When I turned 52, my girlfriends bought me a vibrator. They decided that I had lived long enough without one and it was time that I find true sexual satisfaction and take responsibility for my own orgasms.
It was big and pink and the way it vibrated was oh so perfect. I loved it right from the start, and naively thought my husband would be just as enthusiastic about livening up our sex life.
"Honey," I said, tentatively. "You'll never guess where my girlfriends took me for my birthday. To the sex shop."
My husband's face turned ashen. "Why would you want to go to a sex shop?" he asked, and I was almost certain that he was fighting back tears.
In early adolescence, my mother had given me some pre-dating advice: "Never mess with a man's ego," she said. "They are very fragile. Men look strong but women are much stronger emotionally. Remember this if you want to hold on to a man."
Um, thanks, Mom. I never realized just how much I had internalized that piece of advice. I clammed up on the spot, knowing that we needed to have a frank conversation about this and that it wasn't going to happen now. And that's after being married for more than 30 years.
I did, however, develop an intimate albeit sporadic relationship with my new vibrator, but always in secret. No matter how much I wanted to suggest incorporating it into our sex play, I didn't dare. My husband and I could typically talk about most anything, but when it came to sex, the subject made us both uncomfortable.
And then I had an idea.
We were going on vacation in a few weeks and I would bring the vibrator along for the ride. Once we left the stress of daily life behind, the fun of being on a trip together would allow us to be more relaxed, less inhibited, and, hopefully, open to explore new levels of intimacy.
So there we were waiting in line to go through security at the airport, when it dawned on me that our luggage would be X-rayed and the big, pink phallus in my suitcase discovered. Airport security might think that it was a pipe bomb and evacuate the terminal. And what if the police dogs sniffed it out? What was I going to do?
I held my breath as the suitcase entered the X-ray machine and didn't exhale until the conveyor belt safely led it onto the plane. With my toy safely on board, I relaxed while the security officer now examined my carry-on bag.
"Ma'am," he said forcefully. "Can you come over here, please?"
My heart sank into my shoes and I began to shake. Oh God, no. The toy wasn't in the suitcase. It was in the carry-on.
My face started to burn with embarrassment. My husband, now past the security check, turned around and looked at me inquisitively, wondering why I was being pulled out of line.
"Ma'am, could you take this slowly out of the suitcase?" the guard asked.
"Um, no, I can't," I think, as full-blown panic sets in. Maybe I can create a distraction. Maybe it isn't too late to say it's a bomb.
My big surprise, not yet introduced to my ever-sensitive spouse, was about to be removed from its hiding place in full view of every man, woman and child in the airport. For years to come, they'd all laugh about the time the gray-haired couple was caught red-handed (and red-faced) with their big pink vibrator. My husband would never forgive me. And neither would the security officer, who was insistent on getting to the bottom of things.
"Ma'am, are you carrying a weapon?" he asked.
"Only a secret one," I wanted to reply, "for the war between the sexes."
I breathed deeply, and reminded myself that the best part about being over 50 is that I've finally learned to I say what I think.
"It's a vibrator, sir, " I said, loud and clear, while looking the guard straight in the eye. "A sex toy."
We both burst out laughing. In fact, the whole room seemed to be having a pretty good time with this. Even my husband, who was almost as red-faced as I was, was now giving me a big thumbs-up from behind the barrier.
We laughed and laughed until after we landed and well into the night.