01 March 2018
Eros and Thanatos
Sex & Death: the end of a beautiful relationship?
By Neil Tidmarsh.
Have you heard? I know we don’t usually have anything to do with tabloid gossip here at Shaw Sheet, but, well, this is a scoop, a genuine exclusive… Listen – yes, come closer! – that most famous of celebrity power-couples – Eros and Thanatos – Sex and Death – their relationship hit the rocks this week! Yes, they’re actually having counselling! Don’t believe me? Well, here’s the transcript to prove it…
COUNSELLOR: So, Mr and Mrs Population-Control – or may I call you by your first names? Eros and Thanatos – Sex and Death?
EROS: Aw, honey, can’t you call me ‘Love’? It’s a much sweeter name, don’t you think? Much classier. ‘Sex’, well, it’s so brazen, so brassy –
THANATOS: (interrupts with scornful laughter): Oh, please. Spare me the airs and graces. You weren’t so pretentious when we first hooked up, were you? Why so precious all of a sudden?
EROS: (bursts into tears): You see? Death, he’s so cruel, so uncaring, so unfeeling!
COUNSELLOR: Ah… There, there… Here, have a tissue.
THANATOS: Come on, she’s just trying to make you feel sorry for her. It’s one of her little tricks. She’ll hand you back that soggy tissue and before you know it you’ll be exchanging other body-fluids.
EROS: Ugh! Why do you have to be so gross?
COUNSELLOR: Well, right, ok, perhaps we’d better make a start. Death here – Thanatos – just referred to when you “first hooked up” – can you both tell me what it was like? Before it started to go wrong?
EROS: Oh, sweetheart, it was beautiful…
THANATOS: It was perfect…
EROS: We complemented each other so completely…
THANATOS: She brought everybody into the world…
EROS: And he took everybody out of the world.
THANATOS: Without her, there wouldn’t have been anybody for me to guide off-stage…
EROS: Without him, the world would have become too crowded for me to bring any more people into it.
THANATOS: And we helped each other…
EROS: Yes! You see, it’s the fear of him which has always driven everybody to me! Ask any psychologist, they’ll tell you. Don Juan, Cassanova, their compulsive love-making was just a desperate and futile bid to hide from Death. It’s true. The motor powering the sex-drive is the subconscious fear of Death. “Sublimation”, the clever guys call it. Without Thanatos, nobody would bother with me.
THANATOS: And without Eros, mankind wouldn’t be able to face me. Once you’ve been through all that stuff – sex, marriage, childbirth, children, grandchildren – well, after that, growing old and moving on isn’t so bad then, is it? You begin to see things in proportion, you begin to see me as part of the natural cycle of things…
EROS: Yes, you were so cool… But now you’re so cold! Freezing cold! Colder then the Beast From The East!
THANATOS: What about you? You were hot! But now you’re just a scorching harpy – with a blistering screech like the blast when a furnace door opens!
COUNSELLOR: Ok, ok. So why has it all gone wrong?
THANATOS: Well, we always respected each other’s space. That’s what really kept us together. We complemented each other, we helped each other, but we always operated in different areas, different spheres. Yet we never tried to invade each other’s territory. But now! She has no respect for my space whatsoever, the bitch! You’ve heard the news from China this week, haven’t you? Strippers at funerals! Funerals! That’s my space! My special place! At a funeral, everyone’s thoughts should be on me, on Death, but she can’t stand that, can she? It has to be all about her now! So she gets those strippers in, gets them dancing and tearing their clothes off so everyone’s so distracted and forgets where they are and why they’re there and before you know it no one gives a damn about me, about Death, anymore! All of a sudden all they’re thinking about is who they can hit the sack with! And it’s a funeral, damn it! And she’s stolen it from under my nose!
EROS: (Giggling): Yes, and isn’t it clever of me? Clever, and funny! You’ve got to laugh, haven’t you?
THANATOS: It was bad enough last week! You heard about those pole-dancers entertaining those old people at that retirement home? There we go, same thing, Eros hustling in on my territory! Those old folks, they should be concentrating on me, at their age, that’s why they’re there! Not losing their minds over some flexible floozie’s bits and pieces, or wondering if they could still work their magic up on that pole and have all those toothless guys drooling over them again!
EROS: Oh yes? And aren’t you just as bad? Do you respect my territory any more? No, you don’t! What about all those beautiful young teenagers, those boys and girls in high school who should have been falling in love and discovering the joys of making love, and what happens? You send one of them mad and turn him loose on them armed with a terrible weapon, and all of a sudden those beautiful boys and girls are dead before they even get the chance to kiss each other at the school prom! It’s disgusting, it’s tragic, it’s terrible! How dare you! They’re 17, 18, 19 years old! It shouldn’t be about you at that age! It should be about me!
