I have a problem. My new girlfriend enjoys sex but hates to kiss. I've never encountered this before. At first I didn't care, but now it really bothers me. Have you ever heard of a woman who doesn't like to kiss?--G. J., Cypress, Florida.
Look at it this way: The mouth is the first organ of intelligence. When we are young, we explore our world by mouth to see what tastes right. As adults we do the same--only instead of searching for food, we look for friends. The fact is, kissing is central to intimacy and often to sexual arousal. If your girlfriend dislikes it, we have serious questions about her ability to maintain a relationship and keep you sexually interested. We suggest you ask her if there's any reason she dislikes kissing you. Do you have bad breath? Do you kiss in a way that puts her off? If there's no problem with your breath or technique, we'd guess that she has some problems with intimacy. Stay with her if you want, but watch out: When you start to get close, she might end your relationship with the big kiss-off.
How often should I clean the heads of my VCR? Should I use a wet or dry cleaner?--R. A., Santa Fe, New Mexico.
In the words of Estragon in Samuel Beckett's "Waiting for Godot": "Don't let's do anything. It's safer." Theoretically, wet cleaners do a better job than dry cleaners, but the weave of many cleaning ribbons can snag a tape head. Dry cleaners can be abrasive and sometimes just move dirt from one section of the tape path to another. Few if any cleaners clean all the parts that need it. You can reduce the need for cleaning by buying brand-name-quality tapes. The tapes that might gunk up your VCR are movie rentals, which are sometimes recorded on cheap tape. This is especially true of kids' videos. Take your VCR to a competent technician at least once a year for a professional cleaning. The charge is $30 to $40.
Talk about a Freudian slip: While my girlfriend was going down on me, I accidentally called her by another name. She flipped and walked out, and now she won't speak to me. What can I do?--M. R., Pasadena, California.
Why do you think the English invented the word darling? It's a good rule to stick to nonspecific endearments: honey, lover, goddess. Or just keep your mouth shut. As sex therapist Marty Klein says, "A closed mouth gathers no feet."
When I went car shopping, a dealer tried to sell me a car with an upgraded factory-installed sound system. It featured brand-name components rather than the car company's house brand. Is this a "pack" or is it worth the extra bucks?--W. R., Chicago, Illinois.
If you have to ask how much it costs, you obviously can't afford it. Those of us with normal hearing would much rather make do without the leather seats than without the brand-name stereo. The real differences between ordinary car stereos and the ones the dealer and car company make more profit from are the customization and installation. Engineers equalize the fancy brand-name systems to the interior acoustics of specific car models. This requires a lot of measuring and computer modeling. Then they fight with the mechanical and styling crews to rearrange the door-panel interiors in order to place the speakers in exactly the right places for the best sound. One company even puts a speaker in the rearview mirror. Stereos installed after you buy a car may be higher in absolute quality, but they can't match the prerogatives of the car company in placement and equalization. So unless a boom box satisfies you at home, a factory-installed brand-name system is money well spent.
After years of suffering from premature ejaculation, I finally have learned control. Now I can last all night. I'm thrilled but, incredibly, my wife isn't. She used to complain about my coming too soon. Now she complains that I last too long. What's wrong with her?--P. P., Boulder, Colorado.
She's sore. Every man we know who learns ejaculatory control likes to show his new skill by going at it all night. That's fine, so long as it doesn't exclude the woman in your life. Whenever you change your sexual script, check with your partner. When the old in-and-out goes on for hours, it can become uncomfortable for the woman. If you don't already use a sexual lubricant, try one. Many women don't come during intercourse no matter how long it lasts. Caress her clitoris with your hand, tongue or penis. When she feels fulfilled, she'll probably become more kindly disposed to the new long-lasting you.
When you have a tailor hem a pair of pants, why does he return the excess material in a pants pocket? Growing up in the Seventies, I recall Mom patching the knees of my Toughskins, but surely this is not the intent.--D. T., St. Louis, Missouri.
