Sunday, July 01, 2018

If You Can't Live Without Me, Why Aren't You Dead Yet?! (1991)

I was sorry to hear about Cynthia Heimel's death at the age of 70 earlier this year because I'd just rescued my copy of this from a box going out the door. Purging exercises have become a regular thing for me for several years now. Heimel's book is a collection of very short pieces, most of which ran in Playboy in the late '80s and alas are not as cackling funny as I remember them. Out on the internet now Heimel is known for the titles of her books. And now I'm doing what all her reviewers do, but I'd quickly like to mention that this and Get Your Tongue Out of My Mouth, I'm Kissing You Goodbye are my favorites. In many ways the persona that Heimel created has to be credited as a primary source for the Carrie Bradshaw character on TV's Sex and the City. I like Heimel's pondering candor about feminism, sex, and realities, but the conservative pressures of the late '80s were not easy for anyone to resist, so she is often torn in many directions as she sorts through her conflicting impulses around monogamy, family, career, and sexuality. Individual sections are devoted to "The Times," "Women," "Men," "Women and Men," and "The Writer's Life." It's not only about sex, love and relationships, but it's mostly about sex, love, and relationships. Unfortunately, it already seems a little dated if only for carrying the flag so valiantly for baby boomers. It was still arguably the flag for youth at the time, but since publication of this book the baby boomers have not acquitted themselves so well (I say this as one of them). In the leadership realm, for example, it has been Bill and Hillary Clinton, George W. Bush, and Donald Trump. Technically, Barack Obama is also a baby boomer, but like most of them born after 1960 he has more in common with the Gen-X crew (exemplified for me, always, in the movie Risky Business). Anyway, we're starting to know better that classifying people by such labels is divisive and we need to cut it out. I think I still felt pretty good about my generation in the late '80s too so I shouldn't hold it against her. But some of these reports, maybe even most of them, feel like details of another planet and way of life. Who are these people and what made them the way they are? For example, the two pieces about porn. In one Heimel invites a group of her guy friends over to watch porn on video. Then she does the same thing with a group of her girlfriends. My first question, which I think should be obvious, is why would anyone think watching porn is a social occasion? Even more disturbing, the guys fall in and act like it is one. They talk about it and notice points of style like it was sports. One was a self-declared blowjob connoisseur and dubbing the tapes as they watched. What in the motherfucking hell? Did such things really go on? I happen to know they are corroborated in Joe Matt's comic books but until now I had been pretty sure he was just making it all up. Live and learn. Godspeed Cynthia Heimel!

In case it's not at the library.

1 comment:

  1. Those titles alone make this pulp fiction gold. The Big Chill (1983) was the first sour note I associate w/ the boomer generation. My birthday sort of straddles generations, so you know how there's fiscal and cultural conservatives? I think I'm fiscally a boomer and culturally a gen x'er.