Following is a chapter from my brand new novel, available now on Amazon and B&N. This is an on-air conversation between Rex, the man character, and one of his nighttime callers. :
“Hi Rex, my name is Emily and it’s very difficult for me to call you.”
“Hello Emily. I’m glad you called. Maybe we can do something that will make it easy for both of us.”
“That’s fine, I think the best way for me is to just launch right into it,” she said, hardly taking a breath.
“Take your time Emily. There’s no rush.” I sat back in my chair and dropped my shoulders to relax.
“I’m 56 and my husband is 71. We’ve been together for more than 20 years and we’ve had a great time together. But now, at this stage of our lives, something has come up. I don’t have any friends I can talk to about this, but I heard your show the other night and thought I’d take the chance.”
“Well, I like you already and I hope we can say something that will help. You have my complete attention.”
“You see, I’m kind of out of my prime, you might say. I’ve gone through menopause, my hormones have changed, I’ve lost some pep and—this is the real burr under the saddle—I’ve lost interest in sex.”
“Uh-huh, that can happen,” I said. “And is that an issue for you, for your husband or for you both?” There were a few seconds of silence.
“Well, I’d have to say all of the above. He still wants to have sex. I don’t. He gets hurt and mad, takes it out on me. I like him less and grow more distant. It’s a problem for both of us.”
“Seems like it’s a bigger issue for him. He wants you, can’t get what he wants, gets angry. But it might be OK for you if the whole thing never came up –is that right?”
“That sounds about right. I guess. I mean I’d like to know more about what’s going on with me and if it really is ‘the end’ for that part of my life.”
I heard the voice drop and the tears come in.
“Yeah,” I was nodding. “I get that.” I paused, then said: “Sounds like you don’t really want it to be the end of your sexual life.”
“I don’t. I don’t. I miss it.” Another long pause. I hear a big inhalation. “Rex, what can I do?”
“First you can tell me a little about what your husband wants and what is point of view is like.”
“OK, to be fair, my husband, bless his heart, does appreciate the fact that I’ve gone through some changes, so he doesn’t really mean to blame me. He’s just frustrated. So he says to me, something like: ‘look honey we can still be amorous and affectionate. We don’t have to have intercourse just because I start rubbing your breasts. We can do what we want to do, we can stop in the middle, we can go on, it’s up to us’. I think he really misses being touched.”
“Yeah, and what do you think of that?”
“I like the free choice part. Then he says: ‘You can put me in your mouth. I can put you in mine. We can rub each other’s genitals. It doesn’t have to be exactly like it used. Maybe orgasm isn’t so important. Maybe we can do lots of things that don’t lead to the big bang.’”
“I have to say Emily, that I understand him so far and I kind of agree with him. He’s asking for what he wants and what he wants is not that unusual. And I heard you say he misses being touched.”
“He’s told me that. He just says openly to me: ‘Can’t you touch me a little more than you do, rub my shoulders, hold the back of my neck the way you used to, pat me on the butt?’”
“How’s that feel to you?”
“Sad. And guilty. I’m sad that he’s sad. But I don’t seem to be able to change anything.”
I leaned into the mike and lowered my voice. “Since I’m talking to you and not your husband, I want you to look at the question we voiced a moment ago: Do you want this to be the end of your sexual life?”
“No,” she nearly shouted. “But Rex, I don’t know how to want something I don’t want.
“Oh I hear you. It’s what happens to that want that I’m intrigued by. We both know that a piece of this is physical and chemical and it’s something I strongly urge you to ask you doctor for help with. But you and I put that aside and look at the relationship part is.” I was getting enthused.
“Stick with me a minute Emily. I believe that energy, the life spark or the attraction we feel for someone comes out of close contact. Life happens because of two forces contacting each other. It’s like a couple of magnets with polarity –if they’re far away from each other, nothing is happening. As they come closer to each other, it becomes important whether they’re going to repel each other or be drawn closer. Do you get that picture?”
“Sure, though I don’t know what it means to me and my husband yet.”
“Right, I’m just getting warmed up. What happens over time is that the magnets drift away from each other so they don’t exert the same pull they did when they first hooked up. It may not be dramatic, this distancing, but ever so gradually they lose their influence on one another and they lose energy because of it.”
“OK,” Emily said, hesitated and let out a breath. “So what we need to do is get back in touch with each other?”
“I think you do. I’m hesitant to tell people what they need to do. I would just like it if you heard me and did what you wanted to with what you heard.”
“I respect that. But give me just a little more road map here. Give me a suggestion or two.”
I liked Emily even more. Over the past 10 minutes she had softened and become more open. Her energy was different, more receptive and somehow more feminine.
“OK. First, the energy in the personal relationship matches the energy in the sexual relationship. If there’s not personal contact, there’s no sexual contact. And in this case I think it’s vice versa, at least for your husband.”
“Gotcha. I can see that.”
“So you can pull those magnets closer together, come into the border of contact and liven things up. And how do you do that, he said, anticipating her question? You do that by being completely who you are in the moment, by being completely open, by listening better than you’ve ever listened in your life and by staying with the other’s experience as well as your own.”
“Wow, sounds like a lot of work. It also sounds exciting.”
“There you go. It is exciting. It’s exciting because you are facing each other at close range. And Emily, the same thing is true physically. I urge you to try some new things and try some old things in new ways. Listen to some of your husband’s suggestions and see if you can try them. They might just be fun.”
“I hear you Rex. I guess I’ve gotten a little complacent, I guess.”
“It happens to all of us, believe me. And I want to say one more thing:
If you or your husband were going to die tomorrow, wouldn’t you want to touch him?”
“A lot more than that, Rex, lot more.”
“Emily, thanks for calling. Be good to yourself.”
I sat back with a grin on my face, feeling good about the call. I caught Stan waving to me out of the corner of my eye. He got my attention then pointed to the phone. There was one more call and he wanted me to take it.
I punched the flashing light.
“Hello, Rex, this is Peter and you were just talking to my wife.”
“Well, hello Peter. How can I help you?”
“You don’t need to help me. I just wanted to add to and clarify my position. I liked your conversation with Emily and I’d just like to say a little more.”
“Great. Shoot.” I was relieved he didn’t call with a complaint and rebuttal.
“I think we’re missing something, Emily and I. We’re missing the chance to be amorous with each other. That’s my favorite word for it. It’s sexual without necessarily being genital. It’s a reflection of deep love for each other expressed physically. Are you with me?”
“Absolutely,” I said and meant it.
“I think everyone needs to be touched. It’s a matter of health to me. As I’ve gotten older I’ve appreciated all kinds of touch on different parts of my body. With my wife, I have the chance for that touching to be erotic and somehow connecting for us. And I don’t want to give that up.”
“Peter, you heard the conversation. Maybe now she’s ready to try. Maybe she didn’t completely understand what you needed.”
“That’s possible Rex, though I’ve said it many times. I’m going to try again; she’s in the next room.”
“Go for it Peter. And I’ll be thinking of you.”