Henry Harvey asks: When is a Woman Like a Stradivarius?

On the Eve of 2014, it seems worthwhile to reflect on what makes life worth living...

Editor’s Note:  Although I originally tapped Henry to write about a man’s relationship to vibrators, he’s catapulted into a wider realm. Ladies, trip through Henry’s exegesis with good cheer. Personally I’m still pondering whether I want to be likened to a violin, which is why I chose the image above.  After all, if women are instruments, does that automatically make men players? Are we not players as well? I wonder which instrument they would choose to be... surely not merely flutes:)

When is a Woman like a Stradivarius?

The Editor of Realize wrote me recently proposing a  challenge: to address apotential third-rail topic, one that if not handled correctly… delicately, can get you fried to extra-crispy before your fingers even leave the keyboard.  The general category is SEX.   As soooo much has been written about the subject over the years you would think there’s nothing new to talk about.  NOT…

First off, for those poised with their finger on the back button, this isn’t one of those articles, indulging in pushing your buttons shamelessly.  You have Fifty Shades of Grey to do that job for you, plus stacks of others.  Nor is this what my wife would refer to as a typical “Cosmo Article”:  Eight New Positions!!!  Ten Things You Can Whisper in Her Ear that’ll Guarantee You Get Laid!  Nor is it for teenagers or twenty-somethings who can skate on youth and novelty to have great sex.This is for adults and more importantly adults who are in a long-term relationship.  And here is where the plot gets interesting!  Think of a 26-mile marathon.  Any idiot can be out in front for that first quarter mile.  Let’s see how you hang in there at mile 25.

CAVEAT:  If you anticipate becoming shocked or offended by what will be my straightforward talk about a wondrous part of life, consider this: my wife and I are still highly active sexually, very much in love and have been that way for 45 years. The goal of this article is to provide a philosophy for successfully navigating the challenges of a long marriage, and to offer up a few basics so that your and your mate can learn to play beautiful music together. 

Now to shift metaphors. (Of course this is skewed from a male point of view - and ladies, I am not objectifying you here! Read on to see how grateful I am for your complexities.)  And keep in mind that my wife is also my editor and this article, like every other one, is a form of collaboration.

The Stradivarius: I submit to you that a mature woman is very much like a fine Stradivarius, capable of creating amazingly beautiful music, but only if you know how to play the instrument.  A violin has four strings and a bow, but what wonderful magic and beauty can be wrought by an Itzhak Perlman with those four strings:  Passion, Lust, Sadness, Anger, Wistfulness, Humor, just with the fingers of one hand and a bow in the other.  Quite frankly, a woman is drastically more complicated than any Strad, or even twenty Strads, and the music that can be played with a woman is enough to start a war.  Seriously.

The Big Pit into which most of us fall:  we learn to play a song or two and, with a little practice, find that they work!   When you’re 30 and you do your cool move, it’s “Ooooh baby!  You’re fantastic!”  But then here’s what happens:  your mate, male or female, learns what works so - okay I’ll do that again, and again, and again.  And it works and works, then sorta works and after a while it’s just not working so well.  We get acclimated, accustomed, and ultimately bored.  To go back to the Strad metaphor, you can’t keep playing the Bach’s Air on a G-string forever.  (Yeah, there’s a pun there.)

Betraying My Gender:  To be fair to women and to betray my gender a bit, guys seem to be more easily content with the same song, the same meal, over and over. Well it simply shouldn’t be that way.  And yet I think guys, even mature long-married men, don’t realize that making love is like practicing that violin.  You have to know your instrument (your mate) intimately but you have to be able to play many varied and highly nuanced songs.  At this point, I can imagine a good handful of my guy buddies, shaking their heads and saying something crass like, “Yeah, yeah, yeah.  But eventually, you both know where you’re going with it.  Eventually you put your thing here and she puts her legs there and five minutes later it’s over.”

Not so. And that’s the crux of the whole thing.  Go into any music store and pick up any instrument… a guitar, harmonica, flute, violin, trumpet and try to create a pleasing sound.  It’s not gonna happen.  You have to practice yes, but, more importantly, you have to engage your mind, you have to get creative. I’ve been a sculptor for close to 50 years and in my opinion there is nothing more sacred or more beautiful than a woman’s body. It is something to be celebrated.

A good place to start?  A better statement would be, a good speed to start at and that would be SLOW.  I have a “song” I play in my mind, though it is one of many.  In this song, I am a vampire and my loving beautiful “meal” for the evening is asleep and facing the other way.  My first interest is the back of her neck, to which I attempt to push away the strands of hair… without waking her.  This can go on for a long and wonderful time, just breathing on her neck, in her ear, allowing her to hear the rhythm of my breathing as it quickens and intensifies.

Eventually - the tiniest contact, the tiniest tip of the tongue on the ridge of the ear and then to the exploring. You can do wondrous things with the ear and neck alone;  the energy, the twitchiness of the ear and neck spreads like heat, down the neck and farther and farther down, preparing the way.  For the men who really need the basics - we aren’t talking about seconds here, we’re talking minutes, maybe tens of minutes.  Itzhak is capable of melting your heart with just one string on his violin.  You can do the same with just your breath and the tip of your tongue on a neck, the shell of the ear.

What’s next?  The answer to that should always vary, but basically - whatever you did last time, don’t do  it again - at least not for a while.  There’s no law that says the path has to go directly down.  The backs of the knees are wondrous things, toes, the bottoms of feet, the small of the back, the tender inside of the forearm, all great options to the usual progression.  The only thing that I recommend highly is… saliva.  There are twenty different ways you can get that saliva from your mouth to… wherever.  Be creative.  The wetter… the better.

