Why does it seem that only bottom-feeders write to you? These people are nuts. I rather like your column and relish the two or so minutes it takes me to read it and then drive on with my life. I know that writing to you about the irrelevancy of the e-mails you receive is a bit silly, but my sense of chivalry has been roused. Since it seems that people like to bitch about the most innocuous things that, frankly (and no insult intended), are going to have almost no direct impact on their lives, I've decided to ask your advice on something that matters a great deal to me. I don't know that there's anything more I can do. Here's the deal:
I work long hours, and I'm dating someone who's 12 years younger than me. I try to be creative and leave work at work, but there are days when sex is the last thing I want. As a guy, the fact that my libido is in the toilet is just depressing. I can think of lots of ways to be attentive and decent in bed, but how do I find that primal hunger within me when all I want to do is go far, far away from everyone and everything?
I really do think that this is a function of work and stress because whenever I have a few days off or go on vacation, I feel like I've woken up from a bad dream.
So here's the question: How do I turn myself on?
Less Than I Was at 25
Dear Less Than,
First of all, believe it or not, lots of nice, clever people write me—it's just that the maladjusted freaks and losers are so infinitely entertaining that I can't help but answer their letters. But I've decided to break that trend this week by answering yours.
The fact that you're dating someone 12 years younger than yourself doesn't seem to be an issue as much as the fact that you're working far too hard at a job you don't seem to enjoy very much. That you spend much of your waking life in drudgery is bound to have some effect on your libido. How could it not? Sweet pea, you sound depressed, and that's no good.
Once upon a time, I had an all-consuming job that I hated. My boss was a sadistic prick who lived to make my life hell. I worked all kinds of crazy hours for very little pay and even less thanks. Then my mom got sick—real sick. I'd go visit her in the hospital every day during my lunch hour, try to get her to force down a little food, and then I'd go back to my hellhole office and suffer more abuse at the hands of this sorry excuse for a human.
After about a month or so of this schedule, my mom died, and I had a minor epiphany. It sounds obvious and clich鬠but it dawned on me that life is finite and I was wasting far too much of it doing something that provided me with little (save for bucket loads of grief and aggravation). So without much of a safety net and no new job on the horizon, I quit.
A week or two after I left, I was walking down the street and noticed that my face felt funny. I thought something was wrong until I figured out that it felt different because I was smiling! A grimace had become my default expression. Yikes! At that moment I knew I'd made the right decision. Of course, the ensuing poverty wasn't much fun, but at least I didn't have some psycho screaming at me every day. I went back to school, joined a gym, took a bazillion weird freelance jobs, and generally enjoyed life for a while.
Now I know you're probably thinking that you can't just up and quit your job, and perhaps you're correct about that. If you're close to curing cancer or AIDS or even herpes, by all means, pick up the pace. But most likely, you're doing something slightly less earth-shattering, in which case you should consider making a change, if only a temporary one. Figure out the bare minimum dollar amount you need to live on and cut back accordingly. If your employer won't let you slash your hours, find one who will.
You'll have much more energy for everything, including nailing that young vixen of yours. Travel a bit, if only by car. Have sex outdoors, and buy used clothes, books, and CDs. Practice cooking, and take naps. If, eventually, being broke but sexually sated gets boring, you can always plop your nose right back on that grindstone. Believe me, it'll still be there.
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