Now that I’ve got your attention, I’d like to remind you that in late September—

Wow. You’re already not paying attention. You really do think about sex every seven seconds. I thought I was bad, but—

Okay, seriously — stop.

As I was saying, in late September the UK website, which bills itself as “the worlds fastest growing online market research company” (proper punctuation apparently just gets in the way of said growth), released the results of a survey about the world’s best and worst male lovers, which were then published in various newspapers, including London’s The Telegraph. The results may actually be posted on OnePoll, but it appears you have to log in to see them, which would then require logging out, and all that logging in and logging out, in and out, in and out, in, out, in, out IN OUT IN OUT YES YES OH GOD YES OHGODYESYESYEEEEEESSSSSSSS— well, quite frankly, it makes me sleepy.

At number one on the best-lovers list was Spain, where the rain stays mainly in the plain and it appears the men stay mainly in bed pleasing the women who respond to these kinds of surveys. Brazil was second and Italy was third, so “tall, dark, and handsome and not ruining the moment with English” clearly has its advantages.

Speaking of English, Old Blighty came in second on the list of the world’s worst lovers, with Englishmen described by female respondents as “too lazy.” But London’s Daily Mail reported in August that a survey conducted by Nuffield Health found that three-quarters of the Brits who were polled were too tired by the end of the day to have sex with their partners. By answering the health-care charity’s questions, it’s true that the respondents were getting polled, but it wasn’t the kind of regular polling that relieves tension, burns calories, gives your skin a youthful glow, and keeps women from checking every 20 minutes for cheap flights to Spain.

To be fair, having sex in England presents its fair share of obstacles, like being served with an “Anti-Social Behavior Order” for high-decibel intercourse. That’s what happened to 48-year-old housewife Caroline Cartwright, who in April was forbidden from making “excessive noise during sex” anywhere in the country, then was arrested three days later for violating the order. Brendan O’Neill wrote on in May that ASBOs are issued by magistrates’ courts, “sometimes on the basis of hearsay evidence,” and the “relative ease with which one can apply to the authorities for an ASBO positively invites people to use the system to punish their foes or the irritants who live in their neighborhoods.”

O’Neill compared England in 2009 to the dystopia of George Orwell’s 1984, but I say a society in which I can get an obnoxious neighbor arrested for bad taste in music is heaven. Make your way across the pond ASAP, ASBOs.

Those surveyed by OnePoll (my sources tell me certain female respondents were polled twice in one night, but, sadly, the pollsters never called again) say the worst lovers in the world reside in Germany. They’re allegedly “too smelly,” but we need to give German men a break — the recession has hit them hard.

Last summer the Associated Press reported that a brothel in Berlin was so desperate for customers that it was offering discounts to senior citizens, and the Times in London said that German bordellos in general, which had seen a 30 percent drop in business since the start of the global recession, were beginning to promote “flat-rate services, based on all-you-can-eat evenings run by restaurants.” The nighttime rate is $150 for all the sex, food, and drinks customers can handle; during the day it’s $50 cheaper. Prostitution is legal in Germany and sex workers receive health and unemployment insurance, which means that even if they can’t get anyone laid in this economic climate, they’ll still be taken care of once they’re laid off.

Ranking third and fourth on OnePoll’s worst-lovers list were Sweden and Holland, respectively. The latter country’s men were criticized for being “too rough,” and Swedish men were accused of being “too quick to finish,” but that’s an unfair assessment when you consider there are only six hours of daylight in the Scandinavian nation during the winter months — sex is rarely depressing, but sunlight never is, so don’t be so quick to judge quick-finish Swedish men and their seasonal priorities.

Before I get to number five on the list, here’s a rundown of the bottom half of the top ten, per the Telegraph:

6. Greece (too lovey-dovey)
7. Wales (too selfish)
8. Scotland (too loud)
9. Turkey (too sweaty)
10. Russia (too hairy)

Wait a second — excess body hair is a detriment to good lovemaking? Ladies, you should hope that your man will have good “swimmers,” not a body that’s shaved like a good swimmer’s. Besides, guys like Greg Louganis aren’t interested in your kind.

Now, number five on the worst-lovers list, in case you were still wondering, is the United States, whose males were deemed — get this — “too dominating.”

