Or just what do YOU know about the realities in which you live?
Jim Robinson and Bill Beasley, both traveling salesmen, ran into each other in the dining car of the train that was taking them home. “Wish I’d known you were on this train,” Jim grumbled, “then we could’ve had a couple of hands of gin or something, and I wouldn’t have had to waste time on this silly magazine. Look at it—full of stuff about how the guys in ancient Greece thought that if they ate the sex organs of donkeys and wolves and even porcupines they’d be balls of fire in bed.” “You’ve got to remember that was thousands of years ago,” Bill protested. “People believed in all kinds of silly superstitions then; they didn’t know any better.”
“Anybody who can read and write ought to know better than that!” Jim said scornfully.
Just then the waiter came to their table. Bill ordered steak, and Jim ordered a dozen oysters, explaining, “Tonight’ll be my first night home in a week. I want to make sure Matilda knows how much I’ve missed her.”
He winked at Bill. “Oysters have never let me down, yet. The little woman is going to be loved like she hasn’t been loved for a long time.”
“Clams are just as good,” Bill insisted, “and with them you don’t have to worry about whether or not there’s an `R’ in the month. Matter of fact, I’ve heard a lot of people say any kind of seafood is good for a man feel like a man, but some how fish has never done a thing for me. What I personally find surefire is eggs.
Why, my wife is afraid to give me scrambled eggs for breakfast. She says whenever she does, I’m always late for work.”
“I know a lot of fellows who swear by caviar. That’s fish, and yet it’s eggs, too. Expensive as all get-out, though.”
“Same with truffles,” Bill nodded, “I met a guy from Paris who says truffles never fail, and it stands to reason a Frenchman would know. But, man, they cost like they were gold instead of being some kind of mushroom.”
‘My brother-in-law says beans.”
“My boss swears by sweetbreads.” And so on and so forth as these two educated, twentieth-century men discussed the different kinds of food they and their friends really believe will make men more potent and women more passionate.
Foods that have a reputation for stimulating sex are called aphrodisiacs, after Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love. You’d be surprised how many people, even the best educated, have a sneaking belief that they work—or that one or two special ones do, anyhow.
Just a few of the foods that have the reputation of making people better lovers are—in addition to the all-time favorites already mentioned—spices, garlic, liver, asparagus, chocolate (when your boyfriend brings you a box of candy he’s not just being sweet), cucumbers, bananas, pomegranates, radishes, pineapples, celery, bird’s nest soup (Chinese in origin with a formidable reputation in the West), onions, calves’ brains, cola drinks, camel’s milk, vanilla, ginger, and vitamin pills. Vitamin E is the most! A complete list would be impossible, for there are very few foods that someone, somewhere, sometime hasn’t considered sexually stimulating.
And all of them are just about as effective as the powdered sex organs of the various animals, which is to say they have no effect at all except a psychological one. That is, if there’s nothing wrong with you physically and you think a food is going to stimulate your sexual capacities, the chances are good that it will. Especially if it’s attractively served at an intimate little supper just for two. The French used to consider supper an aphrodisiac in itself, no matter what food was served. What’s more, since, as you can see from the preceding list, practically all of the foods with aphrodisiac reputation are full of vitamins, minerals, proteins, and all sorts of other health-giving elements, eating them regularly will make a person stronger, healthier, and in better shape for anything—love included.
However, not every aphrodisiac is of such a wholesome nature. When it comes to concoctions as opposed to plain foods, too many are likely to contain such dangerous ingredients as strychnine, borax, arsenic, or the notorious catharses or “Spanish fly.” These are poisons; none can stimulate passion but all can not only make people ill but also can cause death. Fortunately, the laws in this country are strict enough so that, although “sex tonics” and “virility pills” can still be offered for sale, though never openly described as such since it’s against the law to make false claims for a product, these are generally as harmless as they are useless.
Certain foods and drinks aren’t only supposed to increase the quantity of passion but its quality—for a man, anyway. In England a man doesn’t go to the pub after work and sit there drinking beer with his friends simply to enjoy himself. “I was thinking of you all the time, ducks,” he tells his furious wife when he finally does come home to a spoiled supper; “I wanted to be sure you’d have a smashing time tonight.” For in England it’s a common belief that drinking beer will enable a man to prolong the sex act.
Food and drink aren’t the only popular method of stimulating sexual abilities. Many people swear by hot mustard baths; others by various types of exercise. Not too strenuous, though, or it’s supposed to have exactly the opposite effect. Some men confidently believe that they can increase their virility and staying power by using certain devices designed for that purpose, or by applying various ointments and tonics to themselves. These preparations can be bought, usually at high prices, or a man can throw together for himself such simple unguents as aniseed and honey (ancient Hindu recipe) or crushed garlic and lard (recommended by a modern American doctor).