The tailor returns the extra fabric in case you need it for a repair. If you burn a hole in your pants, a good tailor can weave the extra material into an invisible patch. Also, when you are shopping for coordinating shirts and ties you can carry this material with you. That's a lot easier than carrying a closetful of pants.
My ex used the rhythm method, which is how we had our kid. Now my new girlfriend says she uses some "improved" rhythm method and insists she can't get pregnant for a week each month. Right. I've kept on buying condoms so I don't wind up buying cigars. But now she's annoyed, saying I don't trust her. What is she doing?--R. T., Athens, Ohio.
It's called fertility awareness, and it is, indeed, an improved form of rhythm. But it may not be improved enough to suit you. Fertility awareness is typically about 80 percent effective, according to "Contraceptive Technology," the last word on birth control. Those who use it carefully often enjoy an effectiveness rate of more than 90 percent, about the same as using condoms. Based on the viability of sperm and egg cells, conception can take place from about seven days before a woman ovulates until about three days afterward. Fertility awareness allows women to predict ovulation more scientifically than by traditional calendar rhythm. Traditional rhythm assumes that women have clockwork menstrual cycles and ovulate at the same point during each one. But many women don't, which is why rhythm is unreliable. Fertility awareness uses more reliable indicators of ovulation, namely, basal body temperature and cervical mucus texture. Basal temperature is body temperature at waking. Using a special thermometer that has an expanded scale in the normal temperature range, a woman can notice the half-degree increase in basal temperature at ovulation each cycle. Meanwhile, the cervix secretes mucus, which changes predictably during the menstrual cycle. It's slippery, wet and stretchy around ovulation but scant, thick and dry during safe times. A woman checks her cervical mucus by slipping a finger inside her vagina or by checking outside the vagina. By charting basal body temperature and cervical mucus for about six months, a woman can learn her ovulation pattern and predict ovulation with reasonable accuracy. Once she knows when she ovulates, she can calculate the week or so each month when she's safe. The downside of fertility awareness? It's not as effective as other methods and it's complicated to learn. Most women have to take a class offered through family-planning clinics. Couples we know who use this method say it also has an upside: They look forward to their safe time each month and celebrate it enthusiastically in a prone position.
Please settle an argument. I say that after extracting the cork from a wine bottle, the cork is screwed off the corkscrew. My girlfriend insists the corkscrew is screwed out of the cork. Who's right?--L. G., Wailuku, Hawaii.
This constitutes a major disagreement? A spokesman for the Professional Bartending School recommends turning the cork and corkscrew simultaneously. And they call Clinton the great compromiser.
My girlfriend is obsessed with her weight. She looks great the way she is and I tell her so repeatedly. The problem is that she's become so obsessed that it's affecting our sex life. She doesn't want to make love to me because she really believes she's fat and unattractive. I've heard that having sex is actually a good way to lose weight. Is this true and could the information possibly lure her back to bed?--P. T., Austin, Texas.
Good thing you checked with us before you went at her with this one. Sex is fun, it's not a way to lose weight. A couple of communication experts say that when a woman offers a complaint like this, the last thing she wants is the obvious solution. What she is looking for is empathy. Be appreciative of her plight: "Hey, hon, a pound or two, maybe, but a candidate for liposuction, no way." Show her how sexually attractive you think she is. Call her at work and proposition her. Send her flowers. Run her a fragrant bubble bath. Have respect for her diet. Be nice to her cat. In short, be patient and kind. If that doesn't work, buy her a membership to a gym.
Because of battle scars from my last relationship, I haven't had a girlfriend in nearly a year, and I'm starting to worry. I don't even have that much interest in sex. Maybe Sinéad O'Connor is right: "I do not want what I haven't got." But I've heard that it's unhealthy to go without sex for more than a year. Should I be out there looking for a partner?--F. D., New York, New York.
Only if you really want one. Why foist the fear that you need to get laid to avoid an early death on some unsuspecting female? Relax. Physicians have found that feast-or-famine patterns of sexual behavior can increase the likelihood of prostate problems. Your doctor may recommend regular ejaculation for a healthy prostate, but masturbation will do for that purpose. Don't worry. When you are ready to go for it again, you'll know.
