Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Selling Sex To The Suburbs - Part III

Editor's Note: This is the final part of a 3 part essay. Please click on the links to read Part I and Part II.

The polarizing point was not the marketing and selling of a monthly sex toy service, but the act of talking about it…out loud. More volatile, I found, than politics, or religion, the topic of sex had no middle ground. An invisible line was drawn between two factions: those who talk about it and those who do not.

Just as Hester Prynne was ostracized for her sexual indiscretions, I was starting to believe I was wearing a large scarlet “pocket rocket” across my breast. The reactions were always the same: disappointment, repulsion, and more often than not, intrigue. A wink and a knowing nod seemed to confer that I was in the club, a fellow user, too. I felt oddly cool.

Then, there were others who were a little too eager, too over zealous. “I guess you have to try those, huh?” Some even offered too much information. For example, I quickly found out that my quiet, mild mannered, brother-in-law was not only a budding wine enthusiast, but a walking encyclopedia regarding the adult entertainment business. On demand, he could quote Playboy articles, bios of Stern Show regulars and upcoming dates of porn conventions.

Yet, like a dumb-struck fifth grader, I could not tell my parents about my new area of expertise.
For over a month, my mother would continually ask me about my work. I’d always hide the truth in generalizations. Finally, one morning over coffee, I couldn’t self-edit anymore. “Mom, haven’t you and dad wondered why I haven’t told you what I’m doing and who I work for?” I asked.

“Yes,” she said, “but we were sure you had your reasons.” I looked at her and thought, well, here goes and began my pitch. She sucked in air and covered her mouth. I couldn’t tell if she was going to hyperventilate and was pretty sure that the only words she had heard were “intimate,” and “fruit-of-the- month.” She leaned in and whispered, “You mean they sell…vibrators?” Her tone was low and nervous, as someone of her generation would whisper “cancer” when talking of a friend’s illness. Saying it, but not really saying it, because of an invisible, unsavory element. “Oh, my! I just don’t understand why someone would get into that business.”

She quickly recovered and I was surprised she knew what I was talking about.
“There’s a lot of money to be made, mom. Sex still sells, even when the economy doesn’t.” In the end, I had gotten too familiar with the words, terminology and discussion points. It no longer shocked me and I no longer cared if I shocked others. I could tell she didn’t buy my rationalization, even if it was the truth. Now it was my mother's turn to blush magenta. I had broken her extraneous commandment and realized I could not compartmentalize and closet something I had jumped into whole heartedly.

Sex is a unique common denominator. It is a basic function of human nature from which all genders, religions, ages, ethnicities and sexual persuasions can not escape. You are either doing it or you're not. There are no gray areas; no places to hide.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Laying All My Spanx On The Line

Every time I read the “Aha Moment” section of the Oprah magazine, I can’t help but wonder where is mine – where is my “aha?”

Celebrities, such as Rashida Jones, who has written about “Finding Joy in Sadness” and, who has opined on “Discovering America from Afar”, line up to share their wisdom on love, loss, beauty, spirituality and life. Still, I really don’t think I’ve had a life altering moment were the clouds have parted and God’s voice spoke. I mean, isn’t the “aha moment” really just a suburban myth, like the elusive triple orgasm, the laundry fairy and “quality me” time?

Finally, at 9:43 a.m. on Wednesday morning, I had mine. It was acute, like a pin prick, but I knew in an instant something would have to give. I was running late for my daughter’s field trip where I had volunteered to help show what life was like in turn-of-the-century New England. I pulled into the closest available parking space, grabbed my latte and hopped out to the car.

“Hey there!” a familiar male voice boomed. The voice was exiting the car next to me and I immediately recognized the dad of one of my daughter’s friends. This is when the embarrassing wardrobe malfunction began….

As we began to walk uphill from the parking lot to the check-in area, the typical small talk ensued, “Are you here for the field trip?” I asked. “Yeah, but I only thought it was going to be an hour, I didn’t know this was going to be all day,” he said and droned on about hoping to get a half day of work in and not making the bus at school and hoping that he hadn’t left the science coordinator high and dry. I politely nodded and listened, but in reality I wasn’t listening at all - I could only focus on one thing...

