How I Found My Libido Again (It Wasn't the Vajankle That Did It)
The romantic energy in my marriage had become a faint blip on the radar and then dwindled to nothing, yet I barely noticed. I had been focusing on my work and my kid and conjuring some kind of creative prosperity. And then a divorce and figuring out my new single-mom dynamic took all my focus. I realized it had been nearly a year since I — one of the most pro-sex, “Ready to go again?” “Can we try it this way?” kind of people I’d ever known — had essentially become celibate. Even the small appliances in the nightstand, ready to vibrate at the flick of a switch, were no competition for a fresh issue of "O" magazine and a hot bath.
My friend Linda performed a reiki session on me, which is a kind of energetic diagnosis and tune-up. Independently, we came to the conclusion that my brain hates my uterus — they were no longer on speaking terms. Imagine Joan Rivers vs. Chelsea Handler, or Tom Cruise vs. Brooke Shields, or Lindsay Lohan vs. almost anyone else — but in a space about three feet long by one foot wide, for a year.
Sure, the shutdown could have been a hormonal lag, as is so common in women my age, which has suddenly become closer to 50 than 40. But more accurately, the conversation among my organs went something like this:
BRAIN: Hey, uterus and sex organs, go f-yourself. Look at this amazing baby I adopted, and I didn't even need your help.
UTERUS AND SEX ORGANS: Hey girl, we tried. Three times, if you recall. Sorry we couldn’t bring it home. You're a little more "hot flash" than "flash flood" at this point, if you know what we mean. What about the good times? Don't you remember your wedding-night orgasm? Or those fun-filled nights in the log cabin? Mexico?
BRAIN: Those were the '90s. Even Urkel was getting laid. You really let me down when I needed you most. From now on, you don't get to make any decisions. I want some yogurt now.
UTERUS AND SEX ORGANS: [Silence]
It became clear that I needed to get my body aligned and all its parts talking again, and that my brain had some amends to make to my uterus. I needed my lower-chakra mojo back.
So I started buying myself flowers and putting on scented lotion. I dressed prettier. I went blonde. And then I met a guy I’ll call Duncan, who, in a very bold, scarily psychic move, on our first date, over a plate of hummus, handed me an autographed copy of Naomi Wolf’s latest book, "Vagina," which is all about the nervous system and the brain’s relationship to the — you guessed it — vagina.
A startling thought crossed my mind: Could this darkly thrilling, good-to-his-parents, Microsoft-certified IT strategist/repairman wearing a black T-shirt and oversized black jacket be the Professor Marvel to my Dorothy, and lead me back home?
Duncan, a self-described “sex nerd,” who has immersed himself in a new tech-enabled sex-positive revolution and had recently been to the Orgasmic Meditation conference where he learned the finer techniques for eliciting female orgasm, invited me to a Bawdy Storytelling event for our next date. I’m no prude, but all this freewheeling talk about sexcapades felt way out of my comfort zone. Change has never happened from someone sitting home alone, binge-watching Mindy Kaling, though, so I went.
Turned out, I liked the anthropology of being in a new scene — a spy in the house of sex. I fell a little in love with a girl who told a deeply personal story of not getting enough from her husband, even after one last desperate effort at total consumption. I roared at a man's tale of a fantasy gone horribly wrong, which involved the Northridge earthquake and his date's parents, who were off-duty sheriffs, coming home early. And I will never, ever receive a package from DHL again without a full hazmat suit and a gallon of bleach.
One of the event sponsors came to the stage holding a silicone foot, cut off about six inches from the ankle, adorned in a strappy party sandal. A kindly, gray-haired man sitting at the table with us, who could be anybody's math teacher in his oxford shirt and sweater vest, turned to me with a knowing nod and whispered, "Vajankle." There was a hyper-realistic vaginal opening where the shin would be.
My brain froze. I kept gaping at Duncan, repeating, "Vajankle? VAJANKLE???!!!" I had no words. Except one.