Sex in Aisle Five

Do you remember the first time your mother made you buy the Kotex? Slinking through the drugstore with that big box of pads all the while hoping you didn’t run into any boys you knew? Or when you bought a package of condoms for the first time? Or just started buying them again after finding yourself out in the dating world after a relationship of years was over? Slipping the box onto the conveyor at the checkout strategically placed among a dozen other items because you were too old to be embarrassed, right? That box of Trojans propped up between the Diet Coke and the toilet bowl cleaner was a sign of how comfortable you were with your mature woman’s sexuality – until the teenage cashier turned out to be the student in your homeroom whose name and face you never could remember but were unlikely to forget again?

These are grocery store images for me for the most part. And I barely think about tossing a pack of tampons into the shopping cart these days. In fact I can spend ten minutes cruising the feminine protection aisle, looking for just the right item. My wacky cycle and ever changing needs have rendered me stocked with all manner of proper flow protection these days.

The condoms were a bit hard to get used to buying again when I re-entered the dating scene after my first husband’s death but having preached protection and personal responsibility too often to my students and my two nieces, I refused to allow myself to blush. The funny thing now is that between my husband Rob and I, we bought so many rubbers during our whirlwind courtship we have ended up with a drawer full of them.

“What are we going to do with these?” he asked one rare evening when we were purging through the accumulated stuff two adults bring with them to a new relationship.

“Give them to the girls?” I suggested. His daughters are 23 and 26.

“Yeah, I thought about that. But how? It’s not the kind of thing a Dad gives his daughters, is it? His left over condoms.”

A good point.

Now the only intimate purchases we need to make are fluid oriented for the sometimes annoying lack of it.

Back in the States, all things uterus – feminine products from pads to yeast creams, pregnancy confirmation and prevention and lubricants of all kinds – were stocked in the same aisle in just about any store I frequented. Up here in Canada though, the feminine protection is red tented in an aisle of its own while all things unisex are in the pharmacy area. Interesting yeast creams are considered a joint gender thing.

As I am the designated shopper, it is left to me to stock up on lube and imagine my surprise when one day not long ago I noticed an addition to the sexual wares of the local Safeway in Fort Saskatchewan.

Vibrators. My grocery stocks and has an apparently brisk trade in vibrators. Finger sized for the ladies and rings for the boys.

Brisk trade you say? Oh yes, in the few weeks since I noted their appearance I’ve watched with amusement as the shelf is emptied, restocked and emptied again. I can’t find mini-raisin bagels as often as I could walk out of there with my own little bubba. Weeks can go by without a shipment of soy ice cream, but that vibrator shelf is never completely empty.

Back in my home state of Iowa, vibrators could be ordered and then brown-bagged to your mailbox with neighbors none the wiser, or you could – if you weren’t worried about being spotted – venture into the local adult book store to load up on all devices battery operated. In recent years you could even host the sex toy version of a Pampered Chef party. Now that I am a pseudo-Canadian, I can just go grocery shopping.

My husband didn’t believe me when I told him until I offered to buy him one of the little rings.

“It could be your stocking stuffer this Christmas.”

Which wouldn’t phase the six year old, but might embarrass the adult children.

My sexual evolution it seems has not ended and I still have full-blown menopause to look forward to.


This was an original 50 Something Moms piece.

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