Saturday, October 3, 2009

Sex Tips for Seniors

The metaphysical poets regarded every sexual consummation as a tiny death. Of course, studies have shown that, among the elderly, the imminence of death is inversely proportional to the frequency of sexual activity—something Marvell and Donne would undoubtedly have been thrilled to hear. But speaking of endgame scenarios, Nagg and Nell, the aging couple encased in garbage cans in Samuel Beckett’s classic drama, offer a heartening depiction of the wealth of sexual possibilities available to couples in their golden years.

The fact is that geriatric sex opens up a world of opportunity, with dementia unlocking the doors of inhibition. Retirement colonies are notorious for STDs, and rape is not uncommon. The French author Héléna Marienské sets her racy novel Rhésus in an old-folks home whose residents are invigorated by the introduction of a free spirited Bonobo.

Cialis ads on television advertise sexual readiness that lasts for 36 hours, so that old-timers can be ready when the time is right. Is there a Princess “cruise to nowhere” that offer Cialis and Lipitor cocktails with little umbrellas right before Bingo?

Carpe diem should be the byword for all aging couples when it comes to sex. What happens when an 85 year-old woman tells her husband she’d rather wait until tomorrow, and tomorrow never comes?

The painter Lucien Freud was the poet of imperfection, and his portraits of unwieldy naked figures (like overweight performance artist Leigh Bowery) are liberating to aging couples who feel inhibited about the exhibitionist romps that are the joy of foreplay. On the other hand, Courbet’s “The Origin of the World,” with its luscious study of wide-open feminine glory, is hardly the appropriate prescription for an aging woman who is self conscious about her vaginoplasty.

Every Sunday, The New York Times Book Review offers an ad featuring a photo of a very well preserved couple demonstrating their lovemaking techniques for any audience willing to buy the DVD. There are two programs offered, one for beginners, and one for aficionados who are seeking post-graduate degrees. The appearance of these ads, week after week, leads to one conclusion. The New York Times Book Review appeals to an older audience.


  1. Thanks for the hilarious(!?) example of mean-spirited age stereotyping. Remind me not to open The Screaming Pope again. What if I forget?

  2. Isn't that the point? There is something comforting about dissolution, at a certain point the things that mattered don't matter any more and perhaps that is one definition of peace. As the Buddhist oft quoted saying goes, "desire is but the beginning of suffering." Happy Trails! Francis


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