As I had hopped out of the driver’s seat, I felt a sharp pain around the very top of my left thigh. I was wearing a pair of Spanx “Power Panties,” the flesh-tone nylon unmentionables that are supposed to discreetly streamline your silhouette. The left leg curled up to an uncomfortable and lumpy 2 inch thickness, and snuggly gripped my leg like a rubber band. As we kept walking I was keenly aware of the direness of my situation and I tried to simultaneously listen, not walk funny and scan the property for the nearest bathroom. I was pretty sure that not much could be seen from the front, but from behind, my left ass cheek must have looked like it was either overcome with a tumor or laden with a shit load of cellulite.

As we got to the check-in area and went our separated ways- I was left to trek off to my station which seemed miles away from a bathroom. When I reached the spot, no one else was there. I looked around and for a fleeting second thought of dropping trough in the middle of the field to un-spanx my spanx. I thought twice, however, when I heard the noise of school children and watched the bus rocket up the road (that I thought was hidden by the brush), directly behind me. Thus, my spandex-ed ass was left to suffer in silence, and I was left to fret that my upper leg circulation would be fucked up forever. For the next two hours, I could not shake the vision of my husband trying to explain to the kids why mommy had to have her leg amputated.

How many “shaping” foundation garments do you have to own before you realize, this is no way to live? Or, the reality sinks in that it’s time to finally lose some weight. While Power Panties do pack a punch, they aren’t supposed to scream “girdle!”

Looking for solace or at least fat Kristie Alley photos on, I read that “ahas are the product of our own deep innate wisdom.” Well duh….of course I know the only person I’m fooling is my self, but I can’t really think anymore of anything philosophical or ironic to say about wearing firm form support. My inner voice tells me that I should never have encased my thighs in spandex in the first place, which I admit is different from Jada Pinkett’s “Aha Moment.” Apparently, in her moment, “God was telling me (her), ‘Surrender or explode.’” I hear ya’ Jada, especially on the explode part…

Monday, May 18, 2009

In The Same Sex Marriage Debate, Why Can't Love Conquer All?

Love. Everyone wants to be in love, to have someone to love, to tell you something about love.

Yet, William Shakespeare has truthfully said, “The course of true love never did run smooth.” And Dorothy Parker, in wittier fashion, has said, “Love is for unlucky folk. Love is but a curse.” In short, to love is to take the good with the bad; to take the good with the bad, in a sense, is the essence of marriage.

When I got married, like every other bride and groom, thought we were exceedingly original when we selected as our second reading the first letter of Paul to the Corinthians, “Love is patient. Love is kind. Love is not jealous, it does not put on airs….There is no limit to love’s forbearance, to its trust, its hope, its power to endure. Love never fails.” If all of this love is so powerful, so wonderful and so blind, then what does it matter if it is “same sex” love and marriage or, to quote Miss California, “opposite sex” love and marriage.

I don’t mean to trivialize the issue, but I don’t understand what the big deal is. What do heterosexuals think will happen if gay people can get married? Lightning bolts will not thunder down from the sky, zombies will not crawl out of the subway, locusts will not swarm Topeka, Kansas, A-Rod will not switch hit for the other team….well, I can’t vouch for A-Rod, but life will more or less remain status quo.

The New York State Legislature has until June 20th to enact legislation to legalize same sex unions. Perhaps it is too naïve of me to hope that at the end of the day love will conquer all. Why is it that only heterosexual couples get the right to voluntarily enter into the last legal form of indentured servitude? Marriage should just be what it is – part cultural institution, part formality, part circus – and not the epicenter of a political, social or religious agenda. In a Utopian world, wouldn’t marriage be genderless and universal? Doesn’t it mean something, doesn’t it count, if two people, gay or straight, commit themselves to each other before their god, government, family, and the world in a marriage and say, “I want to be with you, I want to grow old with you, I want to care for you and have a family?” We aren’t talking about water boarding or snuggies or the Taliban or the economy, it is love, and according to the Beatles, it is “all we need!”

