The store was in a strip mall on the outskirts of the ”bad” part of the city. I was pretty sure I would get turned away at the door, since I was underage, but no one stopped us and we quickly found ourselves faced with a wall of erotic videos and nudie magazines. I had been curious about what went on in these places, I expected good looking couples sauntering around and tasteful packaging. Instead I was shocked by the sheer banality of the images around me and more than a little skeeved out by the looks we were getting from the few middle aged men that were milling about.
We held a whispered conference in the S&M section about leaving, but since we had to walk past the gawking cashier to exit, decided it would be rude to not purchase something. And because I was generally the boldest of the group, I was nominated/peer pressured into making said purchase. I had seen enough Sex and The City episodes to know what a vibrator was, and I was curious, but I didn’t want my friends to know that I actually wanted one (while close, masturbation wasn’t exactly one of our talking points) so I picked the most basic, utilitarian tool for the job and casually claimed I would throw it out when we got home.
We walked out to the car, complaining about how lame the experience was and discussing the merits of Three Brother’s Diner vs. Denny’s when a cop car pulled up. I was still holding the plain, brown bag I had gotten from the sex shop. Now, imagine you’re a nerdy 17-year-old who already feels embarrassed for both breaking the law and buying a dildo. What would you do? Exactly- I ran. Straight into the adjoining Dunkin Donuts, where I stashed the bag in the trash as though it were a kilo of coke and not a lump of plastic made in China.
I stood there panicked and hyperventilating for a few minutes until my best friend walked in, her eyes wide. ”The cop wants to walk to you,” she said. Feeling like Anne Boylen on her way to the chopping block, I followed. The officer standing next to my friends was a stern-faced middle aged man with a belly. He was, sadly, not an idiot and told me to go get the bag.
In retrospect, given where we were and how we are acting, I’m sure the officer thought he was making a drug bust, but at the time I was 100% positive that I was about to be arrested for underage procurement of a sex toy.
I returned and he started asking me questions, which I answered truthfully- I was 17, this was my full name and address, and yes sir, I had just come out of that sex store. Then he asked me what was in the bag. And I thought, ”This is it, I’m going to jail, my parents are going to kill me and there’s no way I’m going to college anymore. Goodbye dreams, hello orange jumpsuit.” My voice trembling with shame and tears, I offered him the bag and whispered, ”It’s a vibrator.”
And then this upstanding officer of the law turned beet red and stammered, ”Now that’s your business, that’s private business, it’s your business,” while thrusting the bag back into my hands and avoiding eye contact. As he hustled back to his squad car he made us promise not to go back in there and then, with a squeal of gravel, he was gone.
So the moral of the story is this: parents, please talk to your kids about sex and self-pleasure so they don’t have to feel like criminals for having these completely normal thoughts and urges. Better yet, after your talk, be a kick ass Mom or Dad and get them a gift card to a sex store – preferably one online.