I knew things were about to change when I went shopping for CBD cream and came home with a vibrator. This was before hemp became legal in Massachusetts and you had to buy CBD at questionable places, like the “adult shop” about five miles north of Boston. Since my sex life had been evicerated by my husband’s illness, medication and sheer exhaustion, buying a vibrator suddenly seemed like the easiest way to save the one thing I might be able to control in my life.
I put my CBD cream on the counter and with a surge of bravado, whispered to the cashier who had pins and piercings all over her face, colorful tattoos up and down both arms and a name badge that said My name is Chelsea. How can I help you, “Could you show me where the vibrators are?”
I had no idea why I was whispering as there was no one else in the store but me. Perhaps because nice Jewish girls in their fifties didn’t own vibrators? Or visit porn shops. Or did they? I thought about my divorced friend Lisa and how I was surprised and envious when she said, “I’m taking a break from dating, but thank goodness for my electric boyfriend.” Or Leah, who often referred to using “toys” with or without the men she dated.
So I followed Chelsea to the vibrator aisle, skirting passed graphically packaged items called Booty Call Booty Rocket and Beaded Nipple Clamp Action Clips with my eyes half-closed, worried that I would never be able to unsee them. Hundreds of vibrators were on display in lavender, pink and ivory packaging, reminding me of the feminine products section at CVS. I didn’t know where to begin.
“Um, what’s the difference here?” I asked Chelsea. Unexpectedly, she was quite experienced and after a thorough questioning about how I intended to use the device, she picked out a basic vibrator in a soft pink box, with a USB charging cable for $75. A model that she herself enjoyed. I wasn’t sure how I felt about that, but bought it anyway.
At home, I thought about how to best execute sexual healing using my new electric boyfriend. Would it be alone? Could it be with my husband? Or was this a “WTF was I thinking purchase” ? While I was deciding, I stowed the purple plastic bag containing my vibrator into the dark recesses of my closet so no one would find it. Like bad clockwork, Covid 19 also began its insidious creep into the world and very quickly, the idea of sex became exhausting and overwhelming. Afterall, how does one charge a vibrator, much less use one, when living Pandemic-style with your husband and two adult children? ,
But somehow I feel empowered, just knowing it’s there, sealed in its original packaging in the back of my closet. As my first small act in reclaiming a piece of myself in a 29 year marriage that needs work, my electric boyfriend will always represent bravery that I didn’t know I had. With the words “if not now, when?” echoing in my head I’m looking forward to the dreaded New England winter as a time of new beginnings. And to think that it all started with a vibrator.