A Middle Aged Woman Walks Into a Sex Shop…It’s No Joke.

Warning: If you are prone to tisk tisk’ing; if you might run into me in the grocery store and wonder; if you are friends with my kids; if you are an in-law or relative; or, if you are one of my kids, please skip this one— in fact, if you are one of my kids (biological, exchange, or “other”), absolutely stop reading now.  Trust me; it will be worse for you than it will for me.

Image: Lovers web site. You get it right? "Packaged..."

Image: Lovers web site. You get it right? “Packaged…”

Every time I drive down The Guide, the main road past our ridiculously lame mall, I pass the store Lovers. It sits perched on a hill, right at a busy traffic light… where those of us stopped— on our way to other, more respectable stores, can’t help but see the giant purple sign, the bold purple tiles on the roof (apparently purple is the color of lust, sex, toys), the provocative window displays and the giant sale signs. For years now it’s winked at me as I try not to look in the windows, or guess what’s inside. “Hey you! Yeah, you, stop acting like a prude… I know you’re curious,” it calls to me, as I try to not let other drivers see my cautious glances; “Just come in for a minute…” I watch the light turn green and continue on to Costco.  I’m not actually a prude, but I was never willing to go public with that fact, by traipsing into Lovers, and risking my neighbors seeing me. Never, until two weeks ago.

Call it a twofer awakening; the first came in finding out I’m not as progressive as I’ve always fancied myself.  I was with a group of women and one of them brought up the subject of vibrators. Needless to say, it was a colorful conversation… but the worst part by far was when it became apparent that I was the only woman there, that didn’t own my own “toy.” Maybe it was my deer in the headlights look; or the fact that I was nodding along, smiling anxiously, but clearly didn’t seem to know what they were talking about; or, maybe these savvier women can spot us less sexually sophisticated chicks, pick us out in the crowd? Either way, all eyes turned my way, and I found myself back-pedaling and making excuses, as the comments flew my way. “What!” “Really? You’re serious?” “You haven’t tried a vibrator?” “Never? Ever?!” “What do you do?” The looks of pity and shock were almost more than I could bear. Geez! You’d think I’d admitted to being a virgin, and that my kids were adopted. I admit it; I felt like a lesser woman for that half hour or so. They all were clearly stunned, and I was embarrassed.

Image: amillionmilesfromnormal.com

Image: amillionmilesfromnormal.com

What can I say? Have I been curious since then… maybe through the years? Of course. But really, are there millions of other women out there who are so familiar with this all important toy, and I’m the only 50 year old sex-toy virgin? Really? I just haven’t seen the need… or, maybe I’m missing some big thing that I should know more about? Honestly, when one of them started talking about clitoral orgasm versus deeper, g-spot orgasm, my eyes glazed over and I’m sure I looked like the totally lost sheep in the flock. Clearly I was, lost, given the direction the conversation had veered and my utter confusion. I know what an orgasm is; I’m not that clueless— but it was all getting so damned complicated!  I quietly rationalized to myself:  Maybe I don’t need a toy to keep things happy in happy land. Laugh away ladies (you know who you are!); maybe I’m just so much more advanced that I don’t need toys? Or, maybe… Oh God, I’ve been missing some giant womanly thing that all these other women know about, and I’m cruising toward later life and will die dried up and not knowing about the real big bang?  What if I am missing out!! I went home distressed, to say the least.

I’ll admit it, that idea of missing out got under my skin; and, I began to wonder about all of this. I looked in the mirror and wondered if others could see that I was lacking this sexual sophistications component. Yeah, it got under my skin, and there I was at the light on The Guide two weeks ago, trying not to look at the Lovers store, when I had the second awakening: I hadn’t been in a sex store. The two issues came crashing into each other, in that moment and I found myself doing a sharp turn onto the side street where Lovers is and pulling into their lot. Let me clarify, lest you be laughing at me more than you already were: I have been in stores that have sex toys, stores that have adult humor, etc. I’m not that prudish clueless pathetic unaware. I’ve seen dildos. I’ve seen porn. I know what’s out there… or, I thought I did.

I pulled into the parking lot at Lovers, and immediately worried that someone might see me going in. Ok, prudish. But, I pulled up my big girl panties and skulked snuck walked confidently hidden by the bushes toward the front door. Maybe I moved a little quicker as I got toward the entrance and realized that anyone at the stop light could see me, but that’s because it was hot outside and I wanted to get in the cool store. That’s all. When I went through those doors, any vestige of prude in me was melted away, and my eyes were seared by the instant sexual deluge of images. If I looked like a deer in the headlights with my savvy lady friends, I must have looked like some truly lost soul, to the two sexual Goddesses that greeted me.

