Tag Archives: marriage

4 lessons about sex from a woman who’s seen it all

Jane Juska, bestselling author of A Round Heeled Woman and a new Shebooks memoir The Last Thing to Go, shares a bit of hard-earned bedroom wisdom.

Men are not repelled by imperfect bodies.

When I was 67, I placed a personal ad in The New York Review of Books. I got many responses, then met some of those men, waiting for each one to be repelled by my not-so-young body. Never happened. Men, I discovered, are far less troubled by imperfect bodies than are women.

There is no justice when it comes to breasts.

I first became acquainted with my breasts in 1945 and have had a difficult relationship with my saggy, outsized bust ever since. “Well,” said the ob-gyn “she won’t have any trouble nursing.” “Wrong,” said my huge post-partum breasts and dried up. My boobs failed the single test that would have rendered them legitimate. When it comes to breasts, life’s not fair.

Marriage is not a particularly good alternative to birth control.

In the 1950s, boys and girls didn’t talk to each other before, during, or after sex. Nor, at any time did my boyfriend and I discuss marriage, which I considered automatic, or birth control, which I never considered, because I didn’t know where or how to get it. I never told him that every single month I spent five days terrified of being pregnant, the rest of the month relieved that I wasn’t. How could I have been so foolish? The answer is simple: I was starving for sex. I got pregnant during a time when legal abortion wasn’t even around the corner and I got married. There is something to be said for marriage, even a minor one, even an unhappy one. Marriage resolves an important problem: celibacy.

Looking older is not a sin.

“You don’t look like you’re in your 70s,” I have been told. I answer, “Yes, I do. This is what it looks like.” What they mean is “You don’t look old.” Looking old is the sin. Being old is okay because then they can ignore you, but looking old? That stares them right in the face and says, “Not long from now you’re going to look like this and then you’ll die.” Without tampering, nearly all of us reach an age when we look interesting, when we are interesting. The marks of living a full life are right there for everyone to see if they’d only look. Want to read more?

The Last Thing to Go

Check out Jane Juska’s The Last Thing to Go, only from Shebooks.

Alison Luterman: “At age 50, I married a cat.” | Q&A

Prize-winning writer and poet Alison Luterman is the author of a new Shebooks collection called Feral City. Here she shares a little bit about the origin of her funny, authentic personal essays…and her newfound love of cats.

You say you are married to a cat?

In our marriage, I’m the dog while my husband is the fastidious, territorial cat, but I know there are many couples in which these roles are flipped. And perhaps there are couples out there composed of an aardvark and a screech owl, or a horse and a chicken. The possibilities, when you think of it, are endless. This is how, late in life, I find myself fascinated by animal behavior. And how, after fifty years of declaring myself not very into cats, I am now married to one (in human, male form), and the food-can-opening, litter-box-scooping love-slave to two more, in actual cat bodies. Life is full of surprises.

Alison Luterman with her cat

What is it about cats?

I was never a cat person until I got married. I was an adamant, dyed-in-the-wool dog person who scorned cats as moody, finicky snobs. I am not by nature, attuned to subtlety. I like people and animals to show their love by jumping on my lap, wagging their tails, panting and smiling and basically going over the top. My husband and the cats have really made me aware of a whole world of more quiet expressions. A soft purr. Choosing to sit on the same couch at the same time.  Saving the crossword puzzle until we can both do it together. Who knew love could be so gentle and various?

How did the Internet change your experience of dating?

The Internet makes it possible to meet people whom you wouldn’t meet otherwise, which is both a good and a difficult thing.  On the one hand, once you’re out of college, and if you work a non-traditional job (free-lance writer, poet-in-the-schools), it’s hard to meet eligible people, so the Internet, for me, was a terrific boon.  On the other hand, the folks you do meet over the Internet are not necessarily from your world, nor are you from theirs.  So you both have to do a lot of work building cultural bridges between your two separate planets, because sexual attraction will only carry you so far.  The rest of it is communication, empathy and if you have the resources, good therapy.  It’s worth it, but it’s not easy.

Did your writing change after you got married, having been a single person for so long?

My writing did not change, probably because I’ve been at it so long.  I’ve always written about whatever was going on in my life, whether it was dating disasters or hanging out with neighborhood children, or working with drug addicts in the Tenderloin.  For the last seven years, since I met Lee, I’ve written a lot about intimacy, the wonder and also the huge challenge of it: joining households, ceding power, stretching to understand another human being even when I’m feeling cranky and selfish and like I just want to do things the way I want to do them.  Digesting the huge change that came over my life when we became a couple has been like eating a dinosaur.  Writing is how I process whatever is going on in my life so the marriage has provided a lot of grist for the mill.

In your book you mention a couple that went to the beach and fought about the sand. What’s the strangest/funniest thing you’ve argued about with your spouse?

Oh my God, what haven’t we fought about?  Well, every week when we attempt to do the New York Times crossword puzzle together–in ink, because that’s how my family does it–we have a fresh opportunity to appreciate our differences.  Lee is very deliberate, methodical, and skeptical.  Even when an answer is screamingly obvious (to me!) he doesn’t want to commit any ink to paper until he has checked it out from every angle.  Whereas I operate much more from a first-thought-best-thought attitude, and am frequently subject to intuitive flashes, some of which are even sometimes correct.


Need a good belly laugh? Read Alison Luterman’s Feral City, only at Shebooks.net

Feral City