You probably already know who Marion Winik is. She was a commentator on NPR’s All Things Considered for years. Her essays have appeared everywhere from The New York Times to The Sun to Ladies Home Journal, where she was, somewhat unbelievably, the advice columnist. Her first eight books have been featured on Oprah, The Today Show, Politically Incorrect and The New York Times Notable list. Her ninth, Highs in the Low Fifties, is a memoir of her dating life after her divorce from her second husband. Baltimoreans have been getting glimpses of these tales in her biweekly column Bohemian Rhapsody at BaltimoreFishbowl.com.
In your hilarious new memoir Highs in the Low Fifties, you describe your dates with many different guys. Who would you say was the best kisser: Brown Lips who lived on the couch in his mother’s house, Humberto the illegal alien renovating your basement, J.J. Johnson who drove a Bentley and lived in a museum-style house in the ghetto, or The Doucher who rode a motorcycle and lived on a sailboat?
The high point of the entire experience was kissing the gorgeous but douchey Doucher. In my whole life I have experienced very few kisses like this. I devote several paragraphs of description to it in the book, and to this day am scheming to kiss him again, even though I never saw him after the NFL playoffs in 2010. The kiss took place on a park bench in a tourist area in Annapolis—there should be a commemorative plaque there, I think—and I swear I can still feel it on every bone in my jaw. This guy should just quit his job and have a career teaching kissing. The kiss was heroin and I’ve been cold turkey three years without forgetting it. How could someone kiss like that and not really mean it, which sadly turned out to be the case?
On your one date with Brown Lips, he was not only jobless, homeless and penniless, but he thought you’d be happy with him lunging and groping at you, right?
Actually, he asked. I heard him call his mother and tell her that he would not be home until three o’clock in the morning “so don’t unfold the couch.” I shouted at him, “Are you kidding?! You’ll be home in half an hour!” When I then sat in a chair as far as possible from him, he said, “Before I leave, how ‘bout some touching?” He was very hurt when I burst out laughing, and I felt so guilty that I sat next to him. He grasped me in a very fervent, high-blood-pressure way that caused me to rocket off the couch.
Can you explain how you communicated on your date with the El Salvadorian who didn’t speak any English?
I used Google Translate. So, for example, when I made out with him, he had a very unpleasant technique that drove me to open up Google Translate to find the word for “pinch,” because he was pinching every part of my body like he was trying to squeeze orange juice out of it. I begged him, “No me pellizcas,” and he was very hurt. I couldn’t believe that the women of El Salvador hadn’t already complained about this technique.
In any of your dates, did anyone pull out the Viagra?
I never saw the Viagra, but I assumed it must have been used in the situations where men seemed to want to have sex for very very very very much longer than I had ever experienced with no seeming dramatic arc to the experience. I was concerned it might never end.
What are the differences between sex in your twenties and thirties and sex now that you’re in your early fifties?
Having sex with someone that you don’t feel comfortable with is remarkably similar at every age. Even if your body responds, your mind is interjecting this continual commentary—What are we doing? Why are we here? What is that weird spot on the ceiling? I wonder if turtlenecks are still on sale at Nordstroms. Without the emotional component it’s really hard to let go into the experience. And as self-conscious as you were in your twenties, you’re hundreds of times more self-conscious in your fifties. Honestly, I hope I’ll be able to give a better report on sex in the late fifties.
What’s the difference between having sex with an older man or a younger man?
I’m only guessing that it’s this Viagra. I’m very dubious about Viagra. I kind of liked it when it was all three minutes long. Three minutes is good for me. And fifteen minutes is about all I can take. Really, fifteen minutes: plenty.