Looking back on my wedding album, I can’t help but think how young and foolish we were. I was 24 years old; my husband was a “more mature” age of 25. We were head-over-heels happy, and I would do it all again in a heartbeat. However, I am ashamed to admit that over the last decade, there have been far too many times were I have taken my marriage for granted. My husband and my marriage have weathered the rocky times, the selfish times, the good times and all the in between times. Never once, until now, did I stop to think how about how my life would have been if I couldn’t have gotten married to the one person I love.

If all heterosexual couples could have an “It’s a Wonderful Marriage” moment with an angel named Clarence (or maybe just Nathan Lane) who could magically show us how things could have been if wedded bliss was not a legal option, I feel pretty confident to say that more people would approach the same sex marriage debate with a much more open mind and compassionate heart.

In the end, I think those opposed to gay marriages are just scared. Scared that homosexuals will take the hallowed hetero institution of marriage and finally get it right. Like the areas of art, fashion, literature, music, design, grooming, entertainment and celebrity gossip where gay people have surpassed their hetero brethren to achieve an awesome and glittering level of excellence. A success that is bigger, broader, bawdier and bolder, like Hugh Jackman’s “I Go To Rio” finale from “The Boy from Oz,” in a way no straight person could ever dream of; Only a level of excellence that could be achieved by a boyhood spent clandestinely dancing to Bette Midler in ladies lingerie and gold Gucci heels, could passionately wish, dream and make it happen.

Doesn’t a loving male couple with matching cardigan sweaters, to-die-for rose bushes and crisp Italian linen drapes deserve the same marital rights as knocked up 17 year olds from Alaska or Louisiana? Or can’t we a least hook them up with a commitment ceremony that is not half as cheesy as the whole Spencer/Heidi “Prontag” debacle! Who gets to say what is and is not convention? Is there some imaginary book out there, like Santa’s “Naughty and Nice” list which definitively states what can and can not be?

Now Miss California, Carrie Prejean, will tell you that great book of conventional wisdom is the Bible. Scientologists will say it’s a large egg-like spaceship from the planet Ork. Catholics will say it’s the Pope. The Prontag’s will say they are just so blessed to be famous and Donald Trump will say whatever will get him laid…with Melania, Miss California, Joan Rivers, the Pope, Rosie O'Donnell, or anyone else he needs to get into bed with to do a deal. Gay, lesbian and transgender people have enough to endure in life without having to worry about what the states, courts and cosmetically enhanced beauty queens have to say about their personal love lives.

This past Sunday marked the 5th anniversary of the first same sex marriage license recorded in the state of Massachusetts. According to the Boston Globe, since 2004 there have been 12,000 legally recognized same sex unions, which in turn have pumped close to $111 million into the state’s economy. Trite jokes about Provincetown, 24 karat gold penis commitment jewelry and his-his / hers-hers towels at the Berkshire cottage aside, you can not deny the coincidence that 2004 was a big year in Bay State history – same sex marriages were legalized and the Red Sox FINALLY reversed the curse and won the world series.

New York sports fans are you really willing to chance it? Take a tip from Red Sox Nation, embrace your inner Mike Piazza, call your state senator and support same sex unions - a May win at the statehouse just might translate to an October win on a hometown ball field!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Dude, Where's My Eyebrows?

My 5 year-old has always had some type of color-identity crisis when it comes to his hair. During the greater part of the year, his hair is brown. Not the rich, dark brown color that is his older brother’s shade, but a lighter brown, almost dirty blonde. If his hair color were a pair of Gap khakis, it would be “chino cedar.”
However, in the summer, as his complexion tans and his hair lightens, he becomes a three-month blonde. While most of the photos around the house are from summers at the beach, the situation is further compounded by the fact that school pictures are taken during the first few weeks of September - it is no wonder that my little guy thinks he’s blonde (as shown in his self-portrait on the left), because those are really all of the images he sees of himself.

