Bad Vibrations

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Good friends celebrate your birthday with gifts. Great friends celebrate your break-ups with vibrators.

It all started when one of my oldest and dearest friends took me to Good Vibrations in San Francisco to help me get back in the game following a bad break-up. He’d been through it all with me and my broken relationship: the good, the bad and the ugly. In fact, he was privy to the ugliest secret of all: it had been over two years since I’d had sex. And I wondered why I was so tense all the time.

So it shouldn’t have been a surprise that chilly May San Francisco afternoon when he picked me up and began serenading me with the words to a familiar Crosby, Still & Nash song: If you can’t be with the one you love, honey, love the one you’re with, love the one you’re with.

Shortly after his mini-concert, he whisked me through the doors of Good Vibrations. Both of us had recently been laid off as part of the dotcom bust so we had no business blowing our unemployment checks on sex toys. But what else was there to do after you’d done your daily networking and resume-sending? We decided to share an educational DVD to help jumpstart my re-entry into the dating world and pass some time for both of us. We bought The Art of Oral Lovemaking, the perfect choice since this particular video instructed viewers on the particulars for both men and women.

He must’ve noticed me looking a little too longingly at the Rabbit Pearl vibrator because the following week he surprised me with a wrapped gift with a suspiciously familiar shape. A break-up vibrator! I tore the wrapping paper off like a woman on a mission, bade him a hasty goodbye, and scurried home to use my new gift.

We had some good times, the Rabbit and I, though the early days were a little awkward. There were (I think) three different sets of controls for the two different extensions on the Rabbit. And every time the Rabbit and I rendezvoused, I’d end up pressing the wrong button at the wrong time, causing a tremendous amount of frustration. I’d try to change the speed or rotation, only to hit the wrong button and completely stop all movement. I don’t think I need to explain the tragedy of this situation.

Eventually, I figured it out. The Rabbit became my nooner, my Afternoon Delight, my All Night Long. I used the Rabbit so much that one day, it just stopped working. I hit the on button and…nothing. So I did what anyone in possession of a non-operational sex toy would do: I wrapped it in an old pillowcase and threw it down the trash chute. I wish it could’ve worked out, old friend.

A few years later, I was living in Paris and decided to extend my stay through winter. I called upon my same dear boy friend to send me a box of warm clothing from San Francisco.

“Are you dating anybody over there?” he asked me.

I paused. Should I try to paint an optimistic picture or just be truthful?

“What do you think?” I replied.

“That’s what I thought,” he said. “That’s why I included a little surprise in your box.”

I was giddy with excitement. I hadn’t brought any vibrating goodies with me for fear of having them publicly discovered while going through Customs. And because I was in grad school, I was broke and couldn’t treat myself to anything new.

When the box arrived, I ripped it open, turtlenecks and sweaters flying through the air in a woolen frenzy. Nothing. I picked up the empty box, shook it, then looked inside, as if it would speak to me and tell me where my special toy was. I picked up the box again and looked underneath. I shook it again. No vibrator.

I called my friend the next day.

“So, when you said there was a ‘surprise’ in my box, did you mean a vibrator?”

“Yeah, did you not get it?”


“Are you sure? Did you look through everything?”

We sat silent, thinking.

“Do you think…?” I asked.

“No, no. They couldn’t have. They aren’t allowed. Are they?”

“No. You’re sure you put it in there?” I asked

Yes,” he growled.

“So…a Customs agent? Stole my vibrator? Some French woman from Customs is using my vibrator?”

I couldn’t believe it. France had stolen my orgasms!

I relayed my injustice to a friend who was traveling with me. She had a good laugh, and a few weeks later after returning from Amsterdam, she presented me with an early birthday present: a travel vibrator. “The Netherlands apologizes on behalf of France,” she said.

Shortly after that, I returned to the United States. Before landing in New York, my flight stopped in Canada, which meant I had to drag all my crap through Security again. I was dangerously close to missing my flight to New York and I had no time or patience to deal with the extremely chatty and curious Security agent.

Piece by piece, she began taking things out of my backpack and asking questions.

My book, Atlas Shrugged: “Oh, wow, is this a good book? I’ve never read it.”

Maybelline Great Lash Mascara: “I’ve heard this is the brand to use. You like it?”

My Canon digital camera: “Well, this is sure a fancy piece of equipment.”

I noticed the people behind me in line starting to get restless and annoyed. I also noticed that there were two extremely good looking men in line right behind me. And that’s when I remembered. My travel vibrator was in the outside pocket of my backpack (did I really think I’d get that needy on the trans-Atlantic flight?). Shit! I wanted to intervene but I was just too tired. She went into the pocket and pulled it out by the carrying string.

“And what’s this?” she asked.

“That,” I said, my voice devoid of emotion thanks to extreme fatigue, “is my travel vibrator.”

I heard the two good-looking men in line behind me start to laugh. A woman in the next Security line over hugged a small child close to her bosom, to shield her from the obscenity. The Security agent said nothing; she just dropped the vibrator back in the pocket and began quietly packing up my things.

I made my flight to New York that night, but just barely. When I arrived, I gathered all my bags and dropped my exhausted body into a cab.

“What’s that buzzing?” The cabbie asked me.

Oh no. I knew without looking. It was my travel vibrator. It had apparently been buzzing all the way from Canadian Security. When I tried later that night to turn it on, it was completely dead. And a few days later, when I bought new batteries, it still wouldn’t work. I threw it in an empty cereal box and put it out with the trash.

I guess vibrators are a little like boyfriends: you’ve gotta keep trying them out ‘til you find one that can keep up with you.



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