|October 29, 2010
It Lives! (By Which, I Mean Monogamy)
"Thou art Grog, etc., and so forth"
I know it seems as if I’m beating the proverbial dead horse by picking
on monogamy yet again, but face it, this horse is hardly dead. Like the
old man being lugged prematurely to the corpse cart in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, monogamy feels fine. It thinks it might go for a walk. It is apt to break
into a screechy rendition of “I Feel Happy” at any moment.
At one point in my upcoming book Wussie: In Praise of Spineless Men, I somewhat self-servingly praise the rise of monogamy in early human societies for allowing meek and cowardly men to pass along their genes, leading inexorably to me and Alan Colmes—an observation that I stand by. I go on to speculate as to the origin of human monogamy, theorizing that prehistoric women, suddenly realizing one day that they loathed sharing the few sponge-worthy men with each other even more than they loathed mating with wussies, convened a summit and resolved that henceforth, they would spread the wealth around by permanently pairing off with lifelong partners. On that one, I was just fooling.
Really, now, I know better than that. It could not possibly have been a
woman's idea to drag humanity screaming into monogamy, if only because
women are so much better than men at gauging the long-term consequences
of actions. (Rupert Murdoch may be a bit of a blister, but do you honestly
think he intended to make Fox News what it is today? I rest my case.)
It is clear that the real villain in the story is not women, but agriculture.
With the advent of agriculture came the concept of land ownership and the
attendant problem of succession. For the first time it became important
for a man to know exactly which of the myriad rugrats slobbering and stumbling
around the village were, in fact, his own, and the only way to simplify
that process was to restrict women from swapping fluids with more than
With monogamy in place, Early Man could haul a bawling infant into his fields and say, with confidence for the first time, “Thou art Grog, fruit of my loins, my only begotten son,” or some such hackneyed claptrap. “Grog, all that thou seest before thee shall one day be thine!” In due time, of course, along would come Slog, Nog, and Zog, each of them likewise the certifiable fruit of Early Man’s loins, but they would be SOL what with the advent of primogeniture. But that’s neither here nor there. The message here, as always: Agriculture sucks.
All of which brings us back to the jaw-dropping Survey of American Men from the October issue of Esquire, which I referenced last time out. Thoroughly unscientific as Esquire surveys tend to be, they are nonetheless impossible to skip. This year
is no exception, as the editors have cagily pitted a sample of some three
hundred twenty-year-olds against an equal number of fifty-year-olds.
Survey Item 28 is the focus of our interest. It poses the loaded question,
“Do you believe that lifelong monogamy is a realistic expectation for a
married couple?” The twenty-year-old lads say yes by a 64%-36% margin;
the fifty-year-olds agree by an 81%-20% margin. The explanation that leaps
to mind is that the average fifty-year-old is considerably more likely
than the average twenty-year-old to have a Significant Other peering over
his shoulder while he fills out surveys.
But here’s the thing: Soon afterward, the Esquire survey blindsides the respondents with “How many sexual partners have you had?” offering as choices “1,” “2 to 4,” “5 to 8,” “9 to 12,” “13 to 15,” “More than 15,” and “None.” By far the most common response by the monogamy-loving geezers was “more than 15” (36%), while only 8% of the callow youths dared make that claim. For the youths, “2 to 4” narrowly edged out “None”—yes, “None”!—for most popular response, 28% to 26%.
These stunning data spawn a trio of theories:
The “Monica Doesn’t Count” Theory
Straight away, I wondered if the youths of America aren’t selling themselves
a bit short. We codgers must remember that they grew up in a post-Lewinsky
world, in which the definition of “sexual partner” has been tightened up
considerably. Looking at the mugshots that Esquire provides of select participants, I can well imagine that some of these
young chaps have been the lucky recipients of several poignant blowjobs
and handjobs in their time—well, not the chubby Sikh in the turban, but
a number of the rest—and it simply never occurs to them to count the benefactors
behind those delights as “sex partners.”
A fifty-year-old, on the other hand, will blithely count as a sex partner any female who ever made his day through any sort of physical contact whatsoever: oral sex providers, manual sex providers, that chick who brushed past him on her way to a seat at the Moonstruck premiere back in ‘87, etc.
The Stat-Crazed Geezer Theory
Then again, I’m guessing that the favored team sport of the geezers is
Major League Baseball, and that of the youths is the NBA or NFL. We all
know that baseball is way more stat-centric than the other sports. Every
fan may know that Wilt Chamberlain supposedly reigns as the top NBA scorer
off the court, but few fans know or care who any of the top three scorers
are on it. But baseball fans relish stats, especially those pertaining
to themselves. Which leads us to...
The Wisdom of Age Theory
Geezers are blessed with the knowledge that it doesn’t really go on your
permanent record if you get caught telling lies to Esquire.
But I digress. Let’s back up and put the two answers given by the elders
together—the one about monogamy and the one about the number of sex partners.
These wizened chaps appear to be asking us to believe the following:
Yes, I sowed wild oats all through my teens and twenties, tearing through
upwards of fourteen hot chicks like the proverbial tornado through a trailer
park and loving every minute of the freedom and variety before finding
and promptly wedding the one, true soulmate of my life, since which time
I have never looked sideways at a flight attendant or server or college
girl. When perky-bosomed vice presidential candidates wink at me, I blush
and turn aside. I am content to stick with the same-old-same-old, week
in and week out, year in and year out, as long as we both shall live.
To which I say: Well, great. Glad the whole hopey-changey monogamy thing
is working out fer yah.
I just hope you’ll understand, though, that it’s not that easy for some folks, like me and my Chilean miner friends.