Hen’s Night At The Sex Shoppe

by admin on September 5, 2012

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

{ 34 comments… read them below or add one }

Kimstu September 5, 2012 at 4:46 am

Surprise parties are risky things even when the only person being surprised is the guest of honor and the venue is a conventional party setting that isn’t likely to embarrass anybody. By my count, this hostess goofed on at least three etiquette issues: 1) springing a party of any kind on a friend who thought that it was just a get-together for the two of them; 2) not giving advance warning about the intimate-activities party theme that could easily make guests uncomfortable; and 3) not giving advance warning about the shopping-party aspect.

I’m a bit puzzled as to why a bride-to-be is organizing her own hens’ night party and why it’s taking place just after her engagement: I had thought that a “hens’ night” was UK/Commonwealth for “bachelorette party” and consequently that it should happen shortly before the wedding and be hosted by her bridesmaid(s). However, maybe different customs prevail in this case so I’m not going to flag those aspects as etiquette violations.

Anyway, OP, it sounds as though you were a good sport and handled an awkward situation graciously, and I hope you get some use out of your new duster! (Although I suppose you can guess what the shop owner probably thought when you and your friend bought a feathered whip “to share”? ;)

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Jen a. September 5, 2012 at 6:11 am

I’ve been to these parties before, and they’re a lot of fun when you’re aware they’re happening, and you’ve expressed an interest in going. It’s not fair to just spring it on people, especially if you’re not sure they’ll be completely comfortable at them. I’m not sure if this is the case with the party the OP attended, but usually when you host these things you get “gifts” depending on how much your guests buy. If this happened at this party, it’s extra tacky not to inform your guests as to what’s happening.

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jena rogers September 5, 2012 at 7:29 am

OP… how dreadful… I would add I think it’s undeniably tacky to host parties where people are expected to spend money even if they ARE told beforehand. Being new to the area a few years back, I was invariably invited to the “tupperware” style party. ‘Seems that no one ever wanted to just get together for the sake of being together. These get-togethers were so awful, and of course, those budding friendships fizzled. Nowadays I flatly refuse to go to them regardless of the product or the occasion.

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Hemi September 5, 2012 at 8:55 am

Wow. She did not tell you she had gotten engaged, did not tell you this was her hen’s night and did not tell you she had booked herself a lingerie/sex toy party. Tacky, tacky, tacky.

I would have been furious and called myself a cab. I would not want to take away or make a scene at her hen’s night, but I think it’s horribly rude to host your own hen’s night and spring a lingerie/sex toy shop on your “friends”.

The shop owner’s comment about turning on the internal vibrator at work is so…wrong. I know it’s her business and she wants folks to buy things but that comment was inappropriate, IMO.

Again, wow.

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sashathebrit September 5, 2012 at 12:23 pm

How was the owner’s comment inappropriate? They were in a sex shop, for cryin’ out loud. Sex is their business. It’s what they talk about.

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Hemi September 5, 2012 at 4:05 pm

“You can just leave it in for the whole day, and switch it on when things get a little bit boring at work.”
Suggesting someone leave a vibrator in all day so they can switch it on at work if they are bored is inappropriate, in *my* opinon. The OP states she and her friend were “shocked” and left to go get more punch.

Of course, if the engaged friend has not sprung a surprise sex toy shop party on OP, it may have not been as shocking.

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GroceryGirl September 6, 2012 at 12:07 am

I agree with you, sashathebrit. It wasn’t fair to drag OP to a sex shop unexpectedly but she shouldn’t rag on the business itself or the owner. None of us were there, the owner may have meant as a joke and even if not, it really isn’t anyone’s place to judge what floats someone else’s boat. Too bad they didn’t sell smelling salts to help OP with her vapors.

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Library Diva September 5, 2012 at 1:36 pm

I don’t think the owner’s comment was inappropriate given the context. It was a sex toy shop, they were looking at a sex toy trying to determine what it was, and she told them and made a lighthearted comment about it. I don’t see it as being any more inappropriate than a Best Buy employee informing a customer that a personal DVD player is great for when the kids get bored in the car.

