The sound of a bell resonates as I push open the glass door covered with construction paper, used to prevent exposing anything unsavory to any minors lingering outside. The familiar smell of the staple goth-mall store, Hot Topic, and cigarettes fill my nostrils, and the door shuts slowly behind me. That’s right. I’m inside the infamous Fantasy for Adults Only on Brooks Street. The man working the counter peers over at me.
“Do you happen to have your ID?” he asks. I hand it over to him, he squints at the license, then back at me, clearly under the impression I’m 16 and trying to illegally obtain a vibrator from this shop. It’s fair. I look young. I get it.
The clerk hands me back my driver’s license and I take in my surroundings. Walls covered in brightly colored wigs, cheap lingerie and a variety of dildos. In the center of the store is a large glass case lit up to display the “high-end” sex toys. Everything is as I expected it to be. However, as I begin to walk around the store, I find a lovely surprise: a small sort of “arts and crafts” section in the back corner. A row of brightly colored boxes read “Build your own willy!” Yes, that is exactly what it sounds like.
After a few laps around the store and several shopping inquiries from the clerk — “Is there anything I can help you find?” and, “Are you looking for anything in particular?” — I decide I’ve had enough of my local romance stores for one day and head home.
In the comfort of my own house, I browse sex toys on Amazon Prime: wand massagers, anal plugs, lubricant, the whole nine yards. The longer I browse, the weirder it gets. I find an item titled “Tracy's Dog® Masturbator Cup Realistic Mouth with Teeth and Tongue Blow Job Stroker.” I close my browser and slowly shut my laptop.
There are pros and cons to both shopping online for sex toys and shopping for them locally. On one hand, get the heck out there and support your local businesses, man! On the other hand, the atmosphere of dim lights and cigarettes in most sex shops is not something that the majority of the population enjoys. That’s understandable. So, if you’re in that majority, kick back on your couch, maybe grab a snack and explore the endless variety of “adult fun” on the internet. And remember: If you decide to order anything, get off your parents’ Amazon account. No one wants to have that conversation.