I never realized that his fair skin and light brown hair ever bothered him. From time to time, however, he would ask me about his eyebrows - they are very light and at first glance almost non-existent. His eyebrow issues cropped up again yesterday at pre-school. A number of the little girls had sat him down in the “block area” to examine his eyebrows and see if they were actually there. Some genius parent had thought it was a great idea for one of the girls to bring a small bag of make-up to school – a small collection of Hello Kitty eye shadow, blush and lip balm – it may have looked like a toy, but it was in fact make-up.
He said the little girls kept asking him questions like “Why don’t you have eyebrows?” and “My mom shaves her eyebrows all off, is that what you do?” and “You’re eyes look funny, they look like they are naked.” However, when one of the teachers heard, “You need to draw them on like my Nana,” she swooped in and confiscated the contraband Bonne Belle, Jr. stripper glitter before an eyebrow intervention occurred.

He was telling me all this later in the day, as he polished off a snack and I unpacked his backpack. I hadn’t noticed anything funny about his appearance at school, but now at home, sitting under the lights in the kitchen, he looked different. There was a slight pinkish tint to the top of his head. Thinking he might be bleeding, I began to look him over ear to ear. But no blood, no sign of a cut or scrape. “Buddy what happened?” I asked.

“N-o-t-h-i-n-g,” he said slowly and deliberately, with a look that said “What you talkin’ ‘bout Willis!” “Did you paint at school today?” I asked as I began a second head check, this time looking for any traces of poster paint. “Yeah,” he said, trying to shake his head away from me. I sniffed the pink spot. It didn’t smell like paint. It didn’t smell like poop, either, that was a good start. It was faintly sweet, almost like a candle and smelled VERY familiar.
“I think Ruby’s hair rubbed off on me,” he said. “What?” I said aloud and wondered if Ruby had dyed her hair again? At a local fall fair, the little girl in question had her platinum blonde hair sprayed with hot pink hair paint. The dye did not shampoo out easily and needless to say, for school pictures, Halloween and well into Thanksgiving the little girl’s hair was various shades of pink as if faded and grew out.

I remembered a little blonde Ruby waving goodbye as we left the classroom and crealized that my 5 year-old was fabricating his story as he sat at the table, hunched over with his left hand pressed to the left side of his fore head. “Buddy, what’s the matter?” I asked. “Don’t look at me!” he cried. “Don’t mommy! Don’t look at me.” I had backed him into a corner and was trying to pry his hand off his forehead. “Are you hurt?” I asked and then I saw a small dark pink spot. “What the hell is that?” I thought. “Sorry mommy,” he said. “I used your lips stuff.”
Used my what? Then it dawned on me. Damn it! I ran up to the bathroom were I had inadvertently left a tube of “Baby Doll,” my favorite shade of Lorac lipstick. I surveyed the counter, waste basket, toilet, and inside the three vanity drawers – nothing. Then, in the corner of the tub, an oddly placed towel with pink smudges caught my eye. I picked it up to find the lipstick, broken into pieces and rolled into little pink balls, as if it was play-doh.

“Why did you do that, bud?” I looked down at him. He had followed me up the steps, screaming, “Don’t go in there!” the entire time I searched for the missing tube. In the glare of the bathroom lights, he looked up at me and said, “But I can’t see them mommy! I want them to stand out.” He was pulling at the skin over his eyes and I finally saw the result of his handiwork - his eyebrows were covered in shiny pink salmon “Baby Doll” lipstick.
“Oh buddy,” I laughed and picked him up in a huge hug while frantically motioning to his 10 year-old sister, who couldn’t contain her laughter, to go to her room. “Buddy, you are perfect. You have wonderful, perfect eyebrows. I can see them.” I said. “You don’t need to make them stand out. You and your eyebrows are perfect just the way you are.” Then I said, “Look at me, who is the best little guy?” “I am,” he said. “And who has the best little eyebrows?” I asked. “I do,” he said.

I hugged him tightly once more. “Just because you can’t see your eyebrows, doesn’t mean they aren’t there. You’re a special little guy. There will be times when other’s might not see that, but just like your eyebrows, it doesn’t mean that it’s not there.” He walked off happy, eyebrows glittering in the sunlight. I thought, damn it, where was my camera when I needed it! I was out $19 for the lipstick and if couldn’t salvage the rest of the tube, at least I could’ve snapped a quick blackmail photo for his future engagement party, rehearsal dinner or 40th birthday…but when he hits 40, I’ll be pushing 70 and will probably be in the same eyebrow boat.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Selling Sex To The Suburbs - Part II

Editor’s Note: This is the second installment of a 3 part essay. To read Part I, please click here.