But it does underscore my earlier comment about how springing this type of party on unsuspecting guests is rude to the owner, too. She assumed a receptive audience, and why not? It’s apparently clear from the parking lot what type of business it is, and most of her clientele are probably not offended by her wares and even appreciate these sort of comments. But now she’s got an awkward and offended audience instead, and one that probably showed up low on cash even if they were inclined to buy.

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Bee January 26, 2014 at 5:50 pm

I worked at a sex shop for more than a year; telling someone that they can keep an internal vibe in all day and it is safe to do so is actually the “approved” sales pitch in most places (around here at least).

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Library Diva September 5, 2012 at 9:32 am

I’ve been to the in-home version of ‘those types’ of parties before. In both cases, it was advertised clearly what type of party it was going to be, and it wound up being great fun but ONLY because there was no one there who was wishing to melt into the floor. A guest who wasn’t into it and enjoying themselves would have cast a pall over the whole thing. Then again, I suppose I’m just fortunate enough to have friends who don’t relish making others feel uncomfortable.

The ‘surprise’ party of this nature is rude to the shop owner, too. Suppose you had genuinely been interested in her wares, but not terribly prepared to spend more than maybe $10 or $20 on drinks that night? By booking the shop, your friend closed her off from selling to anyone but your group that evening, and if a bunch of people weren’t prepared or interested, that’s sort of damaging to her.

I’m curious, did you choose to keep this person in your life, OP? From the way you wrote this, it sounded a bit like this isn’t the first time she’s done something like this to you or to others.

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girl_with_all_the_yarn September 5, 2012 at 10:25 am

In the words of Siri Agrell, author of “Bad Bridesmaid,”

“I do not understand the lingerie party. I cannot imagine my friend, standing in the doorway of the marital bedroom in five inches of black silk and saying ‘This one’s from your mom.'”

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June First September 5, 2012 at 1:46 pm

Hahahahaa! That is one of my favorite books.

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Wendy September 5, 2012 at 11:01 am

I’d have walked out.

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Cat September 5, 2012 at 11:02 am

My guess is that she knew that, if you knew what was coming, you would not have come at all. You got shanghaied because she lied to you rather than keeping to the time-honored tradition of getting you drunk first.
I don’t know what I would have done because, if I had a fiance who enjoyed this sort of thing, he and I would have gone to this place without making a public announcement of our habits of pleasure. Some things are best kept between partners and I think this comes under that category.
I admit, my sense of fun would require me to repay her in an appropriate manner. Perhaps I would invite her over for a girl’s night at my house. When she arrived, I would introduce her to my prayer group and announce that our first activity would be to say the Franciscan rosary-all seven decades! Here are your beads! On your knees! Now, in the Name… “

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GleanerGirl September 7, 2012 at 6:04 pm

Oh, Cat, I think I love you.

Are the decades so called because they involve ten beads, or because it feels like it takes that long to get through them?

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Felisd September 14, 2012 at 2:00 pm

Both! LOL. :)

The Hail Mary prayer used to be one of my favourites until I had to repeat it 100 times in one sitting…

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--Lia September 5, 2012 at 11:12 am

You can explain this away as an etiquette misstep or a strange sense of humor, but for me it boils down to someone who enjoys making people uncomfortable and for no discernible reason that I can figure out. I’d call what she did a deeply aggressive act. Surprise you? Set you up so you had no way home when you wanted to go? It’s not like you were helping her enjoy a raucously hilarious party that she liked even if you didn’t. The only lesson I can take from this is to make sure you always have a transportation escape route. If other people give me a ride, I make sure I can get a taxi if I need to.

Mind you, I’m as easy-going and unshockable about sex as they come. I really have no judgments about what people choose to do as long as they don’t bother anyone else. As far as I’m concerned, sex toys are just products that some people like to use. I find them no more embarrassing than dish towels or motor oil. But there is one category of sexual acts that I am willing to condemn. Those are the ones that involve an unwilling participant, and this “party” comes dangerously close to falling in that category.