“Can I help you today?” Goddess #1 asked, as I pretended to know my way around and tried to find the toys, without looking as utterly lost as I was. Um, no, thanks. I’m just looking, (Oh shit! Did I just say I was just looking? As in peeping, as in deviant, as in I actually do come here all the time, and I’m just looking this time…), I told her coolly, as I walked the way women are taught to walk in cities… at night… alone: hands in fists at your sides, like you know where you’re going and with a clearly determined look on your face.  No, I’m fine thank you, I added again, as she came out from behind the counter. “Is there anything I can demonstrate for you today?” I stood perfectly still for a moment, trying to figure out what the right answer to that question was… in a sex shop.  (Is there a room where they show you these things? Is there a real demonstration? Shit! Shit! Shit!) No; thanks a lot. I’m just looking at a few things. I’ll let you know if I need any help… I mean, if I can’t find something… Uh...   “No problem, just call me if you need anything.” She smiled and walked to the back of the store, sure I was clueless. I saw Goddess # 2 smile at her.

Image: LookHowFarWe'veCome.org   Any guy who wants to put his parts in here, deserves whatever comes of it

Image: LookHowFarWe’veCome.org Any guy who wants to put his parts in here, deserves whatever comes of it

I tried to look totally nonplussed, like a woman who has g-spot orgasms all the time, and comes into sex shops whenever her vibrator needs replacing. They do need replacing, right? You don’t keep one forever, do you? That seems icky. I walked among the items and kept my face neutral. Cock rings, dildos, vibrators that you can wear all day, under your clothes— Um, really? Really! So, you go to the grocery store and you get off in produce, and then calmly proceed to  cereal? Really? There were pillows to make certain positions easier for the man for couples who like that kind of position. There were flavored oils and lubricants— so, all this sexy stuff doesn’t get you lubricated enough? There’s a flavor for this and a flavor for that. You know what “this” and “that” is, ouí?  There are balls to put in you, balls to wear on you, things to clamp on your balls, and all kinds of things to have a ball with.  There are things to put your parts in: mostly men parts, and with really weird faces and plastic faces and fake vaginas or other openings. There are things in all kinds of happy colors, that must be good, because, well, they are so colorful.  Things that bend, things that wiggle, things that send, me into giggles… Oops, a slip into Seuss there.

(Images from internet— What? You thought I’d take pictures? I would have lost the very last vestiges of self respect, that I barely had. Trust me, this is the tip of the iceberg, so to speak.)

Unknown images-1 images-3


Image: ibtimes.com

Image: ibtimes.com

Fifty Shades of Gray is big in sex stores, I discovered. There was actually a display at Lovers— buy the book, along with your clothes line, hand cuffs, feathers, whips, gags, blind folds and all kinds of other stuff… none of which was gray. There’s probably a gray lubricant, since lubes seem to be very big in sex stores. For the record, I still haven’t read Fifty Shades. Yeah, I’m that out of touch. After my utter humiliation at Costco a few months ago (read here), it has remained tucked under a pile of stuff… It’s not all about the gray though. There were all kinds of apparently sexy garb: maids are still big; nurses (a bit cliché, no?); and more blatantly sexual gear. Just for the record, there’s a lot that women are apparently supposed to wear, not so much for men. I tried to keep moving; not pick anything up, lest it be something I wasn’t prepared to touch (most of it); and, did not ask the two Goddesses for help.

If I was confused in the rest of the store, the vibrator section was totally unsettling. There are a lot of toys out there, in shapes that made my head spin… with heads that spin. This thing that everyone refers to as a rabbit, didnt’ really look like a rabbit, if you ask me. They come in a dizzying assortment of colors; they come smooth or bumpy; they come with multiple speeds, water-proof and not water proof; they come unGodly large and frankly, a little small. But I remained calm. I didn’t ask for help, and I made sure my jaw didn’t visibly drop. I acted like an adult woman who knows what she’s doing, and what size and shape will work… mostly.

