PUMPING IRONY: The Joy of Manopause

The geezer virility industry demands that we pay more attention to fantasy than reality.

Hugh Hefner and Chrystal Harris
Newlyweds Hugh Hefner, 88, and Chrystal Harris, 28. Poster couple for the geezer virility industry.

Time magazine this week featured a cover story on “manopause,” highlighting the latest trend in the geezer virility industry — testosterone therapy. It seems guys my age are flocking to these clinics in an effort to stiffen their resolve in the boudior. I think it’s more about trying to realign their reality to match their fantasies.

Lots of interesting things happen to a guy’s body as it slides into advanced middle age, but none is more vexing than when it stops doing what it used to do while in the throes of passion. You go through adolescence and early adulthood with a certain part of your anatomy always on alert (often embarrassingly so), and then one day you discover it just seems to have lost all interest (often embarrassingly so). And then, at some point slightly further down the line, you find (much to your surprise) that you don’t really much care.

This, frankly, can take some getting used to. I mean, most guys spend the greater portion of their adult lives thinking about sex, and to suddenly find that topic plummeting toward the nether regions of your to-do list is quite strange at first. Even a bit frightening, I suppose, if you feel like you’re less of a man if you’re not obsessing about your next roll in the hay.

The geezer virility industry relies upon this sort of thinking for its survival. As long as guys my age harbor adolescent fantasies about conjugal bliss, the makers of Viagra and Cialis, and the clinics offering eternal sexual vigor via testosterone therapy are going to do a brisk business.

Hugh Hefner is the poster boy for this industry. Now 88 years old, the original playboy is married to a 28-year-old model, Crystal Harris. I saw them interviewed on some TV show a couple of years ago, when they were newlyweds, and old Hef waxed poetic about the wonders of the little blue pill.

Now, to be fair, I suppose it’s possible that young Ms. Harris carries with her some expectations for intimacy from her legendary husband, and I suppose any certified geezer who by some odd twist of fate finds himself courting the affections of a much younger partner might have occasion to rely on these products and therapies to meet the demands of the moment.

But, let’s face it, guys: You ain’t Hugh Hefner and neither am I.

Most of us are wandering through manopause with wives or partners similarly occupied with the vexations of menopause, a phase that, conveniently enough, features a libido idling mostly in neutral. And if you’ve been together for a couple of decades or more, you both probably understand that this is just another chapter in a long and fascinating journey.

It’s all about companionship now, and while there will always be times when the stars align and you’ll revisit that passion that once seemed so necessary, more often it will be the small gestures of affection that will keep you going. You won’t need any pharmaceuticals to make that happen, no jolt of testosterone to appreciate how much you mean to one another.

Once you get to this place, it’s a lot easier to put this geezer virility thing in its proper perspective. I’m sure old Hef is a happy octogenarian with his young bombshell and a cabinet full of Viagra, but I gotta say, I wouldn’t change places with him for anything.

, an Experience Life deputy editor, explores the joys and challenges of aging well.

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