"Whenever I go into a restaurant, I order both a chicken and an egg to see which comes first"

Thursday, February 6, 2020

How Many Shots Left In The Magazine? A Sexual Primer For The Mature Man

Harry Fenster had had his share of sexual adventures, not as many as this historic Lotharios to be sure – Wilt Chamberlain, for example, former basketball great who claimed that he had slept with 20,000 women – but enough to look back on with some pride and satisfaction.  At the dawn of each new decade of his life, Harry wondered how much longer his sexual appeal and performance would last.  Would he still be sexually active and appealing at 50? 60? 70? 

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An Indian sadhu in Calcutta had told him that there were only so many shots in one’s magazine, and although their number could never possibly be calculated, it was worth operating on the principle that they were finite, that it was worth a man’s while to husband them carefully.  The sexual promiscuity of the West, he observed, was bound to leave many men high and dry before their time.  Why deplete the magazine, he asked, on insignificant affairs when just the right woman might come along many years later?

Of course Harry, still a young man whose sexual relations were still sexual mating opportunities and were not yet the anodynes for a bad marriage that they would become, was skeptical.  If one too carefully marshalled one’s sexual ammunition, mightn’t one miss out on the perfect woman who came on early rather than late?

As in all religions, beliefs recorded in sacred texts, after a thousand or more years of recitation and interpretation by priests and prophets, get transformed and often distorted beyond recognition as they are shared among believers.  Saint Paul, for example, Jesus principal interpreter, advocate, and overseer, was an originalist who adhered as closely as possible to the original text of the Gospels, for he knew that if proper attention to their original meaning was not paid, they would soon become more heretical than the many sects that challenged orthodox Christianity.   Of course Paul’s interpretation of Christ’s words were themselves biased by character and personality.  His views on sex, chastity, and fidelity were far more restrictive and punitive than anything recorded in the Gospels.

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The theory of kundalini states that a cosmic energy accumulates at the base of the spine, and as the soul matures on its way to infinite understanding and enlightenment, the energy migrates up the spine until finally it reaches the head, producing an extremely profound transformation of consciousness.

By the time the theory of kundalini had reached the Calcutta sadhu, while the principle of bodily migration had been retained, energy had been transformed into sperm, a holy essence not to be spent unwisely.  If a man were to be profligate in his sexual activity, his precious essence would migrate back down again to the base of the spine, and his spiritual progression would have to begin all over again.

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It was all humbug, Harry initially thought – migrating sperm and spiritual repositories – but maybe Henry was missing something.  After all, modern physics is based on the conservation of energy, entropy, and transfer; and Einstein posited an even more profound idea – that matter and energy were interchangeable.  No less a writer than D.H. Lawrence was as Tantric as Hinduism and believed in the epiphanic nature of pure and complete sexual union, so perhaps the sadhu was on to something.  If energy was indeed fungible, and if perfect, complementary sex could be spiritual, then perhaps sex was more substantial than a quick roll in the hay.

All this is preamble to the real story of how the conservation of sexual energy – husbanding essence, maintaining a careful inventory of ammunition in the armory, and being judicious concerning its use  - became an obsession for Harry Fenster.  Like most obsessions it eventually crippled his actions.  As he got older, he was torn between ‘affordable’ sexual expenditure and plain and simple sexual desire.  After twenty years of an indifferent marriage to a woman who had all but lost her sexual drive after  giving birth to their two children; and who had become obsessive herself about expenditure, Harry felt that amorous adventure was the only way out.   Two complementary obsessions– one sexual and the other financial –were mutually destructive and dangerous indeed. 

So in his forties, Henry set sail into uncharted waters.  He had always loved the company of women, but his liaisons had been relatively few, and most before marriage; so outside the shipping lanes the sexual waters were a bit rough and unpredictable.  Yet this was exactly what he wanted – diversion, exploration, and challenge.  He travelled for a living, so encounters were not difficult.  In fact this cadre of international experts was especially open and eager.  Adventure, whether travelling in the African bush or in bed with a stranger seemed to be derived from the same source.

Yet after a number of years, the routine became cold.  He had always enjoyed sailing in and out of port where the safe harbor of earth and home added counterpoint to verandahs and rum punches.  It was a good life, and yet it was in these moments of fading allure, when the face of the bearded, dreadlocked, face-painted Calcutta sadhu again reared.  He was drawing down on his sexual inventory with no substantial reward.  The sadhu’s philosophy of temperance, judiciousness, and purpose hidden behind the sadhu’s humbug made more and more sense. He was indeed a man on a firing range shooting at paper targets.

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So he stopped cruising hotel bars, coffee shops, and swimming pools, and negotiated a desk job at a Washington international bank.   He was no more dutiful to his wife than he ever was, although she took his new more sedentary life as a renewed commitment to her and their marriage.  In fact it was hard to shake his impatience with her and it.  This new life had no spunk, and this constant dissembling and emotional gardening was irritating.  He had drawn in his horns a bit too far.  There was no way of finding sexual epiphany or a more satisfying love if he stayed in the chaise lounge.  There might only be a limited number of shots in the magazine especially now that he was well into his fifties, but it was worth firing a few rounds here and there.

When he reached his sixties with nothing to show either for hearth and home or for his renewed sexual adventurism, he found himself in a quandary, neither here nor there, neither fish nor fowl.  As his sexual potency began to diminish, the remaining shots in the magazine became all the more valuable.  The more he abstained from sexual pleasure and the more he husbanded his resources, the more desirous he became; so when the time came to open the armory, he was locked and loaded.

Of course the older he became, regardless of pent up demand there were fewer and fewer women who found him attractive or even interesting.  He had not figured on his.  He, like most men never give up the fantasy of their sexual appeal.  What had worked at forty would surely work at sixty and beyond.  Upon reflection, however, it would have been much better to have emptied the ammunition vault and shoot with abandon.

There are two great ironies in the world.  One, expressed by Konstantin Levin in Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, is God’s first irony – he created Man as an intelligent, resourceful, creative, witty, and insightful creature, far more advanced than any of his other creations; gave him a scant few decades of life, then consigned him for all eternity in the cold, hard ground of the steppes.  God’s second irony was to give men sexual obsession until the day they die while limiting their performance to but a few, short years.

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Harry Fenster was one of these men; and while he had given up thoughts of the sadhu, Lawrence and the magazine long ago, he still spent sleepless nights tossing and turning around images of women he had missed, lost, or misplaced. If only, he thought…but, then again, he had had his chance, had made his bed and now was lying in it.  Not a bad life altogether but still he couldn’t shake images of beautiful Usha and the firing range.

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