THE CHEAT GOES ON
by Mike Sager
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about infidelity. I know you’ve thought about it, too. Billing the intern. Hiking the Appalachian trail. Ordering up a Spitzer. A little bit of Monica in your life. Or maybe you call it book club, or girls’ night out.
By any name, infidelity has been in the news a lot lately. There was the much-publicized affair that sank the political career of former Senator and presidential candidate John Edwards. And then there was Tiger Woods’s Thanksgiving melee with his wife, Elin Nordegren, that ended in a painful public apology and ultimately a costly divorce.
Two men, seemingly with everything to lose. Why did they cheat? And why did we hate them so much for doing it?
The common saw is that 50 percent of marriages fail. Clearly there are a number of flaws in our Judeo-Christian construct of marriage. Of course, that’s true of other religious and cultural bonding scenarios around the world: polygamy, arranged marriages, the selling of young girls like chattel. (I don’t know what gay people are thinking, wanting in on the whole marriage thing. Has any culture ever gotten it right?)
Marriage is a medicine that works effectively in some cases but also produces unintended side effects. Some things cause itchy eyes and constipation, some cause dry mouth and blurry vision. The major unintended side effect of marriage is infidelity.
A couple of years ago, presumably about the time that Edwards was still having sex on a regular basis with hippie videographer Rielle Hunter—a woman, as my mother would say, you wouldn’t select from a group of two—I was riding through a thick Louisiana deluge with John Edwards himself. He was on the campaign trail, running for president.
We were 20 miles north of New Orleans when the storm fell upon us, a punishing spring monsoon. The wind buffeted our little white minivan, turning the windshield a blurry opaque. Edwards was headed for the state capitol Baton Rouge; we’d just come from touring the 9th Ward where he’d spent the morning with the actor, Danny Glover, reconstructing a house.
Though the race was wide open at the time, a lot of people didn’t like Edwards. They ridiculed him for being a rich lawyer; there was the regrettable $400 haircut some staffer had mistakenly ordered up. But that day, seeing him on the job site, I was starting to think maybe people had it wrong about the guy. The way he swung a hammer, I took him for a decent man.
We’d interviewed for our allotted 45 minutes, but it was too rainy to pull over and let me out—I was supposed to trade places with a reporter in the chase vehicle where the other journalists were being held. Knowing that I’d have another crack at him later in the week in D.C., I thought I’d lighten things up.
I’d already been to his house and interviewed his wife, Elizabeth. That day she’d just returned from a doctor’s appointment; knowing now what I didn’t know then, her graciousness and her level of intimate fakery is truly astounding. At Edward’s 30,000-square foot strip mall of a home I’d been permitted a glimpse of his personal hoops court, the facade of which was built to resemble a barn. Now in the minivan, I asked him about playing basketball. Pretty soon he was telling war stories. His staff and driver joined in, and a sort of locker room atmosphere prevailed.
“I hope this isn’t too personal,” I said to Edwards, “but I was reading about how Elizabeth discovered her cancer this second go-around. It was a broken rib, correct?”
“Yes,” Edwards said.
“The papers said you were hugging her—which is always nice to hear, a married guy hugging his wife. It must have been bizarre. What happened, you just hugged her and heard a snap?”
“Maybe it is a little personal,” Edwards said, laughing self-consciously.
“So hugging was perhaps a euphemism?”
“That’s my story, and I’m stickin’ to it,” he said, raking his celebrated forelock with his fingers.
When we got to the next overpass, the van pulled over. My time with the candidate had run out. After greeting my fellow schmos in the chase vehicle, I receded from the raucous cynicism and fell into a meditative silence. In a way, my heart ached; I was feeling pretty moved. Elizabeth had been so gracious when I’d met her. I tried to put myself in the Edwards’s shoes. They’d been together since law school. They’d already lost a son to a tragic car accident—they were the parents of three other children. Now here they were facing Elizabeth’s death. The cancer, they knew, was incurable. Sitting on her overstuffed sofa in their Olympic-sized, open plan living area, she told me of her idea to take her younger two children to Disney World.
“I’m liable to die before I want to, before they want me to,” she said. Hearing that, we both choked up.
Being a man, I put myself in John Edwards’s place. I thought about the things that men think about, considered the things men consider. In the course of doing so, something rather manly occurred to me: this
guy is not getting laid. At all.
Now, before you become outraged by the juxtaposition of these topics—cancer and getting laid, cancer and infidelity—let’s examine things a little bit.
Maybe the big problem is that religious people long ago hijacked sex from the realm of the physical and made it part of faith. Infidelity. The act of being unfaithful. Of not having faith.
But what if we looked at sex as a bodily function? As purely a physical need. I can go to the bathroom without asking my spouse. But what if I needed her every time I had the urge to take a dump?
John Edwards’s wife had been seriously ill for a number of years—not exactly conducive to regular physical relations. Tiger traveled all the time and had two toddlers at home; all of us fathers who travel and have small children know what that lifestyle leads to—more fights with golf clubs than one would like to admit, I am sure.
To expect the physical needs of a pair of married people to always be equal is a great leap of faith, indeed. You want to know why 50 percent of marriages end in divorce? Maybe because you have two choices in marriage: you can choose to be faithful, or you can chose to not be faithful. A coin toss. Fifty percent.
Maybe, like marijuana, it’s time to decriminalize marital infidelity. There could be cooperatives where people could go, the spouses of partners with lower libidos than themselves. Like extra minutes, all that horniness could be collected and reassigned. Think of the taxes. This sort of thing could save the economy.
And millions of marriages.
