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You Did What With The Piano Stool?
Ready to think creatively? Think furniture.

By Harry Maurer

"Make it new," pronounced Ezra Pound about poetry. He could also have been talking about sex, since the greatest threat to erotic excitement is routine. If you've been with the same partner for years, and you're lucky enough to be still having sex with any frequency, you're no doubt familiar with this cycle: In the early days the electricity between you was such that the brush of a finger or a soft kiss would take you straight to heights of arousal. Gradually you learned each other's tastes, which was exciting, too--"Oh, she likes that !" As your knowledge of each other deepened, the sex got even better. But over time the learning curve leveled off, and your lovemaking--well, it became reliable. You know how to show each other a damn good time. But you've been there before.

At this stage, maybe it's time to heed old Ezra and step up your efforts to make it new. To that end, here's a question: Have you ever thought about furniture? Yes, furniture. And I don't mean the BarcaLounger you were hoping to get for Father's Day. I mean the furniture around your house right now. The furniture that is not your bed in your bedroom.

"Last week," says Gail, who's 31 and has been married for 10 years, "I was walking around the house naked--both kids were out on play dates--and I lay down on the couch, just to relax for a minute. Ben walked into the living room with a cup of coffee and stopped dead. I mean, I haven't seen him look at me that way in a while. It's a black couch, and I have very light skin, and he told me later I looked like a painting. But he didn't say anything at the time. He came over, put down his coffee cup, and knelt down by the couch. He started licking and biting my nipples. I was turned on in a second, just from the surprise of it. Then he kissed me, and I was gone. And then he kissed all the way down my body and started going down on me. I came in about two minutes. He didn't say a word, and he never took off any clothes. And for the last week, every time I look at the couch, I kind of blush."

A couch, of course, is the obvious place to start. In fact, it may be literally the place to start, as Dan, 28, says of his sex with Kara, his wife of five years: "After we put Christina to bed, we often stay up watching TV, especially on the weekend. And we kind of make it a point-maybe it's left over from our teenage necking years-if one of us is feeling sexy, we send a signal on the couch. She unbuttons my shirt, or I just rest my hand between her legs. The other one gets the idea, and we move to little kisses. Pretty soon we're so hot and bothered that one of us says, 'How about going to bed?' We've got more room there, but that little interlude on the couch is like using jumper cables to get going."

Look around the living room. There's the trusty armchair. Maybe it's your favorite reading spot. Why not turn it into your favorite spot for doing something else? Rachel, 36, was married for eight years before she got up the nerve to tell Roger about her chair fantasy. "Ever since I was a teen-ager, I dreamed about being tied in a chair and teased. I always felt a little bad about it, like I shouldn't want that. But our sex went in that direction a bit, he would hold down my wrists, or tell me what to do, and finally when we were lying around after making love I told him. He loved it. We actually made a plan. Late one night after we got the kids to bed, he undressed me, made me put on some black underwear, and sat me down in the armchair. I was scared silly. He used a few of his ties to tie my ankles to the front chair legs and my wrists to the back ones. Then he left the room and made me wait while he made a drink. Then he came back and-oh, God, I can't tell you what we did, I'm too embarrassed. But he made it live up to the fantasy. We've done it one other time since, but we can't do it too often because it takes a while, we both have to be in the mood, and the kids have to be safely out of the picture. Anyway, I don't think I'd want to do it all the time."

Your furniture play, of course, doesn't have to be so elaborate. Anne and her husband Elvin-married four years, one daughter-occasionally have sex on, believe it or not, the piano stool. No, not because it swivels, but because it affords them the perfect angle. "I get him excited, he sits on the stool, and I straddle him," says Anne. "He has to hold me really tight, but the main reason I like it is he goes so deep that way. I don't even have to move very much, and I come like crazy."

Don't forget your other rooms. There's the dining-room or kitchen table-remember the scene in The Postman Always Rings Twice ? There's the kitchen counter, when the impulse seizes you both while you're cooking (and the tots are off on a play date). And there's the bathroom, as Jim and his wife Helen have discovered. "A few years ago we were both in there, and she was naked, leaning over the sink, and putting on her make-up," he recalls. "She looked so sexy that way that I moved behind her and started kissing her neck and playing with her breasts. I gotta give her credit, she put down the eyeliner right away. It was so hot doing it that way, because we were both looking into the mirror, so we could gaze into each other's eyes or watch what I was doing. Now it's a regular part of our repertoire. Saturday morning-tell the kids we're taking a shower, let 'em watch TV, lock the bathroom door...."

OK, strictly speaking, the bathroom mirror isn't exactly furniture. But it's the same idea. With a little imagination and spontaneity-I know, I know, it's hard with kids around-the whole house can become a den of iniquity, and those familiar pieces of furniture can turn into erotic equipment. And maybe you, too, will find yourself blushing when you look at that couch.

Harry Maurer, the father of two boys, lives in Manhattan and is the author of Sex: an Oral History

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