When was the last time you flashed your spouse or washed the dishes in exchange for a little below-the-belt lovin'? If you're wondering what place such sassy, scintillating activities have in your married life, you probably aren't alone. It's also time for you to pick up a copy of 'Make Love Whenever Possible When Married with Children,' the recently released book by local authors Leslie Kaplan (above left) and Peg Melnik (right).
Kaplan, who teaches college English, met Melnik, a columnist for the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, in their daughters' kindergarten class. They commiserated about how sleep deprivation was causing a sort of matrimonial amnesia, making them wonder: Why did I marry my husband? They started writing down their experiences and their witty, practical solutions for staying in love with their spouses, all of which can be summed up in two words: make love.
Seems simple, right? But why are there so many marriages languishing or festering with resentment? According to Kaplan and Melnik, it's due to a lack of preparation. "Everyone teaches you how to burp a baby, but no one teaches you how to be a parent and a lover at the same time," Melnik says. Many people believe that sweet-smelling babies follow wedded bliss, instead of the "ugly truth" that having children can ruin a relationship. Somewhere between the bachelor party and the baptism, many once-bubbly relationships fizzle like a neglected bottle of Champagne. The good news is that it doesn't have to be this way.
"People think the mate can wait," Melnik says. Contrary to popular thinking, parents should remember that they are lovers first.
Kaplan and Melnik advocate a practical eroticism that can be incorporated into daily life. Cell phones, for example, are good for more than just reminding your spouse to pick up more baby wipes; why not send a suggestive text message that gives your sweetie something to look forward to?
Of course, love-making isn't just about sex. The authors also share strategies for staying emotionally connected, like starting a book club for two, creating a spiritual corner for peaceful repose or establishing the 15-minute rule: after the kids are in bed, each person gets seven and a half minutes to talk and be listened to.
Make Love is about providing desperately needed wisdom in a culture sorely lacking it. As Kaplan explains, "We wrote this book so that nobody has to suffer like we did."—J.D.
The Year of the Metal Tiger is not a new hardcore hair band but rather the new year that began in early February, based on the traditional Chinese calendar. According to Chinese astrological forecasts, the year we currently find ourselves in will gradually be met with conflict, revolutionary uprising and many opportunities to test our strength. Big changes are strongly advised against—especially marriage. With chaos expected to reign in the manner it did last time we were banging our heads to the metal tiger in 1950 (McCarthyism, legalization of apartheid in South Africa, the Korean War, the Chinese invasion of Tibet and so on), it may be wise to plan any potential nuptials for 2011, the Year of the Rabbit, a much fluffier, softer and cuter year. As gold sales plummet drastically in China because of a large drop in engagement and wedding ring purchases, many obviously take the astrological omens seriously. Others are rescheduling their "I do's" until same-gender marriages are legalized. Either way, 2010 is a perfect opportunity to think before taking that eternal leap.—D.B.
We sit on the bench, his arm over my shoulder, the sun shining down on our faces as we enjoy the view. The gleaming miner's lettuce is thriving after the season's torrential rains, and in the valley below, we can see downtown Petaluma, the bright colors of the lofts lining the river, the rolling green hills stretching so many miles across and the clouds floating languidly in the sky above it all. The bench shields us from other park-goers, out for hikes and frolics in Helen Putnam Regional Park. I turn to read the plaque embedded in the wood, expecting the normal dedication to some long-dead person who once enjoyed this view, just like us, and who now floats in oblivion. The engraving instead reads: "Here Donna Said Yes—January 31, 1993." I am ecstatic. On the very bench where Donna's unknown suitor got down on one knee and confessed eternal love, my honey and I sit exactly 17 years later, on Jan. 31, 2010. It seems a sign, a bit of synchronicity that we are exactly where we are supposed to be on that Saturday afternoon. Even the dog seems to be smiling as my love pulls me in for a deeper snuggle, happy in the universe, our own love confirmed by the alignment of time, space and one simple statement on a park bench. 411 Chileno Valley Road, Petaluma. 707.433.1625.—L.C.
I almost believe this, because I overheard a woman telling it to three other women in a coffee shop in San Rafael 30 years ago, and she sure sounded like she was telling the truth: "Jimmy and I—this was a long time back, before we were married—Jimmy and I were, you know, 'doing it' in his car, parked on that little strip of beach just under the north end of the Golden Gate Bridge, and we'd just finished. We'd put our clothes on, and were backing away up onto the road when we heard a big whomping sound. Right where we'd been parking, this guy—I think it was a guy—had jumped off the bridge, had just crashed right into the sand. Bam! We found a pay phone and called the police, but we couldn't get over how that body had fallen exactly where our car had been parked. Me, I couldn't stop thinking [this part said with clear and obvious pride in her voice] that if Jimmy hadn't prematurely ejaculated, we'd both be dead now!"—D.T.
Measuring a proud seven and a half inches, the Head O State dildo, made in President Barack Obama's image, could be the most ambitious stimulus plan yet. It's powered by the people—no batteries required—and unlike bank bailouts and automobile rescues, the Head O State is a package that everyone can get behind. Don't approve of the president's job? Well, screw him. Unsure about how to pay for rising medical costs? Don't wait for Congress to pass a healthcare bill. Think preventative medicine, like the reduced stress and the enhanced immune function that come from, um, regular maintenance. For the party faithful, the Head O State comes in Democratic Blue, and for those with formerly valuable 401ks and depleted nest eggs, there's Presidential Gold. Why wait for the invisible hand of the market to get you off, when the two-inch diameter Head O State is only $34.95? www.headostate.com.—K.M.
When Mill Valley's Bungalow 44 expanded its too-cozy dining room a few years ago, adding an enclosed adjoining tent of the type normally rented for parties, no one realized how cozy and elegant that "tent" would eventually become. Warmed by a beautiful, big, old-fashioned brick fireplace, the room has become a hot-spot in more ways than one, as parades of kissing couples jockey for possession of the couch, romantically positioned right in front of the fireplace. When the weather is rainy and the downpour delicately pounds the canvas roof, there is no place safer or more exotically comfy than in front of that fire. 44 E. Blithedale Ave., Mill Valley. 415.381.2500.—D.T.
A man might define romance as bringing a bouquet of flowers to a special meal4 a woman, as throwing out a picnic blanket and cuddling up to watch the sunset. Either way, romance can be a hard thing to define in a relationship. But when you're floating among the clouds looking down on neatly lined vineyards and sipping a glass of Champagne together, a mutual definition of the term could meet both party's ideal. Seeing Napa Valley from a hot air balloon is a pleasure indeed, and Balloons Above the Valley offers airborne travelers special deals to make this dreamy date a reality. Balloons attain their height by using loud burners, but once in the air, the balloon is propelled by the quiet wind. An atmosphere of calm, peace and serenity gives holding hands at this altitude a new edge in romance. The hot air balloon experience with Balloons Above the Valley includes a one-night stay at varying hotel locations (by package deal), pick up and return services to your hotel, a one-hour flight and a Champagne brunch overlooking Napa River. Romance couldn't be easier. 603 California Blvd., Napa. $185-$230 per person. 707.253.2222.—M.C.