My physician smiles proudly as he launches into his spiel, “Oh, I took it! It worked all right, but I got all the side effects: nausea, headache, blue vision.” Blue vision: the side effect you rarely hear about. I don’t ask him for any more information.
For approximately three weeks, the sample boxes sit unopened in my cabinet. The sex has not been bad (at least from my standpoint), though the odds of my writing home about it are small. Several times my penis has become fatigued, my mind distracted with financial concern and self-doubt — just this morning, in fact. While reaching into the night table for the condoms, I felt myself losing grasp, a subtle deflation.
That night, my girlfriend Raegan springs it on me. “Let’s try the Viagra.”
Let me make one thing perfectly clear. Multiplicity was never my strong suit. In my college years I may have gone as many as three rounds, under extraordinary circumstances or with the assistance of mild hallucinogens. But as a general rule, once is the frequency with which I am most comfortable.
A C.E.O. friend of mine has just begun taking the stuff in order to maintain his busy schedule of balling Mediterranean strippers and barely-legals. He describes his own Viagra experiences in sports metaphors like: “Swinging a different bat” and “From a mudder to a stud” and “Seventh inning stretch.” He laughs knowingly when I ask him what that means.
I mark the time, swallow a pill and turn on the television.
So far nothing. An old Colombo is on.
“What if nothing happens?”
“Relax. Have a glass of wine.” Raegan says.
“Honey? I think I’ll skip the wine.”
It is now one hour later and I am feeling nothing except neurosis. I realize that there is one glaring omission from the list of “Possible Side Effects”: sudden gripping panic.
Still nothing. My worst fear is coming true: maybe even Viagra cannot help me. I think back to the cyst I had excised from my sacrum in my senior year of college. Mid-surgery, half-drugged, I reached back to illustrate my answer to the doctor’s question. “Don’t move!” He shouted. Now it hits me. He cut a nerve; maybe just halfway, just nicked it at the time, and now it’s completely severed, like an elevator cable that lets go one wire at a time. There will be no more erections. I resign myself to a life of exclusively cerebral pursuits.
To talk myself down, I repeat this mantra: “You will not get an erection just by taking this medicine.”
I move to the bedroom. “Eleven o’clock, Raegan. One hour.”
She’s in the bathroom, doing something unnecessary.
“One hour, sweetie.”
“I said, ‘okay!'”
You will not get an erection just by taking this medicine. I touch myself briefly and experience a near-immediate positive response.
“You’re being annoying.”
“One hour, hon.”
“If you keep this up, I won’t have sex with you at all.”
“If I keep this up, you better have sex with me.”
“You’re gross. I think that stuff stiffened your brain.”
“No, look. Check it out.”
“Oh, just take care of yourself. I’m not in the mood.”
I am unclear what part of the female psyche asks a man to score some Viagra, suggests a night for him to take it, documents the pill-swallow in pictures, but then threatens not to have sex with him an hour later when he is frantically stripping down.
Thanks in part to a merciful God and twenty minutes of tantric shiatsu foreplay with a miniature fingertip vibrator, Raegan is back in the mood. As is my own genitalia (and, might I add, completely of its own accord).
“Can you get me some water?” she asks, brusquely.
Incredulous but obliging, I pull back the covers, head into the kitchen, clean a glass, fill it with water and re-enter the bedroom. I have not been thinking about my penis. Nevertheless, my erection is unfazed. There is, essentially, a lock on the penis door: a one-way valve. My erection is its own independent entity.
I dim the lights, light some candles. We quench our thirsts. The lovemaking begins. Almost immediately, I notice a vaguely unpleasant tightening in my groin just beneath my testes. Independent of my direction, muscles I was not even aware existed are being called to action.
Something is radically different. First off, my erection is noticeably bigger than normal. Capillaries that have not seen the light of day since sophomore year are suddenly popping open — the battered levees breached by the cresting Mississippi. My penis is now so enlarged, I can feel the skin tightening in my face. I have become a threat to small Iowa towns. I enter Raegan and she, too, feels different. I’m exploring new ridges, ransacking vistas, lighting out for uncharted territory. Seventh-inning stretch. Bluntly put, I am fucking another woman’s vagina with somebody else’s penis.
But here’s the problem. There’s no arc, no complication of plot, no rise and denouement. Despite my stamina, it’s a strictly two-note song: in and out.
I can tell my girlfriend is unimpressed. The sex lacks panache, and I know it. My style is all out of whack. Where is the attentive romantic, the sensitive novelist? I try to concentrate for a moment, find my center, attend to Raegan’s needs. She orgasms but I’m not even close. Right now I’m a porn star, a pounder. I’ve got the jackhammer, and damn it, I’m going to drill.
Twenty minutes later, I’m still going strong so decide to talk myself into climaxing. Come on, Raegan’s half-asleep. What are you waiting for? A notarized request? Ready? On three.
After a sub-par orgasm, the erection abates normally, but I’m left with a lingering dissatisfaction, a desire to go at it again, as if to improve my standing among my fraternity brethren. And to top it off I’m not even sleepy.
“So what’d you think?” I ask timidly.
She looks over at me. “I like you the regular way.”
The greatest compliment ever given a man.
Steven Brykman and Nerve.com