Over Cobb salads, I ask Hilda if there's any truth to the rumor that vibrators are addictive. "That's ridiculous," she says. "Granted, if you're using it five or six times a day, it'll be hard to go back—"
"Or hold a job or raise a family or...walk," I chime in.
"But," Hilda goes on, "the thing most of us love junkies ache for can't be found in a toy. They've yet to come up with a vibrator that whispers in your ear or holds you tight at 3 A.M."
"They've yet to come up with a lot of men who do that."
"True, but toys tend to put the oomph back into long-term relationships, so you start releasing those hormones that actually do keep couples close." Hilda spears a cherry tomato. "And if you don't have a steady partner, they help your body remember how to respond. Or if you're menopausal—and not sexually active or taking estrogen—they keep the blood flowing through those vessels. You've got to prevent your vagina from shrinking and getting dry—a dildo is fantastic for that," she says as I watch the busboy who's refilling our iced teas go pale and back into a waiter.
If Eve's Garden is demure, our next stop, Babeland, is big, bright, and in-your-face. "Taste this," Hilda says as she squeezes a drop of "strawberry cheesecake lube" on the back of my hand. Before I can mention that this lubricant tastes an awful lot like Robitussin, my eyes light on the holy grail, the Rolls-Royce of sex toys. Drumroll, please: Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Rabbit Habit, complete with strategically placed rotating pleasure pearls, fluttering ears, swiveling head, and varying speeds for both rotation and vibration. This bunny does it all!
"It's a brave new world, my friend," Hilda says as she gives me a hug, gathers her three shopping bags worth of erotica, and heads home to celebrate her husband's 50th birthday. After checking out the vibrating bullet, the Pocket Rocket—which Hilda swears by—and the G-spot vibrator, I collect my purchases (yes, I managed to find a few things, but that's between me, my boyfriend, and the nice woman in accounting who signs off on expense reports) and grab a cab.
With Johannes in Europe, it'll be a girls' night in—just me, my 3-year-old, Dora the Explorer, and Angelina Ballerina. Someday Julia will go through my drawers just the way I did my mother's (and by the way, Mom, I'm onto you—a diaphragm is not a kitty cat's bathing cap), and who knows what she'll come across. Maybe I'll take that moment to tell her how you have to work at relationships, and how you have to care for yourself, and how—unless you want to be surrounded by a SWAT team and two dozen bomb-sniffing beagles—you have to take the batteries out of toys when you travel. Or maybe I'll just send her to lunch with Auntie Hilda.
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