Image: someecards.com

Image: someecards.com

Then it occurred to me that a truly sexually sophisticated woman would not hesitate to ask for help, right? Women like us can say things like “Does this provide g-spot stimulations as well as clitoral?” And keep a straight face. We earn the respect of the Sex Goddesses, when they know we know that they know what we all should know. So when I came up to the counter with my selection— Yes, I bought something; no I won’t clarify further— I simply smiled and said,  This looks like a really good product, right?  “Oh yes! You have great taste; this is by far our best seller.”  She said this very matter-of-factly, as if she has these conversations every day (Ok So maybe she does) and because she is a sexual Goddess and is totally comfortable with her lady parts and any other parts she encounters. I basked in her twenty something divine Goddess approval. Well, well… take that judgers. Snap! You elitist sexual connoisseurs! I am apparently a natural at selecting sex toys. No experience needed; I chose the best seller, all on my own— I thought as I handed her my purchase, and sent a silent prayer up to baby Jesus, that we could be done with all further conversation.

And then she opened the box, and I stood there frozen. “We like to make sure these are fully charged for you, and everything works properly,” she explained as she plugged my toy in, something very akin to the Verizon store, when they charge your phone for you. Um, there’s really no need, I stammered said. I can charge it at home in the privacy and hiding place of my choosing. “Oh no! We want to make sure it’s in full working order for you before you leave the store.” Right, of course. Thanks.  She unplugged it after what seemed like far too little time for something to charge and do all the things it promised to do, and held it up for inspection. Shit! Put that thing down! Someone might walk in and see me with that thing! My brain was exploding!  Thanks. Thanks a lot, I said calmly. “Do you want me to show you how it works,” she asked again, as she held it up. Seriously? Really? How on earth do you demonstrate a vibrator? I give. She switched it on and held it toward me, “Here, would you like to feel it?” I tried not to look at the wiggling device; really, I did try to look composed. I adjusted my big girl panties, which were feeling distinctly like Depends, or little girl panties with the days of the week on them, or some variation of the two by that point, and said, No, thank you. I think I can figure it out on my own. I kept myself from screaming: Put the damned thing in that bag, right now!

Image: condomunity.com

Image: condomunity.com

“Can I get you anything else?” I must have looked lost, or whatever it is that all those other women noticed, when she asked, because she picked up some little packets and said, “Lubricant?” No, thanks. She looked at me like I didn’t get it, and admittedly, I was becoming increasingly aware that I don’t get it; haven’t gotten it, and may not ever get it, but I shook my head very confidently: the confidence of a middle-aged woman who just doesn’t need lubricant, I suppose, and waited for her to put my toy in a bag. “It’s just that sometimes lubricant helps,” she added. Ok, I could not take this one more minute. I may be clueless, but I was not willing to discuss flavors or types or anything else about lubricants. And I truly believe she was starting to get a kick out of my efforts to look savvy, when I’m not. She smiled, held my toy up and began to demonstrate how to clean it, and while I may not be savvy about toys, I know what that hand motion looked like, and I know I turned bright red. The gig was up.

Ok, thanks. I appreciate all your help, I told her. I haven’t bought one before, but I do know how to read the instructions, and at this stage, I think I really would prefer to just take it home and figure it out. There was absolutely no point in feigning savvy any longer. The red face was a dead give away, and probably the way I had begun to stutter; we both knew it.  Kind of the way we all inevitably imagine people having sex, the minute they tell you they’re trying to have a baby, she knew that my trying to figure it out at home, would involve certain things, and she just smiled knowingly and put the lube down.  Honestly, I just crossed off two bucket list items today, I tried to regain a thimble full of dignity. I finally bought a toy, and after sitting at the light out there and wondering about this place for years, I can say I’ve been in. The two Goddesses both laughed— no longer that laugh that tells you you’re not in on the joke, and did a fist bump. “Good for you! Would you like a punch card too?” Shit! Do people really get punches for this stuff? “Actually, you earned 7 punches with this purchase and that’s a big savings next time.” I got the punch card. Maybe there’s something beyond the G-spot that I don’t know about either? Now that I’d earned some respect back, I wasn’t asking that, but I do love my punch cards, and I’ve got a discount coming… next time. I hadn’t even looked at the price, and when I did, I put the receipt in my purse like I do this all the time (even if we all knew I didn’t), and took my bag. Thanks. This is great, really, thanks. And for the record, for the price, I should get alimony if this thing doesn’t work. I’ll admit it; I felt really Kool for making the Sex Goddess laugh that hard, as I headed for the door. 

