[This is the book review from episode 30 of the podcast]
The book this episode is My Life on the Swingset: Adventures in Swinging and Polyamory by Cooper S. Beckett, which I received for free, but I’m incapable of lying about … pretty much anything but certainly how I feel about books. I talk about why I believe in being honest in book reviews on episode four, which is also an episode about spanking, so you may want to listen to that one anyway.
This one is non-fiction—it’s a collection of essays that started as blog posts from his website, which he began writing a year and a half after getting into the swinging lifestyle. It covers the first five years of writing about non-monogamy. When putting the book together he edited many of the posts and added some notes so it’s not just a repackaging of writing you could read for free.
If you read his novel first, like I did, you’ll probably notice some…similarities between his personal stories and some of the things that happen in the novel. For example, his first swinger lady friend is quite a bit older than he’d ever expect to be attracted to and had red hair. Well, well, friend. I steeple my fingers and raise my eyebrows in your direction.
The book is broken into sections, with several essays in chronological order in each.
I can’t necessarily tell you the theme of each section. Coop has a tendency to wander—something he would readily admit to. He also loves a parenthetical within a parenthetical within a parenthetical. It probably would have been easier to deal with if reading the pieces as they were being posted on a website, but back-to-back in a book I wanted to tell him to get to the point—enough with the parentheticals already, there, Proust.
I’m glad I read his fiction first. And I’m stoked for the next book in his series, which is called The Swingularity. And if you’ve read this and are hesitant to try A Life Less Monogamous—give it a go.
That said, as the book is in chronological order—the reader witnesses the author’s growth as a writer and a swinger/poly-person/bisexual male. There is much to be gained from these essays. Accompanying him on his personal journey as it’s happening—the pieces are like journal entries in a way—is… intimate. Sometimes very much so—we’re talking about a person’s actual sex life, but also about how a person relates both to the world and to himself.
In the first essay of the book—the first paragraph, he says this:
I’ve alternately been a nerd and a geek as long as I can remember. You know, the kind of person who discovers something cool like swinging and rather than bask in the light of it and suck the marrow from its bones, builds a website and podcast to talk about it. That kind of uncool.
Look man, I don’t know what you’re talking about. That’s the coolest thing you can do. Sniff. Ahem.
At the start there’s a lexicon of frequently-used words and phrases so new people won’t feel confused about all the new lingo. I do like a lexicon. Because I am a very cool person.
And Beckett explains why he started his podcast and website:
We wanted to provide a safe haven in a sea of repressed attitudes, to show others that it’s okay, comfort those who are nervous, applaud those who are bold, thank those who provide support, and strike forward into a future where open sexuality may become more and more acceptable.
We’re on the same page there.
Beckett covers several topics—including the titular swinging and polyamory. One of which was a prostate orgasm or a p-spot orgasm. This is the description:
She became more aggressive, moving her whole body in rhythm, gripping my thigh and arm at times, putting her hand on my chest to gain leverage, to hold me down, to push the energy right into me.
Somewhere in there, it started.
I’ve always achieved small spasms during prostate play, the kind of spasms you hit as your cock is being played with, those early signposts that you’r going in the right direction. With prostate stimulation, these moments were usually brief but very pleasurable. But on that bed, with this expert, I found these spasms elongating and coming closer together, becoming tremors and full-body shaking. Bigger and bigger, closer and closer, until the gap between them disappeared.
Here’s where it all gets fuzzy and dreamlike. Once the gap vanished it was like a wave rushing toward shore that wasn’t breaking, and the shore just moved back at the same speed as the wave. On and on the shakiness rolled, spasming, rocking my body. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t think.
“Shh, don’t clench,” she whispered to me, running her fingers along my very tense legs. My hands were indeed clenched into tight fists. I opened them and put my head back down.
This continued for the better part of an hour. At least I think so. I honestly have no idea because time had fractured and lost meaning. I may have been orgasming for decades or only a minute. I’ve since been assured it was almost fifty minutes from the beginning of the “clearly orgasmic” portion of my time on that bed to the end.
When I threw the flag down and tapped out.
I thanked her, words unable to accurately reflect my gratitude. She assured me that I had indeed progressed through many and varied orgasms if my face and body were any indication. As I lie there, basking for a while, a curious thing happened. An aftershock tremor hit, causing me to curl up my knees to my chest–an ecstatic moment of orgasmic delight.
This by itself was surprising enough, but when these tremors continued during the walk back to my room, during the shower before dinner, while getting food from the buffet, (I had to ask a friend to get me a deviled egg because I couldn’t hold the tongs steady) and through on to dessert. Only after sitting at dinner for an hour or so did the tremors finally begin to subside.
