What Has Happened to Sex and Debauchery?

As was with the relatively, highly inflammable word, “womanizer”, the same holds true with the old, decadent one, “debauchery”: Both are now almost nowhere to be seen.

What is debauchery? It’s tough to precisely define. Historically speaking, it generally involves a group of men and women who eat and drink excessively coupled with minor and major sexual acts during or after. Debauchery was a common occurrence during the orgies of the Roman Empire. Today, I would add recreational drugs to the list. After such rambunctious sessions, exhaustion, leaving the scene or sleep frequently follow.

I must be truthful: I’ve never participated in a classic debauchery session so I cannot speak from experience. I then called G, full well expecting to get the scoop. Much to my surprise, though he had the opportunity, he only took part in one, but principally as a witness. It happened in London in the 80’s. He was invited by a wealthy lady to a “festive occasion” and was told that lots of friends would gather to have a “blast” at her flat.  He, curious as hell and being an adventurous soul, readily accepted the invitation. The flat, by any standard, was a big one. There were about six informally dressed couples in their late 30’s and early 40’s.  All, except, which remains a mystery, the lady with the biggest breasts, showed their wares- décolletage style.   G was alone -or so he thought- for he soon discovered he indeed had a blind date- the hostess! There was an impressive   buffet with smoked salmon, caviar and pate’, among others. There was a serve -yourself bar along with bottles of corked wine, seemingly placed on every table in the flat including the bedrooms.

They all ate and drank up a storm.  G initially went along with the pace but then slowed down becoming primarily an observer. Drugs were not part of this scene except for one couple smoking grass. Hands were exploring everywhere and the six couples were no doubt “warming up” to become debauchers. No Roman- type of debauchery sex scene happened before G left. He found the hostess an interesting lady and wished he could whisk her away to a romantic restaurant but knew that wasn’t in the cards. He, bored, decided to leave but didn’t have it in him to tell the hostess. Casting aside his customary manners and while nobody was looking, he sneaked out and, relieved, returned to his hotel suite to watch TV British comedy. He loves British humor. He once told me that the Italians, Americans, the Brits, Irish and the Scots are his favorites when it comes to humor.

Frankly speaking, I was a little disappointed that G hadn’t more to say.  I then called around but couldn’t find one person who had experienced what I consider to be real debauchery until a lady friend of mine jumped to mind. She lives in a wealthy section of Manhattan- and that’s all I’ll say about her. We met over cocktails at the Michelangelo Hotel, one of my favorites. She told me that these scenes, with lots of variations, do happen in her circle of friends and acquaintances, but not that often. I pressed her to give me a detailed account of one such scene. She, after her first Campari and soda, reluctantly agreed. It differed in one major aspect from G’s London scene. It was drugs. Cocaine is usually taken in lines in order to give one a sense of the quantity taken. But at this scene of a handful of couples, piles of coke were poured on a center table. The guests, armed with robust straws, just tooted away without the guideline of the lines. She estimated there was about $5,000 of the cocaine powder on the table which I would guess to be about 50 grams, enough grams to make an elephant male and female dance the Macarena.  Lots of smoke or marijuana, was also taken to add to the coke hit as well as smooth it out. I almost forgot about booze. She told me it flowed like the relentless tide of the Hudson River. Most of them disrobed at the same time and, while naked, fought to take a bath with others than their dates in the only tub in the condo. In the tub they continued to coke and smoke away talking about sex and touching each other’s body parts.  I asked her if jealousy reared its ugly head with the switching of mates and other kinds of touchy-huggy scenes and drug-induced effusive expressions of temporary affection.  She didn’t detect any which made me think that drugs may decrease the jealousy passion. There were a couple of ménage a trois episodes without objections from any quarter.  (For the record, I believe jealousy had to be part of the debauch).

I wondered whether I would enjoy such a scene when I was younger.  Truthfully speaking, I couldn’t make a judgment for, as I said, I never was in such a scene. I recently read a review of Henry Miller’s novel, Quiet Days in Clichy, published in 1956. He was a controversial harbinger of the future of sex novels. After the acts of debauchery described in the text, his last words in the book about debauchery were, “It doesn’t make sense.”

So what’s my point? It’s a simple one. The reason why the word womanizer is disappearing from our vocabulary is because we now have manizers who are women who do to men what womanizers do to women. It’s now commonplace. The same holds true with debauchery. Unlike in the past when it was a special eye-opening event reserved to a special class of “decadent” folks, it is now commonplace and not worthy of mention anymore.

I sometimes wonder what will be the next disappearing word.

 

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