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'Any woman would get suspicious when you're with a guy who's so hot for you one day that you'd think he was auditioning for a B-movie, and then the next day he'll pass up suspenders and a wonderbra in favour of reading a K-mart catalogue. It didn't make sense.'

My neighbour Jeffrey is the very picture of modern California man. He showers. He shaves. He slicks back his hair as he prepares himself for an evening's conquest.

He throws Rod Stewart's greatest hits on the CD player and a perfectly ironed Tommy Hilfiger denim shirt on his back. He sniffs his Gucci loafers for any unpleasant odours, before slipping them on sockless feet, arranges the silver tipped belt around his washboard stomach. He splashes on a liberal dose of Tzar for men and he's ready.

Except for one thing. Something that it took a girl a month of dating him to discover. For after hours of preening and perfecting in front of the mirror, my neighbour's final accessory that he dons before hitting any night on the town is a testosterone patch.

I know this to be true, because she told me. One night in the midst of passion, she ran her hands through his hair, down the back of his neck and found the bandaid patch pasted there. Just like the transdermal nicotine patches that helped people stopped smoking, these new patches are to help men start smoking, with the delivery of virility for just $3 a day.

Waning testosterone is apparently a problem among Californian men. It happens to men all over the world, but being California, the health obsessed mecca where no one likes to admit they are getting old, it naturally becomes an issue that requires a solution.

Specialists now agree that men lose testosterone gradually throughout their adult lives, sometimes reaching a third to a half of their former levels by the age of 80. The decreasing levels cause loss of libido, impotence and depression. The virility patch was approved by the Food and Drug Administration here and Jeffrey, even if he will not admit to it, will swear by it instead.

"He wouldn't tell me what it was at first," says his former date, who later dumped him for a less complicated man. "But any woman would get suspicious when you're with a guy who's so hot for you one day that you'd think he was auditioning for a B-movie, and then the next day he'll pass up suspenders and a wonderbra in favour of reading a K-mart catalogue. It didn't make sense.

"Anyway he eventually told me what the patch was... He called it his passion plug."

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