When I first started having sex, only two things concerned me: My size and my stamina.
It didn’t matter how many women called me Big Papi Longstrong or Mr. Allnight, every new partner gave me reason to worry that after we were done, my new first and last name would be Short Stop. This was back in college, when I lacked confidence, experience, and the good sense to worry about more important things when I sleep with someone new, like what their last name is and when’s the last time they were tested for STDs. But eventually I graduated, literally from college and figuratively from such mundane thoughts.
I had enough experience under my belt (no pun intended) and heard enough reviews to know I was a champion. I knew I was capable of turning out MVP performances that had some women putting me in the “Greatest of All Time” debates they had in their head. What I didn’t know, until I was a well-established first-ballot Hall of Famer is that like all great athletes, I was injury prone.
In medical terms, it is referred to as erectile dysfunction. In layman’s terms, a problem.
If I didn’t bury so deep into the depths of my hippocampus the first time this happened, I would rehash the specifics, but alas, all I remember is thinking at 23-years-old I was far too young for something like this to happen to me.
In the past, even if I wasn’t at full attention, I knew I could get there with something as simple as a solid kiss and the feel of her fingers pushing into my skin. But none of that worked. Everything was taking a lot longer. I needed more touching, more kissing, more time to get in the mood until we both realized, all the touching, the kissing, and time in the world would not suffice. It wasn’t going to happen.
Never before was getting up for the big game the issue, this non-feeling was a completely new feeling to me. There I was with a beautiful and willing woman lying in a bed, my mind totally registering how lucky I was, but my body functioning like I was waiting in line at the DMV.
I didn’t want to jump to conclusions. I decided I wasn’t suffering from the type of erectile dysfunction we see in Cialis and Viagra commercials (though the first time it happened I thought, Is it time for the little blue pill already?), so therefore a trip to the doctor’s office was unnecessary. Instead, I did what any man in their mid-20s does, I told my friends about it.
No, I didn’t attempt one of those awkward, formal conversations where I say to my friend, “So ummm, yeah, I have this problem and I was wondering if you have it too.” Men don’t talk to each other like that unless our video game systems aren’t working.
Instead, I made it seem like my adequately-sized friend was this real person who did not want to cooperate with the rest of his team. I spun the story in such a way where I wasn’t the problem, but a specific part of me was, all through the guise of nervous laughter. I was like, “Ha ha ha. Ha. Can you believe that, man? My penis was acting sooooo crazy.”
Put to the friends like that, they all laughed, nervously like me, shrugged, and said, “Yeah, man. That’s happened to me too.” Of course, I didn’t follow up with an inquisition. I didn’t care what their problem was so much as I cared they had the same problem as me from time to time. All I needed to know was if at this stage, my mid-20s, erectile dysfunction happens to the best of me. Turns out, it does, and when it does, it’s not a reason to panic.
My malfunctions still happen, though very rarely. What I’ve learned is usually when they happen, my mind is just on other things. Women say in order to enjoy sex they need to be in the right mood. Well for men, in order to have sex we need to be in our right frame of mind.
Some women who have witnessed what I call “the nothing” thought my penis didn’t like them. I had to explain that my penis actually doesn’t like me. If it did, it would be cooperating with what my mind wants, her, but for whatever reason, it doesn’t want to be a team player.
Armed with this knowledge, malfunctions are no longer shocking. Usually I know hours before anything can even possibly take place that I’m not in the mood, and if I tell her ahead of time, she better understands. When I do think I’m in the mood but find out I’m not at the most awkward moment possible (read: when all our clothes are off), I assure her it will pass and I just have a lot on my mind, none of which has to do with her.
Who knew there would be times when I didn’t think about sex or want it as badly as I did when I was a 16-year-old virgin? Who knew all the other things on my mind — job, bills, the latest Pittsburgh Steelers overtime loss — could be so dominant, there is literally no room left in it to think about sex? The way I see things now, my penis is no different from the rest of my body. Some days it’s full of energy, others days it is not. On those days, the lazy ones, I just shrug it off, look down and say, “We’ll get ’em next time.”
Jozen Cummings is a writer living in Harlem. Find more of his writing at his blog, UntilIGetMarried.com and feel free to follow him on Twitter (@jozenc), where he never shuts up.