How to be Good

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How to be Good


M iraculously, I have been able to subsist on this planet for thirty-two years without acquiring any marketable skills whatsoever. Despite this, I have consistently avoided books on self-improvement, believing that self-improvement is for people with time on their hands. For this reason, I rely on others for almost everything. I drop my laundry off. I order in. I call up ex-boyfriends and convince them to put up shelves and install computer software. If I were ever stranded on a desert island, I would die within a matter of minutes due to incompetence. That’s why I jumped at the opportunity to review several new books that focus on sexual self-improvement. As far as skills go, the ability to deliver a stupendous orgasm is probably the most important a human being can acquire, and it’s a lot more fun to practice than Photoshop or Quark.

Blow Him Away: How to Give Him Mind-Blowing Oral Sex by Marcy Michaels

This volume promises practical, easy-to-master techniques that will transform readers into confident fellatrixes. Turning to chapter one, I imagined the power I would soon wield over the opposite sex. But I was quickly alarmed by the author’s pronouncement that “most people suck at performing oral sex.”
    Unfortunately, I’m already at a handicap in the field of fellatio. I am cursed with a tiny mouth and thin lips, which grow chapped once the temperature dips below sixty. I’ve always attempted to make up for this disadvantage by trying really hard. But, as the book quickly points out, effort isn’t always enough. “I’ve seen that what most people need is basic training,” Ms. Michaels states. “They need to strengthen and energize their mouths, lips and throats so that they can perform any and all techniques with absolute comfort.”
    Humbly, I put my spray bottle of Chloraseptic and my Doc Johnson dildo away, lay back in bed and continued reading. The first few chapters barely even mention the penis, let alone what to do with it once it’s in your mouth. Rather, they focus on the mental aspects of linguistic love, and then go on to introduce exercises designed to whip the mouth and tongue into shape, many of which the author learned while working as a speech pathologist.
    If you’ve been doing sit-ups and lunges in order to impress your lover, you’ve been working out the wrong muscles. According to Ms. Michaels, your tongue is the key to your man’s heart, and most of our tongues are fat, flaccid lazy protuberances that do nothing more than lick the occasional ice cream cone. Never one to shirk a challenge, I pulled out a mirror and began the first exercise, “Pucker Up,” which involved pushing my lips all the way forward, rolling the insides out and then opening and closing my mouth much like a fish. Other tasks soon followed, including “The Jug of Plenty,” whereupon I lifted an empty half-gallon container tied to a string with my lips, and “Monkey Face,” in which I forced salt water behind my upper lip, completely rounding it out, making me look a bit like our commander-in-chief.
    Although it’s still too early in my basic training to discern whether or not my fellatio techniques have improved, I’m now more aware of the vital role my tongue and jaw play in properly smoking my lover’s meat. I would recommend that if you buy this book and attempt any of the exercises, do it in the privacy of your own home. Each exercise is more idiotic looking than the last. This is not for subway reading.

The Lowdown on Going Down: How to Give Her Mind-Blowing Oral Sex by Marcy Michaels

Ms. Michaels’ second release incorporates several of the same wacky exercises as its companion, while promising readers will learn techniques to “wake the neighbors.” I imagine that the selfish bastards who really need this book — the men who won’t eat their girlfriends out, but will eat all of their breakfast cereal in the morning — would never in a million years consider reading it. If you’re dating one of these malcontents who blindly, lazily scrapes away at your labia while professing that he will “make you come,” I suggest casually slipping this book into his coat pocket as he pours himself yet another bowl of your Cap’n Crunch.
    However, if you’ve picked up this book hoping to perform better cunnilingus, you are halfway there: the desire to please your lover is an important component of your improvement. As I have blossomed into a person both multi-orgasmic and world-weary, my sexual standards have risen. In my twenties, it was enough if a man could find my clit or knew that a vulva wasn’t a type of automobile. These days, it takes a lot to get me turned on. In one act, my partner must perform some sort of gesture that erases all of the heinous deeds of dudes throughout the ages.
   Chapter eight, “The Versatile Vagina,” could help create that clean slate. While the first seven chapters are almost identical to those in Blow Him Away, ". . . Vagina" offers essential information about the female anatomy, starting with the clit, which Ms. Michaels describes as a “small budlike being” which “wears a hood,” making it sound like a Jawa from Star Wars. While she stresses the importance of the clit,
she also urges readers to “think outside the clit” by describing detailed finger techniques and instructions on how to find the G-spot. She also offers amusing particulars on female ejaculation, erogenous zones, threesomes, oral sex positions, sex toys, and unheard-of techniques like “sweeping the clitchen floor.” Even if readers forwent the zany lip and tongue exercises, most could still benefit from the breadth of information on how to keep her coming back for more. Before parking your shuttle bus in your lover’s hair garage, I highly recommend perusing this book and engaging in some oral exploration of your own.

