The display was well-lit, the colorful merchandise rotating on a carousel right by the front counter of the store. Beside me, my friend Tammy looked at the array of vibrators marketed specifically for women and giggled.
"You’ve come a long way, baby," she said.
I had to agree. It was the lingerie hanging in the window of Spyces that had drawn us into the store. But it was the vibrator display that really got our attention. And there we were - two married moms gawking at products with names like "The Bullet," "The Rotating Rabbit" and the "We-Vibe." That one retailed for about $150 and was designed to be worn during sex.
"That must be the Cadillac," I said, tapping the glass.
My practical friend shrugged. "Maybe," she said. "But I can’t see spending that kind of money on a sex toy. That would pay off my cell phone bill."
I nodded in agreement, but found myself going back to the display. Having just come off a rough patch in our 20-year marriage, my husband and I were trying to find more time for each other. Our teen daughter was now old enough to watch our 10-year-old son so we could have a night out. But it was the nights in that we really needed. I found myself wondering if buying a Cadillac for the bedroom might be just the incentive we needed to kick-start our lagging sex life.
I’m not a shy person, but given that we were still in that awkward phase of reconnecting, I wasn’t sure how my husband would feel if I came home with a sex toy that cost the equivalent of a bang-up night out. And part of me wanted this to be a joint decision. So the next day when we were running errands I asked him if he’d like to see an unusual little shop that had just opened downtown.
"Ooh la la," he said when he saw the lingerie in the window. We entered the store and he started choosing various skimpy teddies from the rack and holding them up to me playfully. I laughed and walked past the clothing, casually leading him to the front where the vibrator display stood.
"Check this out," I said. "Crazy, huh?"
I felt my heart leap with encouragement. It had been a while since we’d shopped for something like this. The last time was in the dimly lit back room of a seedy sex shop. We’d been in our 20s then. Now here we were - I in my 40s and he in his 50s - in the front room of a brightly lit store watching a sex-toy carousel.
The sex shop owner looked a lot like the one I’d remembered from my 20s - gray hair and a bit of a leer. But he was helpful and after extolling the virtues of some of the more moderately-priced vibrators, he began to sell us on the We-Vibe. It was like listening to a car salesman.
Great ride. Three speeds. Remote control. My husband was getting drawn in. I stood by and let it happen.
Finally my husband looked at me, and on his face I could see the same awkward hesitancy that I’d experienced when considering how to suggest we give our sex life a mechanical boost.
"You like this?" he asked.
I grinned. This was no time to be coy. "Well, my birthday is coming up," I said. "And reservations are such a bother." I looked at the vibrator. "We could just stay in, I suppose."
We left the store. On my birthday, my husband handed me a small, square box. I knew before I opened it that it contained an innocuous looking u-shaped vibrator. We stayed in that night, and I don’t regret it a bit. It was our own Private Party of Two, complete with champagne, chocolate covered cherries and the Cadillac.
It’s ironic how shy we become when talking about sex with our spouses. Time can dull feelings and create distractions, but I realized that my hesitancy had more to do with fear of rejection than anything else. Did he feel the same? Had something changed? Was the magic lost forever? I was afraid to hear that it had, and that our marriage was a done deal after all.
What I discovered is that sometimes all it takes is a first move or a saucy suggestion as a reminder that the spark is still there. A trip to the local sex shop certainly can help. (Wondering what sex toys can do for you? Find out in How Sex Toys Can Help You Play Nice With a Partner.)