Why We Confuse Sex with Luncheon Meat.
Or the lengths we'll go to be "full."
“Sex is the third most basic human need after food and good movie popcorn.” Billy Crystal
I’m not saying I confuse sex with food all the time, but some people do, and I doubt they know why any more than I know why. How can you eat a pastrami sandwich and suddenly feel horny? And who, during the act of coitus, suddenly craves jambalaya (well, okay, I’ve done that, but I was hungry and I was performing adequately, which I thought deserved jambalaya).
Remember that episode of Seinfeld where George keeps coming up from under his girlfriend’s duvet to nosh on a pastrami sandwich. He tells Jerry later, “It’s great, I was amazing, I was full.” What is it about pastrami? It’s a luncheon meat. How can you confuse intercourse with luncheon meat?
Something’s really wrong here, and I won’t sit by, hoping a friend doesn’t call, saying he gnawed off part of their girlfriend’s ear after eating macaroni. That’s the first step towards cannibalism, and it’s a slippery slope. First an ear, then a thigh, then you might as well tattoo KFC on your girlfriend’s forehead.
Give us enough of these signals, and we don’t care if we’re gnawing on a chicken leg or someone’s arm.
Let’s not get ahead of ourselves here, though. Scientists have studied this extensively, and it seems we’re not so much confused as wired to interchange sex and food. It all has to do with our senses, and anything that does that makes us hungry.
We’re feeders, in other words, and we like being “full” whether it’s our stomachs or our sexual appetites. When we’re “turned on,” our dopamine levels rise, sending out all sorts of signals. Give us enough of these signals, and we don’t care if we’re gnawing on a chicken leg or someone’s arm.
It’s no surprise that “appetite” is used for both sex and food. We describe the derriere as “buns” and, for a while there, we called breasts “milkshakes,” as in “My milkshake brings all the boys to the yard, and they’re like, it’s better than yours, Damn right it’s better tha yours.”
That was a silly song, but no sillier than “I Want Candy.” We don’t mind symbolism or sexual innuendo, but we still want a milkshake and candy.
Historically, we’ve always been like this. Go back to the Romans or Greeks and you’ll find tons of feasts all culminating in fornication. Some folks were too full to screw, others did it with a leg of lamb in their hands. Things got pretty greasy, but at least it taught us lubrication. Women should thank livestock for this, although livestock won’t know what you’re talking about.
They get lubricated for very different reasons.
People back then liked sex, and they liked food, so they got really competitive and warlike and fought each other, and told mighty tales and got hungrier by the minute.
If we’re going to blame anybody, or anything, for all this food and sex confusion, we need to examine feasts. Different civilizations have always had feasts, most celebrating either a good harvest or a good war. If you didn’t have either, you starved — and you probably didn’t get any nook, either.
People back then liked sex, and they liked food, so they got really competitive and warlike and fought each other, and told mighty tales and got hungrier by the minute. Then they figured there must be foods that would make them stronger and more virile, which became known as aphrodisiacs.
Aphrodisiacs have been popular throughout the ages, with nobody knowing for certain how they worked. We know now that any contain stimulants that create euphoria. In Bolivia, for instance, they still chew cocoa leaves because it staves off hunger and makes you think you’re in Florida.
Chocolate was once seen as a great aphrodisiac, so much so, that in the 1600s, religious leaders banned monks and nuns from consuming it.
This is why we have cheese.
Controversy has surrounded chocolate for so long, a team of scientists decided to test its potency on two groups of women. One group ate chocolate daily, the other didn’t. At the end of the study, there was no difference in sexual stimulation whatsoever, except the chocolate-eating group complained about being fat and nobody wanting them.
Oysters are no slouches in the sex-enhancing category, either. Romans loved them, figuring anything that looked that ugly must be good for something.
Oysters are no slouches in the sex-enhancing category, either. Romans loved them, figuring anything that looked that ugly must be good for something. Thousands of oyster shells have been found in excavated ruins, leading anthropologists to conclude that Romans weren’t sexually confident.
At any rate, the American Chemical Study determined that all bivalve mollusks contain the amino acid D-Aspartic, which increased the level of hormones in rats. It didn’t work quite the same on humans, since an oyster is about the size of a rat, and we need to eat twenty oysters just to feel horny.
Researchers were, however, able to conclude that oysters raised the testosterone levels in sedentary men. Then again, so did Victoria Secret commercials and Fluffernutters. The study was considered inconclusive.
Some foods, if we’re being honest, just look horny. Bananas, for instance, have a rather phallic shape. As one woman told me, “There’s nothing wrong doing it with a banana. Besides, you can destroy the evidence afterwards. Warm bananas are delicious.”
Well, anything that’s sexual and edible can’t be a bad thing. We’ve all had our moments, particularly during those dry sexual periods. Besides, many fruits and vegetables have compounds that make us euphoric. What we do with that euphoria is up to us. Either we abuse something or we…no, we abuse something, even if it’s a pint of Ben & Jerry’s.
It’s luncheon meat, and visions of George Costanza eating a sandwich during intercourse is disturbing. Actually, George being in bed with a woman is disturbing.
Which brings me back to luncheon meat. I just can’t relate pastrami to sex, even if experts say it’s perfectly normal. It’s luncheon meat, and visions of George Costanza eating a sandwich during intercourse is disturbing. Actually, George being in bed with a woman is disturbing.
Look, George isn’t a sexy guy, unless you like short, balding men who yell a lot. George knows he’s not sexy. He’s like so many of us. Instead of getting by on looks alone, we get by on food alone.
This is easily explained by psychologists who rarely explain anything easily. According to them, we’re simply more craving than craven, meaning we’ll do just about anything to feel some form of pleasure.
We’re pleasure seekers at heart. We like stimulation, something we’d love to get from copulating (or love, for that matter), but that’s not always possible, especially if most members of the opposite sex find us abhorrent.
Not one food group has ever denied you, rejected you, or said they were going home because, well, you’re disgusting.
Our answer is food, an ideal substitute, since food never says “no.” Not one food group has ever denied you, rejected you, or said they were going home because, well, you’re disgusting. Nope, food doesn’t judge.
So maybe we’re not so much confusing sex with food, as eating until something better comes along.
Admittedly, we do get carried away with food. One third of the American population is obese, but think what we’d be like denying ourselves any pleasure at all. We’d be zombies, and nobody likes zombies.
We want our “forbidden pleasures,” even if it’s a warm pretzel. There’s nothing wrong with a warm pretzel. There might be something wrong with eating warm pretzels until we look like a warm pretzel, but that’s a small price to pay if we’re blissful — or at least not hungry.
That’s what supermarkets and delis and fast food restaurants are for. They’re the “pleasure palaces” of the modern age.
Let’s face it, being hungry and sex-starved is too much for many of us. We need to be “full.” That’s what supermarkets and delis and fast food restaurants are for. They’re the “pleasure palaces” of the modern age.
Not that we won’t give it all up for sex. Unless it’s a really good pastrami sandwich. Maybe we can have both like George Costanza. No, his girlfriend smelt pastrami on his breath.
Boy, that’s tough one. No wonder we’re confused.
We should have a pastrami sandwich or a pretzel and think about this.
Robert Cormack is a novelist, humorist and blogger. His first novel “You Can Lead a Horse to Water (But You Can’t Make It Scuba Dive)” is available online and at most major bookstores (coming this August in paperback). Check out Yucca Publishing or Skyhorse Press for more details.