Working in a sex shop gets to me sometimes, and not for the reasons you may think. People always ask me, “Don’t you get a lot of weirdo’s in here?” or “Don’t you get asked a lot of weird questions?” First of all the “weirdo” label irks me. It suggest that some people are strange based on their desires and my personal philosophy is not to judge other people’s kinks, no matter how different they are from my own or how little I understand them. A kink is a kink is a kink.
But as for weird questions, the short answer is yes, I do get them sometimes. And not weird meaning strange or freaky, but weird as in they catch me off guard. It’s funny because I often tell people that I’ve been asked about so many different sexual topics that almost nothing surprises me anymore. But every once in a while someone pulls out a question that can throw me for a loop because it’s so simple, or completely off my radar, or offensive. That happened to me recently.
I was helping a man look for a vibrator for someone else. He was asking me so many questions that it started to get a bit irritating, mostly because many of them seemed very straight forward, like how to simply hold a vibrator when using it on his partner. Maybe he was new to this, but he kept holding them in his hands, making thrusting motions as if he was practicing in his mind. It was a little odd. He was trying to decide between three different types of 5 inch vibrators and seemed more concerned about the price than the quality of them. He picked one up off the counter and brandished it in a thrusting motion as he asked, “Say I have three girlfriends. Can I use this with all of them?” I looked at him for a moment and repeated the question back just to make sure I heard him correctly. For all I knew he could have been in open relationships, or none at all, but all I could mentally visualize were three women being forced to use the same toy without any prior knowledge of the arrangement. I told him that it was his prerogative but,“My advice would be to clean the toy thoroughly between different partners , or to just put a condom on it to make it easier.” Not to mention protecting the ladies from potential STI’s. Fuck.
He spent another 5 minutes humming and he hawing over the prices of the toys and eventually asked me which toy I would personally choose. I told him I would go with the silicone one because it’s the most body-safe material, it feels the nicest, it was the strongest of the three options and had the most speeds. He grunted in objection and accused me of choosing the most expensive one. “Nope, I would honestly go with that one,” I said calmly, looking him straight in the eye. Sometimes with sex toys you get what you pay for, not in every case but definitely in this one, I explained.
In the end he completely ignored my suggestion and went with the cheapest, plastic option. It was frustrating to witness as a salesperson and it’s something that happens all the time. I often suggest a higher quality toy to someone who is a buying a gift for their partner, explain all the benefits and when it’s all said and done they take home the crappiest option. I completely understand that a lot of people can’t afford better toys, but if you can and you’re just cheaping out to save a few bucks then your partner is the one who ends up paying for it with an allergic reaction or a broken toy down the road. Customer encounters like these just put a bad taste in my mouth.
In similar situations women who are buying their first vibrator sometimes focus more on the aesthetic than the quality. I’ll show them one that has a strong motor, quieter vibrations and is made of silicone and they’ll balk because they don’t like the colour and exclaim, “Awwww but I want pink! Don’t you have one in pink?” It drives me insane because they’ll choose a sticky, plastic jelly thing with one weak speed based solely on the fact that it’s pink and looks “cute” in their eyes, no matter how much I try to dissuade them. It’s like trying to talk a toddler out of getting a giant stuffed animal that you know will fall apart in a week but they have their heart set on it.
I understand that everyone has their personal tastes and I respect that, because I care about the colour and design of my sex toys too, but I don’t think the aesthetics should trump quality. If the type of toy I want isn’t available in my favorite colour I would probably wait, look somewhere else or get something of comparable quality instead of downgrading. But it also boils down to an individual’s experience and knowledge about toys and how well certain brands measure up and a lot of people are kind of clueless.
That’s why I do my best to steer sex toy noobs in the right direction. But sometimes no matter what I say people remain stuck in their opinions, however flawed their logic may be. It’s unfortunate because I know that when you sacrifice quality for price or appearance you’ll probably end up having a crappy experience with a toy that doesn’t get you off. But eventually you learn. Maybe after the 3rd toy breaks. Or that rash clears up.