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May 06, 2007

Aging boomers' endless introspection

Brought to you by the same folks who used to say, "Don't trust anyone over 30": The New York Times magazine has an issue devoted to aging boomers. Feh! Won't these people ever stop talking about themselves?

I have no intention of reading most of the articles, but I did notice two things. First, there's a short piece with photos of 10 men and women talking about sex at their "advanced" ages: "Ten women and men discuss what sex is like when you're old enough to know better." It's connected to a film called "Naked" by Rachel Dretzin, which you can see clips from here, if you can stand it, which I can't. The two-page spread in the magazine, which is all I'm willing to take in, suggests that normal, happily married couples need not apply. I guess it's "Don't trust anyone over 30 who's happily married."

Second, my old friend, Randy Cohen, The Ethicist, hears from a man whose wife, after 30 years, announces she's not interested in sex any more. The man thinks, OK, fine, I'll get it elsewhere. The woman is angry. The Ethicist actually takes the man to task, but only because of his dishonesty, not (God forbid) his adultery. He should have discussed it with his wife first: "You and she might agree that because she no longer wants sex, you may seek it elsewhere — discreetly, tactfully, striving not to cause her embarrassment. Or she might find this modus vivendi intolerable and, if forced to choose, decide to live apart from you. But you gave her no chance to decide anything." This may actually be a case of "When you're a hammer, everything looks like a nail." Randy Cohen sees it as an ethics problem (as does the man). But the situation really calls for some counseling. Why did the wife make this announcement without discussion? Why did the man not discuss things and just go off and have affairs? There's got to be something going on here that doesn't lend itself to resolution by an "ethicist."

UPDATE (5/7): As Dilbert said this morning, "90% of happiness is picking the right ethicist." Coincidence? You make the call.