We All Have Bodies for a Good Reason

Remember Steve Martin?  He’s the guy that came up with the expression, “Excuse me!”  He used to be a comedian; now he’s an author.  Anyway, a long time ago, around the time he decided to stop being funny (some time in the early 1980’s), I read an interview he did for Playboy (don’t worry–he kept his clothes on–this wasn’t The Ugly George Show on local cable TV in New York City, in which both the unglamorous, heavily-accented host and equally unprepossessing guests appeared sans garments, apparently as a way to discourage coitus and promote birth control through the radical measure of sexual abstinence, as opposed to the opposite).

When the interviewer asked Big Steve why he no longer played dupes (as in his first and arguably funniest motion picture, The Jerk, not that it’s probably aged well; comedy seldom does), he answered, “Innocence isn’t sexy.”  I think the magazine even highlighted the statement because it was just so gosh-darned important.

At the time, in my innocent, virgin state as a fresh-feshed youth whose biggest worry was what to do about a terrorist attack on my face by a pimple, I realized that Mr. Martin was right, unless I was just such a sycophantic, obedient clone that I agreed with anything some famous person I admired said without question, which is more likely the case.

That meant of course that I wasn’t sexy.  No wonder I had to drink before I could seduce myself.  (As Woody Allen has one of his precocious elementary school students at the beginning of Annie Hall say–speaking of people who used to be funny:  “Even Freud said everyone has a latency period.”)  It’s a brutal job, but somebody’s got to do it.

Turn the Steve Martin quote around and what do you get?  “Sex isn’t innocent.”  That’s not to say that it’s evil, or sinful, or bad, or any of that bullshit.  Just that it helps if the people involved know what the hell they’re doing.  It’s funny that the Bible emphasizes sex for the purpose of procreation only, while frowning upon the act for the sake of pleasure, as many other holy books do too.

But if sex weren’t fun, most people wouldn’t have it, would they?  How many people, when they’re lusting after someone, say, “I want to have (or make) a baby tonight”?  Not many, I would imagine.

Anyone who’s a member of what George Orwell describes as the “Anti-Sex League” in 1984 might want to consider the benefits of getting regular sex.  If you’re a man, it’s a good way to prevent prostate cancer, since you keep your creative juices flowing and keep your prostate from falling asleep on the job.  I can’t speak for women, but, to quote Woody Allen again (from something I found once during a Google search; if it’s copyrighted, please forgive me, Woodrow):  “Sex relieves tension; love creates it.”

Although fornication and copulation are hardly panaceas for our problem-choked world, they do give people something extra to live for.  As ways of expressing love, they do exhibit a special kind of undeniable innocence.  As acts of mutual lust, they’re a lot better for you than playing computer games or watching soap operas.

The Buddha said that people shouldn’t engage in “sexual misconduct”.  By that he meant committing adultery or rape, or using sex as a way to manipulate someone; sex without humanity is evil and wrong, and is best avoided.

But there’s something grotesque about celibacy, and it’s not exactly a ticket to longevity.  If you don’t believe me, take a look at the number of people choosing to become Shakers, a celibate faith.  In case you don’t know how many new recruits there are, the answer is zero.  There’s no future in abstinence, and probably none in total innocence either (we Westerners have done an outstanding job exterminating most of the earth’s indigenous people; you’re welcome, civilization–not to say that all of them have been entirely “innocent” either; innocence, like perfection, is probably a myth anyway, at least when you’re talking about human beings as opposed to other species, including various kinds of trees).

Let’s face it:  the human race is a corrupted, irreparably debased species that ought to stop fruitlessly multiplying for the sake of future generations (ironically) and the livability of this super-charismatic planet, but that doesn’t mean we should stop making love to each other and enjoying the myriad pleasures of the flesh, as long as we can do it without being scumbags about it.

So get it on and have a nice day.

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