Friday, 5 April 2019

Less Screen Time Means More Sexy Time by Naomi Elana Zener

“Are we ready to have a great session today?” Dr. Spencer asked the group, as he entered the room.

Five couples sat in folding chairs arranged in a circle formation in Dr. Spencer’s office. The husbands and wives fiddled with their hands, each person equally uneasy about being at a group couples counseling session—especially one that was so intergenerational.

The Victorian McSweedley couple, dressed in their Sunday best, the missus sporting a lace trim collar up to the scruff of her jawline, her neck adorned with an intricately carved oversized ivory cameo in her likeness, and the husband bedecked in a three-piece tweed suit and tie.

Next to them sat the Platocrates-era team, wearing matching togas, noses in air, barely acknowledging anyone else’s presence in the room, annoyed that their seats weren’t elevated on pedestals above the fray.

Across the room were Mr. and Mrs. Grunt, him in a Sabre-tooth tiger loincloth, her in a Wooly Mammoth one shouldered A-line number, both which were hanging off of their bodies due to the strict Paleo diet they followed.

In his letterman’s jacket from his high school football hero days, and in her hoop poodle skirt with a matching sweater set, sat the nifty fifties Mr. and Mrs. Beaver, both remaining politely silent with their hands folded in their respective laps, careful not to touch each other.

Rounding out the group were the Schwartzes, victims of the modern age dressed in matching hipster distressed indigo denim jeans imported from Japan, untucked  Lumberjack flannel shirts, Blundstones, and sporting his-and-hers matching tattooed wedding bands. Neither made eye contact with anyone in the room let alone each other, as their respective gazes were transfixed firmly on their dated iPhone 6+ screens, being held in one hand, as they each sipped artisanal water from mason jars held in the other.

Each of the couples were there for the same reason: sexy time in their respective marriages had steadily declined due to advent of emerging technology available to each of them.

“So, who wants to start?” Dr. Spencer asked of no one in particular.

No one uttered a word. Dr. Spencer pleaded non-verbally with his eyes, begging for one of the couples to kick things off so he wouldn’t have to engage the Socratic method to get at the root of their respective sexless marriages. Finally, a sound was heard in the room—well, more of a groan.

“Yes, Mrs. Grunt?”

“Cave draw-draw. Man no boom,” Mrs. Grunt advised. Mrs. Grunt inserted her left index finger into a circular formation she made with her right hand, and then waved her husband’s club in the air.

“You mean you don’t have sex?” Dr. Spencer prodded, inserting his fingers into each other. He was doing his best to make his rudimentary penetrative finger gestures seem less obscene to illustrate the meaning of the word.

“Uh,” Mrs. Grunt sighed. Mr. Grunt hung his head in shame. Mrs. Grunt stood abruptly from her seat, went over to Dr. Spencer’s wall, and mocked drew all over it. Then, she pointed at her husband.

“So, he draws non stop, leaving no time for you?” Dr. Spencer queried.

“Cave bad,” Mrs. Grunt advised. “Fire bad, too. Burn balls.”

Mr. Grunt, growing agitated, began to thump on his chest, demonstrating that he was still a red-blooded male. Mrs. Grunt laughed.

“Mr. Grunt, your wife is trying to tell you that she wants you to, to…” Dr. Spencer stopped himself—surmising from his patient’s look of confusion that he didn’t understand his words—and copied Mrs. Grunt’s gesture to illustrate his point. Then, he walked over to the wall, and wagged his finger to indicate that the cave wall drawings had to stop. “Understand? Draw bad. Boom good. And, no boom near fire. Fire bad for boom.”

Mr. Grunt nodded his head and grabbed his club from his wife’s hand.
He stood up, walked over to the wall where Dr. Spencer was standing, and smashed his club into it before Dr. Spencer could stop him.

“Cave bad,” Mr. Grunt repeated. Mrs. Grunt clapped her hands, as Dr. Spencer shook his head, mentally calculating how many holes Mr. Grunt had put into his wall since he’d started therapy. Dr. Spencer made a mental note to call building maintenance after the session ended.

