I met her at a social media meet-up and we clicked immediately. Her husband was also there -- across the room from us, hanging out with some cronies. They made frequent eye contact with each other. He winked. She smiled back. Their overt appeal apparent, I was captivated by the chemistry between them.
"How long have you two been married?" I asked, casually.
"Seventeen years," she stated, proudly, and then we went on with our conversation about microphones and background noise when recording. But my mind kept wandering back to their physical connection with each other. In my world, they were clearly an anomaly -- a long-married couple still acutely aware of each other's presence. My past observations had led me to assume too many couples in mid-life and beyond were devoid of sensuality and oblivious to the physical charms of each other.
Friends talk eagerly about their newest binge watching find on Netflix. The obscure book they stumbled across at the half-price book store (Euphoria by Lily King). The newest Indian summer wardrobe trends (chunky shoes, fringe and animal prints). Or the latest treatment for wrinkled, uneven skin texture and enlarged pores (Dr. Gross's Alpha Beta Peel). The list goes on and on and on.
Nowhere in the course of conversation does the topic of sex come up overtly or even inadvertently. But it's there. Shrouded in secrecy. Emerging timidly. "You know," one friend confided in me recently, "I think I must have really bad breath because my husband never wants to kiss me. Tell me the truth," she implores me, "do I REALLY have bad breath?"
She didn't and I told her so.
Then there is my other friend -- a tall, statuesque blonde -- who commands men's stares wherever she goes. In the midst of a two-hour lunch focusing on our mutual love of vintage hand bags and Jo Malone candles, she leaned across the table, breathed deeply and blurted out the following: "We don't have sex anymore -- Hank and I. He's either too tired, under the weather or preoccupied with work. And I'm either stressed with taking care of my elderly father or feeling like I'm coming down with another urinary infection."
What happened to all the horny high schoolers I grew up with? The feverish making-out in the back seats of GTO convertibles? Sneaking away from a party to kiss passionately against a fat tree trunk in someone's back yard?
I ponder this sad state of affairs -- pun intended. For weeks. And I surreptitiously begin asking around about how to ignite some passion and heat into docile, arid, long-term marriages. Not one of my friends buys into my probing, resisting my gentle nudges toward more intimate subjects, preferring to focus on relating their grandchildren's recent escapades instead.
But my friend from the meet-up group fields my question directly, with unabashed glee, the next time we meet.
"Here's the secret to how my hubby and I fixed our flagging libidos. Not with Viagra. Not with a hedonistic, erotic vacation to Jamaica. Not with adult sex toys guaranteed to spice up your sex life.
"Are you ready," she teased me, "to hear our secret weapon?"
"Yes," I reply, practically slipping off my seat in my eagerness.
"Hump Day," she announces dramatically.
"Hump Day," I echo. "What in the world is Hump Day? I only know about it in work terms. My co-workers alluded to the fact that Wednesday was the middle of the work week, meaning that we had made it "over the hump" towards the weekend. How's it apply to you and your husband?"
"Well," she begins earnestly, "with us, it has a slightly expanded meaning. Every night my husband and I cook dinner together, clean up the dishes together and then sail off to our own pursuits. But on Hump Day, we alter our routine. Realizing weeks can go by without intimacy -- literally for a myriad of reasons -- we decided that on Wednesday, we would cook together. We would eat dinner together. But, instead of cleaning up the dishes, we unplug from the world and proceed to our bedroom. And have sex."
"Sounds kind of contrived," I remark, slightly crestfallen.
"Really," she shoots back. "Not at all. We are making time -- allotted time -- for something that is important to us. We are establishing a habit of regular physical intimacy."
"So how's that working for you?" I inquire.
"Honestly, pretty damn good," she announces.
My take on Hump Day? It's a strategy worth pursuing. I'm going home right now and ask my husband to pick a day -- any day -- as long as it's a Wednesday...
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