I accepted the invitation without thinking too much about it. After all, a girl’s night out, whatever the season, is good for a laugh and the hostess promised her guests “pathways to Pure Romance.” Perhaps we were going to discuss paperback novels from the grocery store?
When I arrived at the party, there was more than tea and cookies spread across the buffet table. A young woman in her early twenties was arranging packages, potions and three ten inch purple plastic penises.
What do you do when you realize you’ve come for “cock tales” instead of cocktails? This post is about how to revive your sense of romance, or at least your sense of humor, in midlife.
Even Old Girls Just Wanna Have Fun
Our hostess, who was mired in divorce proceedings at the end of her thirty-one year marriage, was fifty-eight. The six women friends who accepted her Pure Romance™ invitation ranged from fifty to sixty five years of age. We were a decade or so older than the Pure Romance target demographic of twenty-five to forty-five, but who’s counting?
There were three old friends from the catholic girls academy. One brought her older sister who hung out near an open window dragging on a cigarette. She proved to have the best grasp of modern sex slang and a divine dirty laugh.
Two neighbors with sleek bobs, pearls and silk scarves huddled together in conversation. An earnest nonprofit documentary filmmaker with a bushy bundle of gray hair and thick glasses slipped into a seat by the door at the last moment.
More and more women are “out there” looking for romance at an age when their grandmothers would have thrown in the (dish) towel. Sex After 50: Getting Back in the Saddle was considered news worthy even two years ago.
Whether from divorce, starting a new chapter in an empty-nest, or sheer boredom, we want saucy sex well after sixty. But are we game for all that goes with it?
Purveyors of Pure Romance
I’ve only been to two home selling events in the past ten years: Creative Memories® scrapbooking and Tupperware®. Neither aroused my, er, interest like Pure Romance®.
Founded in 1993 under the name Slumber Parties, Pure Romance is based in Loveland, Ohio. ( I jest not.) CEO and founder, Patty Brisben, is an advocate for women’s sexual health and awareness. According to company statistics, more than 3 million Pure Romance “relationship and intimacy aids” are sold through 75,000 Romance Consultants at more than 200,000 parties each year.
The retail operations are balanced by the non-profit, Patty Brisben Foundation for Women’s Sexual Health, which benefits all women through funding research on intimacy, breast cancer and heart health.
Like millions of other women in family rooms across the country, we were being offered more sex education at a Pure Romance party than we had received since the sixth grade.
Out of the Mouths of Babes
Our Romance Consultant checked the time on her cell phone, then smoothed her short skirt. She looked more like a twenty-four year old Assistant Librarian than a sex goddess. I nicknamed her GG, shorthand for “Good Girl.”
I didn’t blame her a bit for looking like she was in for a long, awkward night. I hoped that she had practiced selling her wares to her own mother since every woman in the room was more than forty years past the “age of consent.”
GG had been selling Pure Romance for two years in a deep recession – her creams, gels and gizmos were her ticket to paying off ruinous student loans. We all felt a mother’s pride in her young adult determination and so gave her our most encouraging looks as she passed out catalogs and took a deep breath to begin.
We started with an “ice breaker” game. GG asked us to write our most hated household chores and the reasons why on a three by five card. We were in familiar territory now. Dodging drudgery was our daily bread.
Each of us scribbled about our pet peeves, then grimaced when we were asked to read them aloud as “I hate (substitute sex for chore) because…” Score one for GG. We were giggling.
GG led off with lotions and creams to soften our middle aged bodies into silken sylphs. We might have found shaving gels and bath soaks in Walgreens, but here self-care came with reassurances of romantic readiness.
Next GG moved into stage two: The Attractants. Pure Romance sells truckloads of their signature product, Basic Instinct™. The mysterious main ingredient is pheromones.
Research on pheromones is inconclusive, but those secret scents are thought to increase mating behavior among the birds and the bees. Perhaps smelling like fabric softener or frying bacon is not as alluring as we thought?
I thought that the Dream Sensual Pillow Mist®, also with pheromones, would make one helluva ironing spray. All those patchouli, lavender and rosewood oils made me all nostalgic for the Seventies.
The product labels gave little away about the “reconstituted andronone,” but none of the ladies curiously sniffing their scented wrists were worried. We smelled ph-antastic.
Before GG started passing round the adult toys, she made sure to introduce us to “Sugar Cookie” flavored Whipped™, an edible creamy lubricant. It was the icing on the beefcake so to speak.
We tasted every product from Passion Fruit Prolonging Cream™ to minty Ex-T-Cee Enhancement Cream™, a new kind of Mother’s Little Helper. I started to worry about calorie counts.
Fit to Be Tied
GG did a little skirt swirl with her reveal of eight foot long satin restraints, which she assured us would leave no marks on our walls, bed frames or wrists. For a moment there I thought I might have discovered a new way to secure my hyperactive husband for some bed rest.
The Pure Romance arsenal of personal massagers is wonder to behold. Where exactly do all of these appliances fit? We wanted appear knowledgeable, but were a bit dismayed. “Can you explain that again” was the refrain.
The elegant Silver Bullet™ is a bestseller even in the southern Bible Belt. There was the USB™, a model adapted for laptop pleasure. The rest of the lineup offered more lights, revolving and juddering than a Tilt-A-Whirl at a county fair.
By this time, at the highpoint of hilarity, GG was ready to take us each discreetly aside for private ordering. She had her wares in a Craftsman wheeled tool chest…how apt!
Is pure romance possible post-50? You betcha. Use it or lose it, baby. Joan Price, author of Better Than I Ever Expected: Straight Talk about Sex after Sixty, says that “many women discover that each decade [sex] gets better – as long as we’re open enough to keep learning, changing and communicating with our partners.”
It’s not the same thrill as when we were twenty, thirty or even forty, but what I know for sure is that
- Romance doesn’t come in a bottle, tube or spritz but a little attention to sensory details doesn’t hurt.
- Romance like beauty, it lives in the eye of the beholder.
- Romance does not require batteries or lubricants, but may need some re-charging.
- Romance makes small gifts and gestures into priceless treasures.
- Romance has the power to silence cynics and bring brutes to their knees.
- Romance is more a state of mind than just a mindless pleasure.
- Romance is crushed by criticism and soars with a single smile.
- Romance happens at an age, any time, and anywhere.
- Romance renders the heart and spirit full of possibilities.
How about it? All it takes is attitude. Are you resolved to have a romantic new year?