We didn’t tell the Irish, “Time’s up! They’re growing potatoes again. Go back home.” We didn’t tell the Jews, “They’re not killing Jews any more in Ukraine. Go back home.” We didn’t even tell the Vietnamese, “The war’s over. Now go back home.” We did kidnap Africans. They raised our children, built our homes, grew the food that sustained us, and worked our fields, creating prosperity for the rest of us, and then, and then, and then, we told them to go back home. Yes, there was a time when there was a movement to send the black people back to Africa, though when southern Americans were not busy terrorizing black men for looking a white woman in the eye, they were turning Africans more white. When we grew impatient with the tiresome Native Americans, we set them on fire, slaughtered them and their children, and sent them to march to Oklahoma, or Canada, or someplace else, where they froze and starved. Indians have been called bad well into my lifetime – the Lone Ranger, and – now listen, “Tonto,” which means “Moron,” was my favorite radio program when I was a child. We put Indians in the dry places so they would thirst, and killed their buffalo so they would starve. When they refused to die off, we took their children away to turn them into “Americans.” Americans. I walked through Dachau, imagining the smoke curling into the air, the crowds being sorted, the Germans eating their schnitzel in comfort and plenty. And at the end of the tour, I felt nothing. Why? How could I be so hard-hearted? I turned away from the last exhibit in their museum of things , and said, how hypocritical you are, Ann. If there had been six million Indians, we would have tried to kill them all. Yet there was no strange fruit hanging from German trees. Even Anne Frank did not feel the terror that African-Americans felt, sometimes every day. At least she could hide. And we call ourselves righteous. We are Philistines, moneychangers in the temple, we are the pharaoh trying to bring the plague on his slaves. We are Nebuchadnezzar, who wanted to throw Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego (or, as the Rev. William Barber refers to the last of those, “A Bad Negro”) into the fire for not worshipping the golden image. When I visited Memphis in 1961, there were WHITES ONLY signs, and sharecroppers doffed their hats and lowered their heads when our host came by, "Mawnin' Mistah Hickman." Joseph McCarthy lived in my lifetime. Lynching, segregation, serfdom, and McCarthyism are not "history." They happened in my lifetime. I thought the hippies had brought some light. They said, smoking their peace pipes, “Hey man, we’re all the same.” They loosed women, wrote music that still inspires us, and refused to kill a made-up enemy half a world away for what looked like, and proved to be, no reason. They dared prison by burning their draft cards. They formed communes so they could be there for each other. But war, criminal political behavior, cynicism, and fatigue broke us. We were reviled for our peaceful thoughts, and humiliated. We were thrown out of the temple because we wore our hair long and the men wore plaid pants. We made ourselves strangers to our own land, and were beaten down. It takes stamina, courage, and persistence to win. We can look at our black neighbors to see what that looks like, and they still haven’t won. I have energy left from those days of hope and togetherness in my youth. And a lot of anger, too. It’s time for young Americans, and young people living in America even if they are not “Americans,” to grasp the country and make it in their image, but I will help.
Book Review: The Ultimate Guide to Sex After 50: How to Maintain – or Regain – a Spicy, Satisfying Sex Life
The Ultimate Guide to Sex after 50 is full of information, suggestions, stories, and wisdom. It is written from a healthy point of view which the author Joan Price states on page 145, “If we could all just enjoy what we enjoy without moralizing about what other people enjoy, what a wonderful world it would be.” Embracing this blunt, well-informed, and tolerant viewpoint makes it possible to learn without feeling embarrassed or guilty. People do a wide variety of things in their bedrooms, and how does it help us to be ignorant about those things? If you have read this book, you are prepared for anything: a change in your partner’s pattern of desire, illness, loss, physical limitation, old age, and more good sex than you had imagined possible. I won’t deny that reading about dozens of sexual kinks and variations is erotic, but the eroticism is balanced with deep intelligence as Price never dwells too long on any particular situation or variation, but moves forward to make her point. If nothing else, you will realize by the end of the book that you’re allowed to empower the most resilient and unrelenting sex organ – your brain. It’s going to turn to sex anyway, whether or not you allow it to, so you might as well enjoy the ride. Price never loses sight of the fact that the most precious gift of all is a reliable loving relationship. In its absence, there are myriad ways to remain a sexual being until your very last day on earth.
At my 91-year-old aunt’s table in the assisted living facility sit four women. Sometimes I join them for lunch. Old age has turned all four women into quiet companions, but my aunt looks forward to their company. When my aunt and I eat at a separate table, she keeps looking over to see how her companions are doing. Genevieve is a mild woman who raised her three children in a home less than five minutes away from where she sits now. She is interested in me and my book. Irene is a former international lawyer who prefers to be called “Doctor.” In the last few years she has suffered two broken legs, two bouts of pneumonia, and the loss of her son, but she has an old-school stoicism and suffers her pain with grace. The last, besides my aunt, is Georgie. She is 102 years old, which means she was born before the First World War, in 1912. When epidemics rage, Georgie is untouched. Sometimes she sits alone at the table while her three table mates fight off the latest bug to rage through the facility. Every day she plays backgammon with laughter but no trace of competitiveness. She is ambulatory and fully with it. The only deficit I have ever noted is her memory, but not in the way you would think. I am curious about the world she grew up in. What music did she dance to? Does she remember the first time she saw a moving picture? An airplane? A television set? What was her wedding like? She might remember Armistice Day in 1918. My late mother, who was born in 1910, remembered it. But Georgie floats like a cork on life. She says, “I don’t remember any of those things. I just get up every morning and say my prayers to thank God that I am here. I take one day at a time. I don’t worry.” That’s as deep as it gets. Maybe Georgie knows the secret of life. If so, I am not going to survive to 102.
Lots of stories didn't make it into Daring to Date Again, and here's one of them. I met Marvin online. He lived on the Upper West Side so, of course, I would go into the city to meet him. Growing up, I had been taught that the man always comes to the woman, that it would be seen as desperate if a woman went to a man. At first it felt odd being the geographical aggressor, but I liked keeping my dating life away from my home, and enjoyed going into the city, so I banished that thought, which is stupid anyway. Besides, everybody knows that people who live in Manhattan will not travel to New Jersey except under the most extreme conditions. If you want to date men who live in New York, you just have to get used to this. We met at the Guggenheim Museum to see an art exhibit which showed a progression of Spanish art; there would be a Goya portrait of an ugly duchess next to a Picasso portrait of an ugly duchess, and so on -- the motifs of Spanish art as interpreted by classic and modern artists. I like viewing art from the ramps of the Guggenheim, and was fascinated by the exhibition. Marvin was pleasant company, but did not intrigue me. He was the sort of native city boy who doesn't have a driver's license. He was a tall, polite, intelligent, sort of blah high school teacher. When we entered the museum Marvin took my coat and checked it along with his. After the exhibit we went to pick them up and he said to the coat check person, "There are two coats. We are together." "Like for 35 years?" The coat check person joked, sharing an inside joke as she turned to get the coats. "No. We just met. This is our first date, " I said. I was embarrassed and uncomfortable being put in a box by a stranger, and not interested in taking advantage of this opportunity to strike a spark with Marvin. Her remark felt coercive. She was temporarily discomfited, but then laughed. Laughter was the only way out of this uncomfortable moment. Funny how we thrive on our assumptions.