“It’s from your client,” he said. “I think we need to open it up.” I blushed a deep shade of magenta. It flushed my face and left a burning sensation behind my knees. Talking with great bravado about the items was one thing, but using them was entirely another. I pressed my back firmly into the chair. While I am not Mother Theresa in the bedroom, I am not Indiana Jones either, so it was no surprise to my husband when I looked away, shook my head and mumbled, “No.” Internally, I heard my mother’s voice saying, “Do not do it!”

“How can you possibly talk about this service without actually having used any of the products?” he said as the negotiations began. “How do you know if they work?” he said as he ripped the packing tape off the box and ceremoniously pulled out an elegant silver mesh bag.

“We are not The Brady Bunch. This is not the laundry detergent episode where they test the product before they decide to be in the commercial…” my rebuttal was in vain as a fit of giggles washed over me. I was back in Mrs. Anderson’s fifth grade health class on the first day of sex education. “It’s a penis, girls,” she said. “P-E-N-I-S! It’s a fact, let’s all get over it. Get all the laugher and comments out now, before we move down to the scrotum.” Sitting in a small classroom with 25 other girls, I was mortified with shock and embarrassment. I could not have imagined our homeroom teacher, Sr. Catherine, who always smelled faintly of Clorox in her prim navy blue habit, talking to us this way. I collapsed in a hysterical fit of laughter at the thought and spent the rest of the afternoon in the principal’s office to calm down and ponder how I would tell my parents of my transgressions.

Why then, at age 35, after over 12 years of intimate encounters that produced 3 children, could I not look my husband in the eye or explain how I felt, the very same way I couldn’t look or speak about my sex ed. hysterics to my mother. As I spied the bag in the palm of my husband’s outstretched hand, it did not seem so bad. On looks alone it could easily be listed as one of Oprah’s favorite things.

“Aha!” my husband cried, as if he struck gold, panning through the elaborate packing shred and dumping the rest of the contents with great flourish onto the Laura Ashley comforter. There, staring up at me amid a background of pastel cabbage roses, it was – big, purple and plastic - with all the batteries included. I had never seen anything like it up close and I thought I would go blind. This was definitely not what Mrs. Anderson had in mind all those years ago. But, as she was divorced and seemed quite a woman of the world to an eleven year old, I’m sure she would have approved.

Over the course of the next few weeks, my initial mortification paled to the reception I got when floating out my new career at my various suburban activities – dinner parties, volunteer meetings and the bus stop. When asked, “Who is your new client?” or “How’s the job going?” I would take a deep breath and slowly explain the service in broad terms. “It’s like a wine of the month club, or Harry & David’s fruit of the month club,” I would begin, “but instead of gourmet baskets of individually wrapped pears and oranges…” Sometimes the record would just skip and they would get it with an “oh...OHH!” Of course, some people would need more description before the light bulb would go on and the discussion would end promptly when I would state, “sex toys.”

While it was always hard to gauge how people would react, whether I used the items or not was not the issue. To most, I was already guilty by association without explanation or evidence. “I gotcha!” was the quick response and I would feel a slight, awkward twitch as the person moved away. I even detected a hint of fear cross one friend’s face. She didn’t know if she should move or cover the ears of the two-year old in her lap when she asked, “You aren’t doing any of this with the kids at home?” Did she think my laptop was now a 24/7 porn portal? “We do have a lock on the bedroom door,” was my wry reply.   To be continued....

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Layoffs Have Hit My Computer Keyboard

I have been getting a lot of comments lately about the number of typos interspersed around my blog. Specifically, I am responding to an email from a “mrmizzquote,” who claims that his 8 year-old Ball Python, named “Monty,” could string together better sentences on an obsolete Apple II. “Oooh, how scary…floppy discs! Thems fightin’ words mrmiz!”