Although we may laugh at savages and their superstitions, it’s clear that we have plenty of primitive beliefs of our own. Most of them are hangovers from the time that we were pretty close to being savages ourselves. We seem to cling to them longer than we do to our other beliefs, probably because people can’t give up hoping that somehow, someway, they can make themselves irresistible, passionate, and eternally young. And, when science cannot help them, they turn to its older sister, magic.
We ourselves make our own magic, creating our beliefs out of our needs. A woman of yesterday would say to herself as she watched her rival go off with the man she loved, “How is it that he prefers that one to me? It must be that she is using magic to make herself more beautiful and desirable in his eyes. I must get myself some magic so that I can win him back. And she’d go to consult a witch who, if she didn’t have the right magic on hand, would invent it. After all, business was business.
The woman of today says to herself, ‘why is it that he likes her better than me? Could it be because I’m using the wrong deodorant?” And she switches to the one that the spellbinding announcer on TV has, by implication if not outright, for the laws here are strict, too, assured her will make her more desirable.
According to the classic Indian book of love, the Kama Sutra, “good looks, good qualities, youth, and liberality are the chief and most natural means of making a person agreeable in the eyes of others. But in the absence of these a man or woman must resort to artificial means, or to art. . . .”
And, together with the magic ointments for enhancing one’s sexual powers and powers of attraction, the book lists some equally mystic-sounding recipes for preparations that turn out to be nothing more than eye shadow and mascara. But is it, after all, so very far fetched to say that there is some magic power in makeup?
Yet we accept cosmetics and the promises they hold out in the same way that the primitive woman accepted the balms the witch would brew in her cauldron. Some of those old-time recipes are the basis of our modern cosmetics industry. Others are still being handed down within a particular family or in particular localities. “My sister always used to rub her breasts with cocoa butter to make them larger,” one teenager says. “Grandma told her about it, and it worked, too; Sis went from a size thirty-two to a thirty-six in less than two years.” Of course, the fact that those years spanned her sister’s fourteenth to her sixteenth birthdays does not seem to make any difference.
Don’t think that today we are too sophisticated to give birth to new folk beliefs. A new old wives’ tale is the idea that “royal jelly,” derived from the food prepared by the workers for the queen bee, will do just about everything for a woman—smooth away wrinkles, increase her sexual performance, and keep her young. After all, have you ever seen a wrinkled, frigid, elderly queen bee? Science says there’s absolutely no basis for these claims, but royal-jelly preparations are still enjoying an enormous vogue.
Another aphrodisiac that has continued through the years with its popularity undiminished is perfume. In fact, just the names of some of the perfumes that are on the market today are a good tip-off to the magical as well as the sexual powers women hope for in them. Incense is available to both sexes, providing they can lure the desired one to some confined space—preferably their apartments, where its powers can operate at maximum efficiency.
To every action there is a reaction. Therefore, if people think there are certain things that will arouse sexual desire, they will also think that there are other things that will diminish it. Among the best known of these are tobacco, coffee, tea, lemonade (most acid drinks have this reputation), cold baths, and the study of mathematics (that last is probably an out-growth of the old idea that too much work dampens sexual enthusiasm).
The reason people are interested in wing about these anti-aphrodisiacs is usually in order to know what to avoid. However, there are times when, for one reason or another, it is felt advisable to lesson the sexual urge. Seventeenth-century monks were required to take camphor; nuns ate water-lily roots. Today rumors still periodically go the rounds that the various authorities concerned are putting saltpeter (previously salpeter) into the food of soldiers, sailors, prisoners, and/or boarding-school boys to keep their passions in check.
Women who are having their periods sometimes wish there really were something they could use to keep their husbands from being so miserable during this time of enforced continence. To primitive people, menstruation and menstruating women were, and in some places still are, under the most powerful taboo of all. Sexologist Albert Ellis points out that, “while the average male today is not afraid to touch his wife during her menstrual period, he frequently will not have intercourse during this time. He and she will rationalize their objections to menstrual coitus by talking about its ‘unaesthetic’ or ‘unhygienic’ aspects, but their attitudes seem to be a survival of old taboos.“
Fear, too, gives rise to superstition, although again it is the need that creates the belief and in this case, the need to be reassured. The thing that seems to frighten men most is the idea of losing their virility, and so many myths have arisen as to how it can be preserved from the dangers that threaten it. One very common belief is that if a man doesn‘t engage in intercourse regularly, he‘ll lose his sexual powers. Masturbation is thought to produce the same result. And both men and women who have committed the latter “sin“ are subject to “punishment” by having what they’ve done made plain for all to see in the shape of rings around the eyes, spots on the fingernails, acne, and warts.
So far we‘ve been speaking only about sex. But love is another thing, or maybe that, too, is just another of the old wives’ tales that have been passed down to us. However, some people aren’t as much interested in having intercourse as in getting a particular person to fall in love with them. Although they may resort to aphrodisiacs on the side, what they‘re really after is a love charm or potion.
