Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Book Club and Toy Party

I'm in two writers' critique groups and two book clubs. One of the writing groups comprises published writers, the other is for folks at the beginning of their writing careers. Similarly one of my book clubs reads typical book club literary fiction (Love in the Time of Cholera, The Book Thief, that sort of thing, usually published within the past year). The other book club is a little more diverse in terms of geography, age, lifestyle (e.g. kids or no kids, partnered or not), and reading material. Over the past year we've read plays, classics, and genre fiction, but nothing published within the past 12 months.

My first book club, the book club book club, the one comprising mostly married suburban white women between ages 32-33 with young children, the one where we read A Fine Balance and The Life of Pi, met this week.

We discussed Just Do It: How One Couple Turned Off The TV and Turned On Their Sex Lives for 101 Days (No Excuses!) by Douglas Brown. Frankly, my expectations couldn't have been any lower. I read all the 1 star reviews. I scorned the idea publicly.

And then I caved and picked up a copy from the library, Ada comfortably settled on my hip. I scored a young librarian, probably somewhere around my own age, but I was in Mommy-running-errands mode and it hadn't even really occurred to me to be too embarrassed about my choice, at least until she carefully and obviously put the book face down on the counter and slid it across to me with . . . was that actually a wink?! "Book club selection," I found myself mumbling inexplicably. "Meeting tomorrow. Probably won't even read the thing."

I was uncomfortable. Who knew?! I started reading and taking notes about what I didn't like. Within a couple of hours, I'd already laughed aloud three times and put down my pen. There were parts that might have been better, parts that I didn't feel entirely comfortable with or had trouble believing. But over all . . . I really enjoyed the book! Which is not to say that Paul and I are going to attempt such a marathon ourselves. Craziness! But I would like for him to read it. There's good relationship stuff in there, in addition to humor and, um, suggestions and stuff.

To go along with the book discussion, my book club had an adult toy party. The engagement was billed as being, "sort of like a Pampered Chef party, but for sex toys." I knew what to expect, but somehow opening my friend's front door and seeing a large collection of colorful . . . toys . . . spread out on the coffee table was still somewhat jarring. No foreplay, just - pow! - vibrating pink silicone right there in view.

Weirdest of all - it was really fun. And the discussion afterward was so great. There are things that - believe it or not - even girlfriends don't often discuss seriously. At least not in my experience. And we talked honestly about some pretty significant but frequently ignored things.

And then I came home. Have I mentioned this week's homework assignment for our marriage enrichment Sunday School class? We're in the midst of a chapter called "God’s Plan for Sexual Intimacy." Pretend that your relationship with your partner is very new. And pretend that you're someone who would not have sex on the first date. Each day this week, set a limit for yourself. To stay in the mood, it might be helpful to remember all those bases we talked about incessantly in high school. Determine in advance how far you're willing to let things go each day; touch and cuddle with your partner . . . but don't go all the way! At the end of the week, at your discretion, you might choose to recreate a "wedding night" type of scenario.

Yeah. The timing of this book club selection and Sunday School homework assignment was a little . . . unfortunate. If Paul and I were newly dating high school kids, we might be considered just a little bit slutty.

So, how about you? If it were NOT assigned to you by your pastor, would you make a commitment to have sex with your partner every single day - no excuses - for a week? A month? 101 looooong days? When fighting, when sick, when traveling, when children won't sleep?

And have you ever been to one of those sex toy parties?


  1. I cannot answer any of these questions because I don't know where my teens will find me online! ;)

  2. Yes . . . it occurs to me that I should probably have put a little warning on this post. Or at least not published it 24 hours after The Book Review Club!

  3. Anny was invited to one once but we were piss poor broke and she has this guilty feeling whenever she goes to a pampered chef type party... So she stayed home.

    Boys don't do parties like that, that's why there are sporting events in all major cities. It's our party. :o)

    I have been married long enough to know that I'm not committing to having any sex in a week, much less seven such experiences. 101 days? I can't even commit to eating dinner for 101 straight days!

  4. Rob, I think I would get a kick out of going to one of those parties with Anny, but I'm with her . . . I always buy a little something at the skin care, kitchenware, candles, etc. parties. And the toy party was no exception, though the business model is clever. They sell bath and moisturizer-type products in addition to sex-related stuff, which allows everyone to feel comfortable admitting that they bought *something* even if they're not comfortable buying a toy. Or 'fessing up to buying a toy.

    As for the guy thing, hey, there's actually value in honestly discussing stuff the way it really works, without boasting, to counter the way sex is portrayed on TV. I think more guys should do it!

    One of my friends had fallen out of the sex habit, so she and her husband committed to 7 days in a row - every month! - she said it's been great so far.

    But I never ever miss dinner. Obviously!

  5. Interesting. I'd heard about this book before, but like you assumed it would be crappy.

    I wouldn't commit to sex every day for any length of time, most likely. I'm a firm believer that having sex when you really don't want to is a bad thing for your sex life, and being a somewhat moody person, any commitment longer than a week would end up including days when I really didn't want to. Plus I value my sleep quite highly. ;) It also kind of reminds me of the idea that a couple *should* be having X amount of sex. I tend to think that a couple should be having as much sex as they want to have...whether its twice a day, once a week, or once every three months.

    I've never been to one of those parties, although I'd be curious to hear more about it. I "know" a representative from one of those companies online, and she is constantly recommending things that aren't that awesome. Jelly toys, tightening or numbing creams, saying that you should never use soap on silicon toys, despite the manufacturers recommendations to the contrary.

    I did have a friend buy me a gift certificate to babeland, which made me laugh hysterically and then start shopping!

  6. Jess, I agree. If I was having sex when I didn't want to, I'd soon start resenting my partner and that would be a Bad Thing.

    The neat thing about what this couple did in the 101 days marathon was that they both really wanted to do it (it was her idea but he was totally on board).

    And it wasn't just because it sounded sexy. It was sex, of course, and that's very stimulating and provocative - and sells books. But the real thing it did was bring them closer together, united in a common cause, forcing them to put their busy-ness aside for a few months to carve out daily time for just the two of them, alone, sans kids, sans work, sans all external distractions.

    I think this could be accomplished without sex, but I love the idea of uniting in an intentional relationship-enhancing adventure like this one.

    As for the toys, well . . .
    Yay for (safe, high quality) toys!
    BOO HISS for cheapo jelly toys, tightening/numbing creams, and poor hygiene! (Also, silicone can safely be boiled and sterilized. Like baby bottles. Clean is good.)

  7. "I love the idea of uniting in an intentional relationship-enhancing adventure like this one."

    Yeah!! My partner and I almost always go to bed together, and when we don't, he tucks me in and we talk for a few minutes. I'd rather do that every night than have sex, quite frankly...but either way, its a nice daily way to reconnect.

  8. It really is. We should do more of that.

  9. I have pondered that "sex for X number of days" idea and its always put me off. I hate to rely on the old standby of "too tired", but mostly I am! We have recently made the commitment to kiss goodnight every night, which sounds like a no-brainer but for us was something that was falling by the wayside. I think it has rekindled a good deal of intimacy, just knowing we plan on doing that every night.

    Physical reconnection is something I think we need daily, and once that is established it seems easier to get to the point where daily (or heck, weekly? monthly?) sex is a more do-able (no pun intended) option.

    Never been to a sex toy party, but I think I would be up for one in the right crowd. :)

  10. I've been to a sex toy party - the woman who was there running it wasn't terribly informative, but my friends certainly were.