Rising expectations

Monday, 1 March 1999

I'm going to Iowa for an award. Then I'm appearing at Carnegie Hall, it's sold out. Then I'm sailing to France to be honoured by the French government ... I'd give it all up for one erection.
- Groucho Marx

HOIST those standards! Rise for the national anthem! Shoot off those 21-gun salutes! Yes, South Africa, it has finally happened ... an event of earth-shattering importance ... Viagra has arrived!

Actually, consignments of sildenafil citrate have been sitting in warehouses since October awaiting approval from the Medicines Control Council. This was granted last Thursday. Legal sale of the drug will probably begin this week.

Now there are many people out there — mainly women — who are wondering, what's the fuss all about? Why this hysteria over a male recreational activity when there are Really Important Issues like menopause and breast cancer and cervical cancer and no one takes those seriously? Sisters! You are right! This is another plot on the part of male oppressors to perpetuate the exploitation of womyn! (Ouch! Who threw that?)

Why is it so important for men to be able get erections?

Cynthia Heimel in her "Sex tips for girls" explains that men get erections because blood rushes from our brains to our nether regions - which is why we cannot think and ... whatever ... at the same time.

This is important to understand. Men who do not get erections stop to think. As Shakespeare's Julius Caesar says: "Yon Cassius hath a lean and hungry look. He thinks too much. Such men are dangerous."

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Shakespeare was quite right. Such men generally think about the fact that they cannot get erections. These thoughts inevitably lead them into lusting after other sorts of power to compensate. (Another word for the problem is impotence, remember?)

Henry VIII is rumoured to have suffered from the same, which may explain hence his violent mysogynistic tendencies. Alexander the Great went looting and pillaging and sacking major cities — was it out of frustration?

Take the case of Bob Dole. This decidedly limp-wristed politician (not his fault, it's a war injury) ran for president on a Republican "family values" ticket. He got trounced ... savaged ... reamed by Bill Clinton. No one took Bob Dole seriously. Then, come 1998, Dole goes public with a tacit endorsement of Viagra - and suddenly, Joe Public loves Bob. (Hey, Bob's okay. He's a regular guy! Bob's one of us.)

More to the point; Bob is going to be too busy looking out for a piece of tail to indulge in the other favourite pastime of American politicians — dropping bombs or indulging in other warlike activities with relatively helpless Third-World targets. Would Reagan have invaded Grenada, mined the harbours of Nicaragua, funded Unita and Renamo or bombed Libya if Viagra had been around?

Look at Clinton. Every time someone reminded him that he couldn't go the full Monica anymore, the man went nuts. He bombed supposed centres of terrorism in Sudan and Afghanistan, he started picking on Iraq again, he was about to send bombers into Kosovo. And then suddenly, he's acquitted, and he's no longer interested in bombing Milosevic, and he's preaching peace and love ...

Has anyone seen the rampaging elephant during musth? Notice how calm and docile he becomes afterwards? This is why Viagra is a good thing. Men who are busy servicing erections are less likely to commit violence. A good example is the fact that the rate of road rage in the US rises proportionately with the rate of erectile dysfunction.

(Actually, I just made that up. I'll leave it to some academic to conduct a study on the issue confirming the theory, write a book, and make lots of money off the idea on the talk show circuit. Then, I'll sue.)

It's going to take at least 10 years for the patents on Viagra to expire. Till then, it's going to cost about R70 per hit.

My advice to Trevor Manuel is to tax it now! Like alcohol and tobacco, it's a standing target. (By the time my generation needs it, affordable generic versions will be available.)

As for the concerns about side effects, if a few of the species do peg off in the throes of a passion-induced coronary, at least they'll die happy. And it will bring new meaning to the concept of rigor mortis.