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I’m 71 and I Still Remember Lust

But some younger women don’t believe it.

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X shaped gold balloons on a pink background to signify lust
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The last time I went to physical therapy, to try to delay the need for a hip replacement, an attractive 40-something therapist I’ll call Maria worked on me. I had already seen her twice a week for six weeks. That day I was the only client in that time slot, and the other therapists had disappeared, so we were alone. Toward the end of our session, she told me to finish on the weight machine about 25 feet away. After she wiped down the table I had just been on, a model-like 30-something in a body-sculpting workout outfit walked in and lay down on the same table.

As I started with the weights, they began talking about a man Maria had met recently. It wasn’t as if I was eavesdropping; I couldn’t help overhearing. At our first appointment she had told me that her husband had died a few years earlier, and on subsequent visits we had talked about mundane things — the difficulty of raising two young children alone, how her mother was helping, and the fun she and her boys had on a recent vacation in Florida. We had never talked about anything like dating; I didn’t want to pry.

After a few minutes, the two women’s voices dropped to a whisper, and I realized with a shock that they didn’t want me in on the turn the conversation had taken. There was only one thing they could be discussing; I strongly doubted it was a new recipe for avocado toast. I’m 71 and married, and I can’t remember another incident where younger women had been so rude. What were they thinking? That I might disapprove? That it would be creepy to let someone so much older than them hear the sex talk? Forget me judging them, they were judging me. If I thought they were talking about any other subject I’d dismiss it as general rudeness. But this was uber-rudeness because, of course, it dealt with stereotypes about women’s age and sex lives.

I completed the number of reps Maria had assigned me, picked up my sweatshirt and left. I thought of walking over to the table, leaning in and saying, “Just wanted you to know — I remember lust.” I would be hoping it would embarrass them, but I don't know if they would have caught my sarcasm. Instead I let it drop. This was my last appointment.

Although the majority of commercials pitching exercise equipment feature sexy young females it is not difficult to find women over 40 who espouse the joys of sex. Joan Price, 76, a member of one of my national writers groups, makes her living by writing about seniors and sex. Her first book on this subject, written at age 61, was Better Than I Ever Expected: Straight Talk About Sex After Sixty

How she pivoted from writing about health and fitness is a story in itself. Joan had met a man at 57, married him at 62 and experienced intense love and passion until he died two years later. She went on to write other books about the joys of sex for both men and women later in life and describes herself on her website as “an advocate for ageless sexuality.”

Many older women, like Price, have a long, fulfilling sex life and don’t talk about it. There are women who find sex painful after a certain age, and some whose sex drive drops off a cliff. I’ve talked to both; some seem to be helped by doctors, and some do not. Then there is Jane Fonda and those like her. Two years ago, when she was 80, she told the syndicated TV news magazine Extra that she had “closed up shop down there.”

The thing is, we’ve all had different experiences, and we have different needs and desires. No woman should be stereotyped about her sexuality because of her age, especially by younger women.

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