In a crammed catalog of things I know happen
but just don’t want to think about — in a kind
of running and screaming and kicking way — the
human enterprise I’d most like to avoid considering,
the clear topper in a Canadian football-sized
field of contenders, is old people having sex.
I think I probably have more than a little company
with this point of view. And it does intersect
with contemporary American politics. In summary,
many people don’t like the idea of old men getting
lucky, presumably with old women and even their
wives — at least if it’s funded through Medicare.
As it stands. Ahem, let’s rephrase that. For
the time being, such performance-enabling drugs,
launching fuel for geezer geysers, if you will,
are not covered under Medicare.
“Cialis, Viagra, Levitra and other erectile
dysfunction drugs are not considered necessary
by the U.S. Department of Health & Human
Services,” The Los Angeles Times reports. “Apparently
many men disagree. Hence the $3.1 million charged
to Medicare Part D for the drugs in 2007 and
2008.” Some reports suggest that Medicare will
cover Viagra for non-sexual reasons — giving
a new twist to the concept of side effects.
It’s all sort of confusing, so I called the
Centers for Medicare and Medicare Services in
Washington, D.C. and got a straightforward answer
from spokesman Tony Salters.
Can old men get Viagra through Medicare?
“No,” Salters said.
A few years ago, U.S. Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa,
made it clear he likes that answer and wants
Medicare to keep its government hands off Viagra.
As Roll Call, the newspaper that covers Capitol
Hill, put it: King expects Grandpa to “pay for
“Is it the government’s business to provide
those funds and resources so that old men can
have sex when they want?” King is quoted as
saying in Roll Call. “We’ve gotten along just
fine without the government subsidizing people’s
sex lives. This kind of growth in government
was never envisioned by our Founding Fathers.”
Of course, the life expectancy in 1776 was only
In theory what King is advocating makes sense.
The only societal interest in sex is in the
furtherance of life, according to Republican
presidential candidate Rick Santorum who is
apparently more learned in sex than Alfred Kinsey.
Once people figure out they are gay, or reach
a certain age as heterosexuals, there really
is no need for them to have sex.
Besides, this whole business of old men, flush
with cash and red-faced with drug-induced passion,
running around landing younger ladies has created
a cottage industry for gold-digging types, and
allowed Hugh Hefner to further infuriate the
150 million-plus American males who aren’t him.
Someone once asked Hefner, the Playboy founder
and prodigious womanizer, the best pick-up line
he’s ever heard. “Hi, my name is Hugh Hefner,”
the senior citizen magazine mogul responded.
But the real problem with the denial of Viagra
and other drugs like it to Medicare recipients
for pleasure purposes is that such a policy
will flat-out ruin municipal golf courses across
the nation, make them into snake pits of working-class
The distinctions between rich and poor are many
At the end of the day, though, it boils down
to this: The chief difference in America between
rich old men and poor old men is that the more
well-to-do play golf at country clubs, whereas
the blue-collar schleps and retired desk jockeys
go to the municipal golf courses, where, in
most of the nation, it takes six hours to play
18 holes, the beer is warm and flat, and the
greens are about as fair and true as Haitian
Case in point: At a world-class golf course
outside of Tampa Bay, I pulled a 7-iron long
and left of the green on No. 11, placing me
near the tee blocks for the next hole, where
four men of Medicare age were having a spirited
discussion about the merits and shortcomings
of Florida’s strip clubs. Tampa Bay is known
for being to strip club connoisseurs what Salt
Lake City is for Mormons. Hallowed ground.
“No, no Beach Girls 82 is far better than Beach
Girls 91,” said one of the golfers in making
the case for their post-18th hole schedule.
“The drinks are cheaper at that strip club,
and they aren’t so strict on the touching thing.
You can really get in there with a feel. And
make sure you wear loose slacks, not jeans,
so you get the most out of the rub factor.”
One of his friends strongly disagreed. He preferred
Beach Girls 91, “Hey, that’s a great place.
I took my son there to get him his first professional
blow job.” (The use of the term “first” had
me howling for the next three holes because
it presumes subsequent paid activities of said
The next day I played a scuzzy Florida muni
course in the morning where sexual bravado went
out about the time Castro grabbed Cuba. No,
instead, at the muni, the conversations among
the older set in the clubhouse revolved around
bad knees and bladder issues.
To sum it up, Senior Citizen Muni Golf Guy makes
up the most peeved-off demographic in America.
He’s always there in that unraked bunker, the
one with the exposed Glad-bag foundation, thinking
about the rich country clubbers and their smooth
sand and top-shelf Scotch.
If Muni Guy knows that Club Guy is getting as
much Viagra as a wrinkled hand can hold, while
Medicare leaves out the blue love pills, the
revolution will start one 9-iron through one
Mercedes window at a time. CV
Douglas Burns is a fourth-generation Iowa
newspaperman who writes for The Carroll Daily
Times Herald and offers columns for Cityview.