Saturday, January 15, 2011

Sexlessness: Sawtooth Aucuba and My Lack of Babies

The Huffington Post featured an unusual article this morning on the sexless lives of the Japanese. Yes, sexless. Or virtually sexless. Or becoming sexless.

Concerned about its long declining birthrate, its aging population, and its subsequent population imbalance, the Japanese Government commissioned a study and found that a startling 36.1% of teenage boys (more than twice the 2008 figure of 17.5%) and 59% of teenage girls (up from 47%) had little to no interest in sex, and even, in some cases, despised fornication! (How could you despise fornication without having done it?!) Astonishing!

The cause or causes? It appears Japan's nearly 20 year long recession (and more pertinently, its "Lost Decade"--yes, they even named the period...that should give an indication of either how bad the situation has been or how deeply the Japanese have been psycho-sexually disturbed by their declining global potence or their rising impotence...sorry, I couldn't resist) has had its effect. Teenage boys and young men over 20 cited  the perceived financial burden of raising a family in "difficult" economic times. (Wow: isn't that what condoms are for? I think manga; Pachinko--those Tokyo Pachinko parlors were always full, no matter the time of day; and video games might deserve some of the blame.) Difficult economic times, we may deduce, have burdened the already married: 40.8% of married couples reported a lack of sex in the last month due to "work fatigue," a "reluctance to have sex after childbirth," and an attitude of "we can't be bothered."

Sex is so utterly political--and economic.

So what, pray tell, does sex have to do with the garden?

Well, dear reader, hold onto your hats.

An acquaintance and his partner recently adopted a baby girl, and while it is true that I am happy-to-my-core for them, my self-absorbed demon began to lament a lack of children in my own life. I've been thinking about this for several years, and Viet and I have occasionally discussed the issue. But now, my biological clock ticks more loudly than I could have imagined.

And as a diversion I look to Sawtooth Aucuba. Sexless? Babyless? No wonder, with a name like Sawtooth, who would want to have sex with it?! Can you imagine?! OUCH!

Once again, I think in tangents... Once again, I think dirty thoughts...

But, the truth is, my Sawtooth Aucuba is sans offspring. Read any gardening guide and it will tell you that Sawtooth Aucuba will "produce scarlet berries from fall to spring." A wondrous addition to my shade garden, with winter interest to boot!

Yet, I have no berries. Barren.

Of course, to produce babies (not adopting babies, mind you, but making them, which is, well, sexier than adoption, and though messy in its own right, making babies probably isn't as messy as adopting them...goodness, the paperwork!), we need a male and a female, and I confess that I do not know what I have. It's not as simple as looking under the hood, if you know what I mean. And flowers in the spring will not be of any assistance. Androecious plants produce (male) flowers (pollen but no seeds); and Gynoecious plants produce (female) flowers (seeds but no pollen). You'd think nature would have color coded these things by now...

But, my Sawtooth Aucuba is, technically, Aucuba japonica Serratifolia. Japonica, as in, "from Japan." As in, sexless. Now I understand.

Perhaps my lack of babies has little to do with me (though with my luck, I'd end up buying all female or all male plants, and still, no berries, though we might have quite the orgy!).

Perhaps it has everything to do with the Japanese.

** Written with the knowledge that I'll never be Secretary of State, and so can risk offending entire countries, even if the offense is unintentional.** 


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