Dildos, Dating and the Art of Self-Editing

“I’m thinking I need a blog where I can write anonymously because I would love to describe my first experience with a vibrator — but the kids read my blog, so…”

I typed the words into messenger, hit ‘send,’ and watched the bouncing gray dots as my friend typed her response.

It’s a dilema writers face: how much do I reveal in a blog? In a novel, it’s fairly easy. You can fictionalize the hell out of an experience.

No, Mom, my first kiss was not while dancing naked in a thunderstorm during a girls’ sleepover while the pervy neighbor made a video. But yes, I am in therapy, like my protagonist.

Regarding her recent novel Commonwealth, Ann Patchett says:

Most of the things in this book didn’t actually happen, but the feelings are very close to home. Or, as my mother said, “None of it happened and all of it’s true.”

None of it happened and all of it’s true.

That would be a great epitaph.

If you’re like me, you learn to present happiness to others like origami: oh, you don’t like the swan? Let me make a panda. Meanwhile, your own opinions are crushed into a wad inside your fist.

The gray dots stopped blinking:

What kind of kids do you want to raise, what kind of Next Generation do you wanna be part of? Let them read it.

I love my friends. They pour the clear wine, as they say in Germany.

My kids are all teens and adults now, so parenting has changed from the physical exhaustion of feeding, clothing and generally keeping little ones from killing themselves into the mental gymnastics of making valid arguments without triggering emotions buried like landmines.

To answer my friend’s question: I want my offspring to become adults who know I have needs and desires just like everyone. I want them (and myself) to be confident in their sexualities. I don’t care if my kid’s partner is the same sex or fluid or neutral or is happiest wearing a fuzzy bear suit, as long as the person is not an asshole.

I want my kids to quickly discern people who are assholes.

I want to live in a generation where we can talk about dildos and dating; and despite people who will say I’m evil for exposing the topic, I want my kids to be adults with a positive mindset about sex. They should know that sex isn’t “dirty” but a beautiful, messy, moving, funny thing. It can be narcotic, addictive; so funny you shake with laughter, so intense you quiver in tears. It is not a subject you stuff into the back of your closet.

Some of you have been talking about this stuff with your kids for a while now, but I’m new to this party. I was in an ultra-conservative Christian marriage for twenty-two years. You can read why we were estranged and about his recent death in my other posts. But now I find myself a widow, buying vibrators and dating. It is a weird, weird world for me.

The weirdest change of all: no more self-editing.

Therefore, here is my vibrator story.

*If you are my parent or my child, you have the choice to stop reading now. It is up to you.

I was reading Scary Mommy, a blog I love, and my eyes grazed an article I quickly bookmarked and set aside until I was alone in my room. It was a review of a vibrator.

I was interested in the article because of a conversation I had with one of my daughters. I am a marathon runner and Crossfitter; and as such, I have a lot of..let’s say energy. Typically this force of nature could be expended with three to four hours of running; but somehow it’s never completely satisfying. Our conversation in the kitchen turned to a joke about me going to a bar to pick up a random stranger, to which, my daughter, a wise young woman and slightly horrified by my joke, said something like, “Geez, Mom. Why don’t you just get a vibrator.”

For decades, I’d been taught that my pleasure was the responsibility of my husband — even a washcloth lingering too long could be considered adultery. Now unshackled by the fetters of relgious zealousy, I could, indeed, procure myself an illuminated vibrating companion.

The seed was planted.

I did some more googling to find the German version of the product listed in Scary Mommy. In my research, I unearthed toys I never knew existed.

Anal beads? Are those like tiny mardi gras necklaces for the anus?

I did a lot of googling that day.

The irony is that after I ordered the vibrator, I was asked out on a date by a living, breathing human-being. I didn’t know where the date would lead; but it seemed like some kind of ironic man versus machine narrative. What if I enjoyed the company of Harvey, my bunny-eared vibrator, better than a real-life companion? Would my story become a B-rate movie?

The vibrator arrived in a discreet black box. I looked for instructions. Yes. I did. Truly. But like the real thing, there was no user’s guide.

I knew vaguely how it was supposed to work, but there was no discernable ‘on’ button. I twisted it, but nothing happened. I changed the batteries around and twisted it again. Nothing. How does a person even go about returning a sex toy?

Defective or not, I had to give him a go.

Without warning, the first of the seven settings of heaven began, and before I knew what was happening, I shouted, “OH MY GOD!” thankful the kids were thousands of miles away with their grandparents. Harvey glowed bright purple, and I felt like my brain was going to explode and shoot my eyeballs across the room — in a good way.

I tried to turn him off, but every time I pushed Harvey’s sweet spot, his rhythm changed. My shouts to the gods streamed out with each new cycle before I found the trick to shutting him down. I lay there panting, a little afraid.

At least I wouldn’t have to pick up random strangers in a bar.

However, Harvey will not sit at the head of the table at Thanksgiving nor hide the eggs at Easter. While I enjoy my time with him, Harvey can’t gaze into my eyes by candelight, hold my hand or give me a hug. I imagine he’s a terrible kisser; and he never tells me how beautiful I am. I wouldn’t want to jet away for a romantic weekend with Harvey, lest he become manhandled by TSA.

No, he will stay home, safe in his box, while I step into the surreal world of middle-age dating.

I hope that my experience is something the kids and I can laugh about, or at least talk about. That’s the kind of generation in which I want to live.

To be myself.


American expat in Germany, formerly conservative homeschool mom now navigating widowhood; runner, writer, Crossfitter, trying to figure **it out

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