Will's Coffee House

John Dryden, Dramatist, Critic, Poet Laureate, and my ancestor, frequented a coffee house called Will's almost daily, where he would hold forth on sundry subjects with great wit and aplomb. Same deal here, only without the wit or aplomb.

Location: Large Midwestern City, Midwestern State, United States

I am a stranger in a sane land...

Saturday, October 22, 2005

The WASP Chronicles, Part Three

As an apology for the delay in our reporting, we shall seek to placate our readers by glutting them on the salacious, the sordid, and the perverse. In short, we shall now turn, in our studies, to the sex life of the WASP.

To be sure, the subject sounds like a contradiction in terms. One thinks of WASPs as sexless beings, possessing something akin to the anatomically smooth bodies of the Barbie-and-Ken varieties, who seem to be a lower-class visual parody of WASPs, upon reflection. Creatures known for their inability to dance beyond the simplicity of the box-step, or perhaps the waltz if they actually paid attention during cotillion, creatures who dislike the visceral rhythms of the better forms of rock music, creatures whose ethos depends largely on denying the fact that their own bodies exist save for the head and the hands, such are not the beings one would expect to have sex lives of any sort, much less imaginatively active ones.

And yet, as those who have read Fowles's The French Lieutenant's Woman cannot wait to tell those who have not, the disparity between the repressed outward appearance of the Victorian era belied the sordid truth that lay underneath. As it was for the Victorians (most of whose leading figures were, needless to say, WASPs), so it is for the WASP of today. He may appear sexless, but he is anything but. To the contrary, there seethes within him the cliched cauldron of sexuality, as atavistically active as the most 'earthy' of other sub-cultures. ('Earthy' is, needless to add, WASP-code for 'those of a duskier hue and lower income, prone to reveal their sexual desires in song, dance, and comments to attractive passers-by of the opposite sex.')

The WASP has sex. He has it far more often than one would imagine. A recent scientific study revealed that married people had more sex and better sex than single people--the obverse of the popular perception of the disparity of the erotic adventures of unattached Casanovas and those trapped within the "dull, stale, tir'd bed" of marital imprisonment. But this study came as no surprise to the WASP. He had known this truth all the while--he had been living it.

The secret to the WASP's sex life--as to so many other aspects of his existence, is his mastery of Privacy. The WASP does not live behind picket fences--they are too easily seen over and through--though their jagged surface, so univiting to those who think to cross the property line, meets with his approval--they are a descendant from the European tradition of broken glass strewn across the high walls of the manor. He lives behind high hedges, carefully positioned trees that obscure any view into the upper floors, and long drives that twist between 7-foot-tall potted plants. If he were to stoop so far as to have a welcome mat, the WASP's would read "Keep Out." The drapes that cover every window of the lower floors of his house--the curtains that hide those above--or better yet, the shutters that cover every single window--these things speak to his view of his home as a place of utter retreat, a bunker of domestic solitude.

There is a similar kind of safety in marriage. Two people who are bound by the laws of God and the even stricter laws of the marital contract know that they are, for all intents and legal purposes, as one, and thus there need be no secrets between them. Total freedom of certain forms of expression are therefore permitted. There is little sexual discussion between husband and wife--it would seem vulgar, not to mention a little ridiculous--but in terms of activity, there is next to no shyness, and no genuine libidinal inhibition whatsoever. When one occasionally hears of young WASPs--the larvae of the breed--being caught committing involuntary acts of hideous perversity and violence upon unwed young women, the WASP community recoils--it takes the young man back into the fold, of course--"loyalty to clan above all"--but he will be an internal pariah for a good time to come, not for the perversity itself, but for his failure to keep it private, and for committing the unforgivably rude act of rape. (The manners of a WASP are not 'moral,' per se, but they product a conduct of mutual respect that in turn yields a gentility of interpersonal behavior that would rival that of a Buddhist monk.) Sex is for married couples, not because the WASP believes in the immorality of pre-marital sex, but because 'people talk,' and privacy is breached. If he must have such sex, it will be with a call-girl of impeccable discretion and multiple good references. (Call-girls who fail to remain discreet risk almost certain extermination, as Vicky Morgan found out when she began to tell the world of Alfred Bloomingdale's proclivities.)

Within such environments as Home and Marriage--"behind closed doors," as they say--perversity flourishes. It is a kind of absolute power, with the absolute corruption that follows. If one knows that one is completely and utterly unobserved, that no one is watching, and never will do so--then there is a complete freedom of behavior. The tendency of WASPs to send their children to soccer practice, ballet lessons, French camp, and extensive tutelage on several musical instruments, or--ideally--to boarding school has nothing to do with encouraging the young ones' growth and enrichment, it has to do with getting them out of the house, and keeping them out.

