Unreal gets pitched some nifty story ideas. Rare, though, is the offer of an actual column, especially like the one that was proposed by senior advocate, author and NBC Today show contributor Jim Miller. His "Savvy Senior" column "is one of the most popular, widely read, and affordable newspaper columns (between $5 and $20 per column depending on circulation size) in America."
Or so said his e-mail.
Well goshdarnit, seeing as how the only geezer we know who reads this thing is our mother-in-law (thanks, babe!), it seemed worthwhile to spend ten minutes on the blower with Miller. Would the Oklahoman have any helpful hints on Wii bowling? Geriatric STDs? Tips we could pass on to our tomb-raider friends?
Unreal: Looks like you're offering a pretty inexpensive — dare I say cheap? — product. Could you tell us what's available?
Jim Miller: [Laughs] What's your circulation?
Print? Eighty-some thousand.
This is the St. Louis what?
You're a weekly. OK. Ten bucks a week.
Nice! And we'd get what, exactly?
Just about everything you can imagine. At least once a month I hit on something in the health field. I do a lot of products/services-type things. I don't cover as much in financial topics for seniors because there's so much financial news out there already. I do a couple of travel articles a year. You name it, I probably covered it at one point in time.
We're an alt-weekly with a readership that's a little more, I dunno, cutting edge. Would we get something on how to rig the 60-and-over Wii bowling tournament, or where the buffet bandits can find the best "free" spreads?
I don't write anything local. It's a Q&A. People ask a question; I provide them answers.
Have you heard about the latest trend in senior sex, tomb-raiders?
I can't say I've ever heard about that. I've written about online dating. And about blogging. I do get a lot of questions from people in their forties and fifties who deal with parents and don't know what to do.
Like what to do when you find sex toys in your parents' bedroom?
I wouldn't touch upon that. I would not go there. [Laughs.] Another topic I really won't get up on is the age demographic that is getting AIDS faster than any other demographic: that's people over the age of 65.
That's a big one. The answer to that is to wear a condom. To make a whole column about that, about those retirement community "Casanovas" is what they call them, where men will have sex with prostitutes, then get in a nursing room, sleep with women whose husbands have died, and the women will get AIDS and die — no. It's pretty disgusting, actually. I just won't touch that.
Because it's such a small demographic of people. And for various reasons. I hit more broad-stroking things.
Paging Erin Cockovich
Not long ago Unreal was paging through a venerable, shall we say, local society newspaper, and happened upon an intriguing personal ad from a lawyer in pursuit of a "slender, very intelligent lady, age 45 to 55." Since we fit one of the criteria, we thought it was worth a quick call, if only to learn what it meant when he wrote, "I am infused with inertia. Primarily watching DVD movies."
The first time we rang, he was busy putting together a brief "for the Supreme Court." At 4:30 p.m. the next day, he took an errand break at a local mall's food court to speak with us, beginning the conversation with, "So when are we going to set the wedding date?"
Unreal: Whoa, there!
Lady-seeker: OK, ask me anything you want.
Does "infused with inertia" refer to a drug-induced state, or...?
N-o-o-o! [Laughs] I'm sipping a little soda here, but no, what it means is I'm sick and tired of going out. I'm tired of the rat race. I'm tired of running around.
How old are you?
Let me think, let me think. I am the big five-oh, but I look and act like I'm 85 to 90.
Are you generally "infused with inertia" on a couch, a recliner or in a hot tub?
Ooh, a hot tub. God, I haven't been in a hot tub in years — that'd be great. I'm infused with — look "infused" up in the dictionary. I'm full of inertia. And full of crap, too.
So when you say you're "primarily watching DVD movies," do you mean flicks like Erin Brockovich or Erin Cockovich?
Erin what-you-call-it! [Laughs] What'd you say? See, when I went in for an ingrown-toenail removal, they mixed my records up with the next patient's and they removed my entire brain.
But you can still argue before the U.S. Supreme Court?
Well, listen, I never understood legal words, and that's why I have had to move around a lot.
So: Brockovich or Cockovich?
Cockovich? Like with a "c," for Charlie?
Well, I happen to like that first syllable. Now, I'm not easy. But as I said to my last date, "Playboy's Playmate of the Year was banging on my front door, and what are you going to do?" You have to help the girl out. Now, you can't just jump in the sack with somebody until you get to know them five or ten minutes. [Pause] Are you there?
Everybody Was Doing It
Unreal knows sexual repression when we see it. It arrives in stuffy love letters, strange advertisements promising a much-improved sex life and in scientific journal-type articles about wife-swapping.
Cue Sexology, a magazine published for decades in these proud United States. A recently published tome The Best of Sexology: Kinky and Kooky Excerpts from America's First Sex Magazine is a compilation from the magazine's golden era, the 1930s through the 1960s. Ranging from the bizarre (articles on homosexual chickens) to the absurd (can humans and animals crossbreed?), these stories, says editor Craig Yoe, helped shape our history, bending us — don't even think it — toward a better day.
"I think in retrospect all of this is very funny," Yoe says. "It shows how we have changed in our sex lives and how we haven't."
He's a Nazi Boy: "Adolf Hitler's lust for political power and for world conquest probably resulted in greater misery, destruction and death than have ever been caused by any single individual in history," begins Isadore Rubin's contribution to the March 1958 edition of Sexology.
"The overwhelming cruel ambition of this would-be dictator of the world, we are now told, may have been in large part due to an effort to compensate for the fact that in the sexual sphere Hitler was completely frustrated. Completely impotent, Hitler was in turn sadistic and masochistic, finding these means to release his tremendous nervous energy, which could never find release in consummation of the sex act."
Whacks On: The following disclaimer was printed at the bottom (heh-heh) of this 1946 piece: "Not all spankings and beatings are pure punishment. Behind more corporal punishment lurks quite a different sensation, often masked to the spanker himself. The present article, by an authority in his field, makes this clear."
Withdrawal Symptoms: In August of 1968, Hugo G. Beigel, Ph.D., pointed out that "if the man's withdrawal is due to homosexual leanings, or to fear of ultimate failure because he overrates an uninhibited woman's sexual appetite, he may reject her." And: "Sexual advances by a woman are particularly not likely to succeed if the husband has grounds to suspect that his wife is competitive and tries to control him."
Honeymoon Sweets: "Various factors in the setting can still be of great advantage in making the first intercourse a good rather than a bad memory for one or both," write the authors of this piece from 1961.
"Locker-room talk often stresses the idea that a man is doing the girl a favor if he is forceful and ruthless during the first penetration. The false reasoning is that a gradual advance prolongs the pain while a swift powerful act gets it over with and leaves the girl pleased with his virility and grateful for his decisiveness in settling the problem once and for all."