When I walked out, I stood taller and ran a little slower went to my car. I hid tucked the bag under the groceries and drove away, no longer a sex store virgin, or an outsider. I am now a punch card carrying member of the toy club. I know what’s what, and I know where to buy  it.

*    *     *

Dawn Quyle Landau lives in the Pacific Northwest, with her husband, her three children (as they leave and re-enter the nest) and two spoiled dogs, Gracie and Luke. She is an avid traveler, but live in one of the most beautiful places on earth. When she’s not busy watching the colors change over the San Juan islands, she writes three times weekly for her blog, Tales From the Motherland, works on a novel, volunteers for Hospice and an organization fighting childhood sexual abuse, and plans her next adventures. Her work has been published in Bucketlist Publications, SLAP’D (Surviving Life After a Parent Dies (an online support site for teens), Cascadia Weekly, and in the anthology Tangerine Tango, Women Writers Share Slices of Life. Connect with Dawn: Tales From the MotherlandTwitterFacebook 

Note: I have been trying to figure out how to write about this, and not lose face, for weeks. Not possible. When I saw that Emily and Ashley’s prompt for this week, on the summer blog hop, was Remember the time… you were an outsider, I knew where to plug this in. Trust me, there are so many times I could have written about being an outsider, but this is the most recent time… and it needed writing.

Please check out Tales From the Motherland on Facebook, and hit Like. I’m going for 200; you can make me smile. I’m on Twitter too.


About Dawn Quyle Landau

Mother, Writer, treasure hunter, aging red head, and sushi lover. This is my view on life, "Straight up, with a twist––" because life is too short to be subtle! Featured blogger for Huffington Post, and followed on Twitter by LeBron James– for reasons beyond my comprehension.
This entry was posted in Aging, Awareness, Blog, Blogging, Daily Observations, Education, Honest observations on many things, Humor, Life, Musings and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

55 Responses to A Middle Aged Woman Walks Into a Sex Shop…It’s No Joke.

  1. Julie says:

    Great post Dawn! No telling what fun stuff you might run across in one of these shops 🙂


  2. This post took courage, Dawn! Good for you for going in the shop and leaving with a bag AND a punch card. Something tells me you’re going to be a regular.


  3. Kerri says:

    Well that’s one… Loved it!


  4. Adam S says:

    Dude, you were pushin’ a SHOPPING CART through that store! Don’t even kid your readers! \m/


  5. Mike Lince says:

    There are so many opportunities here for double entendres and innuendos, but I will resist that temptation. Suffice it to say your story is fabulous the way it reminds each of us when we have been or will be equally embarrassed in some situation. It does take courage to share an embarrassing tale or to so openly discuss your ‘lady-parts’. Good for you! – Mike


    • Now, I hate to say it, but I’m kind of curious about the double entendres and innuendos…Wait, no, don’t say it… wait, ok, tell me… I’m dying of curiosity.


      • Mike Lince says:

        Oh, you just could not resist, could you? Well, I could have said your story penetrated the truth with exhilarating honesty, or that you stimulated us readers by probing the limits of subjects we normally don’t talk about. But I found it most satisfying that you and your friends are able to come together to share your most personal stories.
        I could go on, but I need to wait twenty minutes to catch my breath. – Mike


  6. Hilarious! I too haven’t ever been in one of these stores or read 50 Shades. Oh to have the energy and time for more sex. let alone more fun sex! There’s a shop like this on the way to my Costco too– so maybe next trip! Good for you! Hope you’re having fun. Waiting to hear more.


  7. Anonymous says:

    I so relate to this! Haven’t read 50 Shades either–went to Amazon and slumberparties.com (my sister knows a rep) for my shopping adventure!


    • Honestly, I’m not sure which would be worse, going into a store anonymously, or having my mail man see the package! That said, blogging about it, makes it a mute point either way! 😉 Thanks for stopping in and leaving a comment! Much appreciated.


  8. mamaheidi60 says:

    That was such a personal story! Yay for you for writing it. So, I have to tell you that I too have been in there. I called it a field trip. I thought the sales people were really good. They decreased my discomfort level really well. I went in a few weeks after I had been to an Evergreen Aids benefit event at which baskets of lube and condoms were at the front door. During the evening, i encouaged people to take them as they left. At the end of the evening there was a lot leftover. I took handfuls of both and kept them in my purse. I had fun for a number of weeks taking them out as I said goodbye to friends after an evening out and saying, “Got lube?” I am not however, mature enough to tell whether or not I made any purchases that may or may not have required instructions….


