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50 Things That Are Better Than Sex

As experiences go, is it really still one of the best?

I was watching Love and Death (1975) the other night when Sonja (Diane Keaton) turned to Boris Grushenko (Woody Allen) and implored, "Boris, please! Sex without love is an empty experience!"

"Yes," said Boris in a classic Woody comeback, "but as empty experiences go, it's one of the best."

See Also: Things we should never do again after turning 50.

Gene Kelly in Singin' in the Rain, List of 50 Things Better than Sex.

Is watching Gene Kelly dance in 'Singin' in the Rain' better than sex? — Mary Evans/Ronald Grant Archive/Everett Collection

Oh, Woody! I thought to myself. I'm just not sure I buy that anymore. Which led me to another notion: Is sex still one of the best experiences around? Or might something else have topped it when we weren't looking?

Over breakfast the next morning with two close friends, George (57) and Carol (64), I sounded them out on the issue: "Can you come up with 10 things that are better than sex?"

"Ten?" gasped George. "I can't come up with one!"

"Only 10?" laughed Carol. "I can think of more than that just related to shopping!"

Over the next few days, I polled many other people.

By the weekend, my list of "Things Better than Sex" had grown to 50. See if you agree:

1. Watching old movies

2. Watching Gene Kelly dance in Singin' in the Rain

3. Watching Paul Newman do anything

4. Sharing your scariest, innermost feelings with a very good friend — and discovering she has them, too

5. When someone else cooks you a great meal

6. And does the dishes

7. Getting that skirt you hadn't worn in two seasons over your hips

8. Buying a great blouse that goes with that skirt

9. Finding a dentist who is only very — not outrageously —expensive

10. Finding the perfect shades of yellow paint for both the living room and the kitchen

11. A long, tight hug

12. Knowing that you've made a difference, even in a small way

13. Knowing yourself

14. Having a doctor who talks with you, not at you

15. No longer being forced to play the piano for relatives

16. Making music with other people

17. Making music with other people on key

18. Reading a page-turner whose plot twists at the end make actual sense

19. Being frank

20. Listening to Frank (Sinatra)

21. Saying "I love you" to someone special

22. Hearing that special someone say it right back to you

23. Having a good laugh that's not at someone else's expense

24. You find your old 45s in the basement and — yes! — a turntable that can play them

25. Remembering the words (most of them) to the oldies on those 45s

Next page: Chocolate and 24 more things that are arguably better than sex. »

26. Feeling more confident now than you did when you first learned them

27. When that coat you've been eyeing in the store window gets drastically marked down

28. Telling a know-it-all-relative she paid too much for her designer clothes

29. Taking an afternoon nap and waking up totally refreshed

30. Bumping into someone you haven't seen in years and hearing, "You haven't changed a bit!"

31. Knowing that in ways no one else can see, you have changed — more than a bit, and all for the better

32. Chocolate éclairs

33. Come to think of it … chocolate everything

34. Having your haircut turn out exactly like that magazine picture you showed the stylist

35. The vibrancy of colors and the clarity of words after cataract surgery

36. Seeing Michelangelo's David in the flesh — er, marble

37. The food — even the bad food — in Italy

38. Italy

39. Successfully returning a vicious spin shot in Ping-Pong

40. Silence

41. Running into the prom queen from your high school and realizing, Wow, is she a wreck!

42. Swimming 40 laps in a heated pool

43. Having a lane to yourself

44. Having a grandchild

45. Holding him

46. Having him smile up at you

47. Seeing what a loving parent your child has become

48. Having a friend with whom you can giggle about sex

49. Fantasizing about sex

50. Remembering the best sex you ever had

Do you have something to add to the list? Tell us by leaving a comment below.

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