Saturday, November 08, 2008

Just Do It by Douglas Brown

Over the summer, there were two similar-sounding books published -- both were about long-time married couples who decided to rejuvenate their marriages by having sex every day for an extended period of time. (I think I saw them reviewed together at least once -- it was an obvious hook.)

One was Charla Muller's 365 Nights, by a woman who decided to strengthen her marriage by giving her husband a "Gift" every night for an entire year. I'd normally be more interested in the woman's view of this situation -- I am a man; I've got that side covered -- but 365 Nights sounded aggressively Red State: capital-C Christian, sex as a chore and a burden for women, and a lurking assumption of patriarchal authority. So I went the other way, and read Just Do It.

Doug Brown is a journalist, on the sex beat for the Denver Post as this book opens -- a few years ago, as far as I can tell. He's just come back home from a business trip, and, during one of those late-night just-before-going-to-sleep conversations that are secretly one of the best things about a long-term marriage, he mentioned groups of men who had bonded over not having any sex for a hundred days. Brown's wife Annie agreed that was sad, paused, and then suggested that they do the opposite: have sex every day for a hundred days straight.

What man could say no to that? Annie and Doug obviously did some pre-planning, which Brown elides in the book, since that fateful conversation took place some time before the sex marathon. They then started their marathon on New Year's Day of whatever year this was. (Given publishing schedules, it wasn't 2007, and it might not even have been 2006.)

Just Do It is then the story of their hundred days of sex -- a hundred and one, actually, for good luck -- and how it changed and strengthened their relationship. As Brown portrays them, they're not particularly experimental; the farthest out they go is sex on one of those big exercise balls (which was great), sex in a fancy Las Vegas hotel (who wouldn't like that?), and sex outdoors once (something Brown says they like but have only done a handful of times -- a description that applies to so many things, not necessarily sexual, about the lives of parents with small children).

Doug does try Viagra and the other similar medications, with mixed results. Annie uses some vibrators during the marathon, but they go away afterward. And Doug tries a cock ring, against his own instincts, and wants to never talk about it again. There's no bondage, no additional parties, no exhibitionism -- look, just run down the hierarchy if you want a full list of the things they don't do; they stay on the vanilla side of the street. (Hey, they live in Denver -- just having that much sex makes them crazy perverts for that neighborhood.)

So they're very middle America, which will only help the book -- most of America is middle America, after all. They only count old-fashioned intercourse as sex -- and Brown doesn't get too descriptive there, mostly vaguely talking about foreplay, saying "she invited him in," and then (sometimes) declaring that they orgasmed -- so the variety is really only in the places they do it. (And they don't go too wild there, either -- the exercise ball; the one time outside; a few hotels, B&Bs, and ashrams; a chair; and a whole lot of times in their own bed.)

But, really, Just Do It isn't about the sex -- the sex was a way to make their relationship stronger; to spend more time with each other and thinking about each other. So it's not a book to read for tips and techniques -- unless the tip you need is "pay more attention to your partner." Come to think of it, we probably all need that tip pretty often. Just Do It is a book about a marriage: how it became stronger and more loving over a period of a few months. And Brown shows clearly how his marriage went from ho-hum to special. If you don't expect swinging from the chandeliers, you'll find a lot to think about in Just Do It -- especially if you're at the ten-year or later mark of your own relationship.

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