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One of the complexities of becoming a fulltime worker again is that the time I get to hang with my girlfriends has shrunk along with my solo walks at random times of the day. No sneaking away from my computer midsentence, announcing to myself that I need a break and a cookie. No spending an entire afternoon cooking up gourmet meals for my darlings, these days it’s rice and vegies, pasta and vegies, or that other winner—baked potatoes and one other vegetable. Now I have to choose what clothes I’m going to wear the night before because my brain isn’t trained to make those kind of decisions at six in the morning and sadly, working in PJs doesn’t cut it anymore. Those days are gone.

The truth is, as a fulltime teacher, there really isn’t much spare time to do anything but household chores, catch up on sleep, and attempt to keep up an exercise routine. But when school’s out for the summer my time becomes my own once again.

When did my life get so busy? When did my babies turn into young men? What do you mean vampires aren’t real? And what the heck is a widget? Good grief, I need an afternoon with my BFF (best friend forever).

So on my first day off, my BFF and I escaped for a girl’s day out. We ate a fab Italian lunch and then headed to the cinema for the sequel of one of our favorite vampire films. I was exhausted after the movie, just thinking about what I’d like to do to a certain pasty-faced, Debussy-loving, overprotective, vampire. Actually, it was more what I’d like him to do to me.

My BFF and I staggered out of the movie, wandering aimlessly up and down a few streets before we found ourselves walking into a lingerie shop. Well, we thought it was a lingerie shop.

“The good stuff’s upstairs,“said a smiling faced, over-fit, aerobic young lass in her mid-20s.

My friend and I looked at each other and without hesitating headed toward the spiral staircase, nearly knocking each other over.

At the top of the stairs we gazed upon the feast before our eyes. It was Toys “R” Us for adults, but done so very tastily: soft vagina pink walls, plush carpet under our feet, Marvin Gaye crooning in the background, all enveloped with candlelight, a hint of sandalwood wafting in the air.

Within minutes, the two of us were busy perusing the edible underwear, dildos of all colors and sizes, sexual board games, feathers, and leather. It was fantastic. My BFF confessed to me that it was her first time in a sex shop. I whispered that it was mine too. We giggled like two high school boarding students on weekend leave. Our girlie minds were going haywire.

Ms. Aerobics from downstairs had joined us, although I don’t have any recollection of her actually walking up the stairs; she seemed to just appear. I thought she must have leapt up from the lower floor, an act she no doubt perfected in her boudoir. Approaching us, she asked if we needed any help.

“Actually, yes,“I said bravely, “what’s that and how does one use it, please?”

She took a key and unlocked the sliding glass door of a display case that housed the really good stuff. She pulled out the curved thingy that had caught my attention. I noticed it was covered in some sort of soft material. Holding it up proudly, she announced the name of the item as if it were the crown jewels. My friend and I gave her a blank look. We had no idea what this thing was.

She’d obviously witnessed our look before. “Well, this end goes into your vagina before the penis enters. It vibrates. Feel this.” She placed the object against our hands. Yes, it vibrated all right, no doubt about that.

“But how does that fit in as well as a penis?” my friend asked as if we were in a college biology class.

“Well, the underneath part of your vagina kind of has a flat bench just inside the opening, and see how this part is flat too?” We nodded in agreement, as she continued. “So, it sits there allowing room for the penis. This is one of my favorite items. My boyfriend loves it too.”

She went on to explain that some of the toys had been a little too much for her previous boyfriend, but the toy she held in her hand was always a winner.

“And when you’re done,” she said, “you can just pop it back into this little stand and it automatically recharges. Place the lid on like so, and no one need know you have a sex toy beside your bed. Ta da!”

Yeah, right. I imagined my cat knocking it onto the floor and the dog grabbing it, thinking it was a new chew toy. BFF and I must have had that look on our faces again.

But without hesitating, she carried on. “You can clean it by running it under hot water, these are made with the finest of materials.”

At nearly $300, they’d better be, I thought to myself.

I’ve often wondered how I’d feel inside a sex shop. Words like slut and ho had stopped me from previously entering, but this place was an adventure. As our new best friend placed each gadget individually on the palm of her hand and explained how it was used, I was reminded of the Shopping Channel. This girl was good. I could feel my credit card trying desperately to escape the confines of my purse.

As we explored the shelves, I actually found something I’d used with my husband in the early days of passionate, hot-blooded, late-20s sex. I eagerly announced to my friend that I could recommend something. She looked at the small box I held in my hand. For a moment I was caught up in the good old days as I remembered the sensual taste of sweet honey powder and Kama Sutra oil.

I’m not sure if Kama Sutra oil, powder, and a few feathers actually qualifies for a sex toy but I was proud of myself. I could tell by the look in her eyes that BFF was more than a bit disappointed. That’s it? was what she really wanted to say. Compared to the knowledgeable sales girl who held a PhD in sexual pleasuring, powder and feathers were elementary.

My BFF and I pondered on presents for our husbands. My only concern was how embarrassed I’d be if my personal checking account was overdrawn due to buying sex toys. Both of us decided to wait, but promised each other that we’d come back together to make our purchases.

We idly drifted downstairs and browsed through the lingerie, but honestly the silky teddies seemed so dreary; I mean, they weren’t even edible. As we neared the front door, I found myself not wanting to leave. I felt drunk with passionate memories and future visions of me presenting my husband with one of the delights from upstairs But as my right foot hovered above the sidewalk, a gentle breeze touched my face and I remembered hubby’s sofa nesting habits and the Lakers, along with my own crazy work schedule, and just like my youth, visions of sex toys and afternoon delight faded.

My buddy and I thought for a moment about going back to the movie theater for another dose of well-built werewolves and messed-up sexy vampires. But alas, motherhood called. There was dinner to cook and laundry to be done. I was my own Shirley Valentine, minus the chips ‘n’ egg. Like Shirley, I longed to escape to Greece (or Italy), and of course once I arrived my body would magically look like Twiggy with a touch of Sophie Loren. In case you were wondering, travelling does that to us post-menopausal women. It’s a fantastic freaking miracle.

I could feel the warmth of the Mediterranean waters around my naked body, erasing memories of schedules and grocery lists, and whenever I dove under the water, “Clair de Lune” echoed in my head. As the sun set over the tranquil bay, like Shirley, I questioned why we get all of these feelings and dreams and hopes but never use them.

If only Shirley had entered the sex toy boutique that I did not want to leave, perhaps she would have enjoyed sex more with her husband. But then, she would not have shared with the world one of my favorite movie lines ever: “sex is like supermarkets, you know, overrated. Just a lot of pushing and shoving and you still come out with very little at the end.” Poor Shirley…

With one foot in the air and the other still behind the green door, I said goodbye to fun sex and the most captivating teacher I’ve had the pleasure of listening to, a real live Dr. Ruth, albeit a much younger version.

Then, one foot on the sidewalk, the other over the threshold, and I was back in the real world. I looked at my BFF and said, “I don’t know about you but that’s about the most fun I’ve had in a while.” As she nodded in agreement, I surmised there’s a bit of Shirley Valentine in all of us.

Walking back to the car, I heard Shirley’s words in my head: “I’ve had such a little life and even that’ll be over pretty soon.” God, how depressing, but then I remembered what Tom Conti had to say: “Dreams—they are never in the place you expect them to be.” Too right, Tom darling, they’re in a sex shop in Ventura, California.

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First published in The Huffington Post, here