Picture the dilemmaâ€¦an introvert wanders into a sex shop and hopes to learn whatâ€™s trending in the lives of midlife women and sexual escapades. Okay, so I didnâ€™t wander in so much as sign up, but the rest is right.
Midlife sex talk in a sex shop? I was so there! Arriving early because I wasnâ€™t familiar with the area turned out to be a good idea. It takes this country girl a moment to grapple with parking meters, particularly when you have to remember the number of the parking space allllllllll the way to the pay box. Was it 11724, or 11726? Shoot! I walked back to check and still ended up paying for the wrong spot because of the angle of the sign. Ah well.
Checking to see that nobody had witnessed my debacle, I headed into the shop. In my head, I expected to find a mix of sex toys and lingerie, but what I found were a mix of sex toys and educational opportunities. The Smitten Kitten has a lending library consisting of a wide range of sexual topics. They also have a DVD rental section for those who are more visually inclined. Oh, and toys. Lots and lots of toys.
** You may be interested to read the Dried Cherries: Women and Midlife SexÂ series **
After a quick lap around the store I explained that I was there for the eveningâ€™s event, but (obviously) had arrived extremely early. The staff could not have been nicer, offering water, coffee, or tea while I waited. I found a comfortable chair and started reading Anne Lamottâ€™s book, Bird by Bird, that I had brought along as a time buffer. Unfortunately, the conversations between customerâ€™s and staff were so interesting that I had a hard time concentrating on Anneâ€™s most excellent book on writing. One of the staff is a self-proclaimed â€œlube expert,â€ and was an encyclopedia of information on all things slippery. There was never a whiff of judgment or sophomoric smirkingâ€¦just pure considered facts as she explained the pros and cons of different options. I was mesmerized.
The store closed early for the eveningâ€™s event, and soon the ladies trickled in one by one. The online list of attendees indicated five women had signed up, but I would guess close to forty showed up. Unfazed, the Smitten Kitten staff kept bringing in more folding chairs. It got to be quite cozy.
Jean Ketchum, one of the Aging But Dangerous founders, yelled out, â€œThe wine is here! Come and get it!â€ I wouldnâ€™t say there was a stampede, but a gentle mob did form an undulating line rather quickly. Itâ€™s just easier to mingle when thereâ€™s a bit of liquid relaxation in the mix.
Once we were happily settled with drink(s) in hand, Dr. Kathryn Babich began her talk on sex in midlife and beyond. She was direct but not too clinical. Yay! Time was allowed for questionsâ€”discretely asked via anonymously written queries when a basket was passed around the roomâ€”and time for a section-by-section explanation of the Smitten Kittenâ€™s offerings.
Because of the squeeze of chairs in the rather small space, I was smack up against a shelf of cock rings. As I sipped my wine all I could think was, excellent assortment. A little further in front of me was a collection of dildos wearing knit coverings. â€œLook,â€ I said to the woman next to me, â€œcute little cock warmers. They are like leggings for menâ€™s johnsons.â€ She snickered. We later learned they were not cock warmers. They were masturbation sleeves. Cashmere masturbation sleeves, no less. Ahhhhhh. I am such a country bumpkin.
We were shown the correct way to apply a condom, the proper way to use a dental dam on those naughty bits of choice, and we were shown the difference between a vibrator and a dildo.
The neat thing was the openness of the room. It seemed perfectly normal to be discussing vibrators, or how to get the most pleasure from a partnerâ€™s less than raging penis. There was laughterâ€”usually self-deprecating in scopeâ€”and a sense of â€œweâ€™re all learning together as our bodies and attitudes change.â€
What an elegant evening! I left feeling good about where Iâ€™m at sexually while knowing thereâ€™s still room to explore all sorts of pleasure as the years roll by.
If you get a chance, I highly recommend attending an Aging But Dangerous event or take a class at the Smitten Kitten. The only thing scary is the parking meters!