Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Cooling Down Body Heat

Scientist have discovered that our brains aren't fully developed until we're well into our 20s. At least not the parts that help us make rational decisions and put the brakes on when it comes to impetuous and irresponsible behavior, which largely accounts for the stupid choices and reckless acting out we do as kids. (Thank God sexting hadn't been invented when I was a teenager!)

As we get older, most of us do develop the ability to exercise some measure of impulse control. The sad thing about that though, is that over time we also lose our appreciation for impromptu boinking.

Fortunately, for our vicarious gratification, sexual spontaneity occurs a great deal in movies and literature. It seems that in popular culture people are always ripping off their own or each other's clothes and making passionate love on the kitchen table or in elevators. I'm not talking about soft-core porn, either. I saw a whole bunch of it once when my cable company offered a free week of Cinemax, but I decided it wasn't worth paying for. There's a lot of spontaneous sex in those movies, but it's very much by rote (boy/girl; girl/girl; boy/girl/girl; boy/different girl) and the acting is so lack-luster that they could have been making a cheese sandwich instead of wild, monkey love.

There are movies that do it right. One of my favorites is the steamy neo-noir Body Heat  from the early 1980s. Remember that? William Hurt played Ned Racine, a cocky small town lawyer who was bamboozled into killing the husband of Matty, played by a sizzling Kathleen Turner.

William Hurt and Kathleen Turner in
Body Heat. Whew!

It was set in the humid summer of South Florida, and everyone was constantly in heat and glistening with sweat. Who didn't go weak at the knees when Ned hurled a chair though Matty's window to get to her? The subsequent consummation of his smoldering obsession (yeah, she had a slightly different agenda) on the hall floor was one of the most unforgettably erotic scenes in cinema. But maybe that's just me revealing a bit too much about own fantasy life. (Or maybe it's not just me: the movie scores 97 on Rotten Tomatoes.)

Bear in mind it was only a movie. In real life, Ned would have tripped the burglar alarm or slashed an artery on the broken glass. Meanwhile, Matty would've worried he's lose his ardor because he spotted the dust bunnies under the hall table or because her bikini wax was overdue.

Even reputable sex manuals and how-to-keep-your-love-alive books rate spontaneity highly as an aphrodisiac. They want you to meet your husband or lover at the door wearing a garter belt and a saucy gleam in your eye. But when you start stacking up the decades you're not going to do that unless you want to risk him having a stroke.

It's my belief that these types of books are authored by the same people who produce those interior design books featuring exquisite rooms with no tangle of computer wires, piles of unread magazines, dog toys, boxes of tissues, laundry hampers, and do forth. In other words, these books - sex or design related - are written for people without spouses, kids, pets, jobs, hobbies, habits, or bodily functions. And they're definitely not written for people with a few years on them.

But do let's get back to Body Heat. It was made in the days when the only thing husky about Kathleen Turner was her voice and William Hurt looked like a leading man and not your high-school guidance counselor. Ted Danson had hair (at least I think that was his own hair?); and Mickey Rourke looked like a real live boy.

Mustachio-d Hurt and Ted Danson with a head of
someone's hair. Hopefully, his own.

Oh, Mickey. How we loved you then.

Imagine that chair-through-the-window scene played out now. First off, Ned would have to take his Viagra 30 minutes to an hour ahead of time; so the breaking and entering would have to be premeditated making it just a plain old crime instead of a crime of passion. Picking up and attempting to throw a lawn chair would have either given him a hernia or put his back out.

Matty, in the meantime, would be wearing foundation garments rather than a thong. Imagine trying to wiggle alluring out of Spanx in the throes of passion. (I'd love to get into the head of the person who gave such a naughty name to a garment that's like granny panties to the nth degree.) I don't think so.

Ooh-la-la. Them sexy Spanx
(And why do they show them on
models who don't need them?)

And as for the bikini wax: ha ha ha! If she's become as smart as I think she is, that particular form of self-inflicted torment is never gonna happen again in her lifetime.

The hall floor is not sounding attractive either. That hard wood that everyone loves so much now is hell on old joints. Oh, for the days of rug burn!

As chance would have it, I heard an interview with Kathleen Turner just the other day. She was out on the media circuit touting her new Broadway role as a nun in the play High. Once Matty now a nun? Say it ain't so. No sooner had that thought crossed my mind when Ms. Turner commented that she had just realized it was exactly 30 years since Body Heat was released. She went to say that her days of appearing nude, as she did in the film, were long over.

Kathleen Turner on stage with a naked man.
But now she's a nun.

Still, at least she'll always be immortalized on screen at her luscious best. The rest of us will just have to rely on how we think we looked when we confidently frolicked tanned and naked in the waves on a Greek island; surreptitiously skinny dipped in a hotel pool at three a.m. in the steamy heat of Singapore; or just shucked it all off in a heartbeat at a metaphorical chair-through-the-window moment.

Before I put a bullet to my head, let's consider if we have gained anything in compensation for losing the urge for off-the-cuff nudity and boinking? What we now know that we didn't when we were young and horny is that as initial passion cools to a simmer, what your relationship might lose in chemistry, it will gain in intimacy and substance and shared experiences.

Eh, sorry; that's all I got.

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