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Weblog From Nowhere-Land

Pink Elephants: In Search Of A Cure For Male Sexual Misconduct

I'm speaking to the women in the room. Guys, you can listen, but keep your mouths shut. This is about why we violate sexual boundaries, and if I can get the women to talk without fear of interruption, we might all learn something.

I'm watching Rachel Maddow with my wife last night. Rachel's not to my taste, but every so often, I like a dose of her snark. Two journalists come on, both women. One is maybe forty-five, matronly, a little chubby. The other is twenty-seven at most, willowy, curvy, fair of face, with an "I just had great sex and I don't care if I'm a mess hairstyle." They're both talking about the Republican tax bill, a most un-arousing subject. Both are saying smart things, but the younger woman has this little purr in her throat and works her mouth around like a Valley Girl. I'm trying to listen to both, but I can only hear one: the older, less sexualized one. She's getting through the meat in my head. But within a scant minute, she's gone, attenuated, lips moving/no sound, and all I can register is the lip gloss-honeyed full mouth, Bambi eyes, toast-brown skin, bare arms, and full breasts of the other.

I turn to my wife. "You see, this is the problem," I say. "What is the problem?" she replies with her Gallic accent, swiping deftly through pages on her pink iPhone. "I'm trying to listen to her, but all I can think about is how much I want to..." "Fuck her?" she says, with a curl of the 'r'. "Well, I guess, but mostly...just touch her. Touch her hair. Touch her shoulders. Touch her perfect breasts. And this...this is the problem." With an eye roll and French sigh of exasperation, my wife at last turns from her phone and repeats, "WHAT...is the problem?" I answer: "The problem of 'groping.' The problem of Al Franken. The problem of Dustin Hoffman. The problem of why men can't leave young women alone. They're just too fucking adorable. Like a colorful lure that a fish can't resist biting into."

I ask my wife if she can solve the problem and she offers to cut my balls off. The best she can come up with, after a pause, is, "Be like James Bond." I say: "What?!!" I don't get it. "James Bond had six women per movie." "Yes," she says, self-satisfied. "But he never touched any of them until they wanted to be touched. He danced. And they danced around him." Hmm, I think. She goes off to bed, and I am left to my thoughts.

How did James Bond overcome the Pink Elephants problem? You know the one: say to someone, "Don't think of pink elephants," and that's all they'll be able to think of. Pretty women in dresses, done up just right for parties, big events, or newscasts, are like pink elephants. Men try (I promise you, they do try) to hear what they're saying about the national debt, but all we can think about is how lovely it would be to touch them. And sometimes, in spite of all efforts at impulse control, we do. Inappropriately. Fingertips to bare knee. Warm palm to brown shoulder. Arm around waist, hip, haunch. And if we've had a bit too much to drink, and find ourselves in close proximity, lips to mouth.

Now those moments of abandon are coming back to haunt, redefined as violations of boundary. Fleeting contact of fingers with bare back was enough to cost a man in his seventies, an icon of public radio, the love of his audience, negating every smile, every song, and every moment of comfort he'd provided. "He touched my butt," cost a duly elected U.S. Senator his office before his best years had come. There's no running from this. The reckoning, whatever it signals, is here. So unless women expect to take some vengeful pleasure in seeing, husbands, colleagues, teachers, heroes and friends disgraced, it might be a good time to tell us...

...how not to think of Pink Elephants.

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