Sex Education

We had a Men’s Club meeting at the Jewish Community of Ojai last night. It was the first in many years…probably prompted by the women of JCO who had inaugurated their own version of the male equivalent, called the Red Tent. 

A separation of the sexes, like physical education classes in middle school. No need for concern because nearly all the attendees at the Men’s Club and the Red Tent are well beyond their childbearing years, although participants might gleefully welcome a sex education refresher including a description of opposite sex body parts.

Like most JCO events, last night’s participants were the usual faces, people who go to Friday night services, attend other events and support JCO financially. Ten men who weren’t certain about what to expect but who knew that food would be one of the highlights.

Ralph organized the event, having said at a board meeting, “We need a Men’s Club”. Our JCO president, Margo, has a simple mantra for this open-ended suggestion that warns, “You want it? You do it.” This sometimes leads to silence and then is lost in the ether for the a few years. No shrinking violet, Ralph took the challenge and ran with it.

Max and I carpooled, arrived early, and surveyed the food on the kitchen counter. Kosher hot dogs and baked beans took center stage, supported by coleslaw and potato chips. No quiche here. I was reminded of the pork and beans the cowboys ate while sitting around the campfire in the 1974 Mel Brooks movie, Blazing Saddles. Silence prevailed as the cowboys scooped up the beans, the quiet broken only by periodic farts. I hoped we would find something more meaningful to do when the meeting started.

Eventually we were 10. I know some of these men for many years, others for just a few. We began the with the basics. Where we came from, what our kids did, what we do. I found I didn’t know them as well as I thought I did. A new appreciation was developing.

Fearful of ending the meeting too soon, early on we offered suggestions about the next meeting. Bowling, fishing, golf, hiking, and other things that men are expected to do, were mentioned but seemed to generate only polite interest.

My thoughts ran back to Jackie, and I was reminded of her insistence that women tend to focus on feelings while men generally embrace something less revealing. For example, at a basic level, women easily talk about sex while men mostly abandon open discussion of it following their girl-ogling teen years. 

I jumped in. Maybe we could help each other by talking about a problem one of us has?

Background chatter stopped. They quit crunching potato chips. Faces brightened. People leaned forward on their elbows. Morey asked, “Like what?”

I sat straighter in my seat. Cleared my throat. And I began…

We’ve been wrestling with staying in Ojai or moving to a new senior community in Healdsburg, 70 miles north of San Francisco and 400 miles from Ojai. It’s called Enso. Jackie is convinced we should move but I have mixed feelings. 

I like the people of Ojai and the house we share. I like walking to the center of town and saying hello to folks I know. I love it when people recognize me and massage my ego. 

I have things to do here…so why am I bored? 

I’m the longest serving member of the Ojai Library Foundation. I’m on the synagogue board of directors. I take publicity photos for the Music Festival. I drive the Help of Ojai bus. I try to keep fit. 

So why am I bored.

I discovered the ukulele six months ago and joined a local club; I can play enough chords to keep the other members from tossing me under the bus. A month ago, I added pottery classes to my schedule and enjoy making things that look like me, bent over and irregular. The pieces are lined up on my bar, but space is limited.

So why am I bored?

Four years ago, I moved from 4,000 square feet in the Upper Ojai to 2,700 feet in town. Enso promises 1,700 feet and assisted living if needed. Its ubiquitous memory care unit has its arms out to welcome someone like me…with a family history where dementia played a starring role in my ancestors’ golden years.

I’m 83. I’ll be 84 before they finish building Enso next fall, just in time to possibly push a walker around, meditate, eat soft foods, and become just a little bit Zen.

Bless her heart, Jackie yearns for more spirituality, a term that defies definition. This is as close as I can get…Spirituality involves the recognition of a feeling or sense or belief that there is something greater than myself, something more to being human than sensory experience. After I figure it out, maybe I could share that adventure.

Like-minded people are at the top of Jackie’s list, and she believes Enso will deliver like Abraham almost did when God commanded him to sacrifice his only son. Participating in Zoom sessions has introduced me to fellow Ensonites who are likeable, funny and a bit strange. All are bright, some younger, some older. Relatively healthy, all are ambulatory, a condition that is sure to change in the not distant future. Importantly, we all share the same concerns, a new place with unknown paths, and new people who may not take us in with open arms.

I fear moving with all its complications. What if I do it and am still bored?

I’m reminded of the Billy Joel song, Piano Man. I can’t listen to it just once walking down Daly Road. I need to hear it twice, maybe three times…

It’s nine o’clock on a Saturday
The regular crowd shuffles in
There’s an old man sittin’ next to me
Makin’ love to his tonic and gin

He says, “Son can you play me a memory?
I’m not really sure how it goes
But it’s sad and it’s sweet and I knew it complete
When I wore a younger man’s clothes”

La, la-la, di-di-da
La-la di-di-da da-dum

Living in the past. Fearful of doing something new. Such a short time.

They were still listening when I finished my monolog. Their suggestions flew at me. I listened. I didn’t hear a solution. But it felt good to share.

Then Milt took a turn in the box. And then Art. Each with a story to tell that I’d never have heard if we had just gone bowling.

Next month, sex education.

1 Response to “Sex Education”


  1. 1 jackielakshmi November 24, 2022 at 9:46 am

    So wonderful that you are open to new ideas , new forms of communication and possibly a new location?
    That is what I love about you!
    You lead your group on a new path- looking forward to hearing more…..

    Like


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