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No, not that kind of "a week late." This is my New Year's column, a week late, but let's not beat ourselves up over it. Barring the exceedingly rare case in which someone both recognizes the need for change and makes and keeps a promise, New Year's resolutions mostly just hang around like any other weapon (see: Chekhov's gun), waiting for us to use them against ourselves. Some people won't have a gun in the house; I won't have stupid vows lying around waiting for me to stub my toe on them. And with that, some nonresolutions, just mere suggestions, for better sex in 2008:
(1) Get the right birth control. One couple's perfect method is another's PMSy nightmare, chemical burn, or poor lifestyle fit, and there's often no way to tell without experimenting. Hints: if you never remember whether you turned the stove off, I wouldn't suggest relying on the pill, and if you cannot handle the phrase cervical mucus, you probably don't want to handle the real thing either, so no fertility awareness method for you!
(2) If you've been faking it, cut that right out.
(3) Try something new. You'll usually see this as "try a new position," but positions are hardly the alpha and omega of sexual variety. It's still just fucking. I mean try something really new. Obviously the Web is the go-to source for somethings new, but a field trip, all hand in hand and coupley, to a nice sex shop is probably more fun. Also, you could buy something. It's the patriotic thing to do.
(4) Learn something new, even if you don't think you want to try it. Most of the "Ew, yuck" reactions to your supposedly kinkier sexualities come from lack of information and fear of the unknown. Of course there are depths below depths of depravity out there for the plumbing, but I'm not talking about the really dank and dangerous stuff. So much of kink and fetish turns out to be harmless and often endearingly nerdy on closer inspection. Look behind the flames-of-hell clip art on any S-M organization's information site and you'll find a lot of software professionals and librarians earnestly comparing notes on how not to hurt one another while playing with whips and chains.
(5) Get better at something you already do. This immediately brings to mind the sort of ridiculous gimmicks you used to find in Cosmo shaving grapes or what have you but you really can give better head or get in better alignment for intercourse or any number of similar improvements merely by paying attention to what you're doing. Many people do a more mindful, conscientious job of blow-drying their hair than ... well, anyway.
(6) Declutter the bedroom. (Actually, declutter the whole house.) Clutter in the bedroom is a definite buzz kill. If you're dating, the clutter functions as another self-perceived flaw, an externalized big butt or stretch mark, another reason to want to skulk in the dark instead of letting your light shine. If you're partnered, it's a good excuse to harbor resentment (whose goddamn expired bus passes are those, anyway?) or let yourself get into that deeply antierotic spiral where we can't just be all spontaneous, for God's sake! There's important stuff to do! And then you don't do it (in either sense of it) anyway. What's on my bedside table: 18 books, read, unread, and never to be read; bookmarks; crumpled sale slips; a flashlight with dead batteries; two bottles of flat seltzer water; one toddler's sock; a pacifier; an expired bus pass; a finger puppet representing Charles Darwin; and three bottles of assorted lubes sent to me by a nice marketing rep at Babeland. What should be on my bedside table? Oh, guess.
(7) Compliment your partner on what he or she does wonderfully well. Nobody (at least nobody you want to know) feels all that overwhelming confident where it counts, not all the time, and if you could use the boost, so could they.
(8) Do the sex (or just sexy) date thing, but for God's sake, don't take it too seriously. I'm not talking meeting your partner at the door wrapped in festive holiday plastic wrap, but setting aside the time for reals instead of just saying you will all the time. And tell your partner it's sexy night. There's nothing worse than having your partner miss the point and brush past you on the way back in from your romantic dinner to find out what's in TiVo. Give them a chance not to feel like it too. Just because it's your sexy night doesn't mean it's theirs.
The big metaimprovers, in digest format:
(9) Know what you want.
(10) Share the information (not necessarily applicable to masturbation).
Andrea is home with the kids and going stir-crazy. Write her a letter! Ask her a question! Send her your tedious e-mail forwards! On second thought, don't do that. Just ask her a question.