As I read the rant, I wondered the following three things: first, would this person put a heart over the “i” instead of a dot when writing out his screen name long hand; second, did he realize that the mere mention of Apple II had me envisioning him as the grown up version of the kid from the Encyclopedia Brittanica informercials ; and third, could he be a bit more original than naming the python Monty? Besides, doesn’t he know that snakes can’t type, as they “have NO BLOODY APPENDAGES!”

Back to my keyboarding issues, I stand by the content as grammatically sound…but yeah, my typing pretty much sucks. It doesn’t help that the “v” key and the “space bar” have been pink slipped due to keyboard layoffs. Not intentionally, but by the brute force of my 5 year-old, who starting picking the letter keys off my laptop like chicklets because he was “bored.” My husband, on the other hand, believes this action is really a thinly disguised smoke screen to somehow hijack his big sister’s Nintendo DS (which, btw, she ended up buying for herself with birthday money, instead of the Snuggie). Regardless the motive, the “s” and “g” keys are hanging on precariously, so I think I’ll have to get all my shits and giggles on the matter out now. Losing the space bar wasn’t much of a blow, believe it or not, but I think it may somehow be contributing to the number of times I have been typing "bitch" lately....However, not having “v” has also greatly cut down on my use of the word vagina…or as they say in France, “c’est la v!”

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Truth & Avatars

For sometime now, I have been kicking around ideas in my head for a logo and/or online avatar for this site. Since I fancy myself somewhat of an artist, I decided that Sunday was the perfect rainy afternoon to sit down and think up some crazy doodles. While I’m not a professional, my first few caricatures came out looking like a weird cross between “Bill the cat” and Velma from Scooby Doo. I finally settled on what has been posted above and I admit that many of you will run into the streets screaming “It doesn’t look a damn thing like you!” And my response will always be: WTF! Neither did the character they drew of my daughter as Minnie Mouse at Disney four years ago, but I still paid the $40 and framed the damn thing for her room.

Cartoons are hard. I was going for that cute nymph-like “Yoga-Girl,” “Travel Girl,” “Latte Girl” style, but it came out looking more like “Over-Caffeinated, Annoyed, Sleep-Deprived, Big Hair Grrrl!” Let’s face it – no one wants a bad picture of themselves on the internet, let alone a bad self-portrait that makes you, by your own hand, look like Bea Arthur as “Maude.” I mean, even the vast majority of Van Gogh’s self-portraits only feature the side with the good ear.

As I sat drinking coffee and artfully using the eight shades of Crayola washable markers in the house that actually worked – caps on, ink not dried out. My 5 year-old sat down next to me intently watching what I was doing. “Who is that mommy? Hannah Montana?” he innocently asked and my husband chuckled. As I explained, he reached for the hot pink marker, looked at me, then my picture and asked “Mommy, can I draw a picture of you?”

“Sure sweetie,” I said, handing over a new sheet of paper, hoping this exercise would keep him occupied for at least 6 or 7 minutes. What I didn’t realize was the extent of how intently he was watching me. In just under two minutes, he proudly held up his masterpiece. There I was – glasses, highlighted hair and earrings – his version of me, a cross between Droopy Dawg and Mr. Happy.

He was very eager to opine that he thought his likeness of me was better. “See Mommy, I drew the same earrings,” and he pointed back and forth between his picture and mine. Then, as quickly as he had finished the portrait, he was off in search of a sibling to torment…or to draw other pictures of me…as it was eerily quiet in the family room.

Sitting in the kitchen, with the two drawings side by side, I started to loudly and uncontrollably laugh. The little smart ass was kinda right, because between his picture and mine is the real me. My husband looked up from his newspaper to ask what was so funny. I held up both pictures and then he started to laugh. But the 5 year-old, keenly listening in the other room, read our reaction as disapproval. Eager to please, he quickly ran back to the table with what he called "Mommy #2" -- see below.

This time the paper bore a large headline that read “10 Days Later,” and obviously, “Mommy #2” had gotten a Susan Boyle-esque makeover. While very similar to the original picture, a keen eye could quickly point out that my hair was either brushed more neatly or cut shorter, my glasses were gone (thanks to White Out), my nose was smaller, I was smiling and the one new detail that said it all – electric blue lipstick. Pleased with himself, the 5 year-old took both pictures and prominently placed them on the front of the fridge.

