THE SPEAKERPHONE COMES to life, and suddenly I get nervous.

I have to analyze my balls in front of these people.

“Hello?” says a hoarse and husky voice. Susie Wiley sounds a little tired, and unnervingly unfeminine.

I throw down the rest of my sparkling water like it’s a tequila shot. I quietly crack my knuckles.

That low voice—maybe she’s on the Wiley Protocol and then some. Then again, it’s dark outside. Is it past her bedtime?

“Hello?” she says again, and then clears her throat.

Adrian, the night’s hostess, hovers over the speakerphone.

“Hi Susie, it’s Adrian Cordet in San Francisco, here with several other Wiley Protocol users. We’re ready to talk shop. We’ve all got questions.”

“Hello everyone,” says Wiley, her voice raising an octave. “Thank you all for your courage, and your support.”

I bite down hard on one of the ice cubes in my empty glass.

Courage? This woman should reassure me. She’s the hormone guru.

One of Wiley’s MDs calls in immediately after Wiley does—standard procedure for these client consultations. Wiley is careful to have a doctor available in case the conversation requires advice best provided by someone with a medical license.

“Let’s get started,” Wiley continues.

Inside of Adrian’s living room, the six women and I look at each other. I don’t want to go first, and I’m not sure I want to hear what everyone else has to say. Women discuss their hormones like people talk about battling a cold. Women are used to addressing hormone-related issues. Men, on the other hand, are not. I don’t discuss, say, the quality of my erections with any friend. Not even Michael.

Please, God: Don’t let the discussion turn to vaginal dryness.

“Hi Susie, my name is Denise Reynolds,” announces a tall, thin woman with straight gray hair that falls, rather girlishly, down to her shoulders. Reynolds speaks loudly, and I’m not sure if she’s concerned that Wiley can’t pick up her voice or she is just hard of hearing.

“Thanks to you I’m finally interested in sex again. I used to find it a colossal waste of time,” Denise says, sitting back into her chair with a smile. Then she confesses that she’s seventy-two years old.

I try to gauge crowd reaction without swiveling my head. Personally I’m thinking that Reynolds is too old for all this. Wiley differs.

“Wow, I’m impressed with myself,” says Wiley.

The others clap.

“Can we talk about progesterone and estrogen?” Denise asks. I understand enough about women’s hormones to know that, simply speaking, supplemental estrogen will generally provide a woman with more libido, fewer hot flashes, and improved sleep. Progesterone, meanwhile, prevents the supplemental estrogen from promoting unhealthy amounts of cell growth in the lining of a woman’s uterus. Cell growth that can lead to cancer.

“Do I stop the estrogen or progesterone on day twenty-six?” asks Denise.

“Progesterone,” says Wiley. The doctor concurs.

Next to speak is Monica Buchanan, who’s a nurse.

“Hi Susie. Remember we last spoke about treating my dry eyes? You suggested putting more estrogen on my carotid artery midday,” Monica explains.

“Did it make a difference?” says Wiley.

“Not really,” says Monica.

The two of them and the doctor discuss thyroid issues for a while.

A petite woman named Joanie Ailey talks about breast soreness and her nipples getting huge on day twenty-six of her cycle.

How huge is huge? Thick like the knob on a combination lock? Tall like a stack of dimes?

I say nothing.

Paula Stern, who runs her own landscaping business, asks Wiley about the wisdom of having mammograms. Inez Mayer, a consultant in the biotech industry, wants to purchase her hormone creams from a different pharmacist. Adrian inquires about blood-sugar levels. Then everyone looks at me.

“Susie, we’re very excited about having a new member of our user group, and he would like to speak with you about his protocol,” says Adrian.

She gives me a nod.

I feel like a cross between Neil Armstrong and a Playgirl model. The Wiley Protocol for men was introduced only weeks before I started it. Wiley thought men could also benefit from taking varied doses of hormones—hormones specific to them—over the course of each month. Plus she wanted a men’s protocol so that aging guys could keep up with her invigorated female clients.

“Hey Susie,” I say. “Long time no see.”

“Sure, we met at the anti-aging conference,” she replies. “How’s it going?”

