Joyce Wadler has a column in yesterday’s New York Times about the perils of getting all your sex education from informal but highly-attentive reading, back in the day. This personal reminiscence about Saran Wrap is pretty hilarious:

Luckily, by the time I was 16, I had moved on to more anatomically instructive reading material [including] the Playboy Advisor.

You had to haul through all sorts of tedious stuff about stereo systems and a well-stocked bar before getting to one item of sexual information and it seems to me this might have been the place where I picked up the information about Saran Wrap… It was so absurd even Hugh Hefner couldn’t have endorsed it. Probably that was what attracted me, the silliness of it. It couldn’t be viable? Could it?

This sex tip, anyway, was that in place of a condom, one could use Saran Wrap, you just had to make certain things were well wrapped.

Looking back on it I find it hard to believe there was a teenage boy willing to go along with this, but then we were dealing with the thing a teenage boy will do anything for: sex.

So we got the Saran Wrap and wrapped. And wrapped. And wrapped. You new readers may not know this, but in matters of safety and personal health I am scrupulous. So we kept wrapping. I cannot, even in educationally correct greengrocer terms (root vegetable? zucchini? summer squash?) do justice to the final result. Let’s just say the only sexual thing possible, when we were done, was to look, and having looked, it was not something you would ever forget. Wait, I’ve got it: Picture a noble palace guard, swathed in 13 layers of dry cleaner’s plastic wrap, but, you know, proportional.

Anyway, summer ends, the teenage boy, who had been a waiter at one of the hotels, goes back home to New York City and this being one of the things in my life I want to block out forever, I do.

Until one day when I am 62, in the supermarket and a voice calls out: “Joyce! Joyce Wadler!” And it is he. Now a shrink. Living one block away from me. Who has remembered, God help me, my full name. I chat with him for the least possible time because all I can see is that image sort of hanging over us, like a Goodyear blimp. I cannot believe he is not remembering it, too, but it’s not the sort of thing I want to acknowledge. Where would I start? “Shrink, huh, what made you get into that?” “Do much cooking?” “What do you think is better, baggies or Saran Wrap or do you like your stuff shrink wrapped?”


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