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Aroused! - Part 3
Ben Jolsey is seeking treatment for his erectile dysfunction and the greater problem of his loss of interest in sex. He has just visited Dr. Jay, who specializes in sexual dysfunction, and in this session has remembered the circumstances surrounding his German shepherd dog, Dempsey’s sad death.
When Ben left Dr. Jay’s office, he felt confused and shaky. At least, he thought, “My anxiety is gone. Now I begin to see that my problem is probably just that I identified so much with Dempsey and his embarrassment! I made his problems, mine. When he died he took my libido with him.”
Ben walked out of the office building and saw a coffee shop across the street. A latte would taste good, and he could think a bit about this revelation. He took a seat in the coffee shop with his double latte next to the window while his mind started to slow down a little. He began to feel pretty good. It occurred to him that if, indeed, his problem was caused by the circumstances of Dempsey’s death then he could begin now to separate himself from the dog and get on with his life. Why it hadn’t occurred to him before that the dog had a part in all this, he did not know. The mind is complicated and full of hidden places, he realized.
As he stared vacantly out the window, a familiar figure stepped out of the entrance to a building of apartments just across and down the street. It was Jill! Goodness! What could she be doing there? She was wearing that lavender suit with high heels and a white silk scarf. She walked along jauntily with a smile on her face. She looked beautiful, positively glowing. Ben hardly recognized her as the same plain wife he had last seen this morning. She crossed the street and walked up the sidewalk towards him. She was going to pass right by the window next to him! He scrambled to get up just as she turned to look straight at him. Their eyes locked and she stopped in mid-step. Then she turned around, walked back to the coffee shop door and came in.
Ben still stood by his chair, holding onto the back of it to keep it from tipping over. Jill sat down in the seat across from him.
“Sit down, Ben. Sit down.” She looked around to see if anyone was watching, but the shop was practically empty. No one was looking. She frowned at him. “What are you doing here, Ben?”
“I was about to ask you the same thing!” He picked up his drink and sipping, almost choked. “Can I get you a latte?”
“No, thanks. I’m so surprised to see you here.”
“No more surprised than I am! I guess I might as well tell you. I’ve been seeing a doctor across the street.”
“A doctor!” Jill gasped. “Is there something wrong with you?”
“Well, yes. Yes and no. Nothing that’s life-threatening. I’m seeing a specialist about a sexual problem.”
Jill looked amazed. “A sexual problem?”
“I guess you already know, I have a problem! At least I would hope you would have some idea. It hasn’t occurred to you that I have a problem? No sex in five years and you don’t even notice?” His voice is rising.
“Shhhhhhh!” Jill whispered, “Of course I noticed! I’m not completely oblivious to you!”
They sit staring out the window at the empty street, not wanting to look at each other. Ben caught a whiff of Jill’s softly floral perfume; it brought memories with it and he felt he could not breath for a moment. Then he looked at her and realized by the expression on her face that something was very wrong.
“And you, Jill, what are you doing in this neighborhood? Visiting a fertility specialist?” Ben can’t help sounding a bit sarcastic.
“No. I will tell you, but you have to promise not to get upset.”
“That makes me upset!”
“Yes, I know. But I don’t want you to make a scene. Perhaps we should just go on home and talk about it there.”
“No. I need to know now. I don’t think I’d be able to drive right now. You might as well tell me what you are up to. I promise not to make a scene.”
“OK.” Jill looked down at her hands gripping the table. “I’ve been visiting my lover. He lives over there.” She nodded towards the apartments across the street.
Ben put his hands over his face.
“See. I knew this wasn’t a good idea. Are you going to be ok?”
Ben’s shoulders are shaking. He is laughing. A bitter laugh escapes.
“Ahh. What a day. What a day! Of course! You have a lover! Of course! I am the stupidest man on Earth! Of course, you WOULD have a lover, wouldn’t you? I should have known.” He shakes his head, in wonderment, smiling a little.
“No. No. You aren’t stupid. But you are a bit obtuse. I mean, I tried so many ways to leave hints, to be discovered. I wanted to tell you. I started going to lunch with Milly three times a week. Didn’t that set off any alarms with you? I never even mentioned sex. I thought that was very, very strange not to mention it. I thought eventually you would come and ask me why, and then I would have the opening to tell you about Daniel. But you didn’t even say ‘boo!’ and I was beginning to wonder if we would just go on forever like that!”
Ben takes his hands away from his face and stares at her. “Daniel?”
“I couldn’t very well have just walked up to you and said, ‘Dear, I’ve been seeing someone else. I have a lover. His name is Daniel.’ I really didn’t want to disturb our life together. Lately I’d been thinking you somehow knew about him and just didn’t want to bring it up and disturb things. That you didn’t want to change our life together either.”
“I did though. I wanted to change it. That’s why I’m seeing Dr. Jay.”
Ben drank the rest of his latte. “Tell me. Who is this man, this Daniel?”
“I met him at the garden club’s annual show three years ago.”
“Three years ago! Three years?”
“Yes. It’s been a long time, eh? He is a photographer for the newspaper. He was covering the show and took some photos of me. When he came to get my name for a photo caption we started talking. One thing led to another. I’ve been seeing him ever since.”
“One thing led to another! I just love that phrase. You just scooped each other up and went off to make love. Is that it? Is that what happens?”