Excuse me?

Damn right we dominate — that’s why we’re the greatest country in the history of forevah. Women of the world, if you can’t respect that, move to Russia. Except you don’t want all that extra body hair keeping you warm at night in Siberia, so you’re stuck with us.

If American men see something we like, we have to have it, whether it’s beautiful women, fast cars, or Middle Eastern countries neck-deep in oil reserves. We’re competitive by nature, and once we begin dominating in one area of our lives, it’s hard to stop.

Tiger Woods is a good example of this phenomenon. He’s already proven himself to be the best golfer of all time, so naturally he had to extend his domination to another competitive sport, albeit one that’s played indoors. And although his three dozen mistresses don’t look like trophies that were worth winning, his stats are still impressive. Arnold Palmer may have his own eponymous nonalcoholic beverage, but only Tiger stands a chance of having a venereal disease named in his honor.

(In Asheville, North Carolina, where my love-you-long-time-and-put-up-with-you-even-longer girlfriend, Aimiee, and I are currently visiting her parents — and staying in separate bedrooms, which doesn’t seem to bother Aimiee at all — there are billboards for the Cliffs at High Carolina, a new gated community with a Tiger-designed golf course. The billboards show Tiger after a mighty swing, presumably on his way to sticking something in a hole, next to the words “See what inspired me.” I’ll give you three guesses.)

Because of Woods’s sex scandal, Congressman Joe Baca (D-Calif.) recently decided not to move forward with legislative plans to award him with a Congressional Gold Medal for good sportsmanship and eliminating racial barriers in golf. Woods has called himself black — not to mention Caucasian, Asian, and American Indian — but once politicians start pointing the finger at people who’ve committed adultery, that’s a case of the pot calling the kettle black.

Woods, after all, didn’t conduct his affairs with the use of taxpayers’ money. Sure, we want talented, highly paid athletes and entertainers like David Letterman to be role models, but they weren’t elected to their positions on a platform of honesty, integrity, and family values. (Nevertheless, they don’t deserve endless applause, a la Letterman, once they confess their sins, which they wouldn’t be confessing if they hadn’t gotten caught in the first place.)

Maybe self-destruction, like dominance, is second nature to Americans — which makes us a lot like those fanatical suicide bombers we claim to not understand. Is it simply because we find their literal-minded self-destruction intellectually inferior to our own variety, which tends to wipe out all marriages and careers in its immediate blast zone rather than innocent bystanders?

Even if you’re not the dominating sex machine you used to be, you can’t give up the fight. As once-popular movie star Ryan O’Neal recounted to Vanity Fair in August after ex-girlfriend Farrah Fawcett’s funeral, “I had just put the casket in the hearse and I was watching it drive away when a beautiful blonde woman comes up and embraces me. I said to her, ‘You have a drink on you? You have a car?’ She said, ‘Daddy, it’s me — Tatum!’ I was just trying to be funny with a strange Swedish woman, and it’s my daughter. It’s so sick.” (My favorite headline of 2009: “Movies present false images of romance.”)

You’re correct in assuming my flag’s at full staff right now as I compose my thoughts on American pride, but I’ll bravely admit that my country isn’t what it used to be. We’ve gotten gun-shy.

Take Levi Johnston (please!), the almost son-in-law of almost vice president Sarah Palin who posed for Playgirl‘s December issue and almost showed off Li’l Johnston — but ultimately didn’t. When you heard the tragic news, I bet you thought the same thing I did: Playgirl still exists? (Yes, though it’s only been available online as of February.)

Playboy, on the other hand, is still in circulation, but it’s been struggling the past few years to keep its subscribers and find new investors. It landed flavor-of-the-month reality TV star Heidi Montag (MTV’s The Hills) for a photo spread in its September issue, but there wasn’t any actual nudity.

Look, Playboy, I’m not one of those people who “reads,” so don’t expect me to pick up a copy anytime soon for the late Norman Mailer’s latest short story. Stop being Maxim and start paying former Miss USA Carrie Prejean whatever it takes to take her clothes off! “I don’t see anywhere in the Bible where it says you shouldn’t get breast implants,” Prejean testified to Christianity Today, just as I don’t see anywhere in the Bible where it says Playboy should be demure. (Believe me, I checked.)

