Clintons, your Weiners, pardon the expression; your Giulianis, your Toobins?
Are they set a-simmer, in spite of themselves, by the relentless rage of sensational onscreen shtupping? Turned tumescent by the imperative to overcome shtup-shame, give the finger, so to speak, to the shtup-shamers?
Take poor Jeff, for example: What, in that ostensibly weird onscreen work meeting -- onscreen, mark you -- may have pressed his peter-button?
Who knows what throbbing tele-vision may trigger any of these perps' turn-on tabs? Set their longing, languishing libidos aflame? Who knows what they've been watching?
And who knows, with what inextinguishable hope, like the rest of us, they may frantically seek to climb that paradisal pain-and-pleasure peak where, in perpetuity, the shtup-shamers collide, careen, come, pant a moment, and start all over again...