Normally, I don't do Valentines day, cuz really - its pretty silly. I don't want to partake in this forced jubilation that everyone feels obligated to participate in.... I find it to be a gag-inducing false proclamation of love... always have. The times I was single I hated it, and people thought I hated it because I was single... umm no, I just think all this pink and red lovey dovey stuff isn't my thing.
Back in uni, my friend used to do a campus radio show in the middle of the night... it was great, he'd play all kinds of fun gothy/industrial treats. Every Valentine's Day he invited me to be a guest co-host on his radio show --- we'd go to the pub beforehand and get warmed up with a couple of pitchers... then head on over to the station. And talk all kinds of silly crap, heh - we'd hate on Vday a whole lot. Play lots of angry german music... It was a pretty kick ass way to celebrate Valentine's Day...
Anyhow, a couple of years into uni, I met my husband and our relationship quickly progressed from being best friends to more. We were crazy in love... those early days...were like being on crack. I remember not being able to think straight, and never having experienced this sensation of total abandon before.. It was pretty fan-fucking-tastic .... and surprise surprise - my opinion on Vday never changed. It was just as gag-inducing.... hearts ....red ...pink ....cupid ... ugh.. No thank you. Give me bats, bondage collars and black any day - but do not inundate me with cutesy stuff. Please.
But in all fairness, Toronto isn't that bad... sure u'll see cutout hearts on shop windows, etc... maybe some heart shaped treats being sