“Delicious,” says Don, digging in.
“Delicious,” I agree, lifting a forkful to my mouth.
“Not bad,” concedes Adam, surprising us all.
Bellies beginning to fill, a wineglass or two refreshed, our attention turns now to a topic that has hovered at the edges of conversation all evening: sex and the CR couple. There’s no escaping it. Of all the physiological inconveniences known to face the long-term calorie restricter—chills that sometimes accompany reduced metabolism rates, stamina deficits that can cut short the capacity for protracted physical labor—none strikes dismay into the heart of the initiate quite like CR’s potential, often mentioned but little understood, to squelch the libido. I’m happy to report the diet has so far spared me that particular side effect, but I’m eager to hear from the present company what CR has done to their sex lives. And they are just as eager, it seems, to tell me.
“Michael and I have more, better sex than all of you combined,” April announces, opening the discussion. “Ha! Speak for yourself,” Meredith retorts, seconded by her husband’s standard comment on the sex-and-CR problem: “Not a problem in our household.”
Or in most calorie-restricted households either, they insist. Not everybody on CR complains of lessened sexual desire, for one thing, and none of those who do, it seems, are women. (“If anything, women have the opposite problem,” April observes.) Nor are the reported side effects nearly as bad as what the “normal” aging process does to midlife sexual function. “Remember,” says Paul, “Meredith and I are in our late fifties, and we do know the sexual habits of people around our age.” The calorie-restricted middle-aged couple very likely doesn’t have the clogged arteries, sluggish endocrine systems, and other buzz-killing problems that conspire to extinguish many an older couple’s sex life.
All the same, says April, after all the record-straightening is done, “it’s not entirely a myth”: CR can in fact do strange things to the male libido. And, by way of illustrating the point, she begins to tell us what is probably the CR community’s best-known love story—her own.
“I met Michael at CR3 [the third annual Calorie Restriction Conference], in Charleston, but I stalked him for eight months before that,” says April. A recent convert to Calorie Restriction, she was an avid reader of the CR Society mailing list and, in particular, of Michael’s frequent postings to it. “I loved his writing. I thought he was absolutely brilliant and funny and developed a huge crush on him, and I just assumed he was probably 57 and married with five children, seventeen grandchildren, a lover, and a mistress. But eventually I saw a CBC interview with him about CR and saw that he was close to my age, and really cute, and just my type. And the interview showed him in his house making his little stir-fry all by himself and sitting down at the table all by himself with these hideous lime-green place mats. Just hideous. And that told me, one, he was straight, because no gay man would have these place mats in his home, and two, he was single, because no woman would have these place mats in her home. So I thought I’d capture him and take him to my country. And we’re closing on our house on Friday.”
There is a momentary silence, in the midst of which Paul bursts into applause. “Fantastic! Bravo! Hear, hear! I love that story!” he cries, just overexcitedly enough that I’m thinking maybe he should ease up a little on the brain- derived neurotrophic factor.
But April has gotten ahead of herself, and Michael joins in now to take the story back to the moment they met, when April met a creature she’d long since given up for mythical: a grown man—whether straight, gay, or in between—who wasn’t on some fundamental level a dog. Nor was it any natural gift or hard-won emotional insight that made him different. “Before CR, I was, if anything, hornier than most men,” says Michael. “But some people find that when they go on very severe CR, their classic male libido—that sort of aaaargh-there’s-a-pretty-woman-I-can’t-stop-my-neck-from-moving libido—goes down.” And Michael, it turns out, is one of those people.
“I’ve often thought that if you could explain to women that on CR, men will improve their sexual performance but decrease their skirt-chasing behavior so they only have eyes for you, who they’re in love with, women would be like, ‘I’m cutting your calories, honey. Half your dinner tomorrow,’” April resumes. “A 35-year-old who is mature and is interested in a deep spiritual experience but can fuck like an 18-year-old? That’s a pretty good thing.”