A friend of mine was going overseas for a month, and asked me if I could catch up with her before she left. “What about Saturday?” I ask. “No, it has to be at 6:30 on Friday. That’s the only time.” I thought it strange that this was the only time possible, but went with it anyway. Sure, why not? I thought. She’s always had an odd sense of humour, but I foolishly didn’t realise the meaning of the set time and day.
As it turns out, when I arrived, her and four people I’ve never met were about to leave, and they offered me a lift to “the party.” Party? What? Stunned, I agreed, not having enough time to think of any other course of action. Despite my questions, details about the mysterious party were kept secret. I stupidly assumed it was a going-away sort of thing, which was a bit odd for a trip that was only going to take a month, but I couldn’t come up with anything else.
We pulled up outside a lingerie shop. I’m shy, easily embarassed, and very old-fashioned. I’d never been inside such a shop in my life, and have absolutely no interest in fancy lingere. Still, it’s her party, so in I go, trying to appear pleasantly surprised.
As it turns out, she’d gotten engaged, and it was her hen’s night. She’d booked the entire lingerie/sex toy shop. I was annoyed that she hadn’t told me, but there’s a time and a place to say these things, and I figured she’d just gotten engaged and I wasn’t going to hijack that moment. I can only put the secrecy of it all down to her weird sense of humour. I almost immediately saw a mutual friend who looked equally uncomfortable, and spent the rest of the night with her.
The shop owner, a leggy woman in her 50’s, was very confident when it came to modelling her stock, and had various activities planned. I was hugely uncomfortable. Fortunately, people quickly lost interest in the activities, and after having to select an item for my engaged friend to try on, things melted into general mingling and browsing.
At one point, my friend and I were looking at a bizarre gizmo that looked like the offspring of an iPod and an easter egg. We were joking about what it was, suggesting everything from tooth floss to a light saber, when the shop owner came up behind us and announced that it was a remote-control internal vibrator. “You can just leave it in for the whole day, and switch it on when things get a little bit boring at work.” Shocked, we both half-heartedly made noises of interest, and in unison went to get more punch. This was not something I ever wanted to hear from a stranger, especially one who was likely to push us in the direction of spending money.
It was, of course, one of those things where you are expected to buy things. Great. My shell-shocked friend and I ended up buying one item to share: a sort of wand-looking thing with feathers on it, that was supposed to be a whip but we rationalised that at least it would make a good duster. Everything else was either see-through or way beyond our comfort zone. And I have never wanted to know that much about the sexual interests of people with whom I’m not going out. But it’s hard not to find out these things when you’re a few metres away from someone buying fluffy handcuffs.
I was really glad that my friend had gotten engaged. But I wish she’d given me a heads up about where we were going, so I could prepare myself or at least ensure I had a ride of my own via which to escape. And it is undeniably tacky to host parties where people are expected to spend money but not tell them beforehand. 0628-12