04/04/2013 07:58 am ET Updated Jun 04, 2013

Behind Closed Doors

I was sitting with a group of old girlfriends; old being the operative word. We meet at each other's home, with our husbands, four times a year. Weather permitting, the men play golf while the women stay behind, wolfing down chips, nuts, cheese and crackers and kvetching about how impossible it is to lose weight. Over the years our conversations have moved from breast feeding and potty training to impossible teenagers to the aches and pains of aging.

On this particular afternoon we were raving about our talented, beautiful grandchildren and complaining about our husbands and their sex drives that showed no sign of dwindling. We wondered how it was that aging had zapped them of energy for yard work and housework, but they were always up for sex... (pun intended).

Our husbands would probably blush if they knew what we talk about when they're not around. I suspect they think we discuss shoe styles, recipes and 50 ways to sexually satisfy them. Those topics, seen slashed across covers of women's magazines, may be addressed in the Thirty-Something circle, but they rarely cross the lips of my Down And Dirty Well-Over-Sixty girlfriends -- especially if a bottle of Merlot is involved.

For years there has been a hushed battle between couples married 30 or more years. Most men in these relationships continue to want sex on a regular basis -- like once a day. Women also enjoy sex on a regular basis; but more like once a month. This issue may have remained under cover, so to speak, were it not for the creation of Viagra, and Senator Bob Dole's candid television talks about it back in 1999. These two events enlightened the world to the fact that older couples not only "do it" but are intent on doing it clear into senility. This drug has caused men to pound their chests and howl like Tarzan, while their Janes can often be found hiding in fetal positions, on the floor of closed closets.

The accepted theory is that man's desire for sex is nature's way of assuring propagation. Towards this goal God, in His infinite wisdom, created Little Helpers, in the form of Playboy Magazine, Fredericks of Hollywood, Victoria's Secret, and the Wonder Bra, and since when do men need a special bra to ensure that they'll notice women's breasts? Recent years have brought a litany of additional male enhancement drugs, with the little blue pill still leading the pack.

I thought I'd spice things up by asking my girlfriends direct questions about their sex lives. We're pretty candid with each other so I didn't think they would object. Each has been married over 40 years, with the exception of me. I had been married for 23 years, divorced for 23, and was now remarried, for eight years. We were all anxious to talk; mostly about our timeworn libidos.

"He wants sex every damn morning," complained Vicki." I can't sneak out of bed fast enough. His eyes barely open and he lunges for me."

"Well," Michelle chimed in, "I'm still asleep and looking like a raccoon with yesterday's smeared eye makeup, and morning breath that could wipe out a civilization, but does any of that matter to Don? Nooooo. 'There's only one thing I'm interested in,' he said, 'and it doesn't involve your breath or you face,' he winked."

"'Doesn't it bother you that I'm not mentally here to enjoy it with you? I asked him. "'Not at all,'" he answered. So we compromised. I told him he could do whatever he wanted with me so long as he didn't wake me up me in the process."

"I'm afraid to sleep with my back to Bob," said Vicki. "I did that once and was rudely awakened when he bulldozed me onto the floor in the throes of passion."

Denise smiled. "The best thing that ever happen to me was Al's blood pressure pills. They render him helpless."

"I've always enjoyed sex," I admitted, "but somewhere along the way my sex drive plummeted. I knew it wasn't fair to Mighty Marc, so my gynecologist suggested adding a little testosterone to my estrogen prescription, confident it would perk up my libido. It didn't. But it worked out great. My voice dropped an octave, and I grew facial hair, so Mighty Marc is no longer interested."

I continued probing. "Do you think another man, other than your husband, might be capable of turning you on?" I asked them.

"Absolutely." "Damn tootin'." "You betcha'." They each responded positively.

"So," I continued, "it's not that you have lost interest in sex; it's that you've lost interest in sex with your husbands."

"It would seem that way," giggled Michelle. "After 48 years with the same man it's like a robotic dance," she continued. "One. Two. Three. Moooan."

"It's like a new dress," said Sondra. "After wearing it a few dozen times it's hard to get excited about it anymore, and you find yourself wanting to head to the mall for something new."

Michelle jumped back in. "Viagra is killing me. Since his retirement, I swear, sex is Don's new hobby. I begged him to find something else to do; something that doesn't involve me, but he flashed an evil grin, and said it's more fun with me."

"A form of Viagra is being used by women," I said. "Some believe it helps and others say it doesn't. It's hard to know because it's difficult to measure impotency in women; we don't get erections. And there's so much more to deal with like difficulty getting aroused, painful dryness... "

"... and it can take so long to reach orgasm you're both certain the Messiah will come before you do," interrupted Michele.

Everyone laughed and shook their heads in agreement.

Nothing was solved at this gathering, but I think we were happy to discover we were not alone in the way we felt.

How comforting for men to know that when their sexual desire no longer matches their performance ability, there will always be doctors, scientists and the FDA working overtime to restore their joy and pleasure. It seems to me that if God could create majestic mountains, magnificent oceans and men with sex drives that last far beyond child bearing years, He could have put more time and effort into spicing up aging women's sagging libidos. As it is, the playing fields are not equal.

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