All About The Silver Lining

Chapter 10

TEN

Oh my God, that was so hilarious. I've been sitting here in my room, laughing my ass off for like, an hour, and I finally decided maybe I should write it down so I can continue to laugh about it in the future when I reread this.

Amy knocks on my door. I open it. Before I even get a chance to pull some casual greeting out of my ass, she's like, "So after looking at all the online reviews, it looks like this place Claudia's Collection has the highest quality and lowest prices."

"Huh?" I mumble.

"Sex toys." She waves a printout under my nose. "They have everything – okay, not everything, but most of the decent stuff and some stuff I still don't quite understand. And there was this other store that like, charges thirty bucks for a stupid bottle of lube, so I was like, no way – and the one where they have the 'viewing rooms'? Please, that is über-skeevy!"

"Okay," I yawn, scratching my ass through my PJ's. Hey, nobody ever once accused me of rolling out of bed looking like Miss America. "Before I go upstairs and grab my wallet, do you want another look at mine so you can actually comparison-shop, or are you gonna come home with an eighteen-inch double-ender that no sane person would buy on their first trip?"

"Don't worry, I am totally on top of this," she said with an endearing-yet-determined smile. "I st-"

"You stayed up all night doing research. That is what you were going to say, isn't it?"

Finally, I got her to blush and deflated some of her buoyancy, but it only lasted a few seconds before she grinned. "If you stop ruining my fun, I promise to buy you coffee and doughnuts." Which, of course, made me grin as well, and soon thereafter we were off.

Amy drives some kind of silver SUV. I always know exactly what kind it is when we're in it, and then as soon as we're not I forget. I could give a flying shit about cars, really. It has a decent CD player with one of those jacks to plug in an iPod, but we don't have the right thingy to plug into it... whatever, good old-fashioned compact discs get us by just fine. Even if Amy has some inhumane need to put on ear-bleeding stuff like Seal or (ugh) Aqua. Seriously, Aqua wasn't even legitimate music during the decade in which they were popular.

Everything was peaches and cream (or jelly and glaze after the doughnut run) until we got to the place. I mean, we barely talked about it all the way there, since we had a clear goal at the end of it and could allow our minds to wander to other matters, like TV and celebrity gossip and Ephram and Bright and school and other junk. Then we were parking behind Claudia's Collection and the purpose of our weekend excursion smacked us upside the head.

"I'm really doing this, aren't I?" Amy breathed with a touch of nervousness. "I'm gonna go in there and buy a piece of rubber that I'm gonna cram up my-"

"Relax," I shushed her. "You're giving me a headache with all your back-and-forth. Let's just go in there and look around; and hey, nobody's forcing you to buy anything. We can come out of there with a single flavoured condom and consider the trip a roaring success."

"Flavoured condoms? Why would anybody make... wait, never mind, I got the mental image just now."

The inside of it actually smelled like apples. Not sure what that was about, but hey, as long as it didn't smell like lube and sweat! The second thing I noticed after the smell was that it was kind of dark, but not pitch black, and that the carpet was a little threadbare but not dirty. All in all, a halfway-decent sex shop.

"Welcome to Claudia's," said a middle-aged woman with short, dyed-red hair who was seated behind the counter. She didn't look up from her magazine. "I'm Claudia. If you need any help just let me know."

"Thank you," Amy said with a little curtsy. No, I am dead freaking serious: she curtsied. "We're just browsing."

"Suit yourselves."

We both spent about five or ten minutes walking around in circles and checking the place out. They really did have just about everything I mentioned to Amy and some other stuff that went over my head, but it was all good fun. Finally, trying not to be too brazen about it, she turned to me holding up this black shaft with white stripes and whispered, "Well?"

"Dude, no."

"Why not?"

"It's a prostate-prodder." She just stared at me blankly, so I rolled my eyes and said, "For the especially-curious male of the species."

"Come on," she said with a slight smile. "It's- whoa, wait, I read about these last night, but they were anal toys so I kind of blazed on past. Guys really..." She blinked many times in rapid succession before putting it back on the velvet cushion (really, velvet cushions, like they were on display in the Smithsonian). "Wow. Wow, that's... that's an interesting concept."

"Fascinating, Dr Johanson. Shall we move on to something you can actually use?"

Here, Amy squirmed. She was already squirmy, so I didn't think much about it... until she opened her mouth and asked, "You were in there, right? What do you think I need?"

"Whoa, whoa!" I said, then gulped to coat my bone-dry throat (no puns, please, I'd appreciate it) then went on, "Amy, I was not in there, I- Jesus, are you trying to mess with my mind? I pretty much closed my eyes, gritted my teeth and hoped I didn't miss and start trying to penetrate your belly button!"

"But you know what you wanted out of yours – that has to help me out here in some way!"

