I've just started reading a book on memoir writing. The author stresses the need for a writer to take chances, to be unafraid of criticism or offending people, your basic “let 'er rip” philosophy. I realize I can be very biting, borderline cruel in my criticism of some people. That’s not nice and I try to keep those evil thoughts to myself. But I don’t hesitate to make fun of myself. I thought of a piece I wrote that More posted on the online version of the magazine several years ago. I got some creepy responses and because the staff at More was horribly uncommunicative, when I finally got their attention I asked to have all of my work pulled from the magazine’s website. There was nothing smarmy about the piece I wrote; actually I was making fun of myself, of my naiveté.
So. . . ? Should I take a chance and repost it here? I did post it on this
blog several years ago and it didn’t blow up in my face. At least I can control
what is here, as much as anyone can control what is on the Internet. I know I’m
delusional. So, just to honor my "craft" I’m taking a chance. Here it is:
I needed to go to the local office supply store to get a three-ring binder for
my French class, an errand that normally wouldn’t have much potential for
getting me in trouble. Before I left the house I was reading a magazine article
about stimulating creativity. One of the recommendations in the article was to
do something out of one’s comfort zone, do something unusual and observe all the
unfamiliar details. Motivated by the recommendation in the magazine, in a noble
quest for creativity, and with feigned confidence, I left the office supply
store and walked halfway down the tired little strip mall, heading for Night
Dreams, the adult toy store, something far, far out of my comfort zone. Don’t
be coy—you know what that is. I’m an old Catholic grandmother and even I know
what it is.
I thought I knew what to expect at the adult toy store. Last year I was invited
to one of those silly home parties where instead of selling Tupperware they
sell vibrators. Before bringing out the merchandise, the hostess made us play
inane, slightly bawdy games in order to get everyone relaxed and giggly,
probably in hopes of increasing sales. A saleswoman named Candie speed talked
through a description of her wares and passed things around the room for all
the women to examine. It was like playing hot potato. No one kept anything for
long, but quickly passed each item to her neighbor. Maybe it was supposed to be
amusing but I hated the plastic penis party. It reduced a bunch of middle-aged
women to junior high girl awkwardness. Sorry, I don’t mean to be disrespectful
of junior high girls—they probably would have been totally cool with the whole
experience. But if nothing else, it was my introduction to the wacky world of
vibrators, leather thongs, and all sorts of things that bump and grind in the
night. Still, being in a friend’s living room with a group of women did not
prepare me adequately for the full-throttle experience of sauntering alone into
a sex shop.
So yesterday I boldly ventured forth in the name of creativity. As I passed
Starbuck’s on my way to Night Dreams, an overweight, unshaven foreign man with
heavy chest hair who was drinking espresso at an outside table with another man
looked at me, grinned, and said “hellooooo” like he knew exactly where I was
going. My confident veneer was cracking.
I should have called the hello man’s bluff and ducked into the Jenny Craig
weight loss center next to Night Dreams, but I wasn’t thinking fast and my
boldness had not entirely evaporated. Yet.
There were a couple of mannequins in bondage and discipline outfits in the
window, but for the most part the front of Night Dreams is covered with paper
to conceal what’s inside the store. I entered and avoided making eye contact
with the other people in the store, just stayed focused on the array of
products on display. Out of the corner of my eye I could see a big burly man
only a few feet from me and I wondered why he was looking at the merchandise in
the women’s section but I had no intention of making idle conversation with him.
Although there were three clerks working in the store, thankfully it was a
young woman who walked up and offered me assistance. She was dressed in black
leather, heavily tattooed, and heavily pierced. The other two clerks were young
men, also dressed in black leather, heavily tattooed, and heavily pierced.
Perhaps they were required to dress that way to promote the corporate image.
I asked the helpful sales clerk about a product whose packaging claimed that it
received a rave review in Oprah’s magazine, said it was the “Rolls Royce” of
those things. Oprah uses these and she admits it?!!! I wasn’t exactly sure what
it did, what features a shopper would find useful, so the nice bondage and
discipline clerk explained it to me in specific gynecological detail. Being a
confident woman and a savvy consumer, I looked down at the floor and said, “Oh,
okay, I see.” I still don’t understand why one needs to have an appliance that
changes color and what’s with all the cute little bunnies and butterflies? And
I kept thinking about my experience with men and realized if I did buy one of
those things surely it would soon move to another state just to get away from
me. The devices looked formidable enough to call a taxi and head for the
airport on their own power.
The clerk left me alone so I could browse through the store at my own pace.
There are devices for men to use alone, devices for women to use alone, devices
for couples, for groups, for people of any sexual orientation, for people with
a wide variety of kinkiness. I really don’t know what people do with all of
those devices but I didn’t have the nerve to ask the clerk about them and,
having heard all the public health messages about safe sex, I didn’t want to
touch anything without protection. Any vestige of boldness gone.
You can believe one of two things: (1) that I bought something and I would
never admit it, or (2) that I completely chickened out, thanked the nice young
lady, and promised her I’d think about it and get back to her. Take your pick.