“Janice Has a Bad Sex Life”

Fiction by Kristen Fealy

Janice’s feet were in the stirrups and a sheet was covering her Brazilian waxed parts when she asked her gynecologist, “Why do I feel like I want to join a nunnery? I’d rather go to the dentist than have sex.”

“My wife says the same thing.” Dr. Shandler stood up and reached for a swab with a sigh.

“Well what do you tell her?” Janice was inspecting her chipped toenails and decided she needed a pedicure.

“If there were a female Viagra, the Pope would make an announcement from the Vatican.”

“So there’s no pill?” Janice said.

“No. But you can get rid of the kids,” Dr. Shandler said. Janice laughed.

Janice and Pablo’s three kids were old enough to stay up late. Their daughter was eight, their younger boy was 10, and their older son was 12. Their three bedrooms were clumped together in the back of their New York City apartment. Every night they could hear every thump when the boys jumped off their bunk beds and every screech over a misplaced toy. If Janice and Pablo could hear them, they reasoned the children could hear them.

The only hours they could have sex in total privacy were between two o’clock in the morning and four, because Pablo Jr., Sam, and Elizabeth would be dead asleep.

Yes, they had to go. But go where?

At 46 years old, Janice had been suffering from peri-menopausal symptoms for about a year. Plus there was the sex part. They did it, but she never wanted to do it. She would think about how they were low on smoked turkey and he would wonder what he was doing wrong. She had lost her desire, which felt like a death. Her sexuality had been such a huge part of her life, she never spent much time thinking about it because it was always on, like a humming refrigerator.  Janice could open the door and find something interesting to eat whenever she wanted.

 At 28, Janice met Pablo at a dinner party. He was a third-year resident in urology. Pablo revealed his mother had named him after the famed romantic poet Pablo Neruda. He also told Janice he had gotten an A in anatomy while in medical school, which immediately piqued her interest.

She slept with him on their first date, a day later. They had barely finished their tacos at a Mexican restaurant when she said, “Do you live around here?”

Pablo said, “I live around the corner.”

“Wow, I’d love to see your apartment,” Janice said as she paid the check.

Janice and Pablo did not leave his apartment until it was time for him to go to work.

Over the past year, she treated her ebbing desire like she had misplaced a pair of scissors. Surely she would find them again, because she needed the scissors? But salvation showed up at Javier’s party, not at the Vatican City. Javier was an old friend of Pablo’s, and a Cuban Adonis. At almost 50, Javier’s black hair had no gray. His tall, muscular body had no paunches. He looked like he could be a wide receiver on the Giants instead of a Wall Street banker. He routinely dated women who were famous for their beauty. Women who were 20 years younger. Women who wore backless dresses with no bras at parties. At this particular party, his 26-year-old blond beauty was going on about sex with Javier. Janice was standing next to her husband wearing her nun outfit, a basic black dress with a bra on to hoist up her sagging bits. Janice turned away from her, frowned, and sipped her wine.

“What makes it so great?” Janice asked her as blandly as she could. But really, she was jealous. Jealous of the blond’s sex life and her youth.

“Pot! We smoke pot and it’s mind-blowing.” The blond opened her hands wide by her ears, shook them, and repeated, “Mind-blowing.”

“Pot? Really?” Janice’s experiences with pot through high school and college were sporadic and always ended with Janice fully clothed and alone with her face on a toilet seat. Not naked in someone’s bed.

“You want some?” Javier was smoking some out of a black plastic vapor cigarette.

“Sure.” Pablo sheepishly looked at Janice as she held the smoke in her lungs after a huge 45-second inhale. Janice exhaled and felt nothing. Pablo passed on the hit because he was busy calling an Uber.

“I don’t feel anything.”

“You have to give it some time,” Javier said.

“The Uber is going to be here in two minutes.” Pablo tickled Janice’s palm and gave her an urgent look which translated to, “We’re going to get it on the minute we open the front door.”

“I guess we best be going,” Janice said to Javier. Javier gave Pablo a big slap on the back. It was all very embarrassing to Janice, but she was possessed by the fact she could make her desire return.

When they got home, the kids were awake. The teenage babysitter was putting on her jacket extra slowly, waiting for her money.

“Why are the kids still awake? It’s 10 o’clock at night.” Janice was almost teary; her voice came out squeaky.

“They said they didn’t have to go to bed until you got home,” the babysitter said.

“And you believed them?” The sitter took her money, shrugged her shoulders, and left. After Pablo and Janice got the kids to sleep, Janice climbed into bed angry and sober.

But they had planned a summer trip to Normandy, Bruges, and Amsterdam, where pot is legal. After a four-hour car ride from Bruges, Belgium, Pablo, Janice, and the kids got to Holland and checked into the hotel. Janice ordered the kids room service, parked them in front of an American movie on TV, and headed to the bar downstairs.

“Is pot really legal here?” Janice asked the bartender as he handed them menus and flipped his hair. He was young and blond and a bartender, he had to know.

