Looking for love in a diamond-shaped pill.

I�m tired of Viagra. Not the actual Sildenafil Citrate itself, nor the hackneyed e-mails I get about penis enlargement. I�m fed up with the jokes about Viagra (

What happens when a lawyer takes Viagra? He grows taller

.) and the***image1*** frequent references about other people�s inboxes being filled with seminal spam. So I was surprised when a good friend of mine�let�s call him Woody�told me one night that he had procured some of the infamous diamond-shaped pills. We were sitting at a dark bar, sipping overpriced bourbon waiting for an obscure band to begin its set at a performance space a few streets away. We try to do this sort of thing every few months or so, decompress about petty tyrant bosses with Napoleon complexes and the quickest way to make a decent red sauce for pasta, our own little Robert Bly bitchfest without drums or mud.

�Where�d you get it?� I asked with the enthusiasm of a 12-year old eager to get his paws on his first sadboy magazine.

�At my doctor�s. They give �em away like candy.� Turns out that Woody went into his internist for another malady and after a referral that cost him $170, he figured he was owed something so he asked for a free sample.

�Like women get at cosmetic counters?� I didn�t tell him that the night before I had watched

Sex and The City

with my wife.

�I guess,� he said warily, moving his barstool an inch away. �They come in a handy six-pack with coupons, lots of warnings, you know.�

�What are you going to do with them?� I asked as if he could blow something up or sell them like diamonds.

�Well,� he took a sip of the Coca-Cola colored liquid. �My 20th anniversary is coming up��

I have to admit my former annoyance with Viagra turned into obsessive curiosity so I called Woody often to check on the status of his stash. He had spoken to a friend who was a


kind of guy, someone who used the drug frequently on a recreational basis. I later found out that use by younger men had increased threefold since the drug�s release in 1998. So it wasn�t just dusty ol� Bob Dole and my childhood hero Pele who were bumping more uglies.

Woody�s friend suggested a dry run before the night of the anniversary since Viagra could have side effects like headaches, blurry vision, light sensitivity and the type of stroke that is a noun, not a verb. Woody downed a pill in the safety of his own home when the wife and kids were away.

�What was the event like?� I was forced to speak in code on the phone from the cramped office I share with three rather inquisitorial women.

�Huh?� he asked. �What event?�

�You know, the trial run?�

The cell phone crackled like cellophane.

�Oh, come on. The first out of the six pack?� Hopefully my co-workers were thinking I was talking about imported beer, an interest they�d chalk up as another masculine inanity.

�Right. Smooth as silk.� He inhaled. �Not silk exactly, but fine.�

�No side effects?�

�None. I thoroughly enjoyed myself.�

�Oh my god.� My colleagues all looked over. I covered the mouthpiece. �My friend is very ill,� I whispered to them, frowned, and pointed at the phone.

�Hey,� he barked. �Take it easy. It wasn�t like I was a monkey. It was more, well, experimental.� Like an educated consumer, Woody had checked out all the features on his new vehicle: durability, horsepower and overall ride satisfaction.

�Recovery time?� My colleagues nodded in sympathy.

�Almost nonexistent,� Woody said proudly.

�Holy shit! I didn�t think that was possible.� One of the women�s lips began to quiver. I�m lucky to work with some caring people. �OK, here�s the big one.�

Woody is too cool to even touch that.

I�d had one major worry about Viagra and I needed to address it even if it would confuse the hell out of the trio eavesdropping on my supposed

Terms of Endearment

conversation. �Did it stop, you know, go down, back to normal?�

�Absolutely. Flaccid as Lake Placid.�

I breathed a sigh of relief. Everybody�s heard of the man who took a pill and suffered not only a painful erection, but a 24-hour one to boot. It would be like Luke Skywalker never being able to power down his light saber or the condition most lonely teenage boys suffer that even the most creative fantasies involving creams, gels and Natalie Portman dressed like a Pokemon would not remedy.

�It�s got a name, you know,� Woody said, interrupting the most complicated thoughts I had at work in a long time.

�Dude, I don�t want to hear that. I realize I�ve been asking a lot of questions but what a guy calls his junk is a bit too personal for me.�

�No, the never-ending erection. It�s called priapism.�

�Sounds Greek to me,� I said, which was a stupid joke since indeed, Priapus was a Greek god who was punished for attempting to rape a goddess by being given a huge wooden set of genitals. And women wonder why men have so many sexual hang-ups.

Woody wanted to make sure that it wasn�t beginner�s luck, so he cracked his six pack a few more times and got basically the same results with the addition of a type of confidence usually reserved for NFL quarterbacks or actresses before their initial stint in rehab. He bragged to his male friends in the same manner one would boast about a huge promotion, increase in salary or rental of a high performance vehicle, which was fairly close to the truth.

�Been using Viagra,� Woody would say or �Got some Viagra. Been trying it out. Pretty freaking amazing, that Viagra.� When I spoke to him again, I needed more info but I could tell that he had changed. His sexy sword swagger reminded me of ninth grade when my crush Polly Purcell started hanging out with senior boys. Like Polly had been, Woody was cool, distant and protective of his new-found glory.

I offered my refrain: �How did it go?�

�Which one?� he said flatly.

�I don�t know.� OK, make me feel like an idiot. �The second?�

�A fine time was had by all.�

�The third?�

�Another fine time.�

I tried to think of a way to solicit more info�Sports or war analogies?�but he volunteered: �I even took it to the workplace.�

I choked. �You what?�

�See what it felt like to wear it around when I made sales calls or met with the boss.� He was speaking as if he started sporting a new toupee, not a clandestine source of penile power.

Trying to imagine me doing the same, I started stammering. �Did you, well, did you?�

�Did I what? I�m kinda busy.�

�Did you

enjoy yourself

on the job?�

�I do enjoy my job, Rob.�

�Whatever.� I hung up.

I didn�t hear from Woody for a while, but I knew his anniversary was fast approaching. I imagined him as a confident male hero, marching into his rose-petal-strewn boudoir with newfound vigor and capability, better than any average 40-something husband and father could do on his own. When my son London would play with his superheroes or Star Wars figures with their light sabers, I thought of Woody as valiant Viagraman and his own crusade against dull middle age. What better love can a man have for his wife, I thought, than to risk blindness, stroke and mythic priapism?

So I gathered up the nerve to call. �How was your anniversary?� I asked politely.

�Fine,� he said meekly, like Batman unmasked. All that piss and vinegar had been released somehow. Sadly, he sounded mortal again.

�Just fine? Didn�t father�s little helper help the little father?� Alone in my office, I felt free to employ a bit of wordplay.

�Clever, but no. I didn�t use it.�

�Why not?� This didn�t add up.

�I ran out.� Woody had so much fun that he�d lost count and when the big night came, he searched and searched but could not locate the magic power-drill pellet. �I mean I still performed as I usually would.�

�And how�d that go?�

�It was okay. Nothing special.�  â?¤