There's very little that's sexy or helpful about surveys

November 22, 1994|By ELISE T. CHISOLM

These front page headlines made me laugh, laugh, laugh. The first one around Oct. 5 screeched "Caffeine Found to Be Addictive . . . it is a drug, and we should give it proper response."

I knew that.

Then a couple of days later, papers across the country carried results from a new sex survey: "Strict monogamy is still the rule in vast majorities of marriages." And that most people don't have the time and energy for an affair and their job.

I knew that.

And so do you if you think about it.

What would we do without these supposedly revealing, squealing surveys? Probably a lot better. They are meant to make us feel we aren't doing all we can do, or to make us feel better about something we already do.

Not that caffeine and sex have a lot in common, but I thought I'd lump them together in this column.

First the caffeine thing. I knew in 1941 -- my first big job -- that one talked to colleagues only after they'd had their coffee. My boss drank 14 cups a day, and it kept him pleasant all day long until the day he gave it up, and then he became like a Tom cat on a hot tin roof.

Years later in a Texas newsroom we all knew better than to ask the boss about a story unless he'd had his six cups of coffee first. We counted.

Sure, coffee is addictive, and since I don't like it that much, I can run it down. And I hate fixing coffee for the purist house guests, the ones who have to have their coffee just right. Other drinks are so much less trouble.

Take beer. All you have to do is just open the can, and say "here, hon."

The caffeine survey was published originally in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Just to make you feel worse if you are drinking a lot of coffee, the researchers found that you can suffer withdrawal symptoms such as headaches, nausea, ulcers and skin conditions. Apparently ground roasted coffee has 102 milligrams of caffeine, but decaf only has 4. Good, because when I want to appear cool and businesslike I accept a cup of decaf.

Teas, colas, appetite suppressants and chocolate contain caffeine, too. Oh, no, don't take my chocolate away from me.

Now about the recent sex survey.

From a new book titled "Sex in America: A Definitive Survey," we learn that as a nation we are very conventional. Monogamy and marriage are both in, and more than 80 percent of Americans have had just one sex partner or no partners in the past year.

Naturally if you have a spouse who is accessible it is simpler and safer to have in-house sex than to go through the dating game. Right? I mean, if you have a golf course in your back yard, you are going to play golf more often than if you have to drive to Florida for a game.

Researchers also found that married people are healthier, have less stress and more confidence.

Yeah, yeah, unless you marry the wrong person.

My Aunt Millie, 85, called after the surveys, and said she'd like a survey on how many people wash their hands before preparing the covered dish suppers for her church.

Another friend wants a survey on how many discontented voters went to the polls Election Day.

You know what I'd like surveyed? How many people answer truthfully when they are being surveyed. Gotcha.

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