It was the longest I’d gone without sex in more than a decade — six months. Having spent the past year trying not to die while recovering from an herbal abortion gone awry, I’d hardly noticed — I had barely enough energy to bathe, clothe and feed myself, let alone ponder getting off. I saw no larger repercussions to this extended sexual drought until my doctor issued an otherwise unorthodox prescription.
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Head cocked to one side, Dr. Habib Sadeghi, my hero and a brilliant healer/physician — trained not only in traditional Western medicine but in alternative therapies as well — held onto my wrists, retrieving information from various organs, channels and neurotransmitters through his fingertips. He smiled and told me that the worst was behind me. I was finally strong enough to start rebuilding my system. He inserted acupuncture needles into my head, chest and ankles, slipped a pair of purple color-therapy glasses over my eyes and began digging his fingers into the backside of my pelvis by way of my bellybutton, massaging out the bad karma, the trauma and a year’s worth of pain and lonely despair. The treatment, integrated neuromyofascial release, while excruciating, was a triumph, and I laughed my way through the pain, taking solace in my progress, and in the slow but certain return of my life force. He told me to expect a sudden surge in my libido. And then he gave me some instructions: I needed to make sure I had “at least three to four releases a week.”
He wasn’t talking about massage treatments. Releases wasshy-young-doctor speak for orgasms, which would, according to Dr. Sadeghi, unleash a flurry of oxytocin into my system, restore my ravaged uterus and induce whole-body healing feelings of love, warmth and tenderness — all abstract concepts that I only vaguely recollected in light of this past year of heartache, body break and isolation.
As a lifelong serial monogamist, flitting from one co-dependent commitment to the next as a means to work through the baggage I’d accumulated throughout my formative years, I’d never had occasion to dally with sex for sex’s sake outside the confines of a “relationship.” After finally getting over the boyfriend whom I affectionately refer to as “the guy who knocked me up and ditched me,” I’d opted to fly solo, not wanting to take on anyone else’s issues, personality defects or mood disorders while I healed and focused on my career. The medical mandate to “release” inspired fantasies of hot, sweaty nights of frivolous, freewheeling passion — unbound by the constraints of commitment and compromise and heavy “Where is this going?” conversations, with the excuse that my doctor told me to.
But there was a problem. All my single-guy friends who railed on and on about what a catch I was when I was dangling off the arm of emotionally unavailable Boyfriend X wanted nothing to do with my prescription.
“It would be weird,” said a newly divorced friend, valiantly trying to figure out how to be alone.
“I can’t,” lamented the best friend of yet another ex-boyfriend. “It would kill Ole.”
“Um ... I guess so,” said the snack from the health-food store, 26, with the model-perfect body and neurotic disposition, just before he boarded a plane to New York and never called me again.
I was zero-for-three and confused. I thought no-strings-attached sex with a beautiful woman was a no-brainer. Was it me?
“You’ve got no game!” shrieked my friend Dave, artist and fellow celibate by default at the tender and virile age of 26. It was true, my hard-hitting propositions leaned toward the spastic, but I had no time for coquettish subtleties, or clever seduction scenarios; I had a quota to meet. Plus, the pelvic treatment had unleashed the sudden return of my libido with a vengeance, and I was in an exaggerated state of frisky 24/7.
At the same time, I noticed girlfriends with no medical-orgasm mandate complaining of the same problem — an oddly urgent need for sex, and no willing participants with whom to have it.
“I don’t know if I’m coming or going, but I’m definitely not coming,” lamented Bryony, of the sun-streaked blond waves, the plump, kissable lips and sexy British accent into my voicemail. “I need to have sex and, yes, this is the kind of message I’m leaving these days.”
Michelle, a slim clothing designer with flaming red hair and serious brown eyes, whimpered into the phone, “I’m having the worst case of hives, and I’m pretty sure it’s linked to sexual repression.”
Venturing out of solitude and into the city by way of gallery openings, intimate gatherings and a few extraneous New Age hippie events, I saw beautiful people in beautiful clothes standing awkwardly apart from one another, not dialoguing, not smiling, not engaging. Gone were the furtive glances and flirty exchanges I was used to experiencing in the social sphere. A profound sense of alienation had taken their place. It seemed as if no one in L.A. was having sex, at least no one that I could see. I started sniffing around, testing the waters to see if my theory checked out.