Do you know what your ‘arousal template’ is? You are missing out
Hilary Fannin: All you need for Christmas is sex positivity and an aubergine
Big purple aubergine. Photograph: iStock
It’s been a while. I’ve tried to stay away, tried to curb my enthusiasm for her excesses, but dammit, man, I’m weak. And so, in pursuit of the perfect Christmas gifts to bestow on my less-than-perfect friends and relations, I’ve crumbled and run straight back into the sinewy arms of the woman I love.
Yep, it’s time to reunite with my favourite Christmas fairy, Gwyneth Paltrow, vaginal steamer extraordinaire, a girl who just might make you think twice about what to do with your rosemary and thyme this season.
“Oh, what are you talking about now?” you cry through a mouthful of tinsel and brandy snaps. “Who are you casting asparagus – sorry, I mean aspersions – on this time?”
You learn something new every day – apparently, an aubergine emoji is shorthand for that particular organ
I’m talking about Gwyneth Paltrow, she of the online lifestyle publication Goop, who has recently produced her annual holiday gift guides, offering a treasure trove of present ideas for those among us with an awful lot more money than sense.
There’s much to admire, and maybe even to aspire to, in the wonderful world of Gwyneth. The woman is woke. She’s long been putting her sculpted back into persuading her well-heeled readership to make environmentally and ethically sound choices for under the eco tree, and this year is no exception.
For the kids you can purchase an age-appropriate mud-pie cookery book or a Rosa Parks Barbie doll, which comes complete with its own revolutionary yellow bus. Or, if the notion takes you, why not lash out $1,000 or so on a pretty turquoise surfboard?
Then, for the man in your life, there’s a personalised maple and walnut muddler set. (Being in my sixth decade and still not knowing what a muddler set was, I looked it up. Apparently you use it/them to crush mint for your mojitos. And there was I using my dentures! No wonder my life is a sorry mess of unmatched cutlery, greasy antimacassars and a cat who drinks out of the toilet bowl.)
Many of us, however, in these environmentally fragile days, seek to eschew filling up each other’s homes with more stuff (how many rattan place mats can one lifetime encompass?) and have decided instead to buy each other experiences rather than things.
Theatre or film tickets make an acceptable gift, or maybe a voucher for the hairdresser or a beauty salon. Falconry, footie-golf, fuzzball, fishing trips – the list of active gifts is endless, and Gwyneth has some more idiosyncratic ideas, too, which you might consider adding to the wish list.
For example, how about gifting your loved one some “shame-free pleasure-centred sex education”? (Oh, you shouldn’t have, I only bought you cufflinks.)
Yes, $50 will buy you not one but two half-hour classes, during which, among other things, you and your classmates will be helped by a woman called Erica to define your “arousal template”. And what is an arousal template, you ask in that nonchalant way, hungry for knowledge yet reluctant to show unseemly curiosity. Well, I’ve absolutely no idea, mate, but I suspect it’s not a knitting pattern.
In this pleasure-centred class, you and your “female-identified and gender-nonconforming folks with female anatomy” will discover how things such as identity, drive and culture influence sex. You will evaluate what you want in and out of the bedroom.
(And no, that doesn’t mean a single of chips and reruns of The Late Late; we’re talking lube and sex toys here, and “ethical porn”, whatever that is, all delivered in a “patriarchy-free class that will deepen your mind-body connection and help you build your personal roadmap to sex positivity”.)
Great. Seriously, who among us who were dragged kicking and screaming through the 1970s and 1980s in this country, having our sexual impulses crushed under the well-polished heels of the patriarchy, doesn’t need a roadmap to sex positivity? I wonder if Erica has any plans to come to Ireland – she’d certainly enliven the Christmas stockings.
But if that’s all too much, you might settle instead for a bottle of Bulgarian lavender body oil or indulge in a little light reading with The Penis Book, by Aaron Spitz (I’m saying nothing), a “doctor’s complete guide to the penis” with a big purple aubergine on the cover.
Honestly, you learn something new every day – apparently, an aubergine emoji is shorthand for that particular organ. I wish somebody had told me that before I happily sent it off to some new colleagues in a group chat about where we’d meet for breakfast.