It's important that we speak frankly. After all, we're talking about science here. Biology. Anatomy. Physiology. Maybe a little Psychology mixed in with it.
Leaving the purely academic domain for a moment, most of us would agree that of all our anthropomorphic, imaginary friends (Mother Nature, Father Time, Big Brother, Lady Luck and Uncle Sam), Mother Nature commands the most respect. And why wouldn't she?
Given her formidable track record and tool box full of catastrophic remedies, it's no contest really. And if there's one thing Mother Nature has made abundantly clear (attention: Hugh Hefner, Clint Eastwood and Larry King), it's that she doesn't want to see elderly men in a state of tumescence. She doesn't want them walking around with erections. In short, she doesn't want these old geezers getting laid. There, I've said it.
Consider the Big Picture. Not only was Mother Nature in total control of how human sexuality was to play out, but geriatric impotence happened to be a central feature of her plan. If she wanted men to continue to engage in sexual intercourse at the age of seventy, she would've arranged it -- just as she arranged for a woman's child-bearing years to begin with menstruation and end at menopause. Instead, she moved to limit it.
News item: A few days ago it was reported that the 83-year old movie star Clint Eastwood, who had recently ended his 17-year marriage to Dian Ruiz, a wife 35 years his junior, was already seen hanging out with an attractive, much younger woman. What, if anything, does this tell us?
A. 80 is the new 55.
B. Women are incredibly forgiving.
C. Clint Eastwood is a Viagra fiend.
D. Celebrity gossip dominates our culture.
E. Life is cruel.
Not to tip the scales, but I would put my money on answer "C." Speaking of Viagra, many of us still recall that after losing the 1996 presidential election to Bill Clinton, Bob Dole, a cranky, former U.S. senator in his mid-seventies, became a pitchman for Viagra. It's true. He appeared on national television, praising Viagra for having cured his impotence.
The contrast was startling, almost breath-taking. During the presidential campaign, Senator Dole talked seriously about such things as strengthening the U.S. military, overhauling our welfare system, and the importance of UN peacekeepers in Kosovo. After the election, he talked about the importance of maintaining a boner. Call me naive, but I found this juxtaposition disturbing.
Disturbing as well as hideous. Why "hideous"? Because Dole was too damned old to be going on national television and discussing his need for sexual intercourse. Just as Clint Eastwood is too old for it. I love Clint Eastwood movies. He's a great actor and a brilliant director. But with all due respect to Mr. Eastwood, when is this elderly gentleman going to realize that there is more to life than the pursuit of sexual orgasms?
If Viagra wants to increase its sales, they should hire a young celebrity, somebody whose premature impotence would elicit sympathy and concern, rather than disgust and horror.
Imagine if, say, Leonardo Di Caprio confessed to using Viagra. Now there's a pitchman worth every penny. Holding a bottle of those blue pills, Leo smiles into the camera and says, with a wink, "Viagra makes me feel like I'm... king of the world!"
David Macaray, an LA playwright and author ("It's Never Been Easy: Essays on Modern Labor," 2nd edition), is a former labor union rep.