Parents Buy Sex Toys Too

Good Vibrations moved into my neighborhood!

I live near the Grand Lake/Lakeshore area of Oakland. It’s a great place to stroll with my daughters in tow. In fact, when the weather’s good, we have a ritual once a week. We head down to the Splash Pad Park playground for an hour or so, then head up Lakeshore for ice cream at the yogurt shop and pizza at Arizmendi.

This walk takes me right by GV’s new window display.

Some of my fellow parent neighbors are a bit agitated over this notion. I heard a lot of protests during the permit process that the Lakeshore shopping district is family-friendly and Good Vibrations wouldn’t be a good fit for the neighborhood “ plus tons of handwringing about what might be in those window displays besides gauzy fabric and tiny white Christmas lights. The prevailing mood seems to have been: there’s nothing wrong with sex toys and sex education, just not in my backyard, please.

The store also has its share of neighborhood supporters, but very few of them, understandably, identified themselves on record as parents on record. Well, let me let you in on a secret, then.

Parents buy sex toys too.

And books, both the sexy picture book kind and the sexy-words-only kind. (I could walk to my own book release!) And lube. Oh, how I am pleased at the thought of good-quality lube and condoms just a short walk away from my house.

I mean, I know that this point is obvious to readers here. But never forget that it’s not at all obvious to the general public: once you’re a parent, sex is supposed to be a secret. You don’t talk about it with your kids. You don’t talk about it with your neighbors.

You’re not supposed to find a way to integrate sex and children and the rest of your life into a seamless whole. And so sex toy shops “ even ones as innocuous and, yes, neighborly as Good Vibrations “ should not be found next to yogurt shops and florists. And, it’s true, two nearby children’s toy stores, and right beneath a yoga studio that my preschoolers occasionally patronize. Horrors.

So let me repeat that for the record. Parents buy sex toys too. Parents write sexy books. Parents read sexy words, out loud, for an audience.

And some parents aren’t particularly ashamed of this fact.

Some parents don’t need their sex toy stores located on side streets, or in neighborhoods you can only reach by driving. I don’t drive, by the way. Or only available by mail order, where you can’t see or touch the merchandise until it’s delivered to your doorstep.

Sometimes, a little corner of the retail world turned over to women- and couple-friendly sex merchandise isn’t going to blight your block or menace your children’s fragile innocence.

The one issue that really bewildered me was the big concern over the window displays “ what children might think of them, the questions they might ask. I mean, maybe my kids are different. But they never look twice at the window displays of the other businesses on Lakeshore. Seriously, if it doesn’t have a giraffe in a tutu and fairy wings, they couldn’t care less. (But if it does have a giraffe, we are required to pause for five minutes while they examine every single item in the window. “Look, Rapunzel’s castle! Look, a dinosaur! Two dinosaurs! And an elephant! That one’s a puppet.)

Even more seriously, dear neighbors, you’re going to have to figure out how to answer your children’s curious questions about sex sooner or later. Consider it good practice. In the meantime, I suggest saying simply “that’s a store for adults. That’s a book for adults. That’s a toy for adults. Is that so hard?

P.S. There’s one fact that gives me hope. There’s another business that wanted very much to move onto Lakeshore: a franchise branch of the fast-food chicken joint known as Wingstop.

Turns out, everybody hates Wingstop.

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