    • LOVE that you went there too, Heidi!! We were just discussing this at dinner last night… you’re never too old! Too bad I didn’t run into you when your purse was still loaded… apparently it’s part of the program. 😉


  9. The Waiting says:

    OMG, this was the best EVER. Can I admit that I’ve never really been to a sex shop either? What scant purchases I do make, I make online. You are a far braver soul than I’ll ever be to actually interact with people. I doff my cap at you (and now, after reading this, that phrase just sounds so dirty.)


    • Thanks Emily! I really appreciate your feedback. I had to think a lot about whether to post this or not; I’m not nearly as brave as you seem to think. I’m a writer, and this one was dying to be writ. 😉 As for on line stuff, man I know my mailman too well to have a package put in my box!


  10. Cathy Ulrich says:

    I laughed out loud many times while reading this. You are a brave woman and a great writer. (Also very funny!) I’m sure your kids appreciated the disclaimer at the beginning. Really great post!


    • Thanks so much Cathy! Good material is a lot easier to write… and I think I’m generally funnier than most of my posts let on. I’m definitely the jokester around our house, and among friends… that said, this one took some balls…. um, I mean chutzpah! Thanks for the encouragement! 😉


  11. You nailed it! The exquisite agony and ecstasy of going into Lover’s for the first time. Yes, there is one at a stop light on the main drag not too far from where I live. So you sit at the stop, waiting to turn to go to the grocery store, looking at those purple letters. A few years back, I, too, decided to venture in, and came out with a toy.


  12. beingnenne says:

    Ha ha! Easily the most entertaining post I’ve read recently. I’ve not been to a sex shop yet and I feel so out of touch for it. Maybe it will be my Big 30 thing to do..head to a sex shop. However, I don’t feel an iota of horror or embarrassment at the though of it only a heady giggly schoolgirl excitement. Is there something wrong with me? :O

    Following you now. 🙂


    • First, thanks so much for reading the post, and for following me! Welcome, and much appreciated!. I’ll look forward to some more comments. 😉

      Second, Do it! Just do it. No, there is nothing wrong with enjoying it, and feeling giddy. As I said, I’m actually not prudish at all where these things are concerned, it just seemed more dramatic going to this particular store… now that I’ve broken the ice, I may get some use out of that punch card! 😉


  13. Ha, makes my entry seem way tame. Glad I found you through this blog hop. Your daily travails resonate with me and some of my recent disastrous days.


  14. Pam says:

    Love it! Let me know next time you are up for an adventure like that 🙂


  15. Katalina4 says:

    Oh what a fun post. Glad you got past the red-facedness and wrote it.
    Now. Ummm…will you come to Canada and help me go shopping???
    *sheepish head-hanging*


  16. Judy says:

    Hi, I’m a first time visitor. Your blog is hysterically funny, I am literally crying!! I have to hand it to you for staying there and actually making a purchase. I am in your age group and I probably would have run out the door when the young goddesses tried to help me.


    • Judy, welcome to TFTM! So happy you took the time to stop by, read and comment. I really appreciate you taking the time. The fact that I have you laughing… and crying, is flattering, and fun to imagine. Trust me, it was very tempting to run! If the giant phallic images wasn’t daunting enough, yes, the Goddesses were! Thanks again for stopping by; I hope you’ll check out some other posts and let me know what you think. 🙂


  17. La La says:

    Good for you for having the lady balls to actually go to the store. If I ever wanted a toy, I’d probably be a wuss and order it online (I’m not currently in the club). Those pictures you shared are funny…it appears that toys have evolved since the last time I owned one. I don’t even know what half of that stuff is!


  18. You popped your sex shop cherry—mazel tov, My Lady! I thoroughly enjoyed this post—some of those shops are hilarious, but I can see how they might be somewhat daunting. I wish I could have seen you watching her demonstrate how to clean the toy. That must have been comedy gold.


  19. Brilliant story. I was initiated (one visit…..) into the sex store world as an intrigued 19 year old with my also-intrigued 19 year old friend. I felt there was a bit of pressure to emerge with something so got myself some kind of vibrator-lube-colourful things combo deal thing. I then felt a bit scared of it so kept taking it in its box when I moved house as a student and eventually I noticed the mechanical stuff inside had rusted so I threw it away. So that was good…


  20. GOSH –
    Think I’ve been missing out!!
    Great post – glad I found your wonderful blog!
    Emma 🙂



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