I tell her that I’m dutifully applying the testosterone between my scrotum and inner thighs. I’m trying to rub it in right over the femoral artery. I explain that I don’t yet feel a huge boost of energy when I’m on my bicycle. Wiley has no idea that I think of myself as a doper. Not her world.

“What about erections?” she asks.

I knew this was coming.

“Are you waking up with morning erections? What about nocturnal erections?” she asks. “Do you have strong erections in the middle of the night?”

Suddenly my mouth is dry. I lick my lips.

You like Wiley because she is a woman. Women know hormones up and down, inside and out. The woman knows how to make you more male. Speak!

“That would be yes, yes, and yes,” I say, staring straight at the speakerphone to avoid eye contact with the women in Adrian’s house. This is embarrassing.

“And how old are you? Like, forty?” continues Wiley.

“Forty-two,” I say.

“That’s young,” she says. “Good chance that you could look at a woman from across the room and get a big hard-on,” she says.

I hear some chuckles, but continue to stare at the phone.

“How about night sweats?” Wiley adds.

“I’m sweating now,” I reply.

Everybody laughs out loud. Wiley and the doctor tell me that I’m doing fine. The erections will likely get better—harder, and more numerous. The night sweats should subside as my body becomes more acclimated to exogenous testosterone. If the sweating persists, she says, send up a flare.

I thank her for her time. A few minutes later, she signs off.

I stand up to pour myself more sparkling water. Inez, the biotech consultant, approaches me.

“I know Susie doesn’t officially recommend it. But I’d suggest that you shave your balls and apply cream right to them,” says Inez without hesitation. “My husband does it. He’s got something standing up in his pajamas every single morning.”

Monica, the nurse, overhears our conversation and walks over to us. She chimes in. “Mine too! I always wake up and think, he’s hard again this morning? Well, damn!”

I glance at Monica and Inez, who start sharing detailed recollections about morning sex. It dawns on me that I need to relax my shoulders and loosen my sphincter muscle. The hormone science behind stoking a mature woman’s sex drive can include upping her estrogen as well as T levels (women naturally produce some testosterone, but far less than men), and courtesy of the Wiley Protocol, Monica and Inez are clearly good to go as far as the former chemical. The ladies are also freaking me out. They look like they belong at a Goldman Sachs Christmas party. But they have total potty mouth.

Come on, you’ve heard all the exploits, from your buddies anyway. More times than you can remember.

I give pause, and then decide that the decorum I should maintain inside of Adrian’s cozy, manicured living room is the decorum that I maintain in a men’s locker room. Her house may not have a sauna or shaving cream. But I’m hearing vaguely familiar tales of conquest, and likely some fish stories, too. Hey, we’re all just having a good time getting raunchy.

“You know, I’m not sure my wife is ready to shave my nuts smooth,” I say to Inez. “I don’t know if that would get her all wet.”

“Just have the hair lasered off,” says Monica.

You can do that?

“Then your wife will want them in her mouth more,” says the landscape gardener, Paula. “I know I would.”

We all look at her.

“You can’t take me anywhere!” she laughs.

What has happened to gay male porn? What has happened to gay male self-image? Not that either has ever been built on an overly strong sense of self, but I’d be amiss not to notice the growing trend from within gay culture to look like gay male porn stars, while gay male porn stars are, more and more, looking like über-masculine dudes. Let’s get one thing straight (no pun intended): Gay male pornography of today is not filled with mages of “gay” men; gay male pornography of today is filled with projections of the aggressive, competitive male, suppressed of emotion while engaging in one sexual conquest after another: they are images of a hegemonic masculinity fucking itself.

You win some, you lose some, and some get rained out—but you have to dress for all of ‘em.” —Satchell Paige

I remember the moment when I decided, quite deliberately, to care about baseball.

I was maybe twelve years old, I was at my grandparents’ house, and I was seized by a sudden need to avail myself of the bathroom. Then as now, I hate it when I have to do Number Two and there’s nothing to read. So I grabbed the only printed matter in the house that looked remotely appealing—the sports section of the Morristown (N.J.) Daily Record—and barricaded myself in the can.

