Seniors Get A Lesson On Sex
Recipe for setting a room of senior citizen women at ease while you discuss
relationships and sex: penis-shaped pasta, whipped cream, an underwater vibrator
and a sense of humor.
In an effort to educate older women on the risks involved with unprotected sex
and sexually transmitted diseases, the Alliance group at the Unitarian
Universalist Congregation of Miami, recently hosted "Senior Citizens Are Coming
Out of the Closet."
Marilyn Brand, an HIV intervention project educator with
the Palm Beach County Health Department, led the lecture by mixing her wit and
lighthearted manner into a topic that might make some older people feel
"When I was younger, they'd say if you masturbated you'd lose your eyesight and
your hair," Brand, 73, cracked. "That doesn't happen anymore."
The 20-plus women in the audience burst out in giggles.
Then she whipped out the penis-shaped pasta. For dinner, she said.
Next came chocolate syrup - use your imagination, she added.
Sprinkles and whipped cream? "I don't know what you're going to do with that,"
she said. More laughter.
After jokingly sharing some tips on how to communicate with that special someone
- don't interrupt people mid-sentence and don't call them idiots - it was time
to talk about sex.
'When your grandchildren call you and say, 'What did you learn today?' " Brand
said, holding up an underwater vibrator, 'You can say, 'I learned about
"I'm just showing you what exists," she added. "Because you're not going to look
for this at the store."
Of course, no lecture on sex is complete without some advice from sex
guru/personality Dr. Ruth Westheimer. Borrowing from Dr. Ruth's material, Brand
said, "Be loving. Be romantic. Be surprising."
Gertrude R. Pearl, a congregation leader who gently extolled its liberal
ideology by organizing seminars and community events, had arranged to have Brand
speak before she passed away last month.
Although Brand joked with the crowd, she did stress the importance of seniors
using protection during intercourse. Many of them fail to use condoms, she said,
because they don't have to worry about pregnancy.
Seniors also are at risk, she said, because they don't get tested for sexually
transmitted diseases regularly, doctors don't suspect the diseases in their
older patients, and some venereal disease symptoms mimic those that come with
She carried some condoms in her pockets and offered them to the audience.
Her final message: Practice safe sex and know your partners.
"I enjoyed it," said 73-year-old Dorothy Menadier. "I didn't know what to
expect, but I was pleased. I do understand AIDS in older people is spreading and
it's important to give that important message light-heartedly."
Menadier also loved the part about the underwater vibrator, as did most of the
crowd. "It just broke me up," she said to Pat Leslie, 79, after the lecture.