The Art of Kissing by William Cane

There are only so many ways to tell readers to brush their teeth, so what could this "world-famous kissing coach" possibly teach us that we don’t already know? Kissing is simple, right? Because adults are so busy kissing genitals, doing kegels and licking anuses, we sometimes forget that kissing on the lips is complex, and an enjoyable activity unto itself. Citing over thirty types of kisses, Mr. Cane elaborates on kisses I never knew existed, like the “electric kiss,” whereby the kisser generates static electricity by rubbing their feet back and forth on a rug so that when their lips close within a fraction of an inch of their sweetheart’s, a spark leaps forth from the kisser’s lips.
    Instructions are given for several other obscure kisses, like the sliding kiss, the butterfly kiss, the eye kiss, the Eskimo kiss and the Trobriand Islands kiss, which involves nipping at your partner’s nose and biting off their eyelashes. While most people over the age of sixteen could probably do without chapters like “What Should I Do With My Hands While French-Kissing?” this book is a refresher course for jaded adults who’ve forgotten the joys of necking.

The Big O: Orgasms, How to Have Them, Give Them, and Keep Them Coming by Lou Paget

A no-nonsense book that is true to its title, The Big O offers ten ways in which women can possibly climax (and seven possibilities for men), along with simple Joy of Sex-type illustrations so that more visual learners can follow along. She also debunks myths that could get in the way of potential orgasms, like the idea that all women are capable of vaginal orgasm.
    This would be a great book for anyone who has never come, as Ms. Paget is extremely encouraging and notes that orgasms are not only possible, but also probable. She also discusses health conditions and drugs that can negatively impact sexual functioning and desire — not quite as much fun as making monkey faces, but certainly worthwhile reading.
    Several chapters are devoted to oral and manual techniques for men and for women, including a playful technique aptly named “Basket Weave” and another called “Penis Samba.” Aromatherapy, sex toys, lube, massage, masturbation and hormones are all discussed along with the mental side of orgasms, sexual safety and STDs. The final chapter is devoted to a brief study of tantric sex, so that even ordinary partners who don’t have time to travel to the East or attend New Age seminars can attempt to find a mind-body connection. Throughout the book, highlighted factoids might come in handy if you’re ever faced with an “orgasms” category on Jeopardy, or if you simply want to annoy your friends with useless knowledge. For instance: Did you know that the copulation period for a cat is eight seconds and that minks can remain in the coital position for up to eight hours? Did you know that in 1930 there was a nude bicycle race in which women competed to be the first to orgasm from rubbing on the seat?

The On Position by Katie Moran

In this set of personal essays, Ms. Moran writes with the wisdom that can only come from being bisexual and realizing that men and women are equally fucked up and impossible to deal with. Her tales of woe were a welcome respite from my tongue-training regimen; at times, I could relate to her stories. I too have dated alcoholics, been cheated on, cheated on others, and let a good man go. However, Ms. Moran is a Los Angeles native, who I’m guessing is exceptionally hot (judging from her numerous sexcapades with models), so at times I thought I were reading essays written by an extra-terrestrial. She describes a world where sequin-clad porn stars lick each other’s genitals in seedy sex clubs and then drive home in Mercedes convertibles, the sun beating gently upon their tanned silicone breasts. I live in a world where emaciated hipsters who haven’t seen the sun in twenty years cut holes in their long johns so that they can “do it” without actually removing their underwear because the boiler in their building is broken and they’re afraid they might get frostbite. And in the summer, their tenements are so wretchedly hot that they’re unable to touch each other without feeling violated. Despite this dichotomy, both cities have one thing in common — brazen, slutty, attractive people, and this often makes for wonderful stories.
    Although The On Position isn’t a how-to manual, it contains several tokens of knowledge that students of Eros can employ to great advantage. For size queens, the chapter “Little Dick Eyes” claims that one can assess a man’s penis size from his gaze. (Note: According to this book, a beady, shifty look is a sure sign of a small member.) Here, I think Ms. Moran is a little tough on our small-membered friends. I realize that legions of men have treated our small-breasted friends callously, but do we really need to stoop to their level?
    Finally, this book introduces an important concept that is rarely talked about — the FQ, or Fuckability Quotient. The author explains, “Kid
Rock might have a face like a prison rat, but his FQ is in the high nineties, due to his rock-star status, body and overall image.” Once we understand what our FQ is, we will seek out those with similar FQ’s, and thus avoid rejection, stalkers and loneliness.

