Drape a sheer scarf over the lampshade to create a sultry mood."
"Watch an erotic flick like 9 1/2 Weeks to inspire action."
Blah, boring, blah.
I've ignored such tips for revving up my sexual relationships because, well, come on. I've sowed oats much wilder than those found in Kim Basinger's kitchen, doing the deed in public and making out with two siblings in one night -- and they were not brothers.
But if these sexcapades are as contrived and silly as they sound, why do the experts keep recommending them? Do such simple suggestions have the power to send couples to their happy place faster than you can blurt out "French maid costume"? WH wanted to find out, so they sent me on a sex-charged adventure to test five intriguing but possibly overrated scenarios and report back which ones are worth trying -- and which you should ditch faster than a vibrator with dead batteries.
Scenario #1 Do it double-blind
The last time I closed my eyes for too long during sex, I set fire to a pillow, leaving me with the knowledge that a Brita pitcher is not a good fire extinguisher. So I was hesitant about both me and my husband wearing blindfolds. But I bit the bullet and bought a pretty pink satin number for myself and a manly black one for my masked avenger (Pipedream Satin Love Mask, $8, amazon.com).
We started in the living room. But moving to the bedroom proved more challenging. I began breaststroking through the air like a charades player miming "blind Captain Nemo" until Dan took the lead and we landed on the bed, fumbling with our clothes. I headed south, arriving at what I thought was my Marco's polo but was actually his thigh. He reoriented me by planting my mouth at his navel. But I felt disconnected. Only when we kissed did the act feel familiar again. Then Dan sighed, "Oh, I wish I could see you." Way to make a girl feel good!
Lust or bust? The novelty quickly wore off and left me craving that visual connection. But once we tossed the blindfolds, the sex was fun, fast, and furious.
Scenario #2 Meet my man in a bar and pretend to be strangers
I arranged for Dan to meet me at a lounge up the street from our condo at 11 p.m. so we could play "strangers in the night." At 9 p.m., I joined some girlfriends at a wine bar to down a whole lotta Riesling -- liquid courage necessary before I could don...The Wig. Unbeknownst to Dan, I'd decided to take our role playing to the next level and show up in a cascade of chest-length, sunshiny waves and tousled bangs (versus my normally pin-straight, dark blonde ponytail).
The key to picking up your partner at a bar is playing it cool so as not to ruin the mood. But upon spotting my mark through the haze of hair, I was so drunkenly excited for him to see me in all my Shakira-like glory that I stiletto-jogged over and lunged for his lips, all 6 feet of me nearly tripping over the barstool next to him. A party next to us tittered, and I realized they probably thought that, with my Amazonian height and Barbarella wig, I was a hooker or a transvestite.
Dan, poker face firm, extended his hand.
"Do I know you? My name's Billy."
Billy, I learned, had founded a nonprofit to save abandoned puppies. I was Candy, a manicurist.
We bantered back and forth for a while, painstakingly staying in character. It was frigging exhausting.
An hour in, we broke character and I admitted a dire craving for French fries. We hit the Hoagie Hut, then went home. I used up what little energy I had left climbing the stairs.
I prepared for our Tantric tÃƒÂªte-ÃƒÂ -tÃƒÂªte by reading The Essence of Tantric Sexuality ($12, amazon.com). Authors Patricia Johnson and Mark A. Michaels liken the typical orgasm to a "genital sneeze." But there has to be more to great sex than "God bless you!" and a Kleenex.
With my vagina (or "yoni") ready for enlightenment, I read aloud to Dan about "an altered state of consciousness," one achieved by prolonging the excitement phase of sex, leading to a strong orgasm with or without ejaculation.
In bed, we assumed Tantra's classic female-superior "Yab Yum" position (seated with legs wrapped around each other). seemed distracted, but I assumed he was concentrating on flowing energy from his "lingam" into my yoni. We rocked back and forth. We breathed deeply. We spoke with our eyes. His cried, "I've had chronic back pain for 3 years -- this is killing me!" And with that, he literally tossed me aside like a rag doll so he could execute a full-body stretch.
Lust or bust? A few nights later, we found ourselves Yab Yumming again (this time with a pillow behind Dan for lumbar support). And while we didn't have 6-hour sex, our foray left our "genital noses" itching, so we ended with a good old Western ahchoo.
Scenario #4 Surprise mortgage broker hubby at his office dressed in just a trench coat and heels
This might work in balmy San Diego. But I live in Chicago, and the day I prepared to strip down to my birthday suit and slip into an unlined khaki trench, the newspaper headlines read, "Cold Delays Flights, Cracks Water Pipes." Holy crap! If the minus-20-degree windchill could reroute 747s and make metal pipes burst, what would it do to my sensitive little flower?
Putting on a brave face, I undressed, goose bumps dotting my arms and legs even inside our 72-degree condo. Outside, as the wind whipped furiously, I heard a soft whimpering sound and realized it was my poor Brazilian-coiffed yoni crying for a reprieve. "It's okay," I whispered, turning back toward the door. "We'll try again in the summer." Because when your clitoris gets frostbite, the terrorists win.
Lust or bust? I can't wait to try again during the next heat wave. Weather permitting, I'd probably give it
Scenario #5 Wear a pearl thong for a day
The last time a semiprecious stone came this close to my nethers, it was on a hand holding a speculum. Yet I was oddly excited when I opened my K. Bella Pearl and Lace Thong ($58, kbella.com). I ran my fingers along the smooth, pinkish white strand attached to a black stretch lace waistband, wondering how something that looked so nice around a neck could be so naughty -- not to mention tacky -- down below.
As I pulled it on the next morning, here's how I envisioned my day:
Walking to the bus: Orgasm #1
Crossing my legs at my desk: Orgasm #2
Afternoon Starbucks break: Orgasm #3 (Grande)
Thirty minutes on the elliptical: Priceless
In reality, my day was completely normal. The strand was mostly unnoticeable and only occasionally rubbed me the wrong way. I tried tugging on it when nobody was looking but felt pervy.
Then At my gym that evening, a stability ball led to unexpected pleasures. One crunch, two crunch, three crunch, whoa! There I was, climaxing in the stretching area next to an old man doing biceps curls. More crunches yielded still more bouncing bliss.
Lust or bust? Sure it took all day, but it was totally worth the wait. And even though my man didn't benefit from this scenario directly, I'm going to be greedy and give it...