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Sex in the 60s

Sunday, September 23, 2012

I am single, and therefore I spend a lot of time thinking about sex, which is very different than it was 40 years ago when I was in my 20s and spent a lot of time having sex. You have no doubt heard this before, but in the ‘70s there was a tremendous amount of sex to be had in New York; it was the way it was when they talk about the oysters in the harbor, all you had to do was put out a hand and scoop it up: Hello there, lady, I just saw you walking down the street, would you like to have sex? No thank you, Gallant Gent, I have to organize my sock drawer, which will certainly take an hour, and by that time you will have given three women herpes, the worst sexually transmitted disease Greenwich Village has ever known, may science soon find a cure.

The women friends I talk to about this sexual drought say it is because we are in our 60s and men our age are interested only in women in their 40s, but my theory is that it has to do with work. I think men in their 60s have no energy for sex because they are putting everything they have into holding on to their jobs; they are clinging to the ledge as some middle manager jumps up and down on their fingers and they are tired.

Or else they are dead. This is a particularly disheartening development of finding yourself in Boomerville. You go flipping backward in your little mental Rolodex (one of those things I had in my $77 apartment) and wonder what happened to Endsley, that guy I went out with when I was 22, who got out of that fleabag Broadway hotel just before it collapsed and went back to Ohio and became a traffic reporter or something like that. He was kind of a macho jerk, but I was no model of restraint at the time either. Now, in our maturity, we would certainly be able to appreciate one another and it would be fascinating to see what he developed into. Then I Google him and find out that he died 15 years ago when his helicopter went down.

This is one of those things in Boomerville from which you cannot escape: When you get an e-mail with the subject line “Sad News” you tighten up because it is not going to be you couldn’t get tickets for “Book of Mormon” or the summer rental fell through, it’s going to be brain tumor or cancer or death.

Or maybe it will be a call like the one I got a few years back from my cousins, late one afternoon. Their father, my last surviving uncle, extremely fit at 77, was in a small upstate hospital where he had just received a diagnosis of an abdominal aneurysm. He had been told it would endanger his life to leave and he had to have immediate surgery.

Surgery for an aneurysm was not something I thought should be done by anyone but a specialist. And it was late in the day to try to find someone and I did not know a lot of doctors. But I knew one, a guy I had gone out with once or twice. I’ll call him Frank. We had met decades ago on a story, when he had just gotten out of medical school and I was just starting out and I paid no attention to him because he was a kid. Many years later, after he had become the sort of successful where you have a car and driver and not just to take you to the airport, we had a dinner or two, but for one reason or another, it never went anywhere. Now I called Frank.

“Give me five minutes,” he said.

Three hours later my family and I were at a big New York hospital meeting with a hot shot specialist, who rearranged his schedule to operate on my uncle the next day.

Soon after that I sent an e-mail to Frank, saying I had no idea how he had been able to pull in the head of the department, but my family and I were extremely grateful.

Frank shot back a note.

“A call to the president of —” [name of hospital deleted] — “will do wonders,” he said.

You know that bolt of lightning to the heart the French talk about? I felt something like that. Or maybe it was lower. I had always liked Frank, but now it was dizzying, can’t wait, do it in the park standing up lust. I also had a realization: What is sexy to a Boomer babe? A guy who has the power to get someone you love to the head of the department.

Frank and I made a date for dinner. I wore heels, which I wear only when I am planning on what my brothers call Doing Them the Big Favor, though in this case, what with the Boomerville drought conditions, you could have argued that favor-wise, I was on the receiving end.

Frank picked me up in the car and on the way to dinner had a running conversation with the chauffeur along the lines of: “You know how long I’ve known this woman? I was a kid when I met this woman. I’ve been in love with this woman for years.” Unusual, because this sort of sweet talk in the past had been delivered directly to me, but then none of the other guys I had been involved with had a chauffeur. I ate lightly, planning on a full night’s activities, which, what with the talk with the chauffeur and a little makeout session on the sidewalk before going into the restaurant, I figured, was a lock.

At evening’s end, when Frank walked me into the lobby, I asked the question I assumed was strictly pro forma.

“Would you like to come up?” I said.
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