As one was “now” and one was “ten days later,” he had cleverly covered all his bases. My husband, however, did not, and upon noticing the drawings were now at eye-level by the fridge door handle said “Well, you did say you wanted to do something to kick start the diet.”

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Winnie The Pooh & Swine Flu

After the response I got from my previous swine flu post, couldn't resist:

Friday, May 1, 2009

Selling Sex To The Suburbs - Part I

Editor's Note: The following essay was originally submitted to the New York Times Sunday Styles "Modern Love" column. Previously unpublished, the piece will be posted in three parts. It is the story of how one woman went back to work, started a blog and confronted a host of issues regarding the mere act of talking about sex.....

It started with the exchange of a business card. A quick flick of the wrist, and flash of cardstock. It was smooth and alluring to touch. Absent-mindedly, I flipped it over in my hand as I held it. When I glanced down to scan the logo, a large, modern font loomed up at me. The letters spilled across the small space, crowding each other. “Intimate Surprises” it read. The sound of the words lingered in my head in the same lilting way one remembers the sound of fingers sweeping across piano keys. My first impression had been sophisticated and provocative. My reaction was immediate. I was hooked.

“Ever thought about getting out of this business?” a business contact had asked my husband earlier over coffee. After the obligatory small talk about the economy and the state of the financial services industry, he leaned in rather conspiratorially and said, “My wife and I have started a recession proof business.” The card would pass from him to my husband to me. I was looking to get back into consulting and they were looking to aggressively market their service. It seemed too good an opportunity to pass up.

As my husband walked back to his office, the “IS” card in his front pocket, he immediately got me on my cell phone, “I think I have an interesting job prospect for you. It could be a little racy. I’ll email you the details.” I was out on errands, but my curiosity had gotten the better of me. I turned the car around and made a beeline for home. By the time I had placed the key in the front door, I had built up mountains of speculation as to what this new venture could be…lingerie, adult-themed birthday greetings, or was it just a weird, sexy twist on anti-bacterial soap?

I leapt onto Google as fast as my laptop could boot up and my fingers could type. Then, there it was…an idea that could transcend the very nature of what it was selling. An idea that would bring - as Victoria’s Secret did with the satin, underwire, push-up bra - adult relationship enhancing accoutrements or “sex toys,” for short, discreetly into the top dresser drawers of middle class Americans everywhere.

A week passed before I could muster up the nerve to call regarding my potential services. I had taped the card to my computer screen. It stood out from the myriad of “to do” notes and taunted me. When I finally reached the IS office on the phone, the wife made it sound so easy, so normal, and so new. I was drawn to her energy and the bouncy rhythm of her voice as the exotic terminology of glides, vibes, and lubes rolled off her tongue.

I felt like Eve being led slowly down the garden path and knew in that instant my narrow sexual worldview, shaped by an adolescence of Catholic guilt and an adulthood of cashmere sweater sets and kitten heels, was about to change forever. As a teen, the big “birds and bees talk” with my mother consisted of four words, “Do not do it!” My potential client, on the other had, was very cool and convincing – she was the big sister secretly sharing a dog-eared copy of Judy Blume’s “Forever.” I was beginning to realize that there was a whole group of people out there exploring various levels intimacy, and I, by my own censure, was missing out.

We had talked at length about the company’s underlying challenge: how to talk about sex, without really talking about it. Yet, days later, as I sat brainstorming palpable relationship terminology, those three letters, S-E-X, hung off my tongue in a silent noose. Each time I tried wording that seemed commonplace, despite the risqué nature, I couldn’t help but picture a scene from the Electric Company, in which two silhouetted heads are sounding out a three letter word. One says the harsh consonant “s”, while the other follows up with “ex.” However, unlike a word such as “cat” that would be easily sounded out and all the letters quickly placed together, the “s” and “ex” hang in limbo, unmoving and far apart.

“Will I be able to bridge that gap?” I thought as my husband gamely came up behind me with a silly grin on his face and a non-descript, cardboard box under one arm......(to be continued)