"I know I got it in exchange for a Playgirl," I told her in an even quieter voice, as if the teachers had silently followed us to the sex shop like evil Russian spies in a Bond flick. "I got the Playgirl for my leftover Pizza Hut. It's a total barter system, just like prison."

Amy sighed, then her eyebrows knitted. "You really got a whole vibrator for one lousy porno mag?"

"It wasn't all that lousy," I told her with a wink. "Primo issue; wish I still had it. And besides, the girl who traded me for it had at least three toys, and Old Blue wasn't as adventurous as... the pink one. Which looked a lot like that one there."

She followed my line of sight, then whipped around to block it from her view. Beads of sweat formed on her brow. "Uhh... yeah, I'm not even allowed to see that one. Moving along to, uh, this?"

I glanced at it. "Oh, too short."

"This?"

"WHOA, horsey! What did I say about the eighteen-incher? That one would come out your mouth!"

"You said the other one was too short," she muttered as she put it back. The way it flopped and wiggled as she did so gave me the queasies, and I felt the bear claw trying to stir up trouble in my stomach.

"Fine, I can see I'm going to have to take control." Her tiny giggle made me blush. "That's not how I- come on, don't be sick; I'm here at your behest, you big chicken."

"You're right, you're right," she giggled. "Just lay it on me. I m-mean, your opinion, tell me what to buy! Damn, why did I think this was a good idea again?"

"Okay." I didn't show it to her yet, but I had spotted it. Time to cover my bases before I made my pitch. "How much money do you have to blow on your sexual health?"

Her lips silently mouthed the words "sexual health" in disbelief before she cleared her throat and said, "I dunno, fifty bucks? Somewhere in that area."

"Perfect." Then I turned her around and pointed her straight at it. "This is what you need: the Voracious Violet Variety Pack."

"Oh my God," she blurted, slapping a hand over her mouth. "Laynie, no, that's like... that's seven components of beaver-busting that I so am not ready for!"

"This is pretty much a straight-up vibrator," I went on, pointing at the sleek silvery rod. "And you also have this basic boy-shaped dong. Then, when you're feeling a little more courageous, you can use these jelly sleeves to switch up the feeling of the vibrator. And these-"

"Those are things we won't be studying until next term," she hissed at me, overwhelmed. "I'm still working on 'basic dong'. What's an un-basic dong?"

"Excuse me."

We both jumped when we saw Claudia standing over us with a semi-bored, semi-amused expression. The amount of green eyeshadow she had caked on ought to be illegal, I swear! "Hmm?" Amy managed to say without opening her mouth.

"I couldn't help overhearing that you guys are about to shit bricks. Maybe I can help."

"N-no," she stuttered, already backing toward the door. "I, uh, this isn't for me, I'm- do you know how we can get to Bennigan's? We were supposed to meet some guys at Bennigan's but wound up here, and I-"

"Oh, save it," I snapped at her. "You're such a bad liar that you couldn't sell it, anyway."

"First dildo for her," Claudia guessed, "and you're hand-holding."

"Right," I sighed.

Amy hesitated, then rushed up to the counter and whispered, "Please don't tell my dad I'm here. He'd have kittens. He'd have a whole litter of kittens, maybe a litter of litters!"

"You over sixteen?" she asked skeptically.

"Sadly, yes," I said. "This is how mature she's gotten so far."

"Fine, it's not my problem, anyway. So you want to have a little solo fun but you don't want anybody but your best friend to know about it, that about the lay of the land?" Then she smiled wider. "Unless you two are..."

"No, no," I laughed, deciding she didn't need to know I'd helped Amy out a little last time. "I'm here for amoral support, that's all."

"Laynie's is just a really simple blue one, and that's all I want for now," Amy said cautiously, still not sure she could trust a stranger with such private matters. "But... well, now sh-she's telling me I should get this crazy kit, and it's way too much, right? I mean, what do you think?"

"The kit's great," the old woman told her with this kind of complete ease that I'd kill to pull off. "Plenty of satisfied customers, beginner, intermediate and advanced. Unless you need some really specific kind of torture, this will be all you'll ever need to buy."

"But that!" Amy said, poking the rabbit sleeve. "I don't even know what that does, so how could I consider bringing it into my home?"

The woman frowned at her. "It ain't a loaded firearm, cookie! Tell me, you got a precocious little sister who might go digging through your stuff and find it?"

"No..."

"Then who gives a rat's patootie?"

"Come on, I don't- what are these things?" I couldn't help but stifle a laugh behind my hand when I saw her holding up the anal beads. I mean, if she knew where those normally went... "I just don't know, I..."

"Listen, dollface, here's what you do." She took the beads away from Amy, replaced them on the cushion, then folded her hands on the countertop. "If you're really short on money, then buy a dong and be done. However, judging by those clothes and that Prada bag I'd say you didn't come in here with anything less than fifty dollars to squander – maybe you even got a hundred. Am I right?"