THANATOS: Well, I get so mad, so angry – !
EROS: And what about Sridevi Kapoor, that movie star from India you took way from her fans this week? She was so beautiful, so sexy, the whole subcontinent loved her! Can you hear them? Listen! That’s the sound of one and a half billion people telling you it’s not fair, you had no right!
THANATOS: She wasn’t a teenager –
EROS: She was still only 54; she was still beautiful; she was still mine!
THANATOS: Oh yes? What about Jane Seymour, while we’re talking about movie stars? What on earth was she doing, posing for Playboy this week at the age of 69?
EROS: Why not? She says “She feels sexier than ever – ”
THANATOS: Well, she shouldn’t! At 67, she should be putting all that nonsense behind her –
EROS: Nonsense? How dare you!
THANATOS: She should be moving on and moving up, to a bigger, broader, deeper understanding of life and the world. With you behind her, and me in front of her, she should be moving towards higher things, a more sober and profound vision of where she’s been and where she’s going. She should be untangling herself from the physical, and beginning to connect with the spiritual –
EROS: (scornful laughter): And you called me pretentious a few minutes ago? Good for her, I say; why not carry on having fun and celebrating life for as long as you can?
THANATOS: But it’s so desperate and undignified! Fun and celebration in old age shouldn’t have to be the same as the fun and celebration of youth. If you think it has to be, then you’re missing out. Who was it who breathed a sigh of relief when he lost his sex-drive at the age of 70, exclaiming “It’s wonderful, like being unchained from a lunatic!” But these days, everyone’s so frightened of getting old; there’s Viagra, and Botox, and Testosterone injections, and they’re all missing the point, they’re all about fear and panic. If they stopped panicking, they might not find me so frightening…
EROS: So sex and old age are inappropriate, are they? Not as inappropriate as death and youth, surely? It’s not just America – have you seen the suicide rates for youngsters in Japan? And I wouldn’t call it desperate and undignified – I’d call it obscene! And you’re responsible!
THANATOS: Am I? Only me? Isn’t it possible that you might be just a little bit responsible too? After all, analysis of the University of Chicago’s General Social Survey this week revealed that Americans are having less and less sex. Particularly the young – the number of those who say that they’ve had no sex in the past year has doubled in recent years. That’s your department, surely? Some commentators – such as Justin Webb in The Times this week – suggest that this is what’s fuelling the growth of murderous anger among young men. People have been saying the same thing about Japan for some years – social isolation among the young, young males and females no longer relating to each other, falling birthrate, rising suicide rate…
EROS: (sighs and shivers): I know. It’s ghastly, isn’t it? I’m finding it more and more difficult to get young men and young women together, face to face… They’re all too busy glued to their phones and computers, communicating electronically, they’ve almost forgotten how to actually talk to each other, flirt with each other, ask each other out to the movies, go for a drink together, let alone fall in love with each other and have great sex together… And what’s worse, the whole thing’s becoming a bit terrifying for them, so they’re retreating into substitutes like on-line porn, which isn’t real sex at all, an insult to real sex, and the whole thing becomes a bit of a spiral with real life, real social engagement, real sex, becoming more and more out of their reach than ever…
THANATOS: Yes, I know. This virtual reality is a complete nightmare – most people these days are hardly alive, so I sometimes wonder why I bother with them at all. Real death, it’s becoming a bit pointless, everyone’s so dead already. It’s almost as if humans are turning into robots – after all, robots are machines, they don’t die because they’re not alive in the first place, they don’t need sex. Virtual reality? Virtual death, I say. An insult to the real thing.
THANATOS: Yes, Eros?
EROS: We’re in a spot of trouble, darling, aren’t we?
THANATOS: We certainly are, sweetheart.
EROS: But what are we going to do?
THANATOS: Well, we could sort him out for a start.
EROS: Our counsellor? He’s been a bit quiet for the last few minutes… Oh! He’s glued to his mobile… He’s forgotten all about us… The bastard! What are we going to do with him?
THANATOS: I’ll kill off his phone signal and his wi-fi connection, you’ll send him home to his wife or girlfriend or husband or boyfriend with the appropriate thoughts in his head and feelings in his heart, so when his time comes for me to go and get him, tomorrow or next month or in fifty years time, he’ll die happy…
EROS: That’s the spirit, Thanatos. You know, you’re still cool, after all these years…
THANATOS: And you’re still hot!
EROS: Ok, let’s get on with it!