“So, how about the Platocrates? Ready to share?” Dr. Spencer asked. “This time without philosophizing.”

“How O ye forget, deceived by the force of my husband’s eloquence, the great speaker he be, our problem rests alone in the bathhouse the men of Athens visit with frequency,” Mrs. Platocrates whined, shifting awkwardly in her toga as she tried to cross her legs demurely. Mr. Plutocrates stood to pace the room.

“So, he’s still going there on a regular basis?” Dr. Spencer asked.

“I am a great speaker, the force of truth flows through my lips, yet I’ve not spoken the truth to you. But, you shall hear the whole truth from me.  First, I must reply to my accuser, my wife. I must beg of you to grant me favour.” Mr. Plutocrates begged.

“I grant ye nothing. You’ve shamed me. Shamed the house of Plutocrates.”

“The origin of these accusations, that there is something strange I have been doing, is unfair.  I will endeavor to explain why I have such an evil fame. It is because my wife is closed-minded to the boundaries of an open marriage,” Mr. Plutocrates explained.

“As I wisened from hearing the insightful words from our fellow friends in the last session, you are as they in this room say, a bullshit artist,” Mrs. Plutocrates spat. “If Alexander the Great chooses to have sex in the bathhouses, means not that you engage as he does. Bathhouses have murdered marital sexual relations. Tis no different than the distraction of cave walls, which hath killed the Grunts’ marriage!”

“I’d like to visit a bathhouse!” Mrs. McSweedley screamed. All eyes peered at her, for it was unusual for the couples to address each other during these sessions, due to their inhibition to discuss sex publicly. “My apologies if I spoke out of turn.”

“No, no, you’re on to something,” Dr. Spencer offered. “Mrs. Plutocrates, are there bathhouses for women?”

“For certain there are. Women must bathe, too. Or else, we are no more than common pigs,” Mrs. Plutocrates advised. “But, for not they are used for sex.”

“Maybe they should be,” Mr. McSweedley suggested. “Sorry, if that was too forward of me.”

“The woman lies! She chooses not to engage in coitus, but the opportunity for it exists,” Mr. Plutocrates philosophized.  “Perhaps my wife is better suited to live in the McSweedley’s prudish era. Mr. McSweedley, how about a wife-exchange?”

Mrs. McSweedley gave Mr. Plutocrates a sly wink.  So, too, did Mr. McSweedley. Three-way?, he mouthed in Mr. Plutocrates direction.

“Mrs. Plutocrates, are you having sexual relations in the bathhouse?” Dr. Spencer asked.

She shook her head no.

“Now, don’t you think you’re being unfair? What’s good for the goose is good for the gander. The bathhouse is the emerging technology of your era, just like the smartphone is to the twenty-first century. You have to find a way to make it help your marital sex life instead of letting it ruin it.”

Again, Mrs. Plutocrates shook her head no. The couple was at an impasse, neither willing to bend to the other’s philosophical will.

Unequipped with the necessary language skills, and frankly bored,  the Grunts preoccupied themselves with picking nits out of each other’s hair, while the group session continued around them. No one seemed to take note of his or her behaviour.

“Since you both refuse to listen to my reason, perhaps the answer is to be found in the wisdom of the God of Delphi. Would a mixed sex bathhouse work for you both, where you can engage in sex with each other and with whomever you please, so long as nothing is done behind each other’s back?” Dr. Spencer suggested.

The couple was intrigued by Dr. Spencer’s idea, and noting the other’s seeming openness to the idea, they softened toward each other.

“So, if I’m to understand you clearly, we can do whatever we want with anyone we want, as long as we are both doing it at the same bathhouse?” Mr. Plutocrates asked.

“Exactly!” Dr. Spencer boomed. “What happens in the bathhouse, stays in the bathhouse.”

The Plutocrates smiled.  Consensus had been reached.

“So, who’s next?” Dr. Spencer asked. “Mrs. McSweedley, you were quite vocal before, maybe you can tell everyone how the emerging technologies of your era have affected your sex life.”

“We fuck like rabbits,” Mrs. McSweedley advised. “Nothing keeps us from coitus.”  Mr. McSweedley cleared his throat, nodding in agreement with his wife’s revelation.

