Archive for November, 2011

A matter of balance

November 26, 2011

Libidos, for women, are an inconstant thing.

My research has proven this again and again, and while delving into sexual desire for the ladies in their 60s, I encountered an imbalance I was forced to address.

Here’s what happened. After we selected 16 excellent and balanced surveys, I started calling the respondents, hoping to set up 8 interviews. Some said yes, some had voice mail machines, some had left the state. The out of towners all expressed a willingness to do phoners, but that’s never my first choice — so I thanked them and moved on.

And I started doing interviews.

Wonderful interviews. With women who shared very interesting stories.

But a little ways into the process, I realized my subjects were trending toward the low-libido side. One married woman hadn’t had sex in 7 months; a single woman said it had been 7 years. A married lesbian said she and her partner hadn’t made love in over a year.

All of this is to be expected in a chapter dealing with women in their 60s, but I knew from the 193 surveys in this decade that other women were having a different experience. I flipped back through my 16 chosen surveys and realized that all four of the Florida evacuees had filled out surveys indicating a high libido and sexy stories to share.

Darn!

I became more aggressive about reaching the remaining women in my batch that were interested in sex, but even so, when I sat down to write the chapter, I realized the overall balance was tipped too far in the “no, thanks” column. So I called Dr. Mo, told her the situation, and suggested I go back for more interviews before I tried to write the chapter. Though I already had 7 interviews, enough for a chapter, she agreed — and we moved our deadline date for the chapter to be completed. I lined up another interview the next day and then called one of the relocated gals who was returning to Florida for Thanksgiving and pigeon-holed her for a face-to-face interview while she’s in town. She was a great sport about sacrificing some of her vacation, and our talk is scheduled for tomorrow.

And then — we’ve allowed just 5 days to write the chapter. I know. Very tough. I had 57 pages of notes last time I checked, which is even more than the 40s. But I’m hopeful. The 60s feel less scattered and somehow more manageable material-wise than the 40s. The ladies seem to fall into groups more easily, instead of being quite so distinct — although of course each woman’s story is filled with unique details. Two women began having sex at age 16, two more at 17, one each at 18 and 19 and one at 22. Kay, the lesbian of the group, started earlier, at age 14 with a girl a couple of years older.

And most of the women are in their late 60s; the youngest is 64, though tomorrow’s interview is 63. The older ages are partially a result of the sheer length of time it’s been since they filled out their survey. We spent 15 months accumulating the 1,300 surveys and it’s taken me this long to work my way through all of the decades. So most of the women are two years older now.

I’m not worried. The project and research are valid; that I know. I still feel confident about landing an agent with our good idea and the book’s progress so far. Just this week I sent out six query letters or proposals to agents I feel are a good match for the material. Keep your fingers crossed that the right person signs on to help us turn this project into a book you’ll find at Barnes & Noble.

Meanwhile, I am struggling through the final indignity of my ordeal with adult braces. I write a monthly column for The Palm Beach Post and I’ve decided my next one will deal with the topic of outright deception by orthodontists. The information they don’t give you on the front end of braces could easily fill a file cabinet, and while I understand the impulse, I cannot forgive it. Again and again I was blindsided by unpleasant surprises and unforeseen requests. When this is over, I will never look at rubber bands the same. They are no longer friendly, helpful office supplies; their evil twins are instruments of torture.

The zig zag elastics I’m wearing now are woven criss-cross between my bottom and top teeth to “set” my bite, and they do not allow me to talk, drink water except through a straw, take pills or even lick my lips. It creates this weird claustrophobia, where you feel trapped inside your mouth. I distract myself in order to not get panicky about it. Then when you remove them to eat, your teeth feel all loosey-goosey and it hurts to chew meat or anything crunchy.

But what else is new? After 16 months, I should be used to this. Funny thing: I never got used to it.

HOWEVER … God willing and the creek don’t rise, the braces come off Dec. 6, which is a few weeks before my predicted removal date. I attribute this to my dogged insistence on following every rule laid down for me. In all this time, I have only once forgotten to wear my bands at night, and I’ve been pretty compulsive about daytime wear as well.

Yes, I’ve been a good little patient — but I haven’t been good-spirited. A girlfriend who’s well acquainted with my usually optimistic nature told me recently she loved that for once I was not taking mistreatment lying down. She made it clear she was fine with me refusing to look on the bright side and instead complaining with gusto.

Needless to say, she immediately became my favorite person.

Just think, Faithful Blog Readers. Very soon these posts will no longer contain my grumblings and whinings on the oh-so-absorbing topic of braces.

I’m thinking that will be a day we can all celebrate!

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