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COLUMN

Savage Love

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Anal is a highly effective birth-control method, and there's only one known case of someone getting pregnant through oral sex. (Google around and you'll find it pretty quick.) But anal intercourse is also the most effective means of HIV transmission – 18 times more effective than vaginal intercourse – so I hope you're using condoms, regardless. And one quibble: If technically you're still a virgin, then technically my husband is still a virgin, too. Yeah … no. My husband isn't a virgin, technically or otherwise, and neither are you. Your vagina might be a virgin, sure, but you're not.

PAULINE "DEAR ABBY" PHILLIPS: I grew up reading both Eppie "Ann Landers" Lederer in the Chicago Sun-Times and Pauline "Dear Abby" Phillips in the Chicago Tribune. I always preferred Ann's column to Abby's column – did you know they were twin sisters? – and I'm actually sitting at Ann's desk, which I bought at auction after her death, as I write this. So you could definitely call me more of an Ann fan. But I have a newfound appreciation for Abby after reading Margalit
Fox's terrific obit in the New York Times. The obit ends with the most famous three-word response in the whole sordid history of the advice-column racket:

Dear Abby: Two men who claim to be father and adopted son just bought an old mansion across the street and fixed it up. We notice a very suspicious mixture of company coming and going at all hours – blacks, whites, Orientals, women who look like men, and men who look like women. This has always been considered one of the finest sections of San Francisco, and these weirdoes are giving it a bad name. How can we improve the neighborhood?
– Nob Hill Residents
Dear Residents: You could move.

Phillips wrote that decades ago – back when adult gay men often resorted to adopting their adult partners because it was the only way to secure any legal protection for their relationships – and people are still quoting it today. I don't think anyone working in this genre will ever top it. My sympathies to Jeanne Phillips, Pauline's daughter and the current author of the Dear Abby column.

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