Thursday, January 26, 2012

Adventures in Celibacy (Tim Gunn's and Mine)

Who cares if Tim Gunn hasn't had sex in 29 years?

Well, I guess I do. Sort of.

But not for the reason you're thinking. In general, I couldn't care less about the sex lives of celebrities, or semi-celebrities, like Tim Gunn. And I'm not even sure what Tim Gunn does.

I've never seen anything he's been on. The only reason I know who he is at all is because in 2006, I was at an Entertainment Weekly party, and a friend of mine started to hyperventilate at the very sight of the prim, snow-haired guy who was striking the "Yes, I'm so important" pose that semi-celebrities tend to assume at such events.

"Oh my God, there's Tim Gunn! I'm obsessed with him!"

"Who's that?" I sort of liked his name, although I would have liked it more had his first name been Peter.

I'm not quite so clueless today, but I'm still not 100 percent sure why he's famous, or almost famous. I know it has something to do with Project Runway, but I've never seen that show, and I probably couldn't pick Heidi Klum out of a red-carpet line-up unless she had Seal on her arm. (And since they're splitting up, she'll be even more anonymous to me in the future.)

So why do I care (sort of) that Gunn has been celibate for 29 years, an announcement he made the other day on his new daytime talk show The Revolution?

Because if he can do it, maybe I can, too. About two weeks ago, I embarked on my own experiment in celibacy. Why? It's nothing like the reason why Gunn supposedly cut all hanky panky out of his life. (I'm assuming that's the case, and he's not applying the Bill Clinton definition of "sexual relations.")

I didn't have an ex who made me feel like I was terrible in bed. And I'm not resorting to sensationalism to boost ratings for my new afternoon chatfest, the one that booted One Life to Live, my favorite soap opera, from ABC's daytime line-up. Yes, I'm still bitter about One Life to Live, but I'm no fool. I suspect that Gunn had an ulterior motive, a reason for his full disclosure, which had everything to do with putting The Revolution on the map.

When celebrities, um, semi-celebrities, start divulging the intimate details of their love lives, or lack thereof, there's always something in it for them. Either they're trying to promote themselves or their latest project, or they're trying to prove something (generally, their heterosexuality -- but Gunn is gay, so it's not that).

Didn't Tom Cruise on Oprah Winfrey's couch teach us anything?

Although I don't know if Gunn's declaration of celibacy will work in his favor, or his show's, I've never read so much about either as I have in the last 24 hours. But I'll see Tim Gunn in hell -- or at the sex club, which is kind of the same thing -- before I watch The Revolution!

Getting back to me and my experiment in celibacy, it came about due to a conversation I had a little under two weeks ago with a friend who told me that she's been abstaining for the last two years. There's no spectacular story involved. It just kind of happened. The choice has been hers completely, but it's not one that she consciously made or even carried out.

I wondered if I could ever do something so drastic. I'm not sure. Two years is a long time, and nobody ever said that time flies when you're not having fun. But I'm always looking for a new challenge, so I made an announcement that Saturday afternoon at Windsor Castle in Melbourne: "I'm going to be celibate for six months." It's not like I'm not already on my way there. I haven't done a thing in 2012 so far.

Big deal, the year just began, said my skeptical friends, who have given me a lot of leeway, saying that the state of celibacy allows everything that doesn't fall under the Clintonian definition of "sexual relations." I'm not sure if I'll actually go for the full six months, even under those cushy conditions. This is only a test, and for now, one that's working in my favor.

When sex is off the table, it makes life so much easier. You can go out to bars and actually enjoy the company of your friends without having one eye on the door to see who's coming and going. You can accept last-minute invitations because plucking and trimming and looking your absolute best under your clothes is no longer so important because no one is going to see what's there anyway.

I can now receive text messages like the one that arrived at 3am this morning -- "What's doing? Miss that hot body of urs" -- and roll over and go back to sleep. And if I do happen to meet someone decent, at least I'll know he's in it for more than sex. We'll have to be friends first, which I hear is the strongest foundation for any relationship. But I'm not expecting Mr. Perfect, a guy who's all talk no action, to walk through that door that I'm no longer paying so much attention to.

Of course, my hygiene, oral and otherwise, remains up to the same high standards, but it's liberating to be able to ease up on everything else. If this means I don't have to shave every other day, and I can let the gray come out without having to worry that I might start to look my age, why stop at six months?

Perhaps in the year 2041 when I have my own daytime talk show to promote, I can stand up and proudly repeat after Gunn: "I haven't haven't had sex in 29 years." Of course, by then, it might no longer be by choice.
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