Wrong about sex, from J.D. Salinger to Miley Cyrus

     Miley Cyrus rehearses for her performance on NBC's

    Miley Cyrus rehearses for her performance on NBC's "Today" show on Monday, Oct. 7, 2013, in New York. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)

    When Miley Cyrus, after asserting that everybody’s sex life comes to a screeching halt at age 40, told Matt Lauer that, age 55, that he was no longer sexy, the jaws of female “Today” show watchers all over America dropped. What exactly does young Miley really know about being sexy?

    When Miley Cyrus, after asserting that everybody’s sex life comes to a screeching halt at age 40, told Matt Lauer that, age 55, that he was no longer sexy, the jaws of female “Today” show watchers all over America dropped — especially those of us over 40. (See the video below.) What exactly does young Miley, known primarily these days for cavorting near-naked with her tongue hanging out while massaging herself with a foam finger, really know about being sexy?

    Not to worry. Older and wiser (and, often, wise-cracking) women quickly jumped in to put Cyrus in her place.

    “Today” show co-hosts Hoda and Kathie Lee, in a New York Daily News column, assured Miley that while she’d probably have more sex before 40, the sex she enjoyed after that age would be much better. “Way better. Trust us… (e)xperience is VERY important in that department.”

    Over on Women’s Voices For Change, a website whose target audience is women over 40, Dr. Pat Allen and Cecilia M. Ford agreed with the concept that a 55-year old man knows plenty of things that a 20-year old boy just doesn’t. “There are boys who can’t find a clitoris even with a GPS device,” they joked. Further, “(w)hile young men may be able to sustain an erection forever, often they don’t know what else to do.”

    “There is no scheduled moment in time when a higher power strikes you down and says, ‘That’s it, sex is over for you,'” added Dr. Jen Landa, in a Huffington Post column. Miley’s problem? It isn’t that, with all that twerking, she’s showing America way too much bootie.

    “Miley,” chided Dr. Landa, “your naivete is showing.”

    Finally, senior sex expert Joan Price, 69, advised the young pop star, “(l)f you want your sexual exuberance to match mine, three decades after age 40, start listening to your elders — at least the ones who are winking at each other after hearing your statement about sex ending at 40.”

    Indeed, the spectacle of Miley putting her foot in her mouth on the “Today” show  was just as laughable, to those of us in the know about sex after 40, as anything she did on the MTV VMA show with that foam finger.

    Not such a bad thing

    But I’d like to cut Cyrus some slack. She’s only 20. Everyone blunders at that age — and, one hopes, learns from their mistakes. Besides, when it comes right down to it, isn’t it a good thing that 20-year-old Miley isn’t turned on by 55-year-old Matt?

    When “Miley-gate” broke, I happened to be reading the new J.D. Salinger biography, which describes how the 53-year-old writer began sending letters to 18-year-old Joyce Maynard after she’d published a story in the New York Times, not to mentor her, but to try to seduce her. He ended up drawing the teenaged Maynard into a very damaging relationship. It made me wish that, instead of falling hard for her middle-aged Lothario, Maynard, had been, like Miley, oblivious to the appeal of a man her dad’s age.

    Lusting after a dude in his 50s when you’re college age? Bad idea. (Not that I’m blaming Maynard. That relationship was entirely J.D.’s fault.)

    But for we Boomers? Matt couldn’t be a more age-appropriate object of our fantasies. So if you’re my age and believe, like me, that Lauer (not to mention the delectable Brian Williams) has still got it going on, feel free to laugh at Miley’s antics and continue to enjoy the “Today” show.

    Aged to perfection

    While a certain pop star was flapping her gums about senior sex, a far more significant thing was taking place in my own life; my sweetie was awaiting the birth of his first grandchild. As Amy’s due date approached, Mark and I hung in there, anxious and elated. Amy went into labor right on schedule. After midnight, two days later, the phone rang.

    “You’re a grandpa!” Amy told her dad.

    Bone-tired but thrilled, we managed to drive through the midnight streets to the hospital without hitting anyone. An hour later, I watched Mark hold his newborn grandson for the first time. Seeing how he looked as he held little Brock Archer Krahn in his arms — tender, strong, totally exhausted and just blown away by happiness — the thought that crossed my mind was: “There’s nothing as sexy as a new grandpa.”

    It’s a sentiment that Miley Cyrus would, no doubt, find unfathomable. And that’s probably how it should be.

    But one day, if she’s very lucky, she’ll understand.

    Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

    It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.