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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. »

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