The term “free love” is an oxymoron. Nothing in life is free. My little expedition to Mexico was only a small example of just how emotionally, physically and financially expensive love can be. But in the 1960s and 1970s the media coined the term in reference to their interpretation of the newly liberated escapades of America’s youth.
I once had a conversation with a man who was a generation older than me and lived across the street from my parents in North White Plains.
He had seen me come home from Medical School and walk into our house with a very attractive Junior College coed I happened to be dating at the time. He jumped out of his living room chair, ran across the street, up our front stairs, rang the doorbell, and then asked my mother when she answered the ring whom the girl might be. It seems he had a fetish for large breasts and this woman happened to fit the bill of his less than suppressed sexual fantasies.
He then proceeded to tell my mother he thought the woman to be so attractive that he “would happily eat three yards of her shit just to get close enough to smell her asshole.”
It did not seem to matter one iota that he was married to a very attractive blond who was the father of his two teenaged sons.
Knowing his personality to be somewhat brusque, lewd and lascivious, my mother easily dismissed his expletive. But he did later tell me how sad he was that he had completely missed out on the sexual revolution himself. In particular he regretted having missed out on all the “free love” he was reading about or seeing on the evening news. He had other more deeply seeded issues anyway as he had the habit of drinking beer to excess in his basement, in a chair situated under a Nazi flag banner as he consistently lamented that he had fought on the wrong side in the war.
He was of German descent and thought the United States had entered an era of undisciplined liberalism while repeatedly pining:
- If I had only known where this country was headed, I would have gone over to the other side. Where is Hitler now anyway at a time in our history that we need him the most?
The real problem is that human beings were not biologically designed to live past the age of forty.
I also believe that every decade of life brings along with it both physical and emotional changes that for the most part make many couples grow apart. Time brings unanticipated change and unanticipated change brings along with it unpredictable wants and needs.Therefore, now thanks to modern science, assuming a human lifespan of about seventy years to eighty years, a man or a woman really enjoys seven to eight life variations. It would not be unreasonable to conclude then that with human longevity being what it is, we are probably best suited to be sequential monogamists as opposed to being free lovers.
My 2nd great grandfather’s story illustrates this point succinctly. He died of heat stroke when he was in his thirties. Out of necessity his wife remarried a local widower and they then together raised two families of children. When my 2nd great grandmother then died in her forties, leaving her second husband to still need a woman to tend the household, the issue was more or less forced, which caused him to remarry yet again. On this occurrence and with no lost love for what were then two perfect strangers as parents, my great grand relatives simply left home.
In today’s world, divorce replaces early demise, a fact that coupled with the ability to easily have affairs, keeps sequential monogamy and illicit liaisons both alive and well as a practicably functional sub-rosa institution.
Biology dictates that women want security and prefer to live in nests; for the most part caring less about how their mate looks than what is in his wallet. Men, on the other hand want sex with nice looking virginal women, whether real or imaginary but at least in appearance, and prefer to live in the wild. So they think.
Here’s a perfect fantasy for a male: to be the last man alive in a world with only about twenty or thirty women left, and to have free reign over their sexual fates. Thinking only with his pecker however, he would not be able to predict the awful price he would eventually have to pay by having to satisfy up to thirty wives emotional, financial, and physical needs, not to mention those of their prospective offspring. What a nightmare.
Thirty women, all of whom simultaneously cycling their menses, having communal PMS and then also demanding in one cacophonous uniform whine that the big white hunter should spend more bonding time with his sixty or so children. The collective sentence: Thirty women to choose from; yet no sex for you tonight, Alpha Dude.
Another modern day phenomenon is that of the “trophy bride,” interestingly enough implying something to be attained by hunting big game or by winning at sports. It is amazing to see some old codger who happened to make a fortune, only to dump his long faithful aging wife in order to marry the likes of a midget- brained magazine model. Everyone knows the little nymph would not have given him the time of day if he happened to be penniless, but the old pimp tycoon with his bimbo harlot is a common modern phenomenon that usually leads to disaster.
The Anna Nicole Smith saga best illustrates this point. Love is never free. There is always a price to pay for it. It is always conditional; no matter what the romanticists or the dewy eyed bride to be might have to say about it. But as usual there are exceptions to the rule; Hugh Heffner who created a personally unique concept of the disposable consort.
Even during the hey day of so called free love of the 1960s and 1970s, and in the case of the rare women who were known to sleep with anyone, these girls, otherwise known as “Easy Riders,” were then easily taken advantage of, passed around like hand me down clothes, then usually after the fact discredited in the gossip mill. After all, a man cannot brag about a sexual conquest if the prize is as commonly or easily procured as a penny candy.
