Grown-up Games: Chess?

I suppose the Grown-up Games can be like chess in that you can play the game for your entire life and not learn much, or you can be a student of the game like Beth Harmon and become a master before you turn twenty. There are clearly many reasons why, when young, we Boomers might have wanted to become proficient at chess: the fascination with the intricacies of myriad strategies that can be learned and mastered for use at appropriate times, the narcissistic ego gratification of being able to dominate someone, satisfying one’s psychological curiosity about what motivates one’s opponent so they can be manipulated to one’s desired end, the pursuit of and reward of the euphoric climax of the checkmate. I will state again, but without supposition: the Grown-up Games can be like chess.

As chess can be played by an amateur with little more knowledge than the basic moves of each piece, so can sex be and is played by blunderers, some of whom may, in fact, get better in the repeated doing of it, but Mother Nature, such as she is, has been no fool. The only biological purpose of sex—hell, the only biological purpose of our individual existences—is procreation, and survival of the species cannot depend upon waiting for partners to spend a lifetime practicing and perfecting the various gambits and other strategies associated with the Grown-up Games that constitute whatever it is that is “good sex.”

Of endless curiosity to me is my non-scientific sample of one’s observation that it is a cultural expectation that we Boomers act as though sex has not been high on our list of priorities. Really? I posit that sexual considerations, albeit usually simmering out of sight beneath the façade of our personal lives has been, on the contrary, a preoccupation of our subconscious minds. If each of us were to be honest with ourselves, would self-inventories reveal that there have been times in our lives when we have been irrationally driven, or more often frustrated, by our sexual desires or by the sexual desires of others? Perhaps the clearest argument in support of a positive answer is the existence of sexuality to which we are intentionally exposed every day in the media.

Since the advent of media, one can find in hard copy, and later in electronic media, examples of advertising that include highly overt or extremely subtle and, on some level, subliminal uses of sexuality to grab our attention. The following is the cover of a package of Pearl Cigarettes from 1871, which Wikipedia sites as the earliest example of sex in advertising … perhaps because we have yet to fully translate the paintings on the walls of Lascaux Cave.

The following 1916 ad in Ladies Home Journal reveals a marketing strategy that relies upon connecting a consumer’s libido with a product that is not at all unlike …

… the imagery of a contemporary Gucci ad.

Knowing how attracted the average person is to not just overt examples of the Grown-up Games, organizations wanting to expand their appeal also rely upon what are termed “referents.” These are more implicit or subliminal examples of sexuality, which include double entendre and innuendos, which trigger sexual responses that connect us covertly to what is being shilled. Even local TV news anchors and weather people either are, or are groomed to be—wait for it—sexually attractive. And how often do we watch movies and cable series because they touch our libidos in ways that vary from viewer to viewer: from a slight rise in our pulses to full-blown arousal?

If we found such responses unwanted, we would turn off the offending movie or series, but when we keep watching, isn’t it because we are being connected to an incredibly important component of who each of us is? Again, how we respond varies greatly, does it not? The spectrum of sexual responses that can be found within a random human sample, I suggest, likely ranges from being dead to needing a very cold shower (or other more targeted relief) after every episode of Bridgerton.

The importance of sexuality seems to me to be exceptionally prevalent among our younger descendants thanks to the availability, and some might say intrusiveness (others might say enlightenment) of social media and the availability of a variety of porn sites on the Internet. A niche occupation among “youngsters” that relies upon the power of our biology is that of “influencer.” When we were Growing up Boomer, the term “influencer” did not exist in its contemporary form, but “influencing” is a growing industry, especially among young women. As I understand it, there are certain social media sites that are outlets for wannabe female influencers who, The Conversation suggests “… gain attention on social media … through a highly sexualized aesthetic.”

All of these endeavors from influencers to corporate marketing exploit our human fascination with that which connects with our quintessential biological purpose: achieving the metaphorical checkmate required for procreation by Mother Nature.

It began with an itch we began to scratch when we were young that instilled in most of us the desire to play the Grown-up Games. I cannot possibly imagine what proportion of us has never focused on more than the chess-like aspects of the Grown-up Games, but I can assume and do hope that while accepting Mother Nature’s foundational design, many of us have sought and found within the swirling, heated cauldrons of varied relationships more than hormone-driven conquest and checkmate.

If you have read this far, I thank you and offer my hope that you have found intimacy in someone’s arms, intimacy which has nothing whatsoever to do with procreation and everything to do with the celebration of whatever it is that is love, be it a momentary taste or a lifelong feast.

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(The featured/lead image is by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay No copyright infringement is intended nor is there an intent on the part of the blogger to monetize the use of the featured image or the other images in this post.)