There are many wonderful things about being a dog owner. The playing, the walks, knowing that your dog wouldn’t do a damn thing to stop a robber but would, without hesitation, risk its life to protect you and your loved ones from squirrels. These things, however, pale in comparison to one of the true joys of having a furry friend. I’m talking, of course, about standing on the grass for unbelievably long periods of time waiting for your dog to pee.

My wife Julie and I adopted Chloe (the Wonder Shih Tzu™) last August. Since then, I estimate we’ve spent roughly 14,285 hours waiting for Chloe to pee (that’s 45 years in dog time). It’s not as dull as it sounds. See, “waiting” implies you’re merely standing around, checking your watch every ten seconds, your anxiety level rising because you’ve got to catch the train to get to work on time and the clock continues to tick, meanwhile Chloe is having a gay ol’ time sniffing around yet failing to do anything that resembles peeing and, for the love of God, you’re going to miss that train! No, our morning pee trips are considerably more engaging than that—largely due to the amount of begging involved.

“C’mon, Chloe!”
“Okay, Chlo. Time to pee!”
“Goooo, good girl. Let’s peeeeee!”

These requests accomplish two things:

  1. Chloe staring up at us and rolling her eyes to say “I don’t watch you pee, dude.”
  2. Strange looks from passerbys who likely thought we were perfectly normal dog owners at first but, after witnessing this ordeal, now look at us much like you would at the guy sitting on the mall bench, big globs of drool falling from his mouth as he clutches a high heel to his chest.

Naturally, this ordeal begs the question, “if Chloe isn’t peeing during this time, what is she doing?” (as opposed to the more obvious question: “whatinthehell is wrong with you?!?”). Good question. If you must know (and she’d be soooo embarrassed that I’m telling you this), Chloe is what you’d call a yenta. For those of you who don’t speak Yiddish or own the Mel Brooks Anthology, yenta means a “busybody” or “gossip.” The original paparazzi, if you will. And that’s Chloe.

If someone is pulling out of their driveway four miles away, she’ll hear the running engine and want to check it out. If another dog is peeing in another zip code, she’ll want to smell it (the dog and the pee, that is). And don’t even get me started about what happens if she sees a squirrel. “Stop, Chlo!” I’ll shout as this 17 lb. ball of fur and crooked teeth is pulling me cartoon strip-style across the grass in a frantic effort to catch the squirrel.

Anyway, once everybody—and everything—in the continental US finally cooperates and gives Chloe the complete peace and quiet she needs, then, AND ONLY THEN, will she squat down. Julie and I celebrate this triumphant act with the type of celebration you’d bestow upon someone for a truly spectacular accomplishment such as winning an Olympic gold medal or resisting the urge to make fun of a really bad toupee.

“YAY, CHLOE!,” we’ll shout. “GOOD GIRL!” (I won’t even tell you about the types of looks people give us here).

Now Chloe wasn’t always a slow pee-er, mind you. There was that time, last September, when the vet, in an effort to control Chloe’s allergies, put her on steroids. Two words: ‘roid rage. Seriously. The steroids turned Chloe from Wonder Shih Tzu into Shih Tzu Badass. Among the side effects of the steroids was a sudden increase in energy, a desire to devour anything resembling food, and Chloe shaving 5 seconds off her 440 time. And then there was her increased thirst. When she wasn’t killing a pack of bubble gum (again, seriously), she was inhaling her water dish. Which, of course, meant she was peeing. A lot.

We’d take her outside and before she even had a chance to plot her squirrel-killing strategy, she’d pee. Then, on our way back inside the house, she’d pee again. Of course, it’d be wrong to keep Chloe on steroids just so she’ll pee faster. I mean, aside from the ‘roid rage, we’d have those pesky random urine tests to worry about. I guess that means we need to find another way to move the peeing process along.

We’ve talked to the vet and he suggested using some sort of a reward system to encourage quick peeing. You know, she pees and we give her a treat, such as a dog biscuit or a blueberry. I’m all for trying this idea though, to be honest, I think the key element here is selecting the right treat. Can you say “squirrel”?