Dear Starshine,

Any recommendations for how to remember your lover's name in bed? After nearly four years with the same guy, I've got a new one. And I cannot for the life of me remember his name when we're in the throes of it — and have to stop myself from using the last one's name. I get stuck saying "oh, babe" so that I don't accidentally yell, "oh, Mike" (ex's name) instead of "oh, Steve" (new guy). I'm constantly terrified. Suggestions?

Hold on just a sec. You want me to rustle up sympathy because there are too many men making you wail in ecstasy? OK, look, I'm going to help you, but only because there are too few people out there with truly enviable sex lives and you're so close.

I'll spare you the "maybe you're still stuck on the last guy" speech. Let's assume you're a big girl and you know what you're doing romantically; you just have more important things on your mind during intercourse than the meticulous doling out of proper credit. Good for you.

Memory experts say repetition helps. Try using his name a lot when you're not naked: "Can I offer you some delicious kale chips, Steve?" "Hey, Steve, who's your favorite brother-sister actor pair: the Cusacks or the Gyllenhaals?" "So, Steve, did I ever tell you about Mike?"

Visualization is supposed to help, too. Picture yourself having sex with Steve Buscemi or Steve Jobs. Or both of them at the same time. Then picture Stevie Nicks dancing into the now-crowded bedroom wearing too much fringe and singing vibrato. Then be really glad that you're alone with Steve Forgettable-name-guy instead.

When all else fails, I hear that rhyming exercises work. Say this 10 times: I'm with Steve this eve. He wears his heart on his sleeve. He hails from Tel Aviv. If I say "Mike," he'll leave.

Here's my problem with this whole endeavor, though: Do people really yell their partner's name during sex? It seems like something that only happens in porn movies — or when someone is deliberately trying to show her lover that she knows his name. Which you don't. So I wouldn't recommend it. What's wrong with "oh, babe"? Or your basic grateful animal sounds? It sounds like Steve is working hard, and quite successfully, at what he's doing. So stop interrupting the man with small talk.


Dear Starshine,

My sister and I were raised Jewish. We celebrated the high holidays and had bat mitzvahs at our temple. Before she married, my sister converted to evangelical Christianity, and has since raised her four children very much entrenched in her new beliefs. She is very vocal about her born-again Christianity, and our family has unilaterally supported her choices. Then this happened: My husband and I, along with our two daughters and my parents, recently visited my sister. Her 5-year-old son led the lengthy pre-dinner prayers, praying aloud each night that the rest of us would convert to their brand of Christianity. My sister did not correct him! WTF?

Religious tolerance is such a pretty phrase, isn't it? I practice it admirably until someone suggests that my children are going to hell.

I try hard to see proselytizing as an act of love — a genuine effort to protect the rest of us from unholy philosophies that these folks truly believe will be our fiery demise. Surely your young nephew means well.

But I also see proselytizing as an invitation: Oh! We're allowed to preach about our deeply personal spiritual understandings in this forum, whereas it's considered terribly ill-mannered in virtually all other settings?! Count me in!

Let your nephew parrot his parent's beliefs at the table. Let your daughters listen. Then, before the forks start flying, let it be known that you have a prayer to add. Recite the simple Hebrew blessing of the bread. Or if you're feeling particularly pulpit-y, try this: "Dear God, thank you for exposing our family to a variety of spiritual beliefs and practices so that we may better understand the choices that help people make sense of this beautiful, complicated adventure called life."

Then pray your sister gets some manners and enjoy your meal.

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