Question: I’m 32 years old, and until a few months ago I was a hopeless womanizer. I seduced countless women, had threesomes, swapped partners and even made amateur porn. I keep a dresser drawer full of trophy panties. But a few months ago I met a woman I’m so taken with that I have stayed committed and monogamous. I want to propose to her. Should I get rid of the panties and not tell her about my past, or should I come clean and tell her everything?—J.D., Jacksonville, Florida
Playboy Advisor: Congratulations on your wild youth and your newfound love. We suggest you give the relationship at least a few more months before you propose. If you still feel the same way after the relationship has been road-tested and the novelty has subsided, you should come clean so that in your married years you’ll be able to come with a clean conscience.
Q: I recently discovered my 43-year-old boyfriend of one year pays for “erotic massages,” which is code for seeing a prostitute. He has an enormous penis, but he has trouble maintaining an erection. Sex with him is difficult, but since we began sleeping together we’ve had sex every time we see each other, which is about five nights a week. He takes Levitra but thinks I don’t know. When I found out about the “massages” I asked him what was going on, and he lied about everything. He has about a dozen contacts in his cell phone whom he texts, calls and e-mails. He tried to hook up with one of them just a week after I first learned about his secret habits. When I confronted him, he said he contacted her to test me to see if I would react. He has turned into a drama queen. I have lost respect for him but still love him. I’m quite a step up from his ex-wife and am not trying to force a relationship that shouldn’t be. I own my home, earn plenty of money and am the opposite of needy. Even though I am emotionally strong, this has worn me down. Just being around him is annoying. I look at him now and think he’s pitiful. He meets any attempt at discussion with a full-blown temper tantrum along the lines of “You know I love you, so why are you bringing this up?” I think he sucks. Am I on the right track or overreacting?—T.L., Washington, D.C.
PA: As midlife crises go, this one sounds critical, at least in terms of how it affects your happiness. Your boyfriend’s defensiveness and outright denial in the face of what sounds like overwhelming evidence add yet another layer to what is at the very least a twofold fiction he is perpetrating on you—and on himself. Some people accept their partner’s behavior no matter how far it goes beyond what is considered the norm, but your boyfriend’s self-deception is exceptionally troubling, and it clearly hurts you. He’s dishonest about his physical condition, the medication he takes and his sexual activities apart from you; one can only imagine what else he might be lying about. If these issues were in his past and he were willing to work on them, we would be more hopeful than we are. This is one of those situations where you must decide whether you’re going to attach your happiness and sense of well-being to someone who is not only out of touch with the realities of his own behavior but also thoroughly dismissive of your desires. By no measure does this sound like a healthy partnership. Additionally, if your boyfriend is indeed seeing prostitutes regularly, you have an increased chance of being exposed to STDs. You say you think he sucks; given your account of your relationship, we can’t argue.
Q: I have two questions, if you’ll indulge me. Both are related to pubic hair. First, have sexual psychologists or the Advisor coined an expression, either scientific or lighthearted, for the condition that induces a complete loss of arousal when confronted with bald genitalia? Second, could you settle a dispute between me and my friend? We want to know whether the Advisor regards it as poor taste or unnecessarily indelicate to inquire as to a possible bedmate’s “fur status” in the same way one would ask about tattoos, piercings and other intimate preferences.—S.P., Oceanside, California
PA: The Advisor is much better at creating punny headlines (Wane’s World, Hirsute Yourself, From Hair to Eternity, Up in the Hair, Pubic Enemy Number One, Fear of a Bald Planet, Trim Shady) than coining medical terms. But borrowing from the Germans, we have attempted to cobble together a compound word for you: unbehaartsehenangst. It’s no schadenfreude, but it’ll do in a pinch. As for your second question, it is absolutely in poor taste—and tacky, rude, creepy, shallow, ungentlemanly, etc.—to ask prospective partners about their piercings, “fur status” and other genital aesthetic preferences in advance of a potential hookup.
