Ask the Answer Guy

Dear Answer Guy: I am so excited about the “tax rebate” the government is sending to us as part of its economic stimulus package. But I want to spend it on something really nifty. What do you suggest? (signed) J.H.

Dear J.H.: It’s always nice to get some of our own money back, but this is one of the administration’s loonier ideas, and that’s saying something. Why don’t they just drop $100 bills from airplanes?

Without a matching cut in government expenses, all one will do is promote inflation by bidding up the price of the existing amount of goods—or more likely, inhibit the sales and reduced prices that retailers otherwise would have to offer to lure shoppers.

That said, I suppose the best thing to do is to use it to pay off any high-interest credit cards. After that, it is best to put it in a savings account whose interest will help offset the rebate’s inflationary effects.

The third possibility—prepare to be shocked—is to contribute some or all of your rebate to some gay organization or charity. Why is it so few people ever think of this possibility? Does being gay mean so little to them that they do not want to assist gay organizations—which might actually benefit them eventually?

Dear Answer Guy: If male Muslim suicide bombers get 72 virgins to cater to their every need in the Muslim heaven, what do female suicide bombers get—and am I the only person wondering about this? (signed) H.B.

Dear H.B.: I guess if any of the female suicide bombers were lesbian, they would be pretty happy with 72 attentive women. No reports back on how heterosexual women suicide bombers feel. But—come on—when you’re dealing with claims about some mythical “afterlife,” don’t expect rationality. You could postulate that they get 72 male studs, all raring to go. But nobody ever explains where those 72 men (are they virgins too?) or female virgins come from.

Dear Answer Guy: How can anyone approve of sadomasochism? It seems like such wanton cruelty. (signed) S.T.

Dear S.T.: Some obsessive egalitarian feminists get upset about S&M without knowing much about it. But if S&M is wanton cruelty, how come men keep volunteering to be the “victim?”

Remember that not all S&M is very painful. Some of it is elaborate psychodrama. For all I know, engaging in S&M for some men is the result of some psychological kink or other—unresolved ego conflicts and the like. But participating in S&M is cheaper than therapy, and if the experience is satisfying, where is the harm?

Then, too, certain kinds of stimulation at first perceived as painful can prompt the release of various body chemicals (e.g., endorphins) that can counter the pain, and be perceived as pleasant and relaxing.

People who wish to explore that idea should read Geoff Mains’ book Urban Aboriginals. And readers of Ian Fleming’s Casino Royale will recall James Bond’s observation to the same effect.

However that may be, I figure the argument about S&M is pretty much parallel to the feminist argument about abortion: If you don’t approve of it, don’t engage in it.

Dear Answer Guy: If you’re so smart, tell me whether Adam had a navel. (signed) R.P.

Dear R.P.: This is a very old question. The answer is: Of course not (nor did Eve). He never had an umbilical cord to leave that scar. But in art, he always is depicted as having a navel, because to our eyes, he would have looked really strange without one.

I once worked in a small factory where the question of navels came up, and one of the women volunteered that because of an operation she’d had, the skin containing her navel had been removed. We all expressed skepticism. So, being an uninhibited sort, she promptly pulled up her dress, and showed all of us her stomach, which did lack a navel. It looked very odd.

So, the artists were theologically wrong, but aesthetically right.

Dear Answer Guy: Speaking of nipples, why do men have nipples? (signed) W.F.

Dear W.F.: I asked an evolutionary biologist about this one time, and with a slightly weary air—he must have been asked this many times before—he explained, “It’s easier for Nature that way”—i.e., to use the same basic genetic instructions for both sexes.

But my view is that men have nipples so they can use them as part of erotic play, and to enhance erotic arousal. Oddly, that men’s nipples are erogenous zones seems to be knowledge confined largely within the gay community.

When I have mentioned nipple play to college classes, I have met with considerable skepticism. Perhaps heterosexual males think that erotic play with their nipples is feminine in some way. Too bad for them.

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