What friends are for

After last year’s conference in Santa Clara, my friend, Maggie, drove me back up to San Francisco and forced me into a famous sex shop where we were approached by a strange woman and asked all sorts of inappropriate questions about our sex lives. I look back on that experience now and realize that I wanted to be the Valedictorian of Answering Really Awkward Questions, wanted her to walk away having never heard such an articulate perspective on vaginal lubrication.

But the deep, unshakable Puritan in my unconscious, the part of me that wants to scream, “THE MORMONS WERE RIGHT!” whenever it hears a news report on a natural disaster, it was so horrified that a fellow daughter of God had seen me holding a pink vibrator in my hand that the only coherent thing I could get out of my mouth was, “I have no idea.” Code for: how can I possibly answer you honestly when The Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is listening?

This year I had only about a day in the city, and we had no need to visit the sex shop. One, I already have a pink vibrator I don’t use — I would rather spend my free time taking a nap because sleep doesn’t require batteries or patience — and two, Maggie’s pink vibrator got her pregnant. We did, however, visit the world’s largest Old Navy, the perfect place to take your mind off the fact that you are pregnant and/or refuse to/are too monumentally lazy to masturbate.

I have always thought that if we could somehow arrange it I would pay Maggie to do my shopping for me. She’s got incredible taste, knows how to shop on a budget, and takes risks. It’s that last part that is so critical because when it comes to certain things like clothing and vibrators, I’ll always choose the least conspicuous option available. I’ll always play it safe. If I had gone into that sex shop by myself I would have walked out with a small, black rubber butt plug that I could hide in my pocket and then set at the back of a shelf in the basement among other souvenirs like a miniature Lincoln Memorial and a stuffed Hamburglar from McDonald’s.

But Maggie was there, and I walked out instead with a daring pink penis that can be set to seven different speeds that couldn’t possibly be replicated by any human alive. She explained to me then why it was I needed that particular vibrator, and there were many valid reasons, but I think the gist of it was that one’s vagina needs to be a little afraid when it sees a vibrator coming its way. Having repented of my first tongue kiss as a teenage Mormon, I would never have known this.

While at Old Navy Maggie tried to get me to try on several different pieces of clothing, all of which I thought were cute but would never buy for myself. I may be as tall as some of the models who advertise this clothing, but I don’t have their attitude, and that’s pretty key when you’re trying to wear a plaid halter vest without falling over in a fit of laughter. I managed to shut her down until we got to a specific display of glittery black tops, and before I knew it she had taken an Extra-Small and shoved it over my head. Over the shirt I already had on.

Let’s be clear about this: the last time I wore an Extra-Small anything I was in the womb. Also, my left arm was uselessly limp from the cancer wound and subsequent tetanus shot. I couldn’t even lift it 10 degrees from the side of my body, and somehow she managed to wrangle it into a 2-inch sleeve. I was a giant wad of uncooked spaghetti that she was trying to bend into a knot. Once the shirt was in place and she saw that it too small, she stripped it off and came at me with a bigger size. I pleaded with her to show me mercy — there was no way I would survive another round — and then I remembered: my vagina really is terrified of that vibrator. This woman knows what she’s talking about. I have to trust her.

And good thing I did because now, for once in my life, I own a shirt that makes me look like I have naturally occurring cleavage.