L.B. Wilkenson has a lot to share about the life and times of a dildomonger and, for the next few months, we're gonna let her.
Maybe you’ve already had a lot of jobs.
Maybe you spent a summer making soap for a man who wore a kilt, had angry-red boils on his thighs and liked to talk about how sexy black girls are. You’ve worked in a Ghanaian preschool, where you had to clean up a lot of barf, and as a maid in a budget hotel in Amsterdam, where the barf situation was pretty much the same. You’ve watched TV for a living, handed out fliers for a strip club, worked in publishing, worked in film, worked in libraries, bookstores and restaurants—you’ve gotten to the point where working in an adult toy store is officially NBD.
You’ll meet people who think adult toy stores only cater to men with greasy hair and sweaty palms shuffling around in soiled raincoats with nothing on underneath. Try not to imagine how dull the sex lives of these people must be. It’ll harsh your mellow.
Some people will assume that you have a lot of sex. That’s fine. When you first meet someone and tell them what you do, expect their eyes to go saucer-wide as visions of you engaging in madcap, professionally sanctioned fuck-fests dance through their heads. Suggest in a conspiratorial whisper that sometimes you do end your shift covered in sweat, lube, a stranger’s urine and your own bitter tears. Try not to laugh.
Some people will practically deify you and others will treat you like you’re the biggest degenerate on the planet. “Funny” people will ask you if your mother knows where you work and “concerned” people will tell you to go to college. If, during that speech they happen to use a word incorrectly, correct them. It’ll feel great.
Everyone has sex, so when you’re on the job, you’ll meet all kinds: celebrities (management will make you sign a waiver so you won’t name names), stockbrokers, hipsters, old folks, young folks, gays and straights. Because part of an episode of Sex and the City was filmed in your store, you’ll meet a ton of tourists who would never, under any other circumstance, set foot in an adult toy store. Some of them will ask you where Carrie Bradshaw’s house is. Try not to laugh.
You’ll find that your job affords you an excellent opportunity to observe other people, which is great because you’re simply fascinated by other people. You want to be a novelist one day, so you’re always trying to figure out what makes folks tick.
Carefully watch the woman in her sixties or seventies who always comes in wearing a brown fur coat and her white hair up in a French twist. She’s rapidly sliding into full-blown dementia and you suspect that your store is just one stop in a circuit of mayhem that she traces throughout the city. As she turns on every vibrator on display, worry that she’s not being cared for well enough and that she’s going to get lost one day. After she’s gone, turn off the vibrators she’s left rattling like crazy against the glass display table.
Laugh with your coworkers about the guy who called the cops a couple of weeks ago because your manager wouldn’t let him return an anal douche. Or about the guy who asked to have a sample of lube squeezed in his hand, then left the store with it cupped in his palm.
Hope that you actually help the older women looking to rediscover their sexuality after a hysterectomy. And the women in their late 20s and early 30s who come in and quietly confess that they’ve never had an orgasm.
Have a long talk with a guy who tells you he wants to buy his wife a gift because she gets angry with him every time he wakes her up for sex. Assume that he means a romantic gift and show him the selection of bubble bath and massage oil. He’ll shake his head and say that he’s not a romantic guy. Then he’ll wait a beat and ask, “What exactly is a butt plug for, anyway?”
You’ll explain and he’ll buy the butt plug. Try not to laugh. Or cry.