Better Than I Ever Expected
Better Than I Ever Expected:
Straight Talk About Sex After Sixty
By Joan Price
$11.00, 267 pages
I’ve never been one to plan ahead, especially when it entails something I find distasteful. I could easily classify aging as one of those things I haven’t planned ahead for and that I find distasteful. It is, however, fairly inevitable and most definitely better than the alternative. So the question becomes, how to age gracefully? And if you’re someone who finds sex to be an integral part of a happy existence, how can you continue to enjoy a satisfying sex life as the years accumulate?
People of all ages prefer to think of themselves as young. Don’t you just love that ad for one of those emergency medical alert gizmos that has a frail, white-haired old woman saying, “I don’t need one of those! They’re for old people!” Uh-huh. Like she’s still a teenager.
Perusing the bookstore aisles for related reading materials usually results in an astounding array of chirpy, new age-y, power-of-positive-thinking pablum that makes you think perhaps being dead might be a better alternative. How the hell anyone can put a happy face on a wrinkly face or wax rhapsodic about shriveled up ovaries is beyond me. But we must soldier on. So it was—with a heavy heart, creaky joints and more than a few grains of cynicism—that I cracked open Better Than I Ever Expected: Straight Talk About Sex After Sixty, by exercise professional and dance instructor Joan Price. I have to admit, it was “better than I ever expected.”
The book is a quick and easy read, filled with information and advice. In 15 succinct chapters, Price shares her stories, presents valuable statistics, separates fact from fiction and covers potentially depressing bumpy ground like “It Ain’t Easy After Menopause,” “Hunting Ground: In the Dating Game Again (or Still),” and “When You or Your Partner Can’t.” Oy. She also puts a new spin on the more tired subjects, such as “Sparking the Familiar Fire: How to Spice Up a Long-Term Relationship.” And though we hope it may become increasingly unnecessary as the more sex-savvy generations age, there are chapters devoted to sex toys and masturbation, which may still be scary or new to some.
Sprinkled between the straight talk and personal triumphs, Price presents excerpts from interviews with “sexually seasoned women.” Hearing how happy—and horny—these 60-plus women are might sound icky to those under 30, but for someone who can see 55 not too far down the road, it’s not just comforting; it’s a relief! They offer hope, along with a voyeuristic window on actual geriatric sex lives, something you won’t see…well, anywhere.
In a chapter devoted to fitness and exercise, Price explains how valuable both can be not just for a better sex life but for a better quality of life in general. It was to be expected, as her exercise habits are what she believes saved her from a near-fatal car accident. Encouraging the reader to seek out activities they enjoy, she suggests that you share fitness with friends or partners, and even offers a few “Exercises to Enhance Horizontal Workouts.” Throughout the book, she slips in gentle reminders, often referring to her passion for dancing, She makes it sound playful, palatable and, convincingly, not a chore. She manages to sound less like a total fitness fanatic than an actual enthusiast, which she is. This is a welcome change. No one likes to be called a couch potato, even if they know their roots are firmly planted somewhere underneath the cushions.
My only complaint with the book is probably Price’s biggest joy: having found, at 57, the “love of her life.” Perhaps it’s my knee-jerk reaction to romantic divulgences. I’ve probably clocked far too many hours in front of Facebook and other social networking sites, and witnessed as friends go through the entire meeting/courting/I’m SOOOO in love!/breakup/hatred/drama cycle, often within only a few short weeks. The fact that this takes place online, in public, for the whole world to see is just too embarrassing. Or it could be the terrifying specter of finding myself single a few years down the road and dreading the prospect of having to troll the internet for suitors. Either way, declarations of love make me cringe.
I would also have enjoyed a wider selection of “sexually seasoned women;” the few who Price managed to feature are wonderful—as are their stories—but there simply aren’t enough of them! The interview questions she sent women appear in an appendix and she invites readers to respond. Ideally an updated edition will contain many of those responses.
The day when our society actually embraces aging may never arrive. The best we can hope for is to find ourselves able to embrace it on an individual basis. Joan Price, and her wonderful book, will assist us in that quest.