lead singer of the legendary 222s,
arguably Montreal's first punk rock band, Chris is now a
freelance writer based in Montreal. You can check out his
writing at looselips.ca
where he combines the sardonic humour of David Foster Wallace
and the deliciously contrived irreverence of Anthony
seems that every time I turn on the TV these days I’m
hit with what appears to be a public service announcement about
the heartbreak of is known as erectile dysfunction, or E.D.
as the cool people in the pharmaceutical biz like to call it.
honestly, to date, this has never been a big problem with me
personally, although the combination of too much alcohol and
a partner with a rancid smelling sweet spot, has admittedly,
on occasion, had the effect of dampening my enthusiasm of my
best part. Still, it’s nice to know that there are organizations
out there that deeply care about my boner, and are prepared
to take on the expense of a massive promotional campaign, to
let me know that if anything ever goes wrong with it they will
be there to help me get hard again. Thanks.
who exactly are these wonderfully benevolent people for such
concern with the state of my erection? And, God forbid, if I
should ever go limp for an extended period of time, how would
they help me? Would they care enough to send a teenage prostitute
to my door? Would they keep the police at bay while I attempted
to get hard and masturbate at the locker room of my local gym.
I mean as the Bee Gees used to sing: how do you mend a broken
wang. And why do these people care if mine is broke, anyway?
his commercial for the two millionth time this week, it crossed
my mind that perhaps these concerned folk may actually be a
pharmaceutical company, like, say, Pfizer, the fabulously wealthy
transnational company who happens to hold the patent for Viagra.
But funny enough, their name is mentioned anywhere on the spot.
Is it possible, I wondered, if the sponsors of this ad are people
who really care about the health of our nation’s erections?
even realized that erectile dysfunction (E.D.) was such a serious
health issue. The ad states that one in three men will suffer
from E.D. at some point in their lives, and, worse, most of
these dudes will suffer in silence. A disturbing subject matter,
the message warns, which may have the effect of disquieting
certain viewers. And when push comes to shove I suppose you
can count on me among the disquieted, because if it’s
really true I have a one in three chance of becoming sexually
impotent, consider me perturbed.
fact, since first becoming exposed to this ad I’ve found
myself becoming increasingly compelled to learn more about penises,
so that when the curse of E.D. comes knocking at my door, I
will know what to do and be ready to meet the challenge. So
last week, when an ad flashed on the screen, I took down the
E.D. emergency phone number and called them up.
at the emergency E.D. line they’ve got an ensemble of
‘health professionals’ standing by to give you the
411 on all things erection-related. When you call, the first
thing you hear is a recorded message that is supposed to make
you feel better for not being able to get it up any more by
repeating ad infinitum that in the majority of instances impotency
is caused by a curable medical condition. Apparently there are
close to three million other schmucks in Canada who are just
as lame as you in this area. If at any time in the phone call
you want to speak to a real-live ‘nurse’ about your
sexual inadequacy, all you have to do hit ‘1’ and
someone will come on and patiently listen to your story in an
effort to try to talk you into seeing your doctor about it.
my personal health professional came on line I panicked, and,
in light of my relatively healthy condition, didn’t quite
know what to tell him anymore. Not wanting him to feel that
I was wasting his time, I decided I had better ad-lib a little.
I mumbled. Um . . . sometimes I have trouble achieving and maintaining
an erection and I’m not sure what I should do about it.”
I figured that was as good as place as any to start.
Sir,” replied the professional, not missing a beat, “erectile
dysfunction is a very common malady that effects millions of
Canadian men. A lot of people are still uncomfortable talking
about it, but it is almost always curable. There are several
products on the market that can be prescribed to you should
you be prepared to sit down with your doctor and talk about
it.” He then proceeded to go on about how normal it is
to be limp all the time and how they could send me a brochure
about the various treatments and physical causes of E.D. “What
is your mailing address, sir?”
which point the entirety of E.D. campaign was suddenly made
clear to me. This 'health professional' sounded like nothing
more than a telemarketer. I could tell he was reading from a
script. He really didn't care about my penis. He was part of
an elaborate part to sell me something. "But what,"
the idiot in me wondered. I had a couple of ideas. I decided
to mess with him a bit.
too ashamed to see my doctor about this," I told him. "I'm
afraid he's going to laugh at me the same way my wife does when
I try to initiate sex with her."
this last revelation would give him something to think about,
but he barely flinched. He just kept reading more crap from
his script how erectile dysfunction is nothing to be ashamed
of and blah blah blah. I decided to try a litter harder.
uh . . . what could my doctor prescribe that might help me with
my condition?" I asked pretty sure of who he was working
for and what his answer would be. "I have a friend who
used to take something called Muse, which he said gave him awe-inspiring
erections, but I remember him claiming that there was a lot
of unpleasantness involved as well."
could be true," my telemarketer nurse told me. "For
a long time the treatments had to be injected directly into
the penis with a hypodermic needle, which a lot of people were
uncomfortable about. But now it is also available as a penis
suppository. You insert it with an applicator into the tip of
doesn't very nice either," I said trying to stifle a giggle."
I remember him saying that after a while his penis was all scarred
up from using it and that he would sometimes get involuntary
erections from out of nowhere that refused to go down no matter
what he did. He works in a daycare center, you know, and I think
it caused him some problems with his employer. And I've also
heard that the penis pump is problematic. What else is available?"
I had unknowingly opened the door for the inevitable Viagra
it was quickly delivered, albeit somewhat subtly. “Most
doctors are prescribing oral medications to combat erectile
dysfunction,” the telemarketer rambled on predictably.
“It has helped millions of men deal with the aguish of
. . . blah blah blah.”
there you go. My initial impulse was correct – it is really
just the Pfizer corporation trying to encourage people to bug
their doctors into prescribing them Viagra at 18 bucks a pop.
to continue our dialogue nevertheless and tried fucking with
him a little more by informing him that (a) I can sometimes
still get erections when my wife lets me put a bag over her
head (b) my present bout of impotence began around the same
time I upped my dose of Zoloft (another fine Pfizer product)
to 150 mg. a day, and (c) I can sometimes feel an erection coming
on when I’m showering with other men. But it was a hollow
thrill. Nothing really phased him and I think he simply began
to regard me as an idiot, as a possible prankster, although
he remained disturbingly polite and professional throughout
our entire conversation.
Pfizer directly after my adventure with their E.D. line, I was
officially informed that this campaign is their attempt to bring
male sexual impotency out into the open, and to let people know
that erectile dysfunction is no joking matter. It’s a
public service really, and it has little to do with the fact
that pretty well anyone who walks into a doctor’s office
complaining of limp penis is going to end up walking away with
a prescription for their product. Unless, of course, people
decide they are more comfortable sticking a needles into their
penises than taking a handy little pill. Which is unlikely,
even though it makes for better jokes. God bless the pharmaceutical