We are raised in evolved societies, where the needs and dangers of our natural instincts are balanced by traditions and rules that we follow, to a greater or lesser extent. Society gives us approved practices, which embody the expressed values of the society, and it also gives us tolerated practices, which, while they might not express the directly approved values, give room for the reality of the needs and desires of life as we live it. People are different, people conform in different ways, and tolerating differences is key to maintaining tranquility. Formal and informal, the approved and the tolerated, both need to exist.
And so, we come to love and marriage. Both love and marriage exist in all societies, I think, and sometimes they coexist in the same relationship, and often not. And beyond love and marriage, there is also sex, which can coexist or not with L and M. We know the varieties and the examples; it's fun to reiterate them, but that's for another place. Right now, this introductory perspective will serve simply to introduce one interesting and illuminating article from the New York Times.
For Sale: The ‘Sexiest’ Hourly Rate Hotel in Manhattan
The owner calls the Liberty Inn “the cleanest short-stay hotel in town.” But in a changing neighborhood, “a hotel like this doesn’t make sense,” he says.
The article says that,
“Its website bills its rooms as the “most sexiest” in the city, and for nearly 50 years it has provided sanctuary for bouts of afternoon passion, clandestine affairs and lunchtime quickies.”
There is no mistaking the purpose of the Liberty Inn. The rooms are made up to enhance the experience. The owner says: “'There’s something cute and different about each room, and we have people who take to certain rooms and keep requesting them,” he said. 'We’re trying to induce people into a good time here. We don’t follow them into their rooms, but we understand what they’re doing in there.'”
This is not the love your mother told you about, or that you read about in the official literature offered in school. It is definitely in the realm of the “tolerated,” and adheres only to the informal rules of our society, not the formal ones. Forbidden pleasure, some say, is the sweetest pleasure, and it can't be forbidden unless there are rules.
So, yes, it is a titillating article, and most people will reflect in their own forbidden loves, and most will also reflect that there were too few of them.
But that's not my point. What hit me over the head about this article comes right at the end. The reporter has just been reporting, not taking a stand, letting the place and the owner express themselves in a matter of fact, you judge what you want to, kind of way. Not exactly selling it, just presenting it.
“...a ceiling mirror accented with cloud drawings. Purell packets sat on the night stand. A sign by the door read: 'ALWAYS Turn Knob on Lock to Prevent Mistaken Entry!'
A black stump-like object sat against a wall. I soon discovered that it unfolded and realized it was the Liberator, a wedgelike apparatus that helps lovers contort into imaginative positions. The room was pristine, but I discovered one scrawl of passion on the Liberator’s surface: a faint handprint.”
And then, at the end of the article,
comes a final sentence that just knocks you out. The author, Alex Vadukul, has stationed himself outside the hotel, watching people come and go, some confident, some timorous. And then he says,
“As I kept watching the afternoon couples emerge back into the tumult of the city, I realized they were all holding hands.”
I don't know about you, but when I read this, my heart melted.