Similarly, when the magazine put Marge Simpson on its November cover in an attempt to be “hip, cool and unusual” and lure younger readers, as CEO Scott Flanders disclosed to the Chicago Sun-Times, it was hard not to think, You mean the college freshmen who were born in 1990 during The Simpsons‘ second season? Aren’t they watching Family Guy or Adult Swim these days? Or do you mean even younger readers, and if so, (1) have you no sense of decency, sir, and (2) that’s how you dominate. U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!

Still, the national malaise lingers, which is why President Obama decided in November to take our collective pent-up sexual frustration out on Afghanistan. Someone’s got to lose this blame game, right? And even though it’s perfectly natural and biblically sanctioned to blame women for everything — tell me I’m wrong, Ms. Prejean — sometimes you have to air-strike an entire nation before your manhood can be restored to its upright and locked position.

There are certain things we men can do to make ourselves more attractive, however. After all, we don’t want our female partners having sex with us just so they can “relieve the boredom because it’s easier than fighting,” as one female interviewee says in the book Why Women Have Sex. “Plus it gives me something to do.”

Coauthors Cindy Meston and David Buss told London’s Daily Telegraph in September that research “has shown most men find most women at least somewhat sexually attractive, whereas most women do not find most men sexually attractive at all.” Oh, for God’s sake, are we back to the five pounds of body hair again? Get over it!

One thing men can do to bring the sexy back is to buy new underwear, because during a recession, sales of men’s underwear generally decline. And if you’re a Saudi Arabian man, one thing you can do to make yourself more attractive to women is to stop selling women’s lingerie to women.

In June the AP reported that 26 Saudi women had completed a course in how to fit, stock, and sell underwear — the first of its kind offered there — after they boycotted local lingerie shops until the shops agreed to hire women. “The most shocking thing for me was the bra sizes,” said Faten Abdo. “We didn’t know how to get proper measurements before.”

The AP also reported in October that Elena Brodnar of Ukraine was the cowinner of an “Ig Nobel Prize” from the scientific humor magazine Annals of Improbable Research for creating a bra that turns into two gas masks. The article noted that, according to Brodnar, “a bra cup, no matter what size, is the perfect shape to fit over the human mouth and nose.” That’s delightfully Freudian, but it also goes to show that even in chemical warfare, mother knows best.

Also in the world of brassieres, or the lack thereof, Disney officials in California informed the AP in May that operators for four of its theme-park attractions would no longer scan riders who go topless for the sake of souvenir photos. “Disney confirmed … that it has reassigned employees at Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure who watched for breast-baring riders because ‘actual inappropriate behaviors by guests are rare.'” Though I applaud Disney for taking a step away from England’s puritanical, ASBO-issuing, Big Brother-ish ways, I shed a tear for the reassigned 16-year-old who no longer looks forward to going to work each day.

Of course, Mark Sanford probably doesn’t like his job that much anymore, either. His wife, Jenny, filed for divorce December 11, two days after South Carolina lawmakers decided to formally rebuke rather than impeach Governor Sanford for going AWOL in June to visit his mistress in Argentina.

Yes, it was irresponsible of the governor to leave his state without any official leadership for five days, but has anyone stopped to think that maybe he was on a fact-finding mission? That perhaps he was looking for sex tips from South America’s male population, not just taking a trip south of the equator in the hopes that his mistress would do the same for him? The glass is always half empty for you Republican-hating libs, and I think that’s just sad.

But I’ll tell you what’s really been sad in 2009: economic news. However, if you obsessively read stories about the recession, people accuse you of liking “economy porn,” and if you’re a fan of the critically acclaimed movie Precious, a fictional account of financial horrors you’ll likely never have to live through, you’re accused of indulging in “poverty porn.” You can also indulge in the “food porn” that’s on display in Julie & Julia and It’s Complicated, two Meryl Streep “chick flicks” that some men classify as torture, but that doesn’t make them “torture porn” like the never-ending sequels of the Saw horror franchise.