“Yes of course.”

“How can I get some?” Janice leafed through the bar menu. It offered sushi and a local delight called Beef Bitterballen, a Dutch type of meatball, which she was definitely ordering mainly because of the pornographic nature of the name. She would smoke pot and be Bitterballen every day on this trip. Janice had big plans.

“My wife is a little overexcited about the pot.” Pablo kept his head buried in the menu.

“And you’re not? You heard Javier at the party.” Janice was indignant.

The bartender took the drink order and then showed them a Dutch app on his phone locating all of the government-run pot shops near the hotel. Janice had a similar app on her phone for Taco Bell.

“You don’t even need this app. The coffeeshops are everywhere and they don’t sell coffee at all, just pot, hash, and space cakes.” He explained that a space cake is a lemon cake made with cannabis and cannabis butter. “You have to be careful because they taste like nothing, but hit you hard.”

“Cannabis butter?” Janice raised her voice. She was orgiastic at the idea of butter and pot mixed together in one food product. The Dutch were geniuses.

The next day the family visited the Rijksmuseum and saw Rembrandt’s “Night Watch.” The minute the tour was over Janice hustled the kids and Pablo out of the museum. Janice was walking so fast she nearly broke out into a jog.

“Why are you in such a rush?” Pablo pulled her hand tight to slow her down.

“Something about pot and butter made me especially eager.” Janice was breathless.

“You really have to calm down.”

“Calm down about what?” Elizabeth said. Pablo and Janice called their daughter “the headmistress” because she always knew when to interrupt them when they were talking about something secret. Whenever they locked their bedroom door, she would be the one child to try to wrench it open and collapse crying in front of it while Pablo and Janice quickly got dressed. Elizabeth was the sex killer.

“I am calm,” Janice said, and she slowed her walking down to a stroll. They wandered around the canals and Janice spotted a coffeeshop next to an ice cream parlor. Something for them and something for me, she thought.

“Ice cream. Mom, ice cream,” the kids squealed.

“Yay,” she said as she followed Pablo and the children into the ice cream shop. Janice stopped at the doorway and said, “Wait, I think I dropped something outside.” The kids didn’t notice as they debated what flavors they wanted. Janice ran across the street to the coffeeshop. She was shaking with excitement as she stared at the laminated menus offering tobacco and hash cigarettes, pot cigarettes rolled up into little plastic tubes, space cakes, and pot brownies. The people in the coffeeshop had glazed eyes and were slumped into the benches.

Janice ordered one space cake for $7. The yellow cake was smaller and skinnier than her iPhone. How bad could it be? She took half the cake and swallowed it in one bite. The other half she shoved in her purse. Janice sat down with the kids at the ice cream parlor. She dropped her purse on the floor and went under the table and left the remaining half of the space cake on Pablo’s lap. Pablo excused himself to go to the bathroom to eat his portion.

It was late in the day and they continued walking around until about 6 p.m. Pablo whispered to Janice, “I don’t feel anything.”

“I don’t either,” Janice said.

“Don’t what?” The headmistress was curious.

“Let’s go back to the hotel,” Janice said, ignoring her daughter Elizabeth.

Janice ordered an Uber. The family sat on the stairs of a townhouse and watched the boats go by on the canal as they waited. Topless men smoking and drinking beer, lying next to bikini-clad women on cushioned cruisers slowly chugging down the Amstel River. It was a hot, sunny day. The sun wouldn’t set until 10. Janice sipped from a bottle of water. The world tilted for her just then. Everything in her field of vision became hazy. Janice couldn’t be sure if it was the cake or the heat.

When they got back to the hotel, Janice and Pablo told the kids, “Mommy and Daddy need to lie down for a little bit.” Room service was ordered and a movie was turned on for the kids. They shut the door to their connecting room.

Janice and Pablo had sex the minute they shut the door. Pablo squeezed Janice’s calf and Janice was grateful she didn’t have a foot fetish. They had sex again. Pablo got up and checked on the kids and then they had sex again. They had sex trying to call for room service. Janice kept forgetting what they wanted and the operator patiently waited while Janice said, “Wait, I don’t remember what we want.” Janice dropped the receiver on the floor and Pablo reminded her it was a club sandwich and a hamburger. This seemed way too complicated for Janice to remember. So Janice hung up the phone and they had sex again.

 At 4 a.m., Pablo said, “We have to stop, I am going to have a medical emergency.”

“What kind of medical emergency? Can you squeeze my calf again?” she whispered.

“It is called corpus cavernosa. It literally means you are going to break my dick, Janice. We have to get some sleep.”

They slept naked on top of the sheets. When they woke up. Janice put her head into Pablo’s shoulder and said, “Can’t you practice medicine in Colorado?”

Kristen Fealy was a national news correspondent at the Fox News Channel before becoming a mother. She has a master’s degree in journalism from New York University and studied fiction writing with Julia Glass at the Southampton Writers Conference. She is working on a novel.