And there are a variety of love charms and potions to choose from. In ancient Greece, a man who wanted to make himself irresistible to a woman would tie the udder of a hyena to his left arm. It’s doubtful if there are any modern men who still follow this interesting old custom, but there are quite a few who carry lucky roots in their pockets to give them special appeal in the eyes of the girls of their choice. Women, too, carry roots in order to win their men; and there are mail-order houses that offer different kinds of roots to fit the different needs of both sexes.
Roots are only one kind of carry-around love charm. In Oklahoma, according to folklorist P. A. Botkin, a girl is supposed to fall for the boy who carries a wasp‘s nest in his breast pocket. This isn’t a mail-order offering, though.
Less enterprising men, and of course, women, may carry lucky pieces (also known as talismans or amulets). These can be coins, medals, or any small object which has been given a symbolic meaning. The use of semiprecious stones as amulets dates back to biblical times. Primitive man used to swear by magnetite.
Then there are all kinds of rituals to make somebody fall in love with you. Many are practiced half in joke, especially around Halloween, when all sorts of old folk beliefs pop up; other spells are cast in all seriousness. A rite that‘s very widespread today is burning a candle of a specific color (opinions are divided between pink and red for this purpose) to draw the one you love to you like a moth to a flame. (And, if it doesn’t work and you‘re mad enough at the one who spurned you, you can always burn a black candle.) This is said to be derived from voodoo, but many people who don‘t know the first thing about voodoo still burn candles in the hope of winning the man or woman of their dreams.
The old-fashioned love potion is still going strong. Many drugstores all over the country offer love powders that you dissolve in water or some other liquid to make into your potion, or if you’re lazy, there‘s a type that only has to be sprinkled over the loved one. Some do-it-yourselfers like to whip up their own potions from old family recipes. Often the basis will be some common herb that’s reputed to have heartwarming properties in addition to being delicious with baked beans. In Italy, girls use basil as a love charm; in Germany girls favor the eucalyptus. These are some of the more attractive ingredients to be found in love potions; others are much too repulsive to be mentioned,
Is all of this nonsense? From the purely practical scientific standpoint, yes. None of these will have any effect on the sexual systems of the person who’s taking them or the person who is being wooed.
But otherwise, although they don‘t act in the way the person who uses them thinks they will, there is something to them. Eating eggs won’t make a man a better lover in any chemical or biological sense, except in the way already mentioned, to make him healthier and more effective at everything. But, if a man thinks eggs will make him more virile, he’ll have more confidence in his abilities which is bound to make him perform better.
And if his wife serves them to him at supper, the atmosphere in which the meal is offered is likely to arouse him; however she’ll go on thinking it’s the eggs.
If a girl puts on perfume to make herself more desirable, she’ll think she’s more desirable, and so she‘ll be more desirable, If there is an aphrodisiac effect, it’s not so much an effect on the man, who probably was interested in her to begin with, or he wouldn’t have gotten within sniffing distance, as it is an effect on herself.
As we‘ve said, we use our beliefs to make up for something that we feel is lacking in ourselves. Whatever we think is wrong with us, if we let it bother us so much that we turn to superstitions to help us, we definitely are lacking in something that’s very important to sex, to love, to everything a person wants—self-confidence. And if these creams and potions and spells and aphrodisiacs can give it to us—well that is pretty magical, isn‘t it?
Myths about Women
A girl’s neck thickens after she loses her virginity.
The hairier a girl‘s legs are, the more passionate she is (a belief which is dying out in this country since women started shaving).
Thinner, smaller girls make better lovers than bigger, more buxom ones.
Blondes make better sex partners.
Brunettes make better sex partners.
Myths about Men
The more hair a man has on his body, the more passionate he is.
The less hair a man has on his head, the more passionate he is.
Bald men are more likely to father girl babies.
Men with big feet make better lovers.
Men with large thumbs make better lovers
Determining a Baby’s Sex
A lazy woman produces girls, an industrious one—boys.
If the wife is more passionate, the baby will be a boy; if the husband’s more passionate, it will be a girl.
The older a man is, the more likely he is to have girl babies.
To get a boy, have intercourse: when a cold wind is blowing, when the moon is nearly full, with your shoes on.
If a pregnant woman carries the baby high, it’s a girl; if low, it’s a boy.
If a pregnant woman’s right breast is more swollen than the left, it’s a boy; if the left is more swollen than the right, it’s a girl.
Myths about Childbirth
To have an easy labor, carry a piece of pumice.
To prevent premature birth, carry a piece of sardonyx.
To cut labor pains, place a sharp instrument under the bed.
To hasten the afterbirth, take sneezing powders.
To have a constant supply of milk, carry a piece of serpentine.
To prevent conception again, continue to nurse the previous child.
Taken from the pages of the March 1965 issue of True Love Magazine