The walls were a pristine white, not yellow and milt crusted, somewhat disappointingly. And everything was made of glass. The display tables, the cases, the "intimate massagers." The strap-ons. Even a diamond box for bunny-eared vibrators. And then there was the leather. The whips. The "Sex Truth or Dare" cards, the ball gags.
Maybe it's an obsession, maybe it's hormones, maybe it's the unsuspecting image but I wanted it all to touch me.
Just a couple of days before "Being A Grown Person, Part One" — college — I decided that adulthood meant doing whatever in my power to avoid having children, herpes, and the plague through any and all means. Condoms, dental dams, hamster balls, shrink wrap. Any and all means, except a chastity belt.
There is something floral about a (cis) woman's sex. Her labia open like the petals of a flower, revealing her supple little secret, only to be seen by the saintly gardener to whom she will owe her entire being and one day hope to bare seed to. The same gardener who has probably had Tinder since he was twelve and keeps girls' underwear in his bedside drawer. Her petals are fragile and overtly poetic and when she reaches orgasm, she has met the most intimate parts of god and has, from sprouting bud, become a fully bloomed and fertile mechanism of Mother Nature.
Sex, while intimate and complicated, does not a fragile woman make. Nor was she ever. Nor does it turn her into a sexy secretary and part-time Dominatrix, though that would make for an interesting biopic. There is everything natural about it and at the same time, to it, there is nothing natural at all.
One toe at a time, I had put myself in the control of a foreign entity, my body, and awaited my soon to be torn and tattered sense of self and simultaneous exodus as CEO of Clitoris Inc. White, ankle length dress begging for forgiveness, lathering my kind physique, and eternally biting my lower lip in a "come hither" snake charmer type of way, Bible Belt was about to get a whole new meaning.
I had once bought a girl I loved a vibrator and swung it around in the street. I had gotten a friend a three-pack of French letters. Went to the counter for another's virginity-ridden pregnancy test. Said "penis" in front of my mother and discussed the appeal of lesbian sex with a boy who smelled like Axe. No stranger to sex and its groupies, I was shocked to find my ankles cuffed together at the entrance of the shop, and not in the furry kinky way.
Every woman around me was dressed to the nines, elegantly pulling strains of latex between their fingers like laying silk sheets over an Italian bed with an ebony-ornamented framework. They were experts — sexperts, really. Confident in their strawberry-flavored lube and nipple clamps, I faked a phone call pretending I just *had* to get condoms for my *friend* who was so lacking in maturity *I* had to buy *her* sex kit. And I wondered, can lube smooth out infinitely idiotic plans of action? No? Trojan, a little help here?
Dental dams, condoms, water-based lube. Dental dams, condoms, water-based lube. A spiritual mantra-like no other singing with its chest through my mind as my snatch complains she isn't getting the attention she needs and unlocks the ankle cuffs. I make eye contact with a shelf of 36 kinds of condoms and grin guilty. They were all so shiny and pretty. Some were mint flavored, some were ribbed, some were glowing in the dark and I snickered like an insolent child at "Ass" in "A Midsummer's Nights Dream" thinking of a glowing blue penis. I gather 15 of them. I look at two kinds of pink dental dams and decide on 15 that aren't banana scented.
And I feel almost grotesque.
It didn't help that I wanted to touch everything and wanted everything to touch me. The leather looked tight and unholy. The schoolgirl costumes looked sinister and adorable and like something the feminist part of me would most definitely take issue with. The paddles made me wonder what it would be like to be squashed like a bug on a kitchen wall. Kitchen counter. Maybe I could use one of these sensory deprivation masks to pretend I couldn't see any of it. Maybe if I couldn't see the woman at the checkout counter she couldn't see me either. Like an ostrich with its head in the ground. I never said it was sound logic.
I am, too, guilty of holding onto women's sex with more restraint than men's. Was the fantasy of floral comforts and sweetness of mind-body connection dissipating before me, falling through my fingertips like... anal beads? Sand seems unfitting here. Why did I want to cling onto the "your body is a temple" philosophy as if the only way for my skin to receive avid worship was through its innocence? And who's to say that sex isn't innocent? I stood at the counter neither feeling like a broken woman nor an artiste of the beaver dam. All I felt was dizzy and unsure of myself. I wondered why the patronage of Times Square smut shops felt so neat in their shoes to gallantly sit and enjoy themselves in a porn theatre and why it was fine for "dudes" to keep their XXX DVDs out on the coffee table with company over. Yet I can't look at a condom or a vibrator, just look, without feeling I have to shed my skin and begin again.
I left the sex shop with everything I needed. Everything that was in that mantra, and then some. There was no milt on the walls, just crisp white and glass and, upon reflection, beautiful, sculptural handblown glass toys that could be considered their own art. My body is not disgusting for being dirty in the most saccharine sense. And I should let her lead me more often. Double standards are damned, easier said than done, but so be it. My "floral sensibilities," as carried on the backs of sexuality-policing Human Moral Compass, are no more tainted nor fragrant than those of a man. So new questions arise. Why should I be embarrassed? To have a real woman's libido and the ability to echo delectation within my own self? For whose comfort and for what purpose?
Four weeks later, my belt and I have come to an agreement. I am proud of her, she treats me well, we live in perfect syncope. Four weeks later, I find myself discussing sex and the true body of a woman with my friends and we are anything but vile and anything but easily tarnished. I have found myself purchasing a kind of cuffs that were once around my ankles for my wrists, yes, the fluffy ones. The art-laden glass blown massager displays itself in a box of condoms next to a mask that is not meant for hiding redhotdrippy discomfiture. If we still demand that women's sex is parallel to the blooming of a flower, I ask, what's a flower without a little dirt?