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I remember the moment well: Nick, Mary and I were taking a tour of the Green Bank Radio Astronomy Observatory in West Virginia. One of the exhibits was an infrared video camera connected to a television monitor. Visitors could see themselves in infrared which highlighted different skin temperatures of various parts of their bodies.

Stop right there! You think you know where this story is going? – Viagra, “various parts of their bodies”? Well, you’re wrong. Shame on you!

As I was saying, the image on the monitor varied from red for the warmest areas to blue for the coldest. As we all stood there staring at ourselves and each other I became aware that everybody was staring at me, specifically, at my hands. Unlike all the other people in front of the camera, my hands were startlingly blue. The rest of my body looked like everybody else’s but my hands looked like I had dipped them in a blueberry pie. Clearly, my hands are unusually cold.

With winter coming on this can be a problem so I did a little digging on the internet about this symptom and what do you know, one of the suggestions I encountered is that the drug Viagra provides some relief. Cold hands is a symptom of something called Raynaud’s Phenomenon although I’m not so sure that’s what I have because Raynaud’s victims also have skin discoloration and I don’t have that. Anyway, Viagra’s ability to increase blood flow apparently works on hands as well as, well, you know…..

And by the way, let’s get one thing straight right here and now: Any interest I may have in Viagra is strictly limited to it’s effect on my hands. Period. End of subject.

But my consideration of Viagra raises a problem. You see, I am one of those guys who snickers and hoots when those erectile dysfunction commercials interrupt my television viewing experience. Shouts of “loser!,” “limpy!,” and “pathetic!” have been heard in our house. One of my favorite commercials is that Jack-in-the-Box one where Jack is standing in the bedroom door with a card over his crotchal area and says to his wife “Honey, it’s been more than four hours. I think it’s time to call the doctor.” Har, har, har. No real man would have to resort to something like that.

So now, here I am weighing the pros of warm hands against the utter humiliation of asking a doctor and a pharmacist for a Viagra prescription. Oh the shame! I’m already strategizing ways around it: Have Mary actually pick up the prescription. Buy it over the internet. Thinking of clever ways to insert the actual reason for the Viagra into the conversation when I go to the pharmacy.

But all those strategies in the end would probably come to naught. I can hear that conversation now after I leave the pharmacy: “Can you believe that guy? Trying to convince us he doesn’t have E.D.! Hah! Raynaud’s my ass. How pathetic. What a loser.

I can see me now: “No! It’s true. Here, feel my hands!”

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