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July 25-31, 2007

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Ask Sydney

This advice column is penned by a Sonoma County resident and our new weekly sage. Go ahead! Ask her anything.

Dear Sydney, any suggestions for someone who is a hopeless prude in the bedroom? It seems like I'm surrounded by sexual go-getters, and this makes me feel like even more of Boring Betty. I feel pretty content with what would seem to others to be a pretty boring sex life, but maybe I just don't know what I'm missing. Just the idea of doing anything off the beaten path makes me get freaked out. Recently, my girlfriend brought home a sex toy, and it felt like she'd brought a rattlesnake into the room. I kept waiting for it to jump off the table and attack me. Is there any hope for me, or should I just go get one of those Catholic sheets with the hole in the middle and start advertising for a new girlfriend, one who is both sexually conservative and queer. Is there such a thing? And is it possible to be a sexual prude and still be cool? What if my friends find out?--Surrounded by Sex Fiends

Dear Surrounded: You think you're a prude? Who says? Who defines prudery? You're looking at things backwards. If you're surrounded by people who are into far-out sexual exploits (or so they claim; seeing is believing, I always say), and yet you remain petrified of inanimate sexual apparatuses, then maybe you are the one who is far out. Try switching the scale around. On the super-hardcore sex-fiend side put you: a queer, hands on/lights out kind of girl. See, you're already on fire. On the far end, put whatever your sex-rocking friends allege that they are doing. Then write down on a scale--from least threatening to most threatening to hell-no-I-don't-think-so--a list of things you think other people do that you don't do; be sure to include the things that you do. Remember, what may seem benign to you could be utterly horrifying to someone else. There's no point in belittling your own sexual exploits. You're a girl who's into girls. That's far out. You don't really even have to do anything else beside that. You're a revolutionary. But still, try some things on your list, just for fun. Have your goal be to make it somewhere between hardcore you and prudeville everyone else. And in the mean time, I would hold out on that whole Catholic sheet advertisement idea; it sounds pretty kinky.

Dear Sydney, I was reading the paper the other day and saw that China had recently executed a high official. It was the Chinese equivalent of the person in charge of the FDA. This guy took bribes from drug companies and factories and let fake drugs onto the market, as well as allowing dangerous and sometimes deadly ingredients to be used in food products. So I was reading this and thinking that it seemed too horrible, but also maybe not so bad, considering the fact that in this country we kill people for comparably small infractions, and yet someone more powerful, like the president, for instance, can be responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths and in no way be held accountable. So I'm wondering, who is barbaric? The Chinese, for executing a high official for doing what almost all politicians do, or Americans, for executing their poor and insane, and allowing their rich and powerful to do whatever the hell they want.--Pissed Off

Dear Pissed: Zheng Xiaoyu, head of the Chinese State Food and Drug Administration, was executed, as you say, for taking bribes. When I read this in the paper, two thoughts flashed across my mind: Is it still safe to eat those little orange rice candies with the edible wrapper that I love from the Asian market? And, wow, so that's how they deal with corrupt politicians over there! I wonder if it helps cut back on the problem?

People who disregard human life in favor of money are barbaric, and it's difficult to find a way of dealing with them that is not equally so. If the United States observed a full ban on the death penalty, then I would have to grant us, for once, the higher moral ground. But the fact that we're willing to execute our poor and oppressed and yet allow ass wipes like George W. Bush to imperil every living member of his constituency while simultaneously killing and maiming our bravest and blowing up an entire country along with its occupants is pretty low. I say, hats off to the Chinese! If you're going to execute anyone, you might as well try and be fair about it. And in this context, they were certainly fairer than we are.

Dear Sydney, I'm hoping you can settle an argument between my father and me. As baseball fans, we have been following the Barry Bonds scandal closely. My father thinks that anyone taking steroids should be kicked out of sports. I think, who cares? They all do it. Why make such a big deal about the inevitable? Now they make performance-enhancing drugs that can't be traced anyway, making it all the more difficult to prove. If this is what it takes to compete, then I don't see that it's for us to judge one way or the other. My father, on the other hand, will no longer attend Giants games with me, so offended is he by the idea that someone he once revered could be a drug user. What's your take on the steroids thing?--Bonds Fan

Dear Fan: Sport games are constructed around a series of rules, and each of these rules is, or should be, rigorously enforced. Otherwise you wouldn't be playing a game, you'd just be having fun. No rule-breaking allowed in sports. It's in a book, and there's a referee; there's no room for interpretation. At this point, it's against the rules for a baseball player to use performance-enhancing drugs. If an athlete uses them, then he or she is cheating. Maybe this is an outdated rule, one that doesn't confront the reality of what professional sports has become, what the audience expects to see and the performance level that is demanded.

We want to see Barry Bonds hit a home run! We don't care if he has to snort five lines of cocaine before the game, as long as he hits it out of the park. But the rules haven't been changed, so in this context, your father is right. If the rules say no steroids, that means no steroids. If athletes want to have the right to take performance-enhancing drugs--if they believe this is a necessary aspect to the game--then they should lobby to change the rules. Let the players take the initiative.

'Ask Sydney' is penned by a Sonoma County resident. There is no question too big, too small or too off-the-wall. Inquire at or write [email protected].

No question too big, too small or too off-the-wall. Ask Sydney.