A favorite passage in The Velveteen Rabbit for my friend for life, Jan, and me is the part where the Skin Horse and the rabbit talk about becoming real. In that section, the horse recalls how he became real when another little boy loved him into becoming. The rabbit is skeptical, but later in the story, he also becomes real, so much so that he escapes to run and play with other rabbits in the wild.
In this week when I am writing about sexuality, sexuality education, and sexuality across the lifespan (I just had a flash of seeing Ethel Mertz asking Lucy Ricardo if she is always thinking about sex), the passage in The Velveteen Rabbit came to mind. With it came this question, “How has sex helped make me real?” And with that question immediately came thoughts of crushes, first loves, first sex partners, and Lady Mary Crawley.
I believe that sex has helped me be a more passionate and honest man. I will not name names right now, but my earliest sex partners helped me confront my selfishness and preference for comfort, while providing ample opportunity to learn generosity, kindness, and joy. While I applaud people who figure out how to have life-long sexual love relationships, I also applaud those who have first marriages and second marriages, and no marriages at all as they decide to stretch and grow through sexual encounters. Because I remained in communication and friendship with my ex-partners, I have found them to be valuable teachers to me and sources of inspiration for my present and my future. My or our inability to forge lasting relationships with each other was not a story about our goodness or our capacity, but only of our readiness to do so at the time.
In recent episodes of Downton Abbey Lady Mary Crawley has again shown herself to have dreadful, mean-spirited bouts of self-pity combined with ruthlessness. I found it weird that she found her way to the grave of her late husband, Matthew, to seek his blessing on loving again. If I were asked to edit the plot, I would have suggested two alternatives. In the first, she would go to the first man she loved, Carson, and sought his permission. Alternately, and to help her explore what she clearly does not want to acknowledge, namely her passion, I would have urged her to find the grave of Mr. Pamuk.
Oh, let’s get real. Screw going to Carson. Find Pamuk.