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Cat 2 September 6, 2012 at 1:18 pm

I agree.

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GleanerGirl September 7, 2012 at 6:05 pm

Seconded.

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Amber September 5, 2012 at 11:16 am

I totally fault the friend for springing this party on her group. And I also find the idea of a party arranged by the bride to get gifts very tacky.

However, I can’t fault the shop owner for doing her job by pushing her product. How was she to know that these supposed customers weren’t really in the mood for knowing about the products? After all, they were in attendance at the party. Especially when the customers were joking heavily about the possible uses for an unknown product — perhaps she swooped in to deliver a bit of enlightenment? And yes, the information was a bit graphic, but it’s a sex shop. Really, once one enters a sex shop certain proprieties must be left at the door (aside from, of course, good and polite customer service). If OP really was that uncomfortable, she should have bowed out of the party and left.

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GleanerGirl September 7, 2012 at 6:08 pm

When I was a teenager, just starting to date, my parents made me promise to ALWAYS have cab fare with me, hidden on my person, in case I needed to make a getaway. They were, of course, thinking of overly-grabby guys, but the concept holds true in this situation, as well.

Mind you, you had no idea what you were getting into, but I think that in future, whenever you go out with this friend, you should have an escape plan, just in case.

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feesh September 5, 2012 at 11:16 am

It sounds to me like she may have known the party’s theme would make you uncomfortable, and she kept it a secret to be sure you’d come. I can’t imagine why else someone would make their party a surprise to one random guest.

Keeping her engagement a secret too is weird, though.

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Dear! September 5, 2012 at 11:59 am

The horror!!!!! In college a friend took me to a place named “The Todd.” It sounded like a restaurant, and I love food so I was all in. When I got there, the windows were all tinted, and I didn’t see the sign outside, so when I got inside, imagine a 19 year old me, in my college hoodie, trying her hardest to avoid touching ANYTHING. The staff had a ball laughing at my red little innocent looking face.

I’m a fun loving person, and can have a raunchy conversation in the right company as long as it doesn’t get too out there. My friends all know I’m conservative and take joy in making me squirm…..Sadly, just this past weekend, it happened again.

I was out with some old college buddies. I don’t drink, but, at 25, I thought it might be fun to act like a kid again- at least in moderation. It started off fine. We went to a sports bar. Big fun. Another sports bar. Big Fun. Late night food – happy fun. I was in my glee, but was heading into drunk territory after only three drinks. I somehow missed the conversation about us going somehwere else after our 3am food stop. Well, I didn’t think anything of it when we pulled up to another “sports bar.” I figured I’d drink water and enjoy my infrequent tipsy state. When I got inside however, It was no sports bar…..It was what Al Bundy would describe as a “nudie bar” and a seedie one at that. I wanted to run there and then, but sucked it up, sat in the corner clutching my nice clutch and trying not to get my chiffon blouse dirty.

I feel icky just thinking about it…….. I live in a small town, as well, so I dread ever seeing any of those girls again.

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Jones September 5, 2012 at 1:50 pm

I would have, and did once, run. In my case, when I realized what the place was (not a sex shop but something else I was uncomfortable with), I stepped outside and walked to a nearby coffee shop until the others were done. In this day of cell phones, I hope that anyone–particularly when it’s more than one person in a group–who is uncomfortable with being bait and switched into a store where they are uneasy will realize they CAN leave, and the bait-switchers were the ones who acted in the wrong.

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Angel September 5, 2012 at 3:05 pm

I would have motioned to the other mutual friend who was as uncomfortable as you and said, you want to split a cab? Said your goodbyes and walked out. No other explanation is needed other than, I don’t shop in these stores, sorry.

What a poor excuse for a friend (I’m talking about the bride to be.)

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Lola September 5, 2012 at 5:05 pm

Sales parties are in poor taste.
Lingerie parties are in borderline poor taste.
Combine both of these with a surprise engagement party? Mind blown.

