When In Peloponnesia…

By: Ann Brown

I just started reading what I think is going to be an odd little book. THE UNCOUPLING, by Meg Wolitzer, so far, appears to be a story about a town where the women all lose their desire to have sex as a result of attending the local high school’s production of LYSISTRATA. I could be all wrong, of course; the book could turn out to be about, I don’t know, Matt Damon buying a zoo, or shoes, but I don’t think so.

Now it seems completely plausible to me that seeing a play about women withholding sex could influence the females in the audience to give the idea a whirl. I mean, since time immemorial, I have used sex as currency in my relationships. Sexual favors once got me a tune-up on my Chevy Nova. And a ride from Santa Cruz to Berkeley in a VW bug that had two untethered lawn chairs as its back seat. Which, at the time, seemed to me to be a major score but as I recount the tale tonight, I wonder if I might have set my sights higher. Like, for a real back seat.

Although, granted, the older and fatter I get, it would probably carry more cache if I’d promise to not have sex with a person from whom I wanted a favor these days.

Judge: Madam, you have stolen from the poor and mistreated baby animals. I sentence you to ten years in prison.

Me: How about if I sleep with you?

Judge: Oh. Well, then, following your ten year sentence, you will be hanged. And then, shot.

I am trying to remember the last time I withheld sex from Robin to get something I wanted. Well, there was that one time, from 1986 to 1995, but that was really mostly because I was just so damn tired and pissy from raising kids. I was a sex camel in those days – one night of humping and I was good for a year or two. Our sexual hiatus was also due to Robin and I being stuck in a birth control method standoff that only ended with the onset of my menopause a few years ago. Which did take care of the pesky little problem of fertility but brought with it the new ones of sprouting walrus whiskers on my chin and growing into a silhouette that implies I am pregnant with a hydrocephalic bison or two.

I don’t know of anyone else who is reading THE UNCOUPLING. I hate it when my friends don’t read the same book I am reading because then I have no idea if I like the book or not. I count on my friends to keep me sounding smart and erudite, and how can I pull that off if I can’t parrot their opinions?

I especially hate it when my super smart and erudite friends all LOVE a book that I didn’t love. Or worse, a book that I could barely get through without falling into various distracting and prurient reveries which might feature myself in a foursome with Stanley Tucci, Oliver Platt and Tony Shalhoub. Sometimes my reveries are so vivid that they mix with the book’s plot and I wind up saying shit to people like, “I was totally into the part where Dorothea and Celia were sitting naked on the potter’s wheel and Mr. Monk was the wet clay.” That’s usually when I have to feign a stroke or crash into something to cover up my blunder.

And even then, I know people are whispering about me as I limp away.

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Ann Brown

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