This Book Will Change Your Love Life by Benrik

If you have carefully determined your FQ and found someone within your FQ whom you want to settle down with, you might want to try this hilarious workbook designed for couples. Various charts, graphs and tables are intended to improve love relationships. Two pages are devoted to the “first date,” wherein both partners are asked to name the venue, describe the conversation and draw each other’s outfits. I suggest this book for new couples, because if you’ve been seeing someone for more than a few months, you probably can’t remember what they wore or what you both talked about when you first met. Or, if you’re like me, most of your relationships don’t start with dates, but rather open bars and poor judgment.
    I did take the book’s “Would you still love me if?” quiz with my lover, and I was delighted to find that out of fifty questions like, “Would you still love me if I killed your gerbil by accident?” he answered yes in forty-nine instances, answering “no” only when asked if he would still love me if I campaigned for the return of slavery.
    The book’s highlights include a compliments page, wherein several compliments are listed along with checkboxes, so you can check offer praise and avoid repetition. There’s also a “second opinions” page, where friends are given space to write their opinions of the relationship. While this “companion to any self-respecting relationship” boasts 351 tips for improving relationships, it appears to have just as many tasks designed for instigating fights. (The “our past relationships” page invites couples to rate their former lovers’ bedroom skills on a scale of one to ten.) Another hazardous feature is the “logbook,” which couples are asked to write in and consult daily. While I’m sure some couples might utilize this for jotting down compliments, I’m afraid the majority would probably use it to bitch about filthy dishes in the sink. This Book Will Change Your Love Life is an entertaining book that pokes fun at relationships and our culture’s obsession with perfection. But be warned — beneath its funny exterior lies potential disaster.

The Hedonism Handbook by Michael Flocker

When it’s time to put all you’ve learned about sex and love to good use, I recommend picking up The Hedonism Handbook. I would be hard-pressed to name an era in which such a book was more necessary. A president who reveled in blowjobs and led America to a financial surplus has been replaced by a tight-ass who has bankrupted our country with an unnecessary war. People are stressed out, terrified and working harder than ever. After a long day in the cubicle, many of us are only able to absorb reality TV and eat frozen food. As Mr. Flocker points out, “Obsessed with becoming richer, thinner, more successful and implausibly, even younger, millions of us deprive ourselves on a daily basis of the one thing we misguidedly believe we are rushing toward — the good life.”
    The big question here: how does one manage to live "the good life" without going bankrupt, becoming a drug addict or growing obese? This book teaches readers that the answer is to pace oneself. (Many people make the mistake of trying to pack all of their hedonism into one week-long vacation a year.) The book begins with a concise history of hedonism, which focuses on “history’s more colorful trailblazers” including Cleopatra, Caligula and Catherine the Great. A timeline of intoxication follows. The Puritans have their own section, aptly titled, “The Puritans — The Lousiest Dinner Guests Ever.” Throughout the book one can find helpful lists, like the “Top Ten Hedonist Mantras,” which include “live and let live” and “shit or get off the pot.” A chapter titled “Where is My Life?” focuses on the stresses of the workplace; it reveals that there is no national vacation requirement in the United States, but Swedes are required by law to receive twenty-five paid vacation days a year!
    As a bonus, the overrated virtues of world leaders are examined, as are many of the stupid laws that these leaders put into place. A breakdown of the seven deadly sins and seven heavenly virtues helps readers understand the merits of spiritual shortcomings.
    For those who thought hedonism was all about rock bands doing drugs and boning groupies, this book helps define the word for the layman. Hedonism is for everyone. It is whatever brings you pleasure, be it a board game, a spa treatment, a warm blanket or a fat hookah filled with opium. Maybe it’s the “final deathbed review” on the second to last page, but in the end, this small, persuasive book makes a great argument for letting go of the shackles of work, pressure and stress and embracing fun, leisure and most of all, pleasure.

Reverend Jen Miller,
patron saint of the uncool, hosts the long-running New York City open
mike “Reverend Jen’s Anti-Slam.” She is also the author of Reverend Jen’s Really Cool Neighborhood, a Lower East Side travel guide “for the poor, deviant and bored.” Visit her website at www.revjen.com.