Article courtesy of featurewell.com
BODY AND POLE
by Anu Yagi
I’ve seen women literally change their bodies and their lives through the pole,” says Amanda Furgiuele. Smiling and impossibly svelte, Furgiuele rattles off the list of classes she teaches, her lashes batting like a major league slugger: yoga, Pilates, dance, collegiate fencing, kayaking, surfing, rock climbing, spelunking, silk aerials. And yes, pole dancing.
Though “stripper” is to “pole” as “Mc” is to “Nugget,” Furgiuele says she’s not—nor has she ever been—an exotic dancer. Instead, as her résumé indicates, she’s a hardcore adventurer who was drawn to the pole’s athletic challenges five years ago. It fast became her new favorite obsession, and within a year she was teaching other women (and men, too) the tricks of the trade.
“Pole dancing is about self awareness, self expression and pure confidence,” says Furgiuele. “The only people we aim to please are ourselves.”
But, while learning the ins and outs of pole dancing, can—or should—its fitness element be segregated from its obvious sexual overtones?
“These classes aren’t just about being sexy—though that is a pleasant repercussion,” Furgiuele says. “They’re about moving the body, having fun and exploring every side of oneself—while getting a great workout.”
Over the last decade, erotic performing arts have emerged from society’s seedy underbelly and morphed into an international fitness craze—the once-taboo is now mainstream. And pole dancing is at the center of this blooming sub-genre.
The U.S. Pole Dancing Federation was founded in 2008, and since 2009 has hosted an annual Pole Dancing Championship. Pole and lap dance classes are cropping up at gyms and dance studios everywhere, accommodating young and old alike. Or, if you want to test the waters with your living room curtains drawn, videos like Carmen Electra’s Aerobic Striptease can be found in K-mart bargain bins (I actually own one of Electra’s DVDs, but dust is etched into its still-sealed cellophane).
In honor of this week’s Love & Sex issue, I decided to try out Furgiuele’s introductory class, called “The Nibbler”—90 minutes of “touch-me-feel-me” basic moves and a “take-home” dance routine. Furgiuele holds these semi-private classes (just a couple girls at a time) at Body in Balance, a Pilates and weight training center in Lahaina that’s decked out like an upscale day spa.
Pole skills are akin to a gig with Cirque Du Soleil or a Parisian cabaret. But supposedly, there’s no prerequisite for pole dancing. Athleticism (of which I am utterly devoid) is always something that can be earned. As for the playful, self-exploratory side of the sport, well, most women are capable of moving their bodies sensually, should the opportunity present itself. Unless, as I learned, you’re an asexual anomaly like moi.
Class began with Pilates-based warm-ups—from “tick tock tease” crunches where pointed toes dance in the air at 3, 6 and 11 o’clock, to “cat slides” and belly crawls back and forth across the floor like sexy soldiers under edible razor wire. Confused and jealous, I looked at Furgiuele and the two other girls in the class, trying in vain to mimic the mechanics of a caress or producing a smooth “hip circle” (let alone a sexy one). All I could manage was writhing like I had a case of chicken pox and oven mitts on both hands.
On the verge of collapse from the warm-up alone, I vowed to write apology letters to every boy I’ve been involved with—past, present and future. (“Dear John: I know that must have been a terrible experience for you. Terribly boring, if nothing else. I hope…”) But soon, it was time for pole work—and things, to my surprise, improved.
I was most adept at spritzing the pole with an alcohol solution in between turns, which is both hygienic and improves grip. And, I wasn’t so bad at “finding my whee,” which meant getting comfortable with the pole by lolling off it with one arm.
And to Furgiuele’s credit (and my classmates’ kind support), I somehow made it through the entire class without killing myself or anyone else, and by some miracle managed a spin called “the butterfly” (think of a fireman’s descent, but with toes pointed and knees cocked open). At the end of the move, Furgiuele kept telling me to “booty up”—rising from a squat by drawing my body in an “s” shape, my booty (or lack thereof) leading the charge. While I demonstrated the woes of scoliosis, everyone cheered me on anyway.
Just like Furgiuele said it might, the next day, my body felt changed. Everything hurt so good. All day long I moaned and groaned, the vestiges of stomach muscles buried in my marshmallow middle making unhappy retort—but I was glad just to know they were still there. And despite all my complaining, even I found pole dancing fun enough to warrant another spin.
DO THE WILD THING
by Jacob Shafer
Humans can be pretty perverted. But when it comes to sexual depravity we’ve got nothing on other members of the animal kingdom, whose mating habits make even our weirdest fantasies look downright tame. Here are four particularly odd—sometimes violent—predilections found among Hawaii’s kinkiest critters.
OK, this one’s more cute than anything. Much like a nervous virgin, mongooses giggle before sex. Or at least they make a noise that sounds a lot like giggling; the real purpose is to attract a mate. And clearly the men don’t take it as a sign of inadequacy, because the giggling often continues right through the courtship and into the deed itself.
Male dolphins conceal their penises in slits on their underside, but when the member emerges it’s quite a sight: long, muscular and prehensile, meaning it can move around and even pick up objects. They also have voracious sexual appetites and have been observed engaging in group copulation—sometimes with other males. Wait ’til the family values crowd gets wind of that.
Shot At Love
Garden snails are hermaphrodites—meaning they have both male and female reproductive organs—but that’s not what landed them on this list. Rather, it’s the fact that before bumping uglies (in this case quite literally) the snails attempt to shoot each other with “love darts,” mucous-coated, harpoon-like projectiles that give the sperm of the snail who strikes first an advantage. Though we’re guessing it makes the post-coitus pillow talk a tad awkward.
Got Him By the Balls
If you think your love life sucks, consider the plight of the male anglerfish, who is born much smaller than his female counterparts and often with an under-developed digestive system. Just about the only thing he has going for him is an acute sense of smell—which he uses to find the nearest lady anglerfish. He then bites her and literally dissolves into her body, leaving only a tiny, sperm-making lump behind.