The McSweedleys candour drew blank stares. Normalized to their prim attire, prudish remarks, and constant flow of apologies if ever they spoke too loudly or out of turn, no one in the room expected them to divulge much information, so their confession was more than the other couples’ ears were prepared to digest.

“Um,” Dr. Spencer stammered, unsure of what to say.

“There are several emerging technologies, which we are enjoying immensely are the advent of travel of rail and sea, and electric telegraph messaging,” Mr. McSweedley advised. “We send each other sexual messages by telegraph all of the time.”

“We’ve even had sexual relations on a train,” Mrs. McSweedley added.

“Then, what is the problem?” Dr. Spencer asked.

“We’ve got our first boat trip coming up. We are heading across the Atlantic on a steamship, but we worry that the Missus’ motion sickness will put a damper on our enthusiasm for testing out rocking the boat, if you know what I mean, ol’chap,” Mr. McSweedley winked at Dr. Spencer. “Coitus interuptus.”

“Or, coitus not-at-all-tus,” Mrs. McSweedley whispered. “I’d be mortified if I vomited on my husband with each of his penetrative thrusts inside of me.”

“Do you have Dramamine?” Mrs. Schwartz asked in her thick Yonkers accent. “I take it on all of our cruises, and when my hubby sexts me that he wants to do it, I pop a pill, and then he pops me.”

“What is this Dramamine, of which you speak?” Mrs. McSweedley asked.

“I don’t think it’s been invented yet for you, unfortunately,” Dr. Spencer advised, as he Googled his online drug compendium manual to see when the medication was invented.

“What is sexting?” Mr. McSweedley asked.

“Honey, you’re doing it already, only with paper,” Mrs. Schwartz advised. “Your people were the innovators of sexting,” Mr. Schwartz advised.

“It’s sending sexual messages over phones instead of by telegraph,” Mr. Schwartz advised. The Schwartzes resumed playing with their phones, as they’d done since the group therapy session had begun.

“You can even send pictures,” Mrs. Schwartz added.

“Nope, sorry. You’re a few hundred years too early for Dramamine,” Dr. Spencer advised, looking up from his computer. Mrs. McSweedley became teary-eyed. She feared the three week long boat trip would be powered less by steam and the vessel’s motor, and more by their pent up sexual frustration due to the abstinence forced upon them.

“Fear not my sweet, sexual dynamo. Where there’s a will, there’s a way,” Mr. McSweedley said.

“If the motion of the ocean interferes with knocking boots, why not just have sex mirroring the roll of the waves?” Dr. Spencer asked.

“By George, I think he’s got it!” Mr. McSweedley explained. “Thank you so much for sharing your brilliant wisdom.” Mr. McSweedley jumped out of his chair and rushed over to the good doctor. He grabbed his hand, shaking it profusely. Mrs. McSweedley stood slowly, and gathered the couples’ belongings.

“My dear, I think it behooves us to practice what the good doctor has preached. Let us away to our home, so we may practice having sex in the bathtub, “ Mrs. McSweedley instructed. Like a good Pavlovian puppy, Mr. McSweedley pranced over to his wife’s side, and the two skipped out of Dr. Spencer’s office.

“We are making great breakthroughs today. Since you both shared some wise words with the McSweedleys, do you want to go next?” Dr. Spencer asked the Schwartzes to no reply. Their faces were buried in their iPhones. “Ok, since the Schwartzes are otherwise preoccupied, Beavers you’re up.”

“Television is certainly a big problem. All of these new shows keep us from engaging in sex,” Mr. Beaver advised. “And, TV dinners don’t help matters.”

“My husband can blame the idiot box all he wants, but that’s not the reason he’s not looking at or tinkering with my box,” Mrs. Beaver retorted.

“Darling, such language,” Mr. Beaver gasped.

“Cut the crap, Marvin. You’ve said fouler things when you throw a gutter ball during your bowling championships. I wish your mind was in the gutter as often as your bowling balls are.”