The G-Spot:  For us guys, it’s a little bit like finding the lost city of Atlantis.  It’s there, then it isn’t, and sometimes it seems to travel.  A traveling G-Spot?  Hardly seems fair, but then again - the searching is as important as the location.  There are, of course, more reliable portions of the anatomy that aren’t so elusive, though this is where the music you will create is at its most challenging.  Going back to the rules of what makes music is a place to start and to learn.

All right, hang on here: Vibrators!  I was amazed to learn that vibrators are the most common household appliance in America.  More common and more ubiquitous than the toaster, the coffee maker, or the electric toothbrush, they are #1! There’s a simple reason for this: unlike the male orgasm -  a relatively quick and straightforward thing - women’s orgasms are more subtle and more elusive.  Last time I checked, women don’t have a lot of nocturnal orgasms just lying there asleep.  Certain machinery has to be started-up, turned-on and put into motion.  A vibrator can do that… most of the time.  My mate’s assessment of vibrators is simple and eloquent:  yes, it gets the job done.  Yes, there’s physical release but it’s a really poor substitute for the real thing.  Pamela likens it to when we’d visit her parents’ house and they’d pour us a cup of “coffee.”  We’d get a cup of warm water, a packet of Sanka, a packet of Sweet & Low and a packet of Coffeemate. Stir it all up (the Sanka doesn’t dissolve completely and you end up chewing it) but yeah, okay, it’s a cup of coffee…sort of.  Instead, grind some coffee beans, pull out a little fresh cream, some Jamaican cane sugar and you have a cup of COFFEE.  There is a difference.  (Same for men, by the way.  There is nothing on the planet that beats cuddling up to the one you’re in love with and …making LOVE.)

But… and here is an interesting BUT for Men.  That little purple or pink or lime green bobble in your wife’s dresser drawer is not the enemy and it’s not your competition.  To go back to that Stradivarius metaphor, it’s another string on the violin.  It’s an adjunct, not a replacement.  Think of it as Itzhak Perlman playing Prokofiev’s powerful Romeo and Juliet and right at the climax, his violin is plugged into an amplifier.  Wow…..  You still need Itzhak doing the playing, but the results (once in a while) can be pretty spectacular.

A Hint to Women:  On the subject of vibrators, on the flip-side of the argument, you  really, really, really don’t want to make your husband or boyfriend’s first meeting with a vibrator to be one of those 16-inch giant purple phalluses.  You get intimidated?  Well, so do we.  When you’re dragging out that first candidate, make it one of those tiny innocuous eggs, something that looks like nothin’.  It’s only fair and this small attention to detail will be greatly appreciated.  In fact, leave Giant Purple Steve hidden away completely.  There are a few things we really don’t need or want to know about

If you’ve read this far…  you know there was no subliminal motive at sneaking in some purple prose in this article.  Most of my friends read this column and I have to face them the next day, week, month.  The point of it is to realize that every square inch of your mate’s body is fair game, EVERY inch and there is  no ‘no-man’s land.’  Remember she is your Strad - a marvelous creation of beauty, nuance and challenge.  For instance, consider the rolling contours under the arms - it’s a highly erotic zone, and a place to be mastered.

Pillows and Positions:   Pillows always make a good thing better, sometimes much better.  No need for explanation here - the more the merrier.   Positions?  Some Yoga positions can really work, although some of them seem gratuitous, and a couple downright dangerous.  Trapeze bars? Bungee straps?  In general I can’t do that kinda stuff anymore.  Actually, I never could. But feel free.

God (or Mother Nature) gave you ten fingers, a nose, a tongue, as well as all your obvious organs. Itzhak wouldn’t think of not using some of his strings on his Strad.  To play beautiful music, it often requires many combinations of fingers, toes, tongues, etc. to play the song.  Good music isn’t played automatically.  Ya gotta practice.  You gotta see what works.

Timing:  We’re really goin’ heavy on this music metaphor today, but it’s a useful tool at the moment.  Timing is EVERYTHING.  In music and in SEX.   As all musicians know,  songs have what is known as a bridge - a shift away from the main line of any song.  You need to be brave enough to break away from the main theme… give it a rest so that one can re-sensitize… and then return.  Speeding up, slowing down… in Reggae, the beat is inverted from American music, all on the off-beat and that’s wonderful.  You can do that in the sack as well.  Timing Timing Timing.

Between Your Ears vs. Between Your Legs:  There’s an old song, Standing on the Corner Watching All the Girls Go By, and a highly pertinent verse in the song:  ”Brother, ya can’t go to jail for what you’re thinkin’.”  It’s true.  The nibbling on the neck, the vibrator pulsing away, the fingers and toes and all the limbs are so many strings and bows with the express purpose of playing the melody. But know what the punchline is? Your mind. You set the stage inside your mind. That’s what makes the music so good. It’s your right, not your wrong.  If Pamela confuses me with Zorro with a mask and cape, or Count Dracula, Tim Olyphant, or Hugh Jackman, that’s okay.  Ya can’t go to jail for what you’re thinkin’.  Just keep your mouth shut.  It’s called decorum.

If  you’ve managed to get through this article without becoming shocked or insulted, bravo and brava for both of us.  Sex is a wonderful, wonderful thing.  It takes practice and loving your own Stradivarius.



Henry Harvey is a writer as well as a metal sculptor, patented inventor, and...ex Air Force fighter pilot.  Of seventeen books, two are from Schiffer Publishing about his unusual life in sculpting, while the rest of them are novels, including Playing on the Black Keys, Lord of the Mill, Poontango Diaries, and Saphos Assassin.