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AthenaC September 5, 2012 at 10:03 pm

@Cat – LOL!!!! That would be hilarious. Five decades is more than enough for me, but the Franciscan rosary is hard-mode.

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Kate September 6, 2012 at 5:51 am

I can’t believe she ambushed you like this. How uncomfortable.

I’d leave immediately if my maid of honour organised anything to do with sales or lingerie for my hen’s night. I’m pretty insecure about my body and the idea of trying on underwear in front of a whole lot of people sounds like an absolute nightmare!

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Bint September 6, 2012 at 6:10 am

I used to work for a very well known sex shop in the UK and I wouldn’t have been happy to be be shanghaied into one without warning for a party. I don’t want to be shanghaied into any buying-party without warning, no matter where it is – if I wanted their stuff, I’d buy it in my own time on my own budget.

Aside from this, the way the bride went about this is just extremely weird. Not announcing her engagement and then press-ganging everyone into a sex shop for a surprise hen night? Who does this? This is the kind of thing I would be laughing about like mad afterwards, but I’d probably have disappeared halfway through without warning! The OP’s last sentence says it all.

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Cat 2 September 6, 2012 at 1:23 pm

In my opinion, this called for a polite spine on the subject of at least not purchasing anything. Apologize to the store owner, but explain that as far as you knew, you were just meeting up with a friend.

If there are issues for the bride-to-be with that, I’m okay with that. I didn’t put myself in this situation, she did, and therefore the consequences are hers to bear.

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twik September 7, 2012 at 3:34 pm

I feel rather sad for the bride. Did she feel that, left to their own devices, not of her friends would join a hen’s party for her, let alone think of organizing one for her themselves, as is normally done?

Or is she so focussed on “my wedding must be like THIS!!!” that she never considered letting other people have part of the planning?

Was she naive enough that someone (perhaps the shop owner) convinced her that a surprise party, where the surprise was that the guests were to spend money they hadn’t planned, was a really wonderful idea?

In any case, it seems a strange way to deal with friends, and a pretty good way to ensure that you’ll have fewer of them to invite in future.

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GleanerGirl September 7, 2012 at 5:59 pm

I was once invited to a “sex-toy bridal shower.” Fortunately, I knew in advance, as it was not kept a secret. The idea was that instead of bringing a gift, participants would come to the party, and purchase items for the bride, at the party, as well as anything they might wish for themselves. The hostess rewards would also be given to the bride, so the more things people bought for themselves, the more the bride would benefit.

I was not in the least interested in purchasing any of this stuff, and very uncomfortable with the whole thing, but I wanted to support my friend, so I planned accordingly. I arrived early, parked down the block and walked to the house, where I saw other people jockeying for position in the drive-way, and congratulated myself on being able to leave at any time, because I would not be blocked in by other cars. When I got inside, I immediately went to the saleswoman and bought a gift-certificate for the bride, wrote my name on it and presented it to the hostess. I stayed long enough to be considered sociable, but when things got raunchy, I excused myself.

I understand the party lasted long into the night, involved jello shots and some “activities” where various products were demonstrated. Not at all my thing. But at least I was warned! I can’t imagine how upset I would be had this been sprung on me, with no way out, except calling a taxi.

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Library Diva September 10, 2012 at 2:14 pm

I think buying things for someone else lends a whole new level of awkward. I wouldn’t feel comfortable with that at all, and I was STOKED to attend both of the sex-toy parties I went to. I thought the consultant had a genius plan: she required a separate room to do the orders apart from the main party. This particular line carried a variety of things, including various bath and body products that could be as sexual as the user wanted them to be. So you had no way of knowing whether your friend was in there buying the French Tickler, or just some lotion. And I didn’t want to know. At both parties I attended, I was acquainted with most of the partners of the other attendees, too. I really don’t need those sorts of pictures in my head!

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Enna September 20, 2012 at 12:37 pm

If someone did this to me next time they wanted to meet up I would ask what was the actual plan as I didn’t like going to the shop the last time. If the firend gets funny or lies then I just won’t meet up with them.

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