A close friend who lives in another state recently asked me to be in his wedding party. Since he is a buddy, I was happy to accept. However, I didn't realize that I'd be expected to chip in for various gifts and bachelor-party festivities. Then there's the plane ticket, tuxedo rental, hotel room and time lost from my job. Rather than being a joyous occasion, the whole thing is turning into a pain in the butt. What is expected of ushers in a wedding party nowadays? If I shell out for the plane ticket, do I still have to buy a wedding gift?--E. R., Boston, Massachusetts.
Suck it up, dude. You accepted, you're committed. We understand your dilemma. We've known guys who had to declare bankruptcy after everyone in their fraternity chose to get married in the same summer. You are expected to pay for your own tuxedo rental and plane ticket. Perhaps you can stay with someone in the wedding party instead of renting a hotel room. You are also expected to chip in for the bachelor party. And as far as gifts go, a plane ticket should not be substituted for a wedding present. Look at the bright side: The groom will buy you a nice gift for being his usher.
Why do we breathe heavily during sex? It's not like we're running a marathon. And even the passive partner usually gulps for air.--T. S., Tarrytown, New York.
As part of sexual arousal, the blood vessels in the nose expand, which somewhat restricts airflow through the nasal passages. That's why people breathe heavily through their mouths during sex, particularly as they approach orgasm. After orgasm, nasal blood vessels return to normal, restoring airflow through the nose.
I'm a golf nut, but my girlfriend loves aerobics. Can you suggest some compromise vacation spots?--L. S., Cincinnati, Ohio.
Why not invite her to caddy? Not what she had in mind? Oh, well. If you can splurge, Hawaii is a natural for sun-starved romantics. The islands feature some of the world's best golf resorts. Check out Mauna Lani Bay Hotel on the Big Island, or Stouffer Wailea Beach Resort on Maui. Both are luxurious beachfront properties offering every imaginable sport, plus fitness equipment and aerobics. If you prefer a mountain retreat, visit the Avandaro Golf & Spa Resort in Mexico's Sierra Madres, 80 miles west of Mexico City. Activities run the gamut from tennis to swimming to golf on a championship course. Your girlfriend can aerobicize in a fully equipped gym, treat herself to a massage, then commune with the monarch butterflies that migrate to nearby groves. Closer to home, the Boca Raton Resort and Club rates among America's top golf resorts. Three workout facilities offer aerobics and cardiovascular and weight-training equipment. But are you sure you want to try a combined vacation? If your golf game is off, you end up frustrated and she ends up tan and fit.
If I'm involved in a serious accident in my lease car, what would happen with my insurance? Would the insurance company pay to replace the car?--K. G., Chicago, Illinois.
That depends on how you are insured. In order to be covered completely, you may need gap insurance. The gap is the extra rider necessary to compensate for the difference between the lease car's value and the total value of the lease payments. Lease car company insurance often insures you only for the lease payments, not for the full value of the car. But while you lease the car, even if you never pay its full value amount, you'll want to insure for full value. Because if you do have an accident and the car is totaled, you are required to reimburse the leasing company for the balance. Here's why: On a closed-end lease, if the lease ends with no damage to the car, you simply return it to the lessor. But if you have an unrepaired total wreck or even a damaged car, you'd then have to pay the balance. Gap insurance allows you to reimburse the lessor for the full, agreed value of the lease car, no matter what happens. Your insurance agent can help you be certain that you're adequately covered. Another tip: You may find that insuring the lease car yourself is a much cheaper alternative than using the dealer's program. Be sure to compare.
All reasonable questions--from fashion, food and drink, stereo and sports cars to dating problems, taste and etiquette--will be personally answered if the writer includes a stamped, self-addressed envelope. Send all letters to The Playboy Advisor, Playboy, 680 North Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, Illinois 60611. The most provocative, pertinent queries will be presented on these pages each month.