Pub date August 12, 2008


Dear Andrea:

Now that I’m postmenopausal, I’m worried about how I can get some orthopedic support in our bedroom to make "amore" easier. My arms and back are injured from overuse and wear and tear. I really think about the garage door-opener rig in the movie 9 to 5. Is there something like that hoist that is available for home use? I think this would work great. A friend suggests a sky-chair. What can we do? Grab bars are out since there isn’t a door nearby. Thanks for any help you can offer. I’m not dead yet.



Dear Ouchy:

Oh, dear. I hear you about the overuse and wear and tear — at some level I simply don’t believe we were meant to last this long, any more than my pampered, heavily medicated house cat was "meant" to still be alive and scratching at 21. Still, merely making it past menopause ought not to doom you to a life of pain and infirmity. Promise me you have seen some doctors and physical therapists and a teacher of some school of gentle and not-too-ridiculous yoga, and I will tell you what I know about assistive devices, which is plenty. Do we have a deal?

Starting on the lower-cost, lower-tech, and lower-to-the-ground options, I have often mentioned "sex pillows" and I will mention them again. You can buy fancy ramps and humpty-things from a company such as Liberator Adventure Gear, whose unintentionally hilarious Web site features apparent Chippendales rejects and their female counterparts posing awkwardly on big foam hummocks that would not look out of place in an ’80s loft-space complete with black leather coffee tables and Nagel prints on the wall. If you can’t deal with that level of retro, you can get foam ramps and donuts and the like from a medical supply company. They won’t come in colors (especially not "premium" colors), but you’re just going to throw a towel over them anyway.

Next we have stand-alone swings and slings. These do not operate on garage-door frequencies, but I’m not sure how good an idea mechanization is anyway. I keep imagining bits and parts getting snagged and hoisted against their will. Plus, while your neighbor may not hit the garage door opener and cause your … something … to go up, I did find a story about an English guy with a Turkish-made erectile implant that responded enthusiastically to a neighbor’s remote, and I’m not Snopesing it. Call me Fox Mulder: I Want to Believe.

There are dozens of swinglike devices made specifically for your purpose (well, not for the creaky and painful of joint, but for suspending a receptive partner in the air, hopefully above the insertive one). You could check out the jauntily-titled; it carries a full range of swings. These devices are ugly (and the site itself, in sharp contrast to Liberator Adventure Whatsit, looks like the photographer set up shop in the bathroom of a San Fernando Valley furnished apartment and covered whatever he didn’t want in the shot with used bedsheets), but what do you want for $425? That will get you the Effortless model, which not only has a packable, hideable frame for vacations and visits from relatives, it even has a remote for raising, lowering, and possibly swiveling. That oughta solve your garage-door itch right there.

For considerably more money and even less aesthetic appeal, but with a degree of sturdiness and whoops!-lessness I cannot guarantee for a purpose-made sex swing, there are those devices made for lifting a disabled or infirm person in and out of bed. You don’t need any sort of special license to order one of these — or most medical equipment, really (didn’t Tom Cruise buy Katie her own ultrasound machine?). All you need is a charge card. A good charge card, though, because they’re not cheap. You’d need to order something like a "Sani-sling," too, if you think the problem through, and that will set you back another $400 or $500.

Forget that. You’re going to do better in the sex world than in the medical world. The sites may be sleazy and the devices may not be something you’d want either your parents or your kids to see, but the medical versions would require just as much explanation (since you’re not actually disabled, just a little rickety), be twice as ugly, and cost twice as much. I am all for getting the best-designed, toughest gear you can afford (our kids are outfitted as much or more by REI than they are by Babies "R" Us), but there’s such a thing as overkill. And anyway, buying medical supplies is kind of depressing unless you’re, you know, into that. Stick with the swings and slings. They’re the right tools for the job, although anything’s better than hooking yourself up to the garage door. Aren’t you glad you asked?



Andrea is home with the kids and going stir-crazy. Write her a letter! Ask her a question! Send her your tedious e-mail forwards! On second thought, don’t do that. Just ask her a question.