A nearly endless orgasm with the vast capacity for more. Without the standard feelings of “Okay, I’m done.” A whole new world. How thrilling that is. After all, I’m no longer chasing the possibly mythical prostate orgasm.
Now I’m just chasing the very real next prostate orgasm.
O, happy day!
If dudes spent more time chasing these, wars would end today. Spread the word, let’s get on it. We must find the people who know how to facilitate this—they can teach classes to others and we’ll work outwards from there. We’ll have world peace by the end of next year, tops.
I’ve had a hypothesis for some time that many men hate women because of the whole multiple-orgasm thing, but this… come on. 2016 has been the year of complete bullshit. 2017 can be the year of world peace and men who never leave the house. We can do it.
One of the topics the reader watches his journey through is male bisexuality in the swinger scene, which is evolving, from what Beckett says. He starts out a bit nervous to bring it up and winds up a vocal advocate for bisexual men to own their desires.
Another key topic is safer sex (we’re similar in our germphobia). And this is where I get to say something to Coop because I know he’ll listen to this episode. He has a whole writing about someone who didn’t like kissing with tongues. That was a line too far, intimacy-wise for that person. Coop thought no kissing was fine, but kissing without tongues was pointless.
Coop. Man. Friend. Man-friend. Do you know how many germs there are in the mouth? (615 different types of bacteria.) Is sex pointless if there’s no penetration? (I know you don’t believe so because you wrote an essay about how letting go of that changed your whole experience.) You’ll cover yourself head-to-toe in latex for everything else because germs! (And I am so with you.) But the mouth is the dirtiest part of the human body. It has the largest amount of bacteria of anywhere outside the body and comes into contact with more bacteria than the rectum.
Back to everyone else.
Beckett covers topics that will be familiar to people in the SOP (Swinging, Open, Poly) lifestyle like jealousy, new relationship energy, the terror of your dick not cooperating, and compersion (when you are happy because your love is happy). I don’t mean this in a ‘yawn, it’s so done’ sort of way—but a ‘he’s been there and can relate and may have some new advice for you’ sort of way.
On jealousy—because you really can never have enough advice on it—he makes this observation:
Like anger, jealousy is based in fear. The difference is that while our society helps teach us how to manage our anger (you know, take a breath, count to 10) we’ve been encouraged to nurture our jealousy.
There’s also advice on topics like getting sex toys through airport security. Like so:
Confidence that what you’re carrying is awesome can make the more otherwise awkward moments better too. Like on our way to Mexico, when the agent monitoring the x-ray called not one but two other agents over to point and whisper about what was in the toy suitcase. I gave her a wink when she made eye contact.
Other advice is on how to rock a sex party, how to navigate different levels of attraction when your partner is more into a member of a couple than you are and how to hide a sex swing. We’ve all been there, right?
There’s also a call for inclusion for all types of kinks and SOP folks, which I can get behind and some quite interesting writings on kink itself including a piece about an evening of switching between Dom and sub. During our interview, Coop informed me that swingers who are kinky are called swinky. Which is outstanding.
One thing I found really interesting—well, there were several things that were new to me as someone who isn’t a swinger—but this bit in particular:
…the swing community is heavily weighted with people in their forties through sixties, and under twenty-five. It’s rather telling, in fact, that the generation that grew up hearing that sex could kill you (twenty six-through thirty-eight) is finding itself underrepresented in the non-monogamous community.
He’s a funny guy and funny things happen to him—there’s a particularly hilarious story about trying to hookup with someone when their vanilla relative shows up. And sexy things happen to him—there’s not one particular story here… just… lots of things happen.
But he also thinks a lot. About many things. Communication, friendship, pegging. You know, the sorts of things that make life worth living.
And he’s such a geek! I love it!
He had me at this reference:
Over two decades later, I’m confident that if a Catholic hell does happen to exist I’ll be there to dine with you all. Because let me tell you, I’ve done my fair share of coveting my neighbor’s wife. Of course, I’ve also fucked my neighbor’s wife, so I guess there’s a special level of hell reserved for me. I mean, Dante told us that the masturbators get turned into trees and eaten by Harpies so… that’s weird.
The man got an Inferno reference in there. Ten points to Gryffindor.
It would have been useful if the essays had been presented with original published dates like Steve Lenius did with Life, Leather and the Pursuit of Happiness. I would have more easily been able to track where Coop was in his journey. Sometimes he’d mention he’s been in the lifestyle six years or two years or something, but I enjoy watching a person grow—humans like stories and that’s part of watching a story unfold, I think—and original dates would have made it easier.
Still, it was worthwhile, educational, relatable and entertaining and I would recommend it for anyone interested in the SOP lifestyles, either as participants or just out of curiosity. 5/5