Shortly before his death in 1973, comedian, singer and songwriter Allan Sherman published a book called The Rape of the A*P*E. (It was originally styled A.P.E., but the success of the movie M*A*S*H, as well as the ensuing TV show, apparently inspired the change.)
Sherman was born in 1924, so he was a member of the Greatest Generation. Putting that in perspective, they were to the Boomers what the Boomers are now to Millennials. His generation went and fought in WW II, and grew up with a very strict code of no sexytimes before marriage, women had to remain virgins, birth control didn’t exist, and so on.
His book is a documentation of the breakdown of those taboos, as well as how they didn’t really necessarily exist. Being semi-autobiographical, he recounts tales of kind of losing his virginity in his teens in a brothel in San Bernardino — which was whorehouse central in Southern California for a long, long time, right up until said WW II.
He also discusses how automobile ownership in the 1950s made teen sex a lot more possible, since they were basically rolling motels that could move far from parental eyes. But he also discusses how it was still unacceptable for a girl to appear to consent to doing it with a guy even when she actually did, and it came down to that crucial moment when he went to remove her panties. It was only possible if she lifted her ass, and that motion was actually mutually understood to be a “Yes.”
Well, at least according to Sherman. Hey — he grew up in really fucked-up times.
The A*P*E in the title refers to the American Puritan Ethic, and Sherman documents how it started to break down in the 1950s and then was totally exploded in the 1960s. And who was blowing it up in that decade?
If you guessed Boomers, you guessed right. Just as Millennials started and Gen-Z is finishing the work of fighting for the rights of people in the LGBTQ+ community (or the Alphabet Mafia, if you prefer), the Boomers started the sexual revolution of the 1960s, and then Gen-X (yay mine!) ran with it.
The 1960s and early 1970s saw a lot of changes. The Pill, the first really effective form of female contraception, were finally developed in the 1950s, but not approved by the FDA until 1960. It still took until a 1972 Supreme Court decision to make birth control legal for single people women to get, believe it or not.
And, of course, it wasn’t until 1973 that Roe v. Wade made abortion legal and obtainable by all women — the same year that Sherman’s book was published.
But there were two inventions from the 1960s that just really prove that straight cis Boomer men were not really interested in some great political revolution and sexual liberation. Nah — they were just interested in humping people, preferably of the cis-woman much younger variety.
And, for some reason, this seemed to involve water. Oh, so much water. Both were actually invented in the same year, 1968 (missed it by that much!) and both claimed to have different purposes, but were clearly only intended for very moist sexytimes.
One was the waterbed. The other was the Jacuzzi.
Of course, the inventor of the waterbed, Charlie Hall, really gave the game away when he initially dubbed his invention “The Pleasure Pit.” Okay, so what else are you going to do on that thing when it’s wobbling away on top of the white shag carpet in your living room?
As for the Jacuzzi, it was actually developed by seven Italian brothers who happened to have that surname. From 1915 onward, they focused on making aircraft propellers, but when one of the brothers developed arthritis in the 1950s, the others designed a pump that could be submerged in a bathtub in order to provide hydrotherapy.
By 1968, they applied that idea to a big tub that could fit multiple people and, again, if that doesn’t sound like the recipe for sex soup, I don’t know what does.
Meanwhile, in Marin County, California, which is just outside of San Francisco, hot tubs, which are the unbranded versions of Jacuzzis, instantly became familiar as the shorthand way to invite friends over to bump uglies. “Want to come hot-tubbing?” was the “Netflix and Chill” of its day.
But this brings me full circle to the title of the post and the joke. For my non-American friends, Coors is a brand of beer of the “love it or hate it” variety, and for a long time, it was only available west of the Rocky Mountains, meaning only in the western third of the country.
In that western third, a lot of people considered it to be swill, so the joke was this: “Why is Coors beer like sex in a canoe?”
“Because it’s fucking close to water.”
Just like doing it on a water bed or in a Jacuzzi.
Image source: Alpenglowmt, (CC BY-SA 3.0), via Wikimedia Commons