I hate my vibrator, it makes me feel an absolute fool. It’s a big, fondant pink Rabbit, presented to me two weeks into a new relationship, a couple of years ago. Make of that what you will. An acknowledgement of diminutive stature, of unaddressed erectile dysfunction or an obsession with filling two holes at the same time? I know Mr G was 70 but I expected a little more romance and a little less practical instruction. Anyway, I find I need Bunny’s abilities while at the same time hating his inabilities. I feel guilty but elated every time I use him, in equal measure.
What’s a 67-year-old widow with a lust for life, and a rediscovered self-respect, to do? When I drag Bunny out of his hiding place in my bedroom chest of drawers in the afternoon – not the evening, because one of my children lives at home and I’m still getting over the time my son heard it throbbing away on automatic among my socks and pants – I reassure myself that it’s good exercise for my pelvic floor and my mechanical heart, if not my emotional heart. If I read one more article in the dailies extolling the myriad physical benefits of regular sex, and especially orgasms, in later life, I may very well self-combust. Because they’re always illustrated with the stock photo of a smiling, grey haired, Caucasian heterosexual couple. Luckily, I’m good at doing things on my own.
Trouble is, I’m no longer willing to offer up my body for half a bottle of red and a nice dinner, whether via Tinder or Guardian Soulmates. And if I’m honest about my age I get no punters anyway. The last person a 67-year-old man wants to have a bit of rumpy-pumpy with is a 67-year-old woman, it seems. All I get from app dating is young flibbertigibbets who think I’m gagging for them to teach me a thing or two. I’m not and they couldn’t. When first widowed, many years ago, I was amazed at the rampant reality of the ‘Mrs Robinson’ phenomenon and I didn’t always turn them down. Now, stuck up here on my pedestal of propriety and higher moral boundaries, I look out on a desert peopled only by internet dating geriatrics whose sole friend is a webcam and who have a very dodg y taste in interior decoration.
‘You think I’d want to have sex with you? With those curtains?’
Shamefully, I’m rapidly in danger of becoming a perv. I mentally undress men in the park, fantasising about what lies beneath those Boden cords or Gap jeans. I stare at their packets as I sit opposite them on the tube. I don’t drool, twitch or rub my thighs à la Vic and Bob, but my imagination could get me arrested.
I miss a man’s warm body in my bed with an ache that not even Pepto Bismol could shift and I’m not prepared to accept second best out of sheer desperation. I want to be made love to, I want to be stroked and tickled with gentleness and respect. Not just to be fancied and ravished but also talked to intelligently afterwards, preferably about politics or food.
My children think I should be grateful that I had more than 30 years with their father and leave it at that. But we never went longer than a couple of weeks without sex, even when he was having chemo. After he died, I spent too long throwing myself at any man who could satisfy my urge for a healthy, male body. It was years before I understood that this behaviour was primarily about my urge to feel loved and protected again. The tender memories of my marriage have left me feeling incomplete without a man. So I’m sorry, sisters, if you think I don’t sound much like the feminist I purport to be, but the truth is I like sex, I like it regularly and with the right person, it’s fun. I also like gossiping about our friends at the end of the day, in bed with the dog and Radio 4. But better the high ground than the swamp. So in the meantime, thanks for the Rabbit, Mr G.
This article first appeared in the launch issue of The Amorist.
Elaine runs writing, meditation and walking holidays in Spain & Wales. Visit: http://write-it-down.co.uk/