Art Buchwald: Starts With S, Ends With Ex, Washington Post, August 14, 2003
There, I know I have your attention.
The most used and abused word in the English language is SEX. Putting it
on magazine covers, mentioning it in the newspaper, advertising it on television
and inserting it in a movie are just a few of the places we see it every day.
The Supreme Court has mentioned it in its decisions. The military
academies try not to mention it. Priests worry about it. Both homosexuals and
heterosexuals practice it.
I first discovered SEX while waiting at La Guardia Airport.
I was looking at the magazine stand and I noticed almost every magazine
had the word "SEX" on the cover. It wasn't just Playboy and Penthouse
-- every periodical from Cosmopolitan to House & Garden was using it so that
I'd buy their magazine.
When I got home I turned on the television and darned if "Sex and
the City" wasn't on the air.
"That does it," I said to myself. "It is time to research
I assigned the job to my assistant, Cathy Clark, who usually does my
research on the federal budget.
She was reluctant to take on the subject, but I told her she was doing it
for her country.
This is her report.
"Originally SEX had something to do with making babies, but because
it was forbidden in most cultures for anything else but procreating, it took on
a life of its own. Since people found it very pleasurable and forbidden and fun,
it wasn't necessary to use it just to produce offspring.
"Soon after, the word took on a broader meaning and the advertising
industry picked it up because they found whatever was forbidden in our society
sold like hotcakes.
"They said a woman couldn't be sexy if she didn't use a certain
shampoo and she wasn't attractive if she didn't wear a certain perfume, and the
only reason for a lady/girl to wear a bathing suit was so other people would
think she was sexy.
"Different parts of the body attracted men to women, depending on
how they were treated by their mothers.
"This is not to say SEX has played a part only in men's lives. Women
talk about it as much as men, and possibly more."
Cathy continued her report.
"SEX constantly rears its head in divorce cases. One or the other of
the aggrieved parties claims the mate had an extramarital affair or affairs.
"The reason SEX is so popular is that Homo sapiens discovered
it was extremely pleasurable. It is even more pleasurable than finding a parking
place on Main Street on shopping day.
"The first person who discovered SEX was Hugh Hefner. He was laying
out a new magazine on wild birds when he accidentally inserted a pullout of a
beautiful unclothed girl.
" 'Watson!' he cried over the intercom. 'I think I've got it.
Instead of a magazine devoted to bird watchers, let's do one on real birds.'
"Hefner did, and for the first time SEX came out of the closet."
Cathy handed in her research. She said, "This is all I could find on
the subject. Will it be enough for a whole column?"
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