If you just want to find out about the best in good old-fashioned sexual porn, however, take your computer on a trip to Mormon-engorged Utah, which has the highest online subscription rates for porn per thousand home broadband users, according to a study by Harvard Business School professor Benjamin Edelman. Scripps Howard News Service noted back in March that “Utah’s No. 1 score may have to do with its large population of young people and the scarcity of adult entertainment outside the home.” Neighboring states Idaho and Montana have the lowest porn subscription rates, so it stands to reason their residents are more mature, more sexually satisfied, or more God-fearing — or they’re just getting their porn for free. (Yes, even the porn industry has endured hard, hard times this year thanks to diminished DVD sales and Internet piracy.)

But look on the bright side, everybody — Utah’s #1! And I truly believe America can get on top and dominate— I mean, peacefully rule over that “world’s best lovers” list next year and in the years to come, but here are three excuses— I mean, reasons why we’re currently not the best:

1. Through June of this year, American men had lost 74 percent of the 6.4 million jobs eliminated since the recession began in December of ’07. (Chicago Sun-Times, Gannett News Service)

Translation: We’re depressed. We’re not dominating at work anymore. And to add insult to injury, we’re now being told we’re not supposed to dominate in the bedroom.

2. Roughly one out of every six Americans has had swine flu this year, and 10,000 have died from it, says Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (AP)

Translation: Not tonight — we might be coming down with something. (Doesn’t feel so good to be on the receiving end of that one, does it, ladies?)

3. Murder and manslaughter were down 10 percent in the U.S. through June, despite crime usually going up during recessions. The two-part theory is that the American population is getting older — older people commit fewer crimes — and laid-off workers are at home now during the day, discouraging thieves from breaking in. (AP)

Translation: Do you want us to be better lovers, or do you want us to make sure the device you own that is a better lover isn’t stolen? Because you can’t have both. Besides, a recent study by the MacArthur Research Network on an Aging Society stated that by 2050 the average life expectancy will be 83.2 to 85.9 years for men and 89.2 to 93.3 for women. The Ashley Madison Agency, an online dating service for married men and women who are interested in cheating, has the motto “Life is short, have an affair,” but Americans are obviously living longer than they used to. So relax, better halves — the other half has plenty of time to become better in bed.

Thankfully, there’s still one area of life in which this nation totally dominates: obesity.

The CDC says 30 percent of U.S. adults today are obese compared to 1979, when the figure was half that size. We’ve cut down on smoking — 21 percent today versus 37 percent in 1970 — but we’re “getting fat just as fast as we are improving other factors,” Kami Banks, a cardiology research fellow at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, explained to Bloomberg News in November.

That’s because of our competitive nature — we can’t let Mexico take our crown, especially not in some sort of athletic event that requires physical exertion. In October nutrition expert Barry Popkin, who advises the Mexican government, told the Christian Science Monitor, “The rate of increase in obesity in adults in [Mexico] over the past 15 years is probably the fastest we’ve seen in any country around the globe.” Six months earlier, researchers at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine published a study that said thin people produce fewer greenhouse gases, thereby doing less harm to the environment, but evidently a large chunk of North America — a really large chunk — couldn’t care less, possibly because pineapple-flavored cough syrup is the only kind of tropical medicine most North Americans care to learn about.

And so the battle rages on, with American men willing to go to any lengths, no matter how unhealthy, to prove their dominance. As Aimiee stands before me at this very moment in a revealing negligee, I choose to ignore her so I can concentrate on finishing this assignment as well as the bag of Oreo Double Stuf cookies in my lap. (Does the missing F in “Stuf” stand for “fat”? I guarantee that fat won’t be missing for long if I keep up my competitive drive.)

Stay hard and soft, my fellow countrymen, and thank you for staying with me through this long, well-endowed — and, sure, occasionally flaccid, which is perfectly normal — essay. No Swedish-style quick finish here — I’m an American, dammit.

Right Said Fred, “I’m Too Sexy [Spanish Version]” (from 1991’s I’m Too Sexy maxi-single)

About the Author

Robert Cass

Robert Cass lives in Chicago. For Popdose he's written under the Sugar Water, Bootleg City, and Box Office Flashback banners and collaborated on the series 'Face Time with Jeff Giles and Mike Heyliger.

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