Okay, so what’s up with you these days?
Everybody knows that women approaching menopause are supposed to have LOW libido. How come you’ve got me on fire, 24/7? Did you somehow not get the memo?
I’m perplexed, because for decades you and I have been on a predictable itinerary. You sparked to confusing but exhilarating life in adolescence. You RAN my life in my 20’s, prompting crazy escapades, the learning of the phrase “crab lice” in a foreign language, and several long-distance moves. You coasted along at cruising altitude in those early marital years, before the precipitous (yet commonplace) decline brought on by childbirth, breast-feeding, and the numb exhaustion of having a baby attached, koala-like, to my body 19 hours a day. At which point you scrammed, just like you were supposed to, and I didn’t miss you. Indeed, I was grateful for the reprieve. We understood each other, Libido. You were so cool.
So, when my babies went off to pre-school and you nonetheless decided to extend your hiatus, I wasn’t all that worried. By then I’d figured out several reliable ways to prompt your reappearance. Small vacations, new lingerie, a naughty nap, a little marijuana—these simple measures brought you right back whenever I pined for you, just like a dinner bell calling an errant child home from the woods. You and I had a system, Libido, which seemed to work great. You stayed quiet until I called upon you to speak. Perfect!
Then financial worries, chronic bickering, and mutual non-caring sent you even farther down the down escalator, until eventually even my old faithful, killer weed, no longer always reliably worked to summon you.
Okay, part of it was that I had married the wrong man; I realize that. And, Libido, don’t get me wrong: it wasn’t really fair to expect you to pop by eagerly time and again for him if the problems between us were bigger than you. But (I now realize, in retrospect) things had gotten to the point where you scarcely registered a flicker for anyone. By 1999, I could have taken a naked hot tub with Patrick Rafter and you wouldn’t even have put in an appearance. Yes, it looked like you were gone for good, and that I was well on my way early crone-hood: reproductively obsolete, vagina as dry as some old sponge hidden deep underneath the kitchen sink, living in a peaceful (albeit colorless) post-sexual world.
Then I hit my mid-forties. BANG: you came back, with no invitation!
Since I hadn’t seen you in a very long time, I admit: I almost didn’t recognize you. The queer low-belly warmth, the racing pulse, the stammering around attractive strangers… at first these seemed to indicate a bizarre fugue state of some kind, an oddly pleasant form of mental illness.
But you persisted, and I finally recognized it was you, my good old prodigal Libido, returned at last! And not just for one quick hello; no, you began showing up everywhere. I’d be running errands, minding my own business in my stretch denim jeans and sensible haircut, when suddenly the cute guy behind the deli counter would flash naked, Adonis-like, across my brain as he handed over my cole slaw. I’d hallucinate the man behind me in line at the 7-Eleven backing me against the ice cream freezer and hiking up my skirt. And I was sorely tempted to bite my kid’s swimming instructor, right on the ridge of his oh-so-beautiful obliques. WHAT. THE. FUCK! It was no longer a case of me calling on you, occasionally, when I felt like it. You had grabbed the steering wheel and wrenched me right off the road, into a landscape of sexual fantasy, rap music, and brazilians.
The force of you has been absolutely astonishing, Libido. (Maybe it was that extra-long rest period that allowed you to conserve your strength?) You prompted a renewed interest in fashion and haircuts; you put me on a diet; for Christ’s sake, you even got me into Pilates! Then you blasted me, newly svelte, right out of my moribund marriage—for which I thank you. But also, unfortunately, you’ve stranded me in a weird age/sex drive no man’s land. (No pun!)
Here I am, with my crow’s feet and a streak of grey in my (newly styled) hair, yet in the same state of blissful-but-anxious heightened sexual alert of my 20’s. I look like a museum docent; I feel like a ho. You’ve placed smack between two worlds, Libido, and though it’s a sort of wonderful agony, I have to register my profound frustration and surprise at your timing.
Sure, lately, we’ve had some pretty cool adventures. You took me to that adult toy store—for the first time in my life!—where I discussed the relative merits of assorted colorful plastic dongs with a very nice, facially-pierced and neck-tattooed saleslady, someone I would never have otherwise met. You’ve prompted flirty conversations with security guards and contractors, waiters and CEOs. Best, you have gotten me laid again—with zero need for marijuana!!! And you have given me immense, profound sympathy for my 17-year-old son.
All in all, you have made things pretty freaking interesting, Libido, providing an effective slap-upside-the-head to a woman formerly in danger of sleepwalking the rest of her life away. So thank you. And welcome back.
Now, may I make one small request?
Will you please stay?