“Never mind how it happens. That isn’t at all how it happened. We talked a lot. We had coffee a couple times when I was in town. The attraction was there. You know, you and I hadn’t been having a very good life in the bedroom by then! No sex life at all for us. And Daniel and I have a lot in common - he makes beautiful photos. He has a rooftop garden over there that is just fantastic. He keeps discovering new things all the time - gamalon music, boche ball games in the park, tango dancing! He is warm and affectionate. He gives me the physical pleasure, but its much, much more than that.”
“Then, you’re saying you’re in love with him.”
“Yes. I am.”
“And you’re leaving me?”
“I don't know about that! I don’t think so. I don’t want to. Daniel loves me, but he loves his life the way it is, and I love mine too! I love you too, and we have our family! But I don’t know if you’ll want me to stay. If we could go on as we were, you with your birds and golf and tennis . . .”
“And you with your lover?”
“Not exactly. Not just that. I have a full life there with you. It’s my home, my garden. I love it as much as I love you. Then there are the boys. No, I don’t want to leave.”
Somehow Ben and Jill found their ways back home. It was tense. They didn’t know what to say to each other. Ben took a comforter into the guestroom and closed the door that night. On Wednesday, the next day, they walked quietly and tried to go about their normal lives. The classical music, Liszt and Mozart and Haydn, that usually played any time they were in the house was silent now. Jill made the meals and Ben sat silently across from her, trying but not eating much. There were hushed calls Jill made on her cell phone. There was no more discussion of sexual dysfunction or the lover or their life together. No talking other than a few words.
Ben took out the tubes of Aroused and the Endurance supplement pills. He wrapped them up in a plastic bag and stowed them on the back of a shelf in his closet. The last thing he wanted right now was an erection!
He decided to call Dr. Jay for an emergency consultation that night, when he knew he was not going to be able to sleep at all until he talked to someone about all this.
Dr. Jay said, “What a shock, Ben, I know this is very traumatic! We should talk right away, but probably not on the phone. Your regular appointment is tomorrow. Can you wait until then?”
“I can wait. I needed to tell someone now. I just don’t know what to think. What to do. I can’t sleep. I am shaky and nervous and anxious and I want to scream or hit someone or cry. Maybe all of that.”
“If you don’t have any sleep medication, go buy an over-the-counter sleeping remedy and take it tonight. Keep your regular routine. Keep eating and drink lots of water. Don’t even try to talk to Jill yet. I’ll see you tomorrow - at, let’s see, I can put your appointment up to 10:00 AM. OK?”
“OK. I’ll be there. Thanks, Doc.”
When Ben came back with his sleeping pills Jill was sitting on the front steps in her robe, smoking a cigarette. “Jill! You quit smoking years ago! What are you doing?” He tried to take away the cigarette but she stood up and turned away from him so he couldn’t reach it.
“I need it.” When she turned back to face him he saw the tears on her face. “I need something.”
“Well, you don’t need to smoke.” He finally grabbed the cigarette and stomped it out with his foot. He put his arm around her waist and she walked into the house with him.
“Come on. I’ll make you a hot brandy.” They went to the kitchen where she sat at the table watching as he heated the water and took down the brandy bottle.
“Where did you go?” she asked.
“Just to the drugstore. I needed something to help me sleep. You see, I needed something, too.”
It was quiet, the clock ticked and the water in the kettle began to bubble and steam. Ben carefully added the sugar and water and brandy together in glass mugs and brought them to the table.
That sat sipping their drinks, not knowing what to say.
Finally, Ben said, “You know, I don’t want you to leave me, Jill. I don’t want you to go. I hope you’re not thinking you should go.”
She looked up at him and the tears started again. “Oh Ben, I know you don’t want me to go. I don’t want to go. But how will we live together now? How can anything be the same. I’m so sorry. So sorry.”
“It’s not all your fault. I should have been the one being warm and affectionate. I should have been finding new things to excite you. I’m a cold man. A boring man. I didn’t realize how unresponsive I’ve been. It’s not your fault. Don’t cry. Stop crying. Maybe it shouldn’t be the same anymore. Maybe it should be better! I can’t talk to you if you cry! I can’t stand all these emotions!”
He reached across to take her hand. “Please stop crying. We should just not talk. Doctor Jay said not to talk to you tonight. It’s too soon. He’s right. We don’t know what we want. We can’t know what to do now. Give it some time. Get some rest, Jill, and tomorrow after I talk to Dr. Jay, we can start to talk some. There’s no hurry is there? No hurry.” He patted her hand. Then he took their empty mugs to the sink.
And here ends the story of Ben Jolsey’s experience with Arouse! and Endurance! - the totally herbal remedies for erectile dysfunction and sexual decline never came back out of that closet. Ben did not ever need to find out whether these would have helped him recover his sexual desire and erections.
Jill and Ben agreed to stay together and spend more time actively pursuing the redemption of their sexual life together. With honesty and some of the special emotional exercises Dr. Jay taught them they began to discover things they had been missing. After three more months of consultations with Dr. Jay, they found success in the bedroom again, and it was better than ever before.
Jill gave up Daniel. Ben made it easier for her to do so by becoming emotionally more “accessible” and by offering Jill the warmth, affection and tender attention she had needed for such a long time.
And they have been finding all kinds of new experiences together. Currently they are taking Tango lessons and next September they'll be on a flight to Europe. They have rented a cottage in Provence for two months and enrolled in some French cooking classes there. After that it's Paris for three weeks and after that - who knows?
This fictional story is a complete fabrication by the author and is in no way based on actual events or any real people.
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