#270: It Looks Like an Air Freshener

January 17th, 2014

“You can adjust speed, but you’ll see you can also adjust intensity,” she said, pressing one of the directional buttons on the small wireless controller.

The smooth, pinkish-purplish plastic contraption gripping my hand started to pulse in a way I could only assume would be pleasurable if I had the body part it was designed for.

“This is one of my favorites,” she said, trailing off in a giggle that seemed as manufactured as the sex toy wrapped around the space between my fingers.

I was in a sex shop. Because I’m a grown man. And fuck you. (Unless my parents are reading this, in which case I was looking for directions to an animal hospital where I could take the puppy I had rescued from a falcon attack.)

It was the Lincoln Park location of a cheesy chain of sex shops noted more for skimpy Halloween costumes and shoddily constructed lingerie than for sex. You probably know the name.

Wedged between an ‘L’ station and a Qdoba Mexican Grill, the chain sex shop was clear of customers when I walked in. (With an injured puppy, Mom. Injured puppy.)

As I spotted what I was looking for (directions to the puppy doctor, not to be confused with the puppy/doctor, which would be adorable), a prim, smiling clerk asked if she could be of help.

The store was a clean, well-lighted place filled with racks of skimpy pseudo-clothes. Sweatbands masquerading as skirts, “leather” corsets straight from the upholstery of a 1970s Chrysler Cordoba and bra/panty sets for that crucial demographic turned on by striped cats, schoolgirls and the concept of nursing.

I know real dominatrices. They would hurt anyone who thought that was wild. And not in the fun way.

The smiling clerk was professional and poised in her conservative sweater/skirt combo. Next time you’re in a big box hardware store or tech store populated by surly teens and you wonder what happened to retail staff who are knowledgeable about their product, care about customer service and have a relaxed, friendly demeanor, go to a sex shop. Truth.

“Have you used toys?” she asked, walking slowly up between the rack of lubricants and a wall of veiny dildos in a selection of primary colors.

“Yes,” I said because, as mentioned, grown man and fuck you. (The puppy’s name was Ruffles and he was a plucky little soul.)

“Let me show you this,” she said, turning toward a clear plastic shelf of pastel-colored doodads. “It’s one of our top sellers.”

She reached for a pinkish-purplish plastic bit shaped like a combination stinging scorpion and Ferengi warship, grabbed the remote control, asked me to make a peace sign with my fingers and that takes us to our introduction.

I didn’t buy the non-Euclidean purple scorpion, for the record. At $150, it was a bit steep, although the saleslady told me other features as she yanked it off my hand. It’s durable. It’s washable. And it comes with a little case that camouflages a bit.

“It looks like an air freshener!” she said happily, tapping the top of the Glade-esque lid. “You can keep it out in the open.”

Sex is, well, it’s just lovely. It’s fun and vibrant and, aside from the odd Komodo dragon or purported Messiah, it’s how we all got here. I was in a sex shop chain with the ubiquity and aesthetics of a 7-Eleven getting a product demo on a slick plastic wireless bit that could have been designed by Apple (iGasm, perfect for performing stevejobs) and even they felt the need to hide it.

It’s a shame when people think it’s a shame.

Luckily, I would know nothing about that, as I tucked Ruffles under my arm and strode out of that den of iniquity in moral indignation, pausing only to mentor a small orphaned child on the importance of falcon safety.

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You are currently reading #270: It Looks Like an Air Freshener by Paul Dailing at 1,001 Chicago Afternoons.

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