Maralyn Lois Polak is a Philadelphia-based journalist, screenwriter, essayist, novelist, editor, spoken-word artist, performance poet and occasional radio personality. With architect Benjamin Nia, she has just completed a short documentary film about the threatened demolition of a historic neighborhood, "MY HOMETOWN: Preservation or Development?" on DVD. She is the author of several books including the collection of literary profiles, "The Writer as Celebrity: Intimate Interviews," and her latest volume ofMore ↓Less ↑
You are living your life out loud like a Rolling Stones lyric: “I can’t get no… I can’t get no… I can’t get no satisfaction,” and it’s beginning to bother you. So, naturally, you think of Viagra — the friendly drug that can resurrect moribund marriages, wilted relationships, droopy dates, and flaccid bodily parts.
You are among the millions upon millions of Americans that a recent survey has revealed are, um, sexually dissatisfied. Perhaps you no longer have any interest in sex, or you are unable to experience orgasm. Or, it’s the erection thing. Perhaps you suffer from some other sexual dysfunction. And so you are ripe for Viagra.
Obviously your name is not Bill Clinton. The Prez doesn’t need Viagra, though unkind conjecture has it that Ken Starr might, and that could make all the difference between indictment and enlightenment.
You are ripe for Viagra, the fastest selling drug ever — 40,000 prescriptions a day, approved by the FDA March 27, 1998. Although, it may be banned by a few other more intelligent and less market-driven nations chary at the steady stream of deaths — nearly 150 in America alone — mostly heart attacks, that are associated with Viagra-users. “Older guys,” you complacently shrug, “already on their way out anyway. At least they died happy, with a smile on their face.”
Yeah, older guys, like the 52-year-old dude in Perth, Australia, who hired a hooker, took Viagra, and croaked.
You are ripe for it, a panacea in a pill, the American way.
“Welcome to the new world of sexual medicine,” says Dr. Stephen Lamm of Manhatta, author of “The Virility Solution.”
And Viagra can come in sooo handy for that pesky ISD, inhibited sexual desire, (to be differentiated from ISP, Internet service provider), so frequently a side effect among the 20-plus million hapless denizens of Prozac Nation and its satellites Zoloftia and Paxillated. One hand washes the other, doesn’t it?
Never mind MY runaway imaginings, fueled by nightmarish headlines warning of permanent, priapic erections for vacationing men using Viagra as a party drug. Soon I inevitably envision legions of men who, while “on” Viagra, fall hopelessly in love with whatever nearby homely objects their gaze first lingers upon — garden hoses, Harley Davidsons, baseball gloves, beat-up Honda Civics, golf clubs, ferrets, parking meter maids, bill collectors — reducing love, or in this case, lust, to a series of pharmaceutically engineered encounters increasing blood flow to one’s “no-no place” or nether regions. Little more than a mere itch to be scratched, rather than spiritual communion with a soul mate. Did I really write that?
And if you are taking nitrates, say, nitroglycerin, for a heart condition, forget Viagra or you could die!
If you will risk that, you will risk anything.
You long to take Viagra in a sauna with a Baywatch babe/Rhodes scholar who sings like Nana Mouskouri, before she explains to you exactly how dangerous that might be — your own personal auto-da-fe.
You are ripe for it, though Pfizer, the pharmaceutical giant that manufactures Viagra, it turns out — SURPRISE!! — has a previous connection with the pair of prime investigators of that VERY study which has been labeled “stunning” and “the most comprehensive US sex survey since the Kinsey report.” Both authors were, in the not-so-distant past, paid Pfizer consultants for Viagra. What a stunning coincidence!
Meanwhile, I am certainly not the first to note that Kinsey is an unfortunate name to invoke under these circumstances. His “findings” have been shown to be compromised — ever since it was revealed that Alfred Kinsey was seeking mass legitimization for the twitchy, furtive sexual variations he was drawn to. Does this mean we now have TWO “landmark studies” of our alleged sexual circumstances that are truly Dirty Science, toxic marketing wastes seeping into the culture and contaminating our expectations, a statistical Love Canal?
