For my Bar Mitzvah, I received the requisite amount of checks and savings bonds from friends and family, along with a couple of birthday present-style gifts. One was a six-inch tall novelty radio in the form of a 1920s roadster, and the other an album of Bill Cosby standup comedy.  My parents prudently stashed the financial assets into the college fund. The radio was placed on the top of my dresser and I listened to the Cosby album once or twice during what shortly thereafter became a somewhat restless adolesence (acne, unfulfilled romantic longings, mockery from my schoolmates; the usual teenage year horrors). Upon my high school graduation, I raided the Bar Mitzvah loot to underwrite a year-long trip to Israel, which seems on balance to be a fair use of capital that was given in honor of reaching a significant Jewish milestone. This journey culminated in a summer of backpacking in Europe, the Jewish connection now much less tenuous, but such are the impulses of youth. Plus all my friends were doing it. They were busy doing something else, also (darn those unfulfilled romantic urges).

Recalling the Cosby album all these years later requires considerable effort. All I remember a bit where he portrayed Noah, and received instructions from a disembodied invisible voice – also his – to build an ark. “You want me to do what?” ran the dialogue and continued in light comedy along those lines.

The routine had charm, but was relatively bland, which is the image Mr. Cosby enjoyed until a short time ago.

However, as the general public has learned, according to a double-digit number of remarkably similar accusations, Mr. Cosby allegedly took care of his unfilled romantic urges in a decidedly unromantic fashion, by drugging his targets into unconsciousness.  So much for the wholesome I-love-Jell-O-and-cute-kids image.

I’m not sure every red-blooded male would enjoy the horizontal mambo with a passed-out dance partner. During the aforementioned Israel visit, this fact was evidenced at a bonfire on the beach when the stars were out and the air was ripe with pheromones. A friend of mine, Alan Mandelbaum, was making out with a young Scandinavian lass as a bottle of Arak, a potent liquor of the Fertile Crescent, made its way from one reveler to the next.  At a certain point, Alan noticed the lack of any resistance to his advances was less due to his debonair masculine charms and more a result of the fact his potential sexual conquest was in dreamland, absolutely and totally blotto.

After Alan realized his predicament, several of us tossed the drunken Swedish girl into a wheelbarrow, transported her from the beach to her dorm room and unceremoniously dumped her in bed.  Alan displayed a quiet resigned chagrin during the episode.  Fortunately everyone’s sense of propriety had been dulled by the Arak.

Looking back, I realize some things in life are complicated, and some are simple. Sex requires some degree of reciprocity with your partner. I eventually learned that lesson, after I developed some charms – albeit limited – of my own. Alan knew it intrinsically. And Mr. Cosby seems to be learning it the hard way.



 


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