A suburban madam? Constant busts of local nail salons as fronts for sordid activity? What in the wide, wide world of sin and transgression is going on in our good, clean suburbs? You used to think of “Sex in the City” and--well, perhaps: “No Sex in the Suburbs.”
Seriously, from John Cheever’s day and onward, suburbia has always been thought of as stultifying, a place of hopeless longing where our libidos go to curl up and die. But look at any police blotter these days and you might catch sight of the emerging truth.
We are, actually, a den of depravity.
Greenwich Police, probably best known for directing traffic in white gloves, now break up prostitution rings. Westchester County police have all but used battering rams to arrest nail salon workers offering more than a buff. Under relatively recent legislation, the Connecticut legislature even passed a law designed to force massage parlors in its genteel state to keep it classy.
How did our collective morality turn rancid? What happened to our unimpeachable sexual credentials?
There is no freedom of information act a reporter can file to find out what’s going on between the sheets, so whatever stirs in the soul of the PTA might remain secret.
But are these unbearable urges new? If so, can we dial down our desires? Or has society (urban and suburban) merely coarsened beyond measure?
A friend who asked to remain nameless (for obvious reasons) scoffed. He said sex wasn’t invented yesterday, in the city or suburbs, and the recent array of scandal only speaks to more people in the suburbs and an admission, long overdue, that we are not a perfect society.
Another posited that police and prosecutors, with their budgets in peril, are concentrating on splashier arrests—and what’s splashier than sex? As always when it comes to sex, there are no easy answers. But what do you think? Have we changed? Or have the basic tenants of human nature merely bubbled to the surface in the suburbs, where they were probably lurking all along?
Marek Fuchs is the author of "A Cold-Blooded Business," the true story of a murderer, from Westchester, who almost got away with it. His upcoming book on volunteer firefighting across America, “Local Heroes,” is due out this year. He wrote The New York Times' "County Lines" column about life in Westchester for six years and teaches non-fiction writing at Sarah Lawrence College, in Bronxville. Follow him on Twitter: @MarekFuchs.