The first week of the election campaign was so uninspiring, we decided to take the Viagra after all. It was bought a few weeks ago through the Internet for a story on impotence drugs online, and since then has been in the medicine chest, alongside the Panadol and the Band-Aids. It cost $500 for a bottle of 30 blue diamond-shaped pills and it arrived in the mail. The only alarming moment followed a suggestion from an honorable Age senior editor that we hand the bottle over to the police. I had visions of a bemused constable hurling the bottle onto a pile of contraband Viagra and The Age running a small story, “Police Viagra Crackdown”.
The best thing about the Internet is its subversiveness, the fact that it cannot be controlled. Viagra has the same appeal. One commentator suggested Viagra was a terrible thing because it would cause marriage breakdowns (indeed, one American woman is suing her husband because he left her after discovering Viagra). The commentator suggested that the real reason men stayed with their wives was that they were insecure about maintaining erections, an odd basis for a relationship in anyone’s language.
A sexual health expert in Sydney was anxious that Viagra would destroy his sex clinic because men would get Viagra from their GP. This was quite a good thing, I thought. Then he whispered, “but they’ll use it recreationally, especially the gays”. Oh, I thought, wondering about how envious some heterosexuals were of homosexuals because they seem to have so much wonderful, disgusting sex. And the disapproval of recreational sex, as opposed to medically-approved sex for old men with prostate problems, was obvious. Nobody minded that Bob Dole took Viagra, but the gays…
With plane-loads of Europeans travelling to America to get Viagra, maybe the medical authorities, who kept stating that this was definitely not a recreational drug, were hoodwinking us. They all knew something, but they wanted to keep it from us, as they merrily wrote out prescriptions for the stuff for themselves. The nice drug company Pfizer, anxious to avoid allegations that they were penis-obsessed, started trials with women. Male or female, engorgement is engorgement, after all. Everyone would be happy. We could all have orgasm after orgasm, erection after erection, whether John Howard took us into the new millennium or not.
I took the blue pill with a bowl of yoghurt and a banana while watching Martin Ferguson and David Kemp debate unemployment on the 7.30 Report. My husband took his with a glass of water as he was clearing the table. I thought I saw him thump his chest for a moment, but I think that was a joke. We had an hour to wait before the best sex we’ve ever had. Either that or a heart attack.
Viagra or no Viagra, the suburban chores had to be done. Our daughter had a long bath, while I washed the dishes and wondered whether the cream blinds, newly ordered, would be hopelessly impractical. My husband picked up a plastic bag full of rubbish and, with the bag in one hand, reached up to remove the kitchen clock from the wall with the other. He did this because our daughter was learning to tell the time and we’d promised to show her the clock. Unfortunately, the rubbish tipped onto him at this moment, and noodles dribbled down his front shirt and into his pocket. I reminded him that Viagra worked only when the parties were aroused.
As we got into bed, I noticed that my husband’s face was covered in red blotches and his ears were a burning red. Mine were as well, apparently, and we felt each other’s ears for a few moments, something which we hadn’t done in years. We had given two tablets to an acquaintance a few weeks earlier, and she had reported that she and her boyfriend had gone lobster red and the man had had an incessant nose bleed. A medically-trained friend said this was not a known side effect, but could be worrying if it related to a brain hemorrhage.
All I can report is that sex, apart from the red ears and a feeling of being flushed, was no different. Why did the Minister for Viagra, Dr Michael Wooldridge, bother “knocking Labor’s tax package off the front page” when he announced last week that the drug was now approved in Australia? Granted, it is not easy to relax when you’re thinking hard about whether or not you can discern any changes. But nothing went blue, and I don’t think anything was harder or wetter. “Maybe it’s a bit different,” my husband said, “but would you please stop asking?” “What did you think?” I asked, after it was over. “There’s one lesson from this,” he said. “Sex should not be a clinical experience.”
And that was that. I have no idea if he maintained an erection all night because soon after, we fell asleep, only to be woken briefly when our daughter wet her bed and climbed in with us. So much for a Viagra party.