Without doubt the economy has gone all to hell. Everything from General Motors to General Foods to General Birdseed products is going belly up. People are losing their pensions and their savings. Jobs are being cut faster than the winter snows. It's a bloody mess!
I'm here to tell you, however, that in the midst of all this doom and gloom there is one undeniable bright spot. With the manufacturing sector especially suffering hard times, there is one segment of the economy that's booming.
You may already know what it is. Indeed, you may be one of the reasons for its strong showing over the last several months. If so, heartiest congratulations on doing your bit to keep the world economy from dragging us all under.
A few weeks ago the headlines were full of it. The way the story was reported sounded as though this was a big surprise. Not to those of us on the cutting edge of human relationships and sexuality, it wasn't. I would include myself in at least one of those categories, if not more.
We could have told you what to expect when all this subpar mortgage thing started the whole house of cards crumbling down. It was inevitable. Still is.
We're talking about the manufacturers of sex toys and sexual aids. I'm not sure if there's any difference in those two categories, not having had much experience with either. I could ask Other Half, she probably knows.
Evidently, sales in those products have taken off. This chap in Toronto said that he couldn't keep those items on his shelves. Apparently, his customers cover all age groups and include representatives of the various socioeconomic statuses. (I don't know if there's any such word as that, but if you're going to be critical you tell me the plural of "status.")
There's no reason to believe that it would be any different in Newfoundland and Labrador. I haven't checked out any of those specialty shops in St. John's lately. Come to think of it, I don't know if there are any in St. John's or even Mount Pearl. I'll ask OH, she probably knows.
Some of you, we won't specify any gender, are now smirking into your weekend coffee. "I know why that is," you're saying. "It's because so many people are unemployed that they don't have anything else to do except play around with each other." That may be partially true, but there are other answers to this question of why these products are now in such high demand. Certainly, I'll tell you.
First, when couples who have been married 12 or 15 years get to playing around with each other because they have nothing else to do, they fairly quickly become bored. Understand, I'm not speaking from experience here. I don't think OH would mind me saying that boredom was never a problem for us at any age.
On the other hand, perhaps she will and I'll have to delete that last sentence in which case you'll never know it was written.
So, what do you do when you're bored twixt the lawful wedded sheets, or any other kind of sheet? You look for ways to spice it up, is what you do. And one of the most common ways to do that is to visit your friendly little shop specializing in toys and aids you won't find in Wal-Mart.
Things way beyond those little adult films that put you in the mood after a long, hard day of doing nothing. I can't describe them all, of course, mainly because I have no idea beyond the most obvious as to what's out there.
There are different shapes and sizes of those things named after that lovely little town in Trinity Bay, near New Harbour and Blaketown. I don't know if these items were named after the community or the community named after them. The town name does go back a long, long time.
Somebody asked me that question, actually, and I did a little research. Didn't come up with anything definitive.
One of the most enduring pictures I have in my mind has to do with a beautiful summer's day when I was driving down the highway toward Hant's Harbour, one of my favourite places on the face of the Earth. I came upon this car with Connecticut licence plates stopped on the road, almost blocking traffic.
An older couple had gotten out of the car and were staring up at this big banner stretched across the highway. They were obviously totally taken aback and at a loss to understand what they were seeing. The old fellow had a camera and he was busily snapping pictures to take to disbelieving relatives and friends back home. You'll understand when I tell you what was on the banner.
"COME AND CELEBRATE DILDO DAY WITH US!"
I moved around them carefully. The last thing I saw was him trying to get her to go over under the sign for a picture. Near as I could tell in the rearview mirror, she was resisting.
I was in the process of telling you what kind of sexual aids you can expect to find. As I said, I really don't know, except there are all kinds of "how to" books, from the "Kama Sutra" to Dr. Ruth. There are ointments and salves and oils and creams. There are paraphernalia for doing things that I'm certainly not going to talk about here. There are erotic books and erotic films. Odiferous candles and tactile gloves. Condoms of all shapes and descriptions.
I'm sure I haven't begun to scratch the surface of this stuff but that's what it is to be sexually naÏve. You're saying that I promised to explain several reasons for the popularity of these products? I did, didn't I?
Afraid my promise outstripped my knowledge, but no worries.
I'll ask OH, she'll probably know.
Ed Smith lives in Springdale. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org