Amy slouched. This crazy lady totally had her pegged. She was my new heroine.

"So what you do is, you take these things home, open the box, take everything that's not the vibrator or the dong and put them in an old purse. Zip it closed, hide it, forget about it. Then you've got two standard toys to play with to your heart's desire."

"But-"

"Then," she went on doggedly, "one day in the distant future when you get sick of the same old same-old, you already got options. Saves you a lot of money, especially when just the dong would normally cost you a third of this entire kit. Tell me, sweetie, is there some boy you're interested in?"

Amy glanced at me. I felt her pain; she wasn't actually interested in any specific boy at the moment. Out of her two previous relationships, one died and the other was back in rehab. "Not right now, but... I m-mean, maybe someday."

The woman actually seemed to sniff out her "somewhat-damaged goods" aura and nodded. "Someday, sure. See this? It's a ring for his thing. There's more here than just solitaire, right? Like I said, all you'll ever need and some stuff you might not, but this way you won't have to pretend to be looking for Bennigan's anytime soon."

We both saw the wisdom in that. It had taken a lot of balls (haha, I'm so funny) for Amy to force herself into that shop even one time. Saving herself from the headache of future visits seemed like reason enough for her to plunk down the extra change. "So... I guess that makes sense. I don't have to use those weird cherry-looking things."

"And if-and-or-when you change your mind, there's a little book in there that gives you some useful tips for each toy," she told her with a kind smile. "I mean, everybody's gotta start somewhere."

"But it's so much stuff, and... man, whatever that is, I know I won't use it. Would you use it?"

"Would, could, did. It's a lot of fun." Then she her smile turned wry. "Just make sure you grease the wheels for that. And you probably won't need it for a while yet, so like I said, dry storage."

"Grease the wheels... oh yeah, I need some of that. Any recommenda-"

"Water-based," she told her, handing her a mid-size bottle. "The other stuff can ruin some toys, even though I think Voracious Violet is okay with both. And trust me, get a bottle at least this big, otherwise you'll be back here every other month for refills and it'll be a waste of gas."

Amy was looking at all the things on the cushion. Finally, with a shaking hand, she picked up the dong and hefted it. "This is the kind that doesn't vibrate, it's just solid through. Right?" She picked up the chrome companion in her other hand, looking between them. "I... I guess it would be nice to have options. As long as I'm doing this, I might as well go all-out, no sense coming all the way down here just to get one of those lame fingertip thingies."

"Hey, don't knock 'em," she laughed. "They do the job. Not much of one, but enough if you're strapped for cash. Speaking of straps... you sure you girls aren't...?"

"I'm about to vomit on you," I told the woman point-blank, just to keep her from bringing it up again.

"Okay, I asked for that; minding my own business from now on. What's your poison, angel?"

Amy looked at the bottle of lube, then at the kit, and then over at a really simple dildo that was almost exactly like the one I had. Then she swallowed hard and said, "H-how much total for the whole kit and kaboodle?"

She looked so shifty, man, like a druggie or a guy in his first strip club. The woman kept trying to tell her to relax, and she kept smiling and nodding while rivers of sweat ran down her head. I tried not to laugh, I really, really tried, but the woman kept looking at me and grinning like we were sharing a private joke – and we kind of were. My best friend is so ridiculous!

"I cannot believe you did that to me," she accused the minute we got back to the car.

"Did what?" I snickered.

"Conned me into buying a thousand-and-one stimulation aids! 'A ring for his thing'? What guy do you know who would actually put one of those on?"

"Several A&M guys," I said easily.

Lots of blinking came to pass, followed by her exasperated, "FINE! Okay, fine, whatever, I already bought it so now let's just get out of here!"

We were at least fifteen miles down the road before she would talk to me again, and even then she was all snippy. I was more than content to listen to the radio until she got over herself, anyway. Oh, the whole thing had me rolling... the next part wasn't so funny, though.

Which I will have to tell you about after dinner; Mom's really been on my case about being ready when dinner is ready the past few days. Old shrew. Excusez-moi.

Laynie

AUTHORESS'S NOTE: To clear something up, I actually do not dislike the Danish powerpop group Aqua; in fact, their newest single "Playmate To Jesus" is quite catchy and "If The World Didn't Suck (We Would All Fall Off)" actually brings a tear to my eye. I'm listening to them right now. However, Aqua is exactly the sort of music Laynie despises. Sometimes you have to grudgingly acknowledge that the characters you're writing are NOT YOU, y'know? This was one of those difficult moments.

Funny stuff here. I'm fairly sure this is the logical continuation of Soulless's argument with his ex. For more hilarious arguments with girlfriends, please visit Things My Girlfriend And I Have Argued About dotkom. Or just Mil-Millington dotkom. I hate having to pretend these hyperlinks are some kind of German military leader to get them past the filter.

NEXT: Requests get more awkward? Who knew?

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