With This Ring, I Thee Bed

My husband and I used to have sex once a day. Then we got married. But this is not a sad story; it's a happy story. I hope. I got pregnant a year and a half later and we had even better sex. My pregnancy came with a loaner set of boobs, size C-cup, and I just can't begin to describe how much I enjoyed them. And necessity is the mother of invention. My stomach and the alien creature growing in there presented a sort of blockade to my vagina. To get in there, my husband had to go at it from the back, or the bottom, or sometimes upside down. I don't mean to brag, but for nine months we had rock-star sex pretty much every time.

Then the baby was born.

My friend Alyssa got pregnant with her second child eight months after I delivered mine. "Alyssa," I said, "that could never happen to me—unless it was an immaculate conception." She said, "When I found out, I said to Dan, 'And when did we have sex?' Neither of us could remember."

A frighteningly high percentage of married couples with kids have sex only 10 times a year. As my mother would say, "That is not a marriage." I say this is not a life—and yet every relationship I've ever had began with lots of sex and ended with me wanting none. I got mad at the man, something about his personality, and I no longer wanted sex. With him. It's never a calculated act of rebellion; I've just never wanted to have sex with a man who is irritating me. The one time I cheated on a man, he was really irritating me. I was so mad at him, we didn't have sex for months. And I literally flew into the arms of someone I wasn't mad at.

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Presently I have one small child and one big husband and I'm mad. It is a mystery to me who is more childlike. They both require snacks every 20 minutes, they have tantrums when they don't get their way, and they demand a lot of attention. My husband doesn't feel he is getting enough. But between the laundry, the cooking, the groceries, working, cleaning the house, the kid, enrolling for camp, organizing playdates, doctor's appointments, and pretending that I am ever going to do a sit-up, I'm exhausted and I guess I take it out on the man who made this happen to me. Oh sure, I wanted kids, but still. I don't have a nanny or a housekeeper or a wife. He has all three. I actually heard myself telling him, "I can't do it. I can't take care of the kid, cook, vacuum, change the kitty litter, and be nice to you. It is just too much!" He understood. He stayed on his side of the bed. I felt bad. So I went to a sex-toy store on the Lower East Side called Babeland.

Everyone at Babeland was very young. I watched a couple in their early twenties with asymmetrical haircuts shop for toys. They were happy. It seemed too late for a cranky, 40-plus married mother withholding sex from her husband. But my 19-year-old salesgirl assured me it was never too late. The day before yesterday, she said, she'd helped a 72-year-old man buy a vibrator.

"To use on himself?" I asked.

"No. With his girlfriend."

At 45 I have never used a vibrator or a dildo. I found a copy of The Joy of Sex when I was 10 and asked my mother what lubricant was. She said, "It's something you don't need if you're doing it right. Give me that book and go to your room." I got the impression toys were for people who weren't doing it right. Plus I think I'm cheap. I've worked with mangoes (flavoring myself and my partner) and ice cubes (amazing in a heat wave), and I've licked soy milk (I know it's supposed to be whipped cream but I'm lactose intolerant). But these were all products found in the home. I didn't spend a dime.

I spent $178 at Babeland. And all I bought for my husband was a $3 cock ring. Not really—I bought a lot of other stuff too, but I have a feeling more of it will end up inside of me than him.

Walking to the subway, I know people can see the logo for Babeland on my pink shopping bag. Everyone will know I didn't go shoe shopping. They will know I went sex-toy shopping. What if someone from the PTA sees me? What if one of my daughter's teachers sees me? But then I realize that anyone who recognizes the logo from Babeland shops at Babeland, so they'll probably smile at me. They'll probably think I have a lot of sex. I do not mind walking around with this shopping bag.

After teeth brushing and Goodnight Moon and lights-out in my daughter's room I am nervous. I don't know how to operate a cock ring and I don't know if my husband is the sort of man who wants to own a cock ring, or if I have the guts to tell him that he now does own a cock ring.

"Honey," I say, "I bought you a little present today."

"Oh yeah?"

"Yeah." Luckily, he is touched. He thinks a blue cock ring is something he would like to own.

"Good," I say, "Because I don't think it's returnable."

So the conundrum of spontaneous sex under intense pressure begins. I immediately dry up and shut tight like a clam. You couldn't wedge a string bean in there. We look at the cock ring. We touch the squishy cock ring. We find a special box to keep the cock ring in and then we make a hiding place for the cock ring at the bottom of his sock drawer. We pet the cock ring. We feel protective of the cock ring. We don't know how to use the cock ring.

Does it go on before full sizing has been achieved? We don't know. There is a little notch on the cock ring; is that supposed to go on the top or the bottom? We wonder. We don't know. Is this supposed to offer extra pleasure for him or me? We don't know. I should have asked my salesgirl. I wonder if that 72-year-old man knows how to use a cock ring. We look up cock ring on Wikipedia. Wikipedia has quite a bit of information about cock rings. I tell my husband about the 72-year-old man and his vibrator. We have a tremendous amount of fun talking about the cock ring. The cock ring is our friend. We put away the cock ring in the little box at the bottom of the sock drawer.

We turn out the lights and lie naked in each other's arms, our bodies dovetailed together. My leg is flung over his hipbone and his ankle is supporting my foot. I like him so much at the moment it no longer feels like a disaster that we are married. I am not mad at him right now at all. I know we will take that cock ring out of the sock drawer one day. But in the meantime I am totally relaxed and happy.

I love that cock ring.

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