“What do you perceive the problem to be?” Dr. Spencer asked Mrs. Beaver. “If the new television technology isn’t the root of the problem, what is?”

“TV is a big problem, but thanks to the advent of separate beds, and Marvin living in black and white, the only thing that’s being left to Beaver is whatever June Cleaver makes her family for dinner,” Mrs. Beaver complained.  “My beaver is getting nothing. Zip. Nada.”

Marvin Beaver’s cheeks flushed deep crimson.

“Maybe you should try to push the beds together,” Dr. Spencer offered.

“But, we got separate beds to help my sciatica,” Mr. Beaver whined.

“Keep playing the sciatica card, and we’re getting separated,” Mrs. Beaver shot back.

“What I’m hearing is that you’re not tending to your wife’s needs. Time to turn off the TV and share that twin bed of hers. Close quarters will rekindle the flame that once burned brightly,” Dr. Spencer advised.

“If I’ve got to turn off the TV, what about them?” Mr. Beaver spat back, accusatorily pointing his finger at the Schwartzes. “Shouldn’t they have to spend less time on their calculators turned into phones?”

“It is true that studies have shown that less screen time results in more sexual time between partners,” Dr. Spencer advised. “Clearly, the form of screen, whether a smartphone, the interior of a cave wall, or a TV set can cause problems. But, really any emerging technology, from Ancient Grecian bathhouses to Victorian, um, er—well, it seems despite their prudish exterior, the Victorians love sex and don’t let anything get in their way from having it—can have a detrimental effect on said sexual relations.”

The Schwartzes didn’t look up from their phones—each watching new shows from Netflix and Amazon, respectively, on mute so as not to be disrespectful to the others—nonplussed by the other couples’ sexual problems. They figured that since they sexted each other, which led to sex at least once a week—pretty good for a decade long marriage with kids—that was good enough for them. Mr. Grunt, a highly sensitive man, who responded to Mr. Beaver’s increasingly agitated body language at being told to get rid of his TV and play with his wife’s beaver, saw him waving his finger in Mr. Schwartz’s phone’s direction.   Being fairly non-verbal, he couldn’t understand what Mr. Beaver was babbling about, or what Mr. Schwartz was saying, but upon seeing Mr. Schwartz protect his iPhone 6+ while Mr. Beaver waved at Dr. Spencer’s wall, he clued into the fact that something was bad about the device in Mr. Schwartz’s hand—very bad indeed.

“Argh!” Mr. Grunt bellowed, as he stood up commandingly from his chair. He waved his club in the air. A shared look of terror and panic spread across everyone else’s faces, with the exception of Mrs. Grunt, who recognized his actions as those she oft witnessed as part of his ‘boom’ foreplay. Without warning, Mr. Grunt charged Mr. Schwartz. He swung his club at the iPhone 6+, which promptly flew into the air. Multiple cracking sounds were heard, the least of which were those coming from Mr. Schwartz’s hand, in which metacarpal and phalanges bones broke on impact with Mr. Grunt’s club. The iPhone 6+ fell to the floor, shattering on impact. So much for having a shatterproof screen. The silent tension in the room was palpable.

“Boom. Boom,” Mr. Grunt advised Mr. Schwartz, pointing his club at Mrs. Schwartz, directing her husband to perform his husbandly duties.

“You owe me a fucking new iPhone 6+,” Mr. Schwartz screeched at the caveman. Mrs. Schwartz did her best to try to muffle her guffaws, but couldn’t contain her snorting.

“What’s he going to pay you with?” Mrs. Schwartz chortled.  Dr. Spencer, the Plutocrates, and Beavers were howling with laughter. “He make you fire. You give fire to Apple for new phone?”

“Fuck fire. He can have you. I’ll take your phone. Where you’re going you won’t need one.”

“Oh, don’t be such a spoil sport. Hell, maybe don’t replace the phone and try having sex with your wife directly instead of through the mobile device,” Dr. Spencer advised. “Mr. Grunt did you a favour. The 6+ is such a piece of crap, anyway—it bends. Time for a new phone anyway – the Apple X is out. “

© 2019. Naomi Elana Zener. All Rights Reserved.