Sex With a License

They say married people don't have sex anymore. I say, yo, speak for yourself. Granted, we may barely recall those leisurely Sunday marathons, fellating between Op-Ed pages and slices of smoked salmon. And it's true that the idea of staying up all night—even to play with yummy gizmos and practice tantra—is laughably unattractive. But don't count us out as far as now-the-baby's-sleeping rip-off-my-clothes and bang-me-against-the-wall kind of fucks. We may be married but we're not dead.

Having small children is a challenge to sanity, libido, and stamina. It's easy to understand why women forget how they got knocked up in the first place. I used to think it was impossible to be too tired to have sex. These days, nursing at 5 a.m., I wonder what it's like not to be tired all the time. I'm like my old Chevy Nova, my husband says; it takes a while to warm me up but I'll never leave him stranded.

Now we are like teenagers, sneaking around looking for places to have sex, hiding from the other generation with whom we cohabit. Any moment of semi-awake non-exhaustion can lead to a tryst. I locked my office door recently, risking expulsion and poverty to get it on with my legal spouse. Showers are good, especially when visiting relatives. (A half-hour of baby-sitting must never be squandered, though I confess that being permanently sleep-deprived means sometimes a nap precedes any call to action.) Rug burns are sexy. Canoes are tricky, we learned. Snow is cold. But a restaurant bathroom can be quite lovely if it doesn’t stink. The possibility of being caught in flagrante adds a delicious edge.

The truth is that having sex is an active choice. We don't just fall into bed like a couple of undergrads. Doing the nasty takes energy, motivation, timing, and luck. Lingerie doesn't hurt either. Sometimes just the sound of an erection is enough to wake the baby. Sometimes I feel like my body is being consumed by my progeny and there's nothing left for me to share. But then my honey whispers to me in his Spanish-flavored basso profundo and I reach for him and remember why it was I got married in the first place.

 
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