Though Viagra has captured millions upon millions of Americans’, er, hearts, not-so-private parts, and wallets, my friend Lily of Cleveland has tried Viagra, and she ain’t no fan. “Viagra made my heart race… and pound… and leap. And I didn’t like those feelings. For me,” apologetically smiles the pretty blonde, 45 and holding, who claims her erotically inclined boyfriend has an open-ended prescription for the drug, though Viagra has yet to be FDA-approved for chicks.
Her honey likes the idea of marathon wild monkey sex, making love unabated, for six hours at a stretch. Six hours? You could finish a good book, or even fly to Bermuda and back in that time. Some folks might rather travel.
Is America at the millennium sex-obsessed? With our own genitals, with those of the President, and now, apparently, with even those of the TeleTubbies? Not everyone.
But something’s definitely up. Sex, like TV, is the opium of the people. And it’s all about marketing. Last week, as the Impeachment trial reached fever pitch, within three days I receive THREE Viagra solicitations via e-mail, sent to my definitely female screen name. Three “opportunities” to order “the miracle drug” via the Internet without the normal protective procedures doctors follow in prescribing medication, such as examining patients in person. Hey, guys, read my lips: I am not impotent. Nor do I have “compromised sexual function.” Furthermore — Ixnay!! — I am not even slightly interested in an online consultation, particularly one that “takes less than five minutes,” even if it is “discreet and in the comfort of my own home or office,” which are for all practical purposes identical. Nor do I yearn to “join people across the country who experience pleasure like never before.” Um, no, spelled N-O, I do not wish to “receive this breakthrough medication without leaving my computer.” Leave my computer? And miss Calabash? You gotta be kidding.
Nevertheless, bright and early Monday morning on Presidents Day — how appropriate — I hoof it over to my local pharmacy, Jomici Apothecary in downtown Philly. “No, I haven’t heard of any patients having problems with Viagra,” says the pharmacist. Obligingly, she hands me the Viagra prescription information. Never in my life have I seen anything like it. This is a scroll, 33 inches long, two inches wide, like a sacred Pest Strip. Printed on BOTH sides in VERY SMALL type, are FIVE FEET of claims, charts, clinical studies, precautions, biochemistry, descriptions, exhortations, instructions, explanations, warnings, side effects, drug interactions, and other caveats in pseudo-scientific jargon that approaches gibberish and borders upon glossolalia. You read this sucker, you lose all inclination for sex, guaranteed.
One of the great truisms of modern pharmacological medicine is “There’s no such thing as a pure effect.” Meaning, you play, you pay! Side Effects Rule!! Also meaning, if you are considering ordering Viagra via the Internet, don’t be an idiot, wait at least until you are evaluated in person by a LIVE physician!!! And so, as a public service to WND readers, I have pored over the sex drug’s five feet of data and encourage you to do so as well before you do anything as rash as popping one of those seductive blue pills before you have seen your personal physician. Here, then, is an abridged Viagra Worry List.
“A thorough medical history and physical examination should be undertaken to diagnose erectile dysfunction, determine potential underlying causes, and identify appropriate treatment.” Check with a doctor.
“There is a degree of cardiac risk associated with (any) sexual activity….” Certainly if you have a heart condition and are taking nitrates such as nitroglycerin, Viagra is a no-no. Check with a doctor.
If you have sickle cell anemia, multiple myeloma, leukemia, retinitis pigmentosa, or Peyronie’s disease, Viagra might not be for you. Check with a doctor.
If you are taking MAO inhibitors (such as certain anti-depressants), Viagra is not for you. Check with a doctor.
If you’re young and virile and reckless and looking for new thrills, Viagra is NOT a party drug for a wild time at your favorite club. Don’t abuse it, don’t misuse it. You can permanently ruin your equipment that way. Check with a doctor.
Fortunately, not everyone is in love with Viagra. “Personally, I think impotence is God’s way of telling some men they are too old and ugly to (fornicate),” says an always outspoken online acquaintance, Ron from LA. “Real men don’t need Viagra,” says Ian, another California-based Internet buddy. That’s definitely a point of view, isn’t it?
So guess what Medical Science has come up with now? Just what we need. You got it. Viagra nasal spray that starts working in five to fifteen minutes. I can’t wait.