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I thought I could push myself outside my comfort zone and phone it in on a sexy toy party my dear friend was throwing. I was wrong.

My dear friend could pretty much ask me anything and, if it were within my power, I would do it. We’ve had to ask a lot of each other at times, support during a rough spot, but also to celebrate in each other’s triumphs. Her friendship is my touchstone in dark places and I absolutely love her.

So, when she texted me the story that she was throwing a “sexy toy party” and I “had” to come, I had to take a breath. “That is so far outside of my comfort zone,” I reply. I ask for time to think about it. I talk to my husband to get his thoughts.

He writes “butt plug convention” on the refrigerator calendar. I snap a photo and send it to her with the caption “He says I can go to your party…”

The fateful night arrives and I stop at the liquor store for a six pack of pumpkin ale as a hostess gift, and my gay bff texts me a picture of his boyfriend’s bottle opener: a carved wooden phallus.

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I meet some absolutely lovely people, who, under other circumstances, would have been great to meet. But instead they got to watch me have a panic attack and meltdown on the front porch.

The party had taken on the very aggressive sales pitch in no time flat. The woman began by spraying the room, explaining only after that it was indeed with pheromones, remarking how she used the very same spray to breed dogs. She went on to describe the veritable dog orgy that took place in a way that vibrated the creep centers in my brain to their core.

She told us how we too would soon resort to the same desires as she filled the air with the sweet smelling spray. The dogs began to howl outside and no one really seemed to care but me. The impending dog lust seemed like more than I signed up for.

The woman continued over the barking about her products in her line. The lubes were all vegan, but I had no idea what that even meant. But before I could dwell on it, she dropped the bomb on all the kindergarten teachers in the room (of which there were surprisingly many).

The sexy toys were in fact, made by “children in factories in China.” So, she says, they don’t always work. If this was intended to perhaps inform the room of the return policy or to discourage its use, I doubt we’ll ever know. The mood in the room dropped so fast, there was a collective sigh of dismay.

So, before I was just worried about the potential dog gang rape, now I’m forced with the mental image of poor children in factories in China making sexy toys? Is that thought a sex crime, because it felt like it.

Thoroughly disturbed and not ten minutes in, I’m struggling and failing to hold it all together. The woman hasn’t missed a beat in her pitch, saying how this horrific experience is somehow superior to shopping for adult novelty alone. She described purchasing one from a seedy gas station attendant, fully dropping the full descriptors of the female anatomy.

I try to remain body positive and all that, but it’s difficult. The woman begins describing a “water experiment” where we yell things we hate at a bucket of water. I honestly can’t tell you why because my dearest friend yanked me from the room moments before the weight of the panic attack descended on me

I stood in the foyer and lost my breath. Stepping out into the night air, she followed me. It was the easily one of the kindest moments of care-taking I’ve ever experienced in my life.

Eventually I caught my breath and noticed a few more women had joined us. I guess I wasn’t the only uncomfortable one there. We rallied on the porch, chatting and laughing as the party raged on inside without us.

I never was able to go back in and join them, spending more and more time on the porch like a embarrassed middle schooler huddled up in the ladies room at a school dance. I felt every inch that same overdressed, underdeveloped child, so I waved my goodbyes and drove home.

I expected to take myself out of my comfort zone, but I hadn’t expected to fail. What I learned though, was that the people who love me will be there when I fail, and pick me back up again.

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