Finding the Doorbell



'Finding the Doorbell' rings true
with humor, honesty

By Matthew Ritger
The Dartmouth Senior Staff

The Dartmouth

A year ago, Cindy Pierce read aloud to me from the rough draft of the introduction to her book: "I am probably one of the few women to have her first orgasm in a college library bathroom stall, by herself and by mistake."

We were sitting at the cafe in the Hopkins Center with her co-author, Edie Thys Morgan. At that point the pair of "Hausfrauen," as they call themselves, had been toiling five days a week in the anonymity of our College cafeteria, preparing their book for the publisher.

That day in the Hop, I was working on a story for The Dartmouth about an upcoming performance of Pierce's one-woman comedy act, "Finding the Doorbell: Sexual Satisfaction for the Long Haul," which inspired the book of the same title. A year later, "Finding the Doorbell" has been published to a wide range of critical acclaim. The passage Pierce read to me then has a bit more polish in print.

"This book ... represents the actual sexual awakening of finding and 'ringing' the clitoris, an event that occurred for me relatively late in life, in a college library bathroom stall by myself and by mistake," she writes, on the first page.

Pierce and her husband are the innkeepers at the Pierce's Inn, just outside of Hanover — a ramshackle structure that looks like it may have once been a red barn but has since grown so many appendages and extensions that it now resembles something one of Cindy's kids might build out of Legos.

Thys Morgan is an Olympic ski racer turned freelance writer and mother.

You might not expect that these seemingly domestic wives and mothers could author a sex book, but that's exactly the point. Morgan and Pierce are on a mission to remarry the often divorced realms of monogamy and good sex.

"Finding the Doorbell" reads like a 188-page "Cosmopolitan" magazine for old — sorry, married people. Or maybe more accurately, it feels like a lurid sex magazine outfitted with your mother's commentary — if your mother happens to be both funny and brutally honest, that is.

Chock full of anonymous quotes from their research subjects (family, friends and friends of friends) and banter between the two women, "Finding the Doorbell" is like a sociological study conducted by comedians.

"Male, age 23" adds insight to a chapter on the sources of our sexual knowledge: "I had a pretty legit Catholic upbringing — it was clear you don't stick your wiener in a vagina you're not married to, that people die when they masturbate, etc."

For a college audience, this book can be a bit depressing, despite its humor. Designed to help couples lost in the sexual wasteland of marriage, the book idealizes college as the "Promised Land" of sexual freedom and knowledge — a paradise we're eternally getting farther from after graduation.

Perhaps this is why the two women felt more comfortable discussing their book in a College dining hall than in the other coffee shops downtown.

Additionally, Pierce and Morgan warn against the disintegration of men's "tribes" (close groups of guy friends — I think we call this a "pledge class" at Dartmouth) in the post-college years, which they see contributing to the dearth of a dialogue on sex and sexuality for middle-aged men. But there are more inspiring insights to be gained for a pre-marital audience, as well.

"Even though Bruce and I have a healthy, communicative and active sex life now," Pierce writes towards the end of the book, "I should be prepared for it to change over the years." Though this book has been described as the sex book for people who wouldn't be caught dead buying a sex book, the main goal is to open up the dialogue. With their humor and honesty, Pierce and Thys Morgan truly have provided a resource for anyone wondering if they're alone in the doldrums — which they're not — or anyone wondering how to avoid this dissatisfaction down the road. An open mind and a sense of humor can cross even the driest sexual desert, in Pierce's opinion.

"Who knows, maybe when I'm 80, I will be swinging from a trapeze with a vibrator in one hand and Ben Wah balls in the other, ready to steam it up," she writes. "I'd better be careful — Bruce may hold me to that."

The Dartmouth — April 15, 2008

— Read another article