Vibrator Stories

Ehrenreich and von Hoffman

Vibrator Stories

Ehrenreich and von Hoffman

Vibrator Stories
An email conversation about the news of the day.
Oct. 28 1998 10:21 AM

Ehrenreich and von Hoffman

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Dear Ms. E:

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There is no John Glenn question. Why torture yourself about this nonsense? You are right, but what does it matter? Of course, there is no scientific rationale for the Buckeye Boy's sojourn among the stars. There has been no scientific rationale for any of the man in space jaunts, so why pick on this one? It's got a cute angle to it: Old Guy in Orbit. They've sent monkeys up, they've sent mice and cockroaches, so why not an old guy? I know, you want an old gal, too. Well, that's cool. Up, up and away with you, 80-year-old Jessie Cobb, or the good lady might choose to wait another 20 years and become the first centenarian of any of our many gendered species to free herself of the earth's gravitational pull. Now there is a first for you, and you know how we love firsts.

As to your complaint concerning the absence of a woman in space way back when, what rejoinder can be made except to point out that today, the women are just as goofy as the men and may be seen almost any night up in the sky on NASA's celestial merry-go-round.

Today's New York Daily News carries a story about Harry Carter, another man coming out of retirement. Carter is the chap who chauffeured Glenn on his ticker tape parade 36 years ago. "I'll come back for one day," he is quoted as saying. "I'd love to." According to the paper, the last time these two gents were seen motoring around the tip of southern Manhattan, almost three thousand five hundred tons of paper were dumped on their heads. Since you brought the topic up, it seems to me the pressing question of the hour is, does Glenn get another ticker tape parade, and if he does, will that be another first, leading to a study on the effects of three thousand five hundred tons of paper landing on a superannuated gentleman? Will John Glenn be the first person in American history to have two ticker tape parades? They are, after all, our equivalent of the triumphs accorded victorious military commanders by the Roman Republic, another flawed democracy. That would put him right up there with Julius Caesar. Now, there was a male blanco-europeano for you!

The November LinguaFranca, which arrived in the mail the other day, contained an article that might appeal to a person with your specialized interests. It discusses a book entitled, "The Technology of Orgasm: 'Hysteria,' the Vibrator, and Women's Sexual Satisfaction" by one Rachel Maines. Ms. Maines has discovered a collection of rather frightening looking late 19th and early 20th century electro-mechanical devices used by doctors to bring sexual satisfaction to women whose failure to achieve same with their husbands apparently spoiled their otherwise sunny dispositions. The article includes etchings of these instruments of pleasure, one of which bears a discomforting resemblance to a turn of the century dentist's drill, but there's no suppressing the human spirit, is there?

Barbara Ehrenreich is contributing editor at theProgressiveand author of several books, including Blood Rites. Nicholas von Hoffman is a columnist at theNew York Observer. His books include We Are the People Our Parents Warned Us Against.