Though our televisions these days suggest that human beings are driven by singing, dancing, getting lost on a desert island and protecting the President, there are still sufficient of us who can allow ourselves to admit that the heart of the human engine (and, indeed, the other way around) is sex.
We are far more lenient towards those we’d quite like to have sex with. We are far more prepared to vote for those who seem to exude that strange niff that is sex appeal. And we are, please dare to disagree, far nicer people after we have had sex than we were before it started.
Take Monica Lewinsky. Before she had enjoyed her under-the-table sexual encounters at the White House, perhaps she was viewed as a social climber, a woman who could look through the glass ceiling and see, well, something that resembled a walnut.
After her under-the-table encounters, we gave her tabula rasa.
We sympathized with her. On so many different levels.
And Eliot Spitzer, a man who made enemies like Kelloggs make Pop Tarts.
Then he popped with a tart and we wonder whether to give him a little “oh, never mind, you can still become President in a few years” or a “huh, you’re a fool like the rest of us, so maybe you’re OK.”
For a long time, I, and I am sure many American Idol fans reading this, thought that celebrities have sex lives unlike our own. They indulge in sexcapades that would make Phidippides look like Ben Johnson. They have eugenic drug-fueled orgies, a famous TV presenter with a suprahandsome model, a beautiful young actress with, well, another beautiful young actress, entranced and entwined for hours without end or Viagra.
A couple of ordinary-looking and, for all I know, abnormally libidinous researchers from Penn State University, decided to put our depressing (for us) world-view to the test.
Eric Corty and Jenay Guardiana went to the Society for Sex Therapy and Research and asked fifty of its finest therapists, who have minstered to thousands of sexually confused, curious and confounded over decades, to tell them just how long satisfactory sexual conjoinment lasts.
May I suggest you lie down before I tell you that the answer was between three and thirteen minutes?
Yes, most people are entirely satisfied within the time it takes to hard-boil an egg.
Which, indeed, is the sometimes surprising result of this satisfaction.
In order to be scientifically significant, may I add that these minutes represent the time from penetration to ejaculation.
I have no wish to mine grime with this information.
But isn’t it worth thinking about the warped weft of the human brain that will spend years studying, social climbing, networking, using people, manipulating, lying, sacrificing sleep, relationships, health and, sometimes even dignity only to forget it all for eight minutes of pleasure?
I mean, would you give it all up for, say, Bohemian Rhapsody? (alright, that’s only 5 minutes and 55 seconds, but how many of us believe we’re even average sexually?)
Or a helicopter ride from the East River to JFK?
How about a rainshower?
Monica Lewisky, Eliot Spitzer, Bill Clinton all had their lives radically altered on the altar of the eight-minute high.
That’s as long as it takes to heat up a Lean Cuisine. Or twenty times as fast as it takes to heat up Lindsay Lohan.
Perhaps this is all so terribly banal.
Yes, of course we know how stupid we are. We know that life is short and sex is even shorter.
So why have we never risked it all for a Tom Wolfe novel? Or the Ring Cycle? Or an intellectual conversation?
I’ll tell you why. They’re too bloody long, that’s why.
Great sex is eight minutes long precisely because life is very short.
I therefore have a suggestion. How about restricting every other human activity to that same three- to thirteen- minute stricture?
Business meetings should last no longer than thirteen minutes. TV shows too. And you should only be able to occupy a bar stool for thirteen minutes.
Surely, these positive thoughts would immediately improve our quality of life?
You see, Monica Lewinsky and Eliot Spitzer were really on to something. Even if some feel they also must have been on something.
Short really is sweet. You can always have too much of a good thing. If it’s a good long thing. I am bereft of further cliches.
All I wanted to prove was that I could write this post within thirteen minutes.
Twelve minutes and ten seconds.
Thank you. I really enjoyed that. Now I will go and pet a dog.
The Pond thanks Betsssssy for her swift and symbolic dismemberment.