Tuesday, January 27, 2009


"The bedroom isn't just for sleeping anymore." That's part of a popular commercial that shows furniture that can convert the bedroom to an office, a computer center, an entertainment area (Stereo, TV, VCR, DVD, etc.) In lieu of making love, many modern couples use the bedroom to make more money, by extending their working hours. Papers, disks, files fill the bedroom space while one or both partners spend long hours in front of their computer.

Instead of entertaining each other by holding, stroking, lying quietly together or sharing intimate thoughts and feelings one or both are immersed in a soap opera of the latest sexual exploits of the rich and famous.

Often, the bedroom or even the bed is shared by a beloved pet, either canine or feline, who may be getting most of the petting and hugging. Sex therapists sometimes discover that a pet sleeps between a couple, serving as a barrier between them as an unspoken way of avoiding each other. Small children sometimes serve the same purpose.

What about your bedroom -- does it have a computer, a TV set, a motley assortment of papers and books? Have you settled the issue of king size, queen size, double or separate bed?

Is sex another work activity that takes place in the bedroom?

Separate bedrooms are a luxury of modern life. In the 15th and 16th Century, people lived in general purpose rooms as they still do in some societies (and in studio apartment?) They ate, slept, entertained and worked in the same room. Beds were often collapsible and were set up as needed. Many centuries were required to develop the concept of the bedroom as a private sanctuary. Enjoy it as such -- don't make your bedroom the public, general purpose room of the 15th Century.

Separate bedrooms are a luxury of modern life.


Yes, you can!

On a recent trip to Florida, I visited a posh country club, all of whose members appeared to be senior citizens. Many of them have partners, short or long term.

An interesting contrast to the sea of gray hair and stooped shoulders was the club's staff, young and vibrant men and women from around the world. They seemed to have formed a friendly, caring bond with the people they serve.

Many of the club's members are retired people, seeking not only relief from winter's chill but a milieu to make new friends and enjoy activities, both old and new to them.

The dining room had a festive air and an extravagant display of fine food and wine. Of course, there was no way to know how many of these guests needed special diets, preventing them from partaking of the tempting food offered. As they came into the dining room or left it later on, they stopped to greet friends at the tables scattered around the room like hosts at a private party.

Adjacent to the dining room was a lounge. Not everyone settled there after dinner, but I soon identified those who did, as having dancing feet. Couple after couple walked over to one end of the room, where there was a platform. There was music, a three-piece ensemble, a talented, exuberant singer, all of whom seemed to be enjoying themselves as much as the dancers. For me, it was like watching high-quality entertainment. Indeed, these people could dance! They moved to the beat of the music with an expertise that made me speculate that they had taken expensive lessons to become so expert, just as they took lessons to improve their golf game or their bridge skills.

I felt pleasure watching my 90-year-old brother twirling his spirited partner around the dance floor, executing intricate steps with ease and grace. I felt a pang of envy that I did not have a partner to swing to the beat. It was not a wish that I were young again; but a wish that at 94, I could be sharing the pleasure of this experience, rather than being a spectator.

Of course, these privileged people are not free of the fears and anxieties we all have, are heir to. They, too, mourn the loss of their youth and vigor, the death of loved ones, the aches and pains of aging, the woes of the world - but for some shining moments in time, it's "Lets Face the Music and Dance!"

Friday, January 2, 2009


Anticipating a holiday stirs the imagination and offers welcome relief from our everyday worries. Thinking about the Thanksgiving turkey, that special stuffing, the velvety smoothness of the pumpkin pie, makes our mouths water even before the actual meal is placed before us. Hearing the ringing bells, delighting in the twinkling lights, smelling the spicy tang of the Christmas trees lining the streets, evokes the feelings of pleasures to come...

But often, the reality of the celebration doesn’t live up to the anticipation. There’s fatigue, frustration and disappointment along with the joviality. Anticipation stirs up a fantasy of satisfaction that is often not realized in childhood or in later years.

The idea of going home for the holidays fills our thoughts weeks before the trip is to start. When we get home there is often the realization that everything has changed or nothing as changed. Amid the pleasure of reunion, there is the memory of past hurts, rivalry, the dreams that haven’t been realized. There is often a feeling of depression about time that can’t be relived, the aging clock that can’t be stopped.

When there’s no family, few friends, no plans, the loneliness can be more painful than at any other time. And then there’s the impact of the world around us. It’s Christmas 2008. ‘Tis the season to be jolly. We’re trying to feel the holiday surge, but have you heard much laughter, seen a lot of smiling faces? Most likely you’ve heard tales of woe, disbelief about this corrupt and frightening world.

And all that talk about money, money, money. There’s an old saying that when the Dow goes down the erections go down. Personal relations reflect the tensions and the fears. And then, undercutting our attempts to enjoy the holiday, whatever the circumstances, there is that moment of truth we recall, when we learned there really is not Santa Claus. But then again, there’s always the hope that next year he will appear.