As for the sex itself:

WASPs are, of course, possessed of a keen awareness of the importance of power and control--they are ideally formed for the leather-and-steel-clad world of sadism and masochism. DeSade himself is widely read--in secret, as everything else erotic--not simply for inspiration, but for the reminder that sexuality, real WASP sexuality--the sexuality of power--exists in transgression, and one must consistently look for ways to push the boundaries of experience. Yet no blood is shed in the master suite, not simply because it would create a mess that would lead to suspicions from the maid--and no WASP will wash his own sheets--and for this same reason 'water sports' and other such practices do not occur in the bedroom. (The bathroom and its easily sprayed surfaces is another matter, but we will not follow them there, except to say that you will find many a WASP bathroom with a drain located discretely in the floor somewhere; they will claim that this exists for overflow from the tub, but this is a convenient fiction.)

There is not much 'role-playing' in the strictest sense of the term--WASPs do not wear costumes, assume bad accents, or refer to one another as "Mistress" and "Slave"--these things are artificial and whimsical, and sex for the WASP is real and serious. There is also, as before, the possibility of the ridiculous in such activities, and though he may do much during sex, the WASP will never, ever laugh. Instead, the roles of sadist and masochist are unfeigned--the WASP is confident enough not to 'play' at being brutal or abusive--or at being brutalized or abused--he damn well does it. This is not a game, this is sex--and the WASP is never more sincere than he is now. There is a similar commitment to his esoteric usage of his partner's body--he is 'experimental' the way Oppenheimer was--both have/had a definite outcome in mind, and will stop at nothing to achieve it.

Yet the WASP is not cruel during sex. He is not the vicious overlord bestride the naked, battered body of a miserable spouse. Sex is quite mutually enjoyed. This is most important--politeness demands that both partners are equally pleasured. And as much as he enjoys domination--and he does--the WASP also enjoys obedience. It is the ultimate 'kink' for the master of the world to be turned into one of his subjects, and WASP husbands in particular enjoy being 'feminized' by being degraded by the same contemptuous means by which he maintains his control over the opposite sex. Similarly, the WASP female enjoys both the empowerment and, more subtlely, the recognition that her spouse is, for all of his decorous position as the pater familias, a little boy at heart. WASP sex is as perversely endearing as it is perverse. There are no menages, a trois or otherwise--there is no bestiality (even the presence of the pets would be considered an invasion of privacy.) It is strictly a pas de deux, man and woman, as Biblically primal as may be. (Gay and lesbian WASPs are likewise monogamous--more so, for their need for privacy is, if anything, even greater than their heterosexual counterparts.)

But within these strictures, such things occur that would stun the imagination. I will not detail these practices, not out of coyness, but because anything I might describe would already be passe' by the time I wrote it here. Use your own imagination, imagine the most desperately fearsome act of jaw-dropping eroticism, then imagine that plus a wry sense of creativity and fearless self-confidence. WASP sexuality is forever forward-looking, part of that impulse of geographical exploration that led them to conquer the world. Technology, from harnesses to computerized devices with various appendages that thrust and vibrate, is ever-present--WASPs recognize that as humanity must adapt or die, so must sex.

But we shall never know the real truth of the practices themselves. Faced with intrusion into this world, the WASP would most likely contemplate murder or suicide rather than risk the knowledge of others as to his sexual being. Which speaks to precisely how dear, how fiercely important it is to the core of his self. The WASP, in short, is a sexual being, and frighteningly so.


Blogger Lisa said...

Oh dear. Coupled with your announcement that you are a WASP, that gives rather more information about your sex life than I expected. And I suspect you overgeneralize. I am a WASP myself, and while (to quote Maud Lebowski) I do agree that sex can be a natural, zesty enterprise, I do not take it half that seriously.

5:24 PM  
Blogger Yr. Hmbl. & Obdt. said...

Well, of course all sociological discourse must generalize to some extent. And, to be conversely scrupulous, while I do identify with the WASP, I did allow early on that "I myself cannot claim true WASP-hood"--it's that damn Irish blood that shuts me out of the club. (I'm more like someone who lives in the guest-house and sees what goes on.) Thus, my own sex life, or lack thereof, remains a comparative mystery. (As well it should; I think we can all agree on that. "Oh, dear," indeed.) This may simply be one aspect of WASP behavior that I choose to ignore, and let's assume it is, shall we?

As for being a WASP yourself, you shall, needless to say, be afforded all due deference in your contrary opinions/claims. (Of course, inasmuch as the WASP is the master/mistress of misdirection and the social smokescreen, who can say whether we can take your word on this subject? But I shan't pry or cavil. It would be...very unWASPish, and though I'm not one, I *do* try, for the most part.)

6:20 PM  

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