We recently saw a publisher’s ad touting a forthcoming reissue of “The Joy of Sex"--updated, we were informed, for “the turbulent 1980s.” The implication of that description strikes us as somewhat chilling, even anti-aphrodisiacal. What it seems to suggest is that the practice of sex may now be regarded as something specific to a particular decade, and if its style doesn’t suit the temper of the times you might just as well forget it. If the 1980s are indeed especially turbulent--and, frankly, we hadn’t noticed that they are--must sex that is to be considered acceptable have to be agitated, unruly and tempestuous? A little Sturm und Drang music on the stereo, if you please, to set the right mood.
“The Joy of Sex,” for those who have forgotten or never cared to find out, was the huge best-seller of some years ago that purported to celebrate the variety and pleasures of you know what. Our recollection--you will understand that we spent only a few seconds idly leafing through its pages at a bookstore--is that it had a lot of explicit drawings that showed people Doing It. As we recall, many of the portrayed activities that you, the reader, were invited to share were of a kind that would test the agility of a circus acrobat. We never got around to reading the text. Our guess is that 98.9% of the people who bought the book didn’t, either.
For all we know, it may already be too late to escape the threat of sex that is supposed to reflect the alleged ambiance of the 1980s. But the 1990s are fast approaching, and it’s not too soon to hope that they will be quieter times. They had better be. Our guess is that when the demands of the turbulent 1980s have subsided a lot of people are going to be in the mood only to plead bad headaches--if not utter exhaustion. Not this decade, dear, I’m still recovering from the last one.