Soon enough, the ultimate decline in their reputations at some point then left the “easy” girls dateless and alone. They paid for their actions with their reputations, while unlike some of their smarter contemporaries who may have gone on to became prostitutes, they did not even get paid for their services. This made their efforts an incredible waste of talent and natural resources.
Eventually, just about every one of the so-called ‘loose’ women did settle down with one person and became respectable monogamists. In the long run, the female biological clock tends to wind down in favor of reproduction as it overtakes an unchecked obsessive desire to be promiscuous. Take Marilyn Chambers for example: 99% pure Ivory Soap girl, turned porn star, turned suburban housewife and Born Again Christian doting mother.
The so-called era of “free love” was not the equivalent of people having indiscriminant sex, as believed to be the case by our next-door neighbor. Human nature does not operate that way.
The sexual revolution instead was an expression of a liberated generation not having to be concerned about unwanted pregnancy and about women coming to believe that they no longer had to be sexually suppressed or to be brainwashed like their mothers had been. The belief that sex was a sacred duty, something dirty, a spousal obligation, or that the role of women was to be nothing more than a breeding pod had become a thing of the past. No, rather than free promiscuous love, this era was more akin to people being given a green light to freely express a certain latitude of sexual selectivity while not to be made feeling guilty about doing so.
Love is never free. Even marriage, by definition requires that each person at minimum pays the price of lost autonomy as each then enters the world of Holy Compromise. Even in the best relationship there is a happiness quotient, which is determined by dividing the satisfaction in the relationship by the dissatisfaction.
My feeling is that one should at least get to 90% satisfaction or the dissention factor will start to erode the relationship. Not too many couples get there, or if starting out there, soon find out that the original equation prompting them to get together was flawed; the “love is blind phenomenon,” so to speak.
Then factor in the divorce rate. Half the marriages in modern America end in divorce, subsequently making divorce a multi-million-dollar legal business. Somebody wins, somebody loses, the lawyers line their coffers regardless of the outcome, and then in the aftermath the emotional cost to all parties, including the children, requires intangible calculation.
Many more relationships should result in divorce, but instead languish on the shores of mutual ennui or in the domains of sadomasochism, as such leaving the couple living in a uniquely confining limbo. These couples, who really should separate, stay in bad relationships because of boredom, lack of self esteem, fear of the unknown, fear of being alone, sloth, capitulation, losing money, guilt, convenience, children, or a dozen other possible convenient excuses making their lives a virtual prison without walls.
The elusive dream of finding the perfect mate is a Hollywood fantasy that is well depicted by the weekly tabloids and scandal sheets which now allow us to vicariously keep pace with the ‘Perfect People’s’ frequent marriages and divorces. Perfect people of very little real substance falling in love with each other on movie sets because they actually believe the scripts they are acting out are true.
In reality, the era of so called free love simply did nothing more than to ensure the spread of the already known STDs like Gonorrhea, Chlamydia, HPV as well as the new viral varieties such as Herpes that can not even be eradicated with antibiotics.
Eventually the era of truly fee love as the pure entity of indiscriminant male homosexual bath house encounters in the 1980s culminated in the spread of the most pernicious STD known to date; the incurable and lethal AIDS. Death: the highest price to pay of all.
Talmudic Law and Biblical prohibitions against polygamy, sex with relatives, prostitution and indiscriminant sexual liaisons were only put in place to prevent the high cost to society of consanguineous genetic mishaps, anarchy and the spread of genitally mediated diseases.
There are many good reasons to keep your blue jeans zipped and your skirts down. The first and best good reason is that love is never free. It is usually very costly in one form or another.
The second best reason is that even though biology prevails and the urge to mate is innate; love with a stranger in this day and age is the equivalent of playing Russian roulette with one’s genitals.
One shot. Over-and-out. Or maybe live to play another day. But at least when playing the same game with a revolver that chambers only one live bullet out of six, the odds are known and can easily be calculated ahead of time.
Put your arms around me
Like a circle ‘round the sun.
You know I’ll love you baby
When my easy ridin’s done
You don’t believe I love you
Look at the fool I’ve been.
You don’t believe I’m sinkin’
Look at the hole I’m in.
Pretty momma don’t you tell on me
I’m stealin’ back to my
Same old used to be.
(Gus Cannon: Arranged and sung by Arlo Guthrie © Howard Beach Music)