Q: Every once in a rare while, the tip of my penis accidentally touches the toilet rim. I don’t mean the seat; I mean the rim of the bowl. When this happens in the bathroom at work, I feel as though a billion germs and viruses have landed on my penis. What is the best thing I can do to clean off? Should I rub it with toilet paper? Hide in my office and put hand sanitizer on it? I don’t want to stand at the sink washing my penis.—T.R., Langley, Virginia
PA: Much has been said about the relative cleanliness of the toilet seat in comparison with the kitchen sink (a dry seat harbors few germs; a wet sink can be a bacterial breeding ground). But you present a less cut-and-dried scenario. It’s entirely possible that contact with a toilet bowl can expose your penis to many germs. But provided you don’t have an open sore on the tip of your penis and have a strong immune system, you’re probably going to be okay. (From what you say it sounds as though this has happened a few times already—and you’re doing fine.) Do not use hand sanitizer on your penis; it contains alcohol as an active agent and can burn. If you plan on having sex the same day your penis has touched a toilet, we suggest taking a nice hot soapy shower beforehand as a courtesy to your partner.
Q: I have read that when storing cigars in a humidor it is best to leave the wrappers on until shortly before smoking. Until recently I always did. (I’ve been a serious cigar smoker for only a couple of years.) However, last month I did an experiment and stored several cigars—Partagas Black Labels, CAO Italias, Brick House Maduros—without wrappers in one of the three humidors I own. When I smoked them, they tasted better, with more flavor and perhaps a slightly fuller body. Is this possible, or is it all in my imagination?—P.D., Morgantown, West Virginia
PA: As with so many questions regarding how best to enjoy the finer things in life (from wine to cigars to clothes), it often comes down to personal preference. Kudos to you for not accepting the dictates of so-called experts in the field (some of whom we’ve found extremely dull in conversation; we tend to prefer the renegades who find pleasure in gently and thoughtfully breaking the rules). Cellophane wrappers do slow the rate at which an improperly stored cigar will dry out and lose flavor, but they are far from perfect. In a properly calibrated humidor a wrapped cigar won’t dry out, but it won’t absorb any of the humidor’s moisture either. It seems you prefer the flavor of a moister cigar. One reason some cigar fans keep their cigars wrapped is to prevent flavor transfer between brands. A compromise is to open the ends of the wrappers, which theoretically allows some moisture in yet prevents the exchange of flavors.
Q: I am a 45-year-old male and have been single my entire adult life. The women I like tell me they take my interest as a compliment but that they aren’t interested. My last heartfelt attempt to start a relationship was 20 years ago. While attending college I was attracted to one of the girls in my dorm. We usually talked casually when I came back from class. After a while I decided to ask her out to dinner and a film. She responded by reporting me to the director of the dorm. I have never been able to get past the fact that she reacted this way. Are there any standards regarding how a woman should reject a man and whether it is appropriate for a woman to have someone convey the message for her?—K.S., Azusa, California
PA: There is no standard practice for how to appropriately reject someone. But lingering too much on an incident that transpired two decades ago isn’t going to help you with your current situation. One of the wonderful things about internet dating sites such as Match.com and eHarmony.com is that they use extensive personality-matching algorithms to pair potential dates, even those who have been perpetually dateless. Additionally, they play the role of dorm director, which is to say they’re a go-between that handles the rejection at some distance with minimal embarrassment to either party. Explore these sites. Who knows? You might find someone who dealt with the same type of rejection you did 20 years ago.
Q: You advised a reader to cook scallops with balsamic vinegar as the perfect second-dinner-date dish (September). The recipe you provided was great—except for the $45 balsamic. I don’t consider myself a foodie, but I do like to cook and eat great meals. I wholeheartedly agree that one should not cheap out and buy a $5 bottle from the local supermarket, but there is no need to spend $45 for a great bottle of balsamic or flavor-infused extra virgin olive oil. I used to travel to Salt Lake City a few times a year, and I visited Mountain Town Olive Oil every time for its great selection of oils and vinegars—plus you can taste them before buying. Most of the bottles are 375 milliliters for $15 (some of the flavor-infused selections are more expensive). I liked to buy the outstanding 18-year traditional. Now that I have stopped traveling west so much I have found something closer: Taste Oil Vinegar Spice in Fredericksburg, Virginia has 375-milliliter bottles for $18. Small shops specializing in spices, oils and vinegars seem to be popping up all over the place. Since the letter writer is in the Los Angeles area, I’m sure he can find a great shop to buy just what he needs.—M.S., Fredericksburg, Virginia
PA: There certainly are fantastic midpriced balsamic vinegars. We suggested the Villa Manodori brand because it is by far the best of the dozens we’ve sampled. It has a perfect balance of sweet and sour and is so good it can make even a mediocre cook’s food taste profoundly delicious. It is produced exclusively for Massimo Bottura, who is widely regarded as not only the best chef in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy (where balsamic vinegar was invented) but the best chef in the world (his restaurant Osteria Francescana has won just about every award possible). Don’t want to spend the money? Here’s a cheat for getting great aged-balsamic-vinegar flavor out of a $5 bottle: Simmer a couple of cups over low heat in a saucepan until it reduces to a syrupy consistency. The flavors will deepen and intensify. It won’t be the same as the best stuff, but it will be damn good.
Q: I’ve heard semen can be used as a face cream. Supposedly it improves the skin because it contains protein and other natural ingredients. Is this true?—I.T., Montreal, Quebec
PA: In theory, it’s not the protein in semen that would improve the quality of your skin but its proteolytic enzymes, which can break down protein—in this case, dead skin. Presumably with repeated applications you could break down the outer layer of skin, making it easier to remove and thus revealing the smoother skin beneath it. But there are much less involved ways of achieving these benefits. You could use a gentle exfoliant, followed by a face cleanser and an over-the-counter moisturizer. Whoever told you semen can be a skin treatment seems to have their facials confused.
Q: Can you please advise me about whether there are humane ways to encourage bees to leave their hive permanently? My niece rents a house where a colony of bees has built a hive inside a cavity in an outside-facing wall, having gained access through a vent in the masonry. My niece worries that if she calls in a professional, he will simply kill the bees because there is no way to reach the hive without knocking a hole in the wall. Is there any way to get the bees to abandon their hive, such as buying plants they don’t like or using smoke?—R.F., Cape Town, South Africa
PA: Apart from relocating the hive with the help of a professional beekeeper, there’s no surefire way to humanely remove an entire colony of bees. In your case, it would unfortunately require knocking a hole in the house (which many people opt to do if they can afford it). If your niece is adamant about not killing the bees, she will need to contact a beekeeper who can determine whether the insects are honeybees and therefore of value. For a small fee the beekeeper might remove the bees with the help of a carpenter. You are fortunate the hive is in an outside-facing wall, as the bees are less likely to invade the house if disturbed.
Q: I disagree with your advice to W.K. in Springfield, Illinois, who asked how to tip a bartender who has given a customer many drinks on the house (September). You said to leave the price of the drink as a tip, but this is bad advice. As an employee of the bar, a bartender is not authorized to “comp” drinks—it’s stealing from his or her employer. My answer would have been that comped drinks should not be accepted; drinks should always be paid for. My daughter and son-in-law own several taverns, and free drinks handed out by bartenders are a great expense and loss of money for them.—K.T., Austin, Texas
PA: You’re not the only reader we heard from who believes comped drinks at a bar always constitute employee theft. But every bar has its own rules. Some have house accounts or promo tabs that bartenders are allowed to use with discretion; others allow a certain percentage of an evening’s sales to be comped, and some don’t allow comping at all. We surveyed the owners of several profitable bars around the country to get their opinion, and they resoundingly said allowing bartenders to comp drinks is part of their success. They see comped drinks, or buybacks, as a sort of informal version of a frequent flyer program. They train their employees to use them sparingly and with discretion. An occasional gift from the bar to big spenders and regulars encourages loyalty and makes customers feel special. To the savvy bar manager it can mean more money in the till and in the tip jar.
For answers to reasonable questions relating to food and drink, fashion and taste, and sex and dating, write the Playboy Advisor, 9346 Civic Center Drive, Beverly Hills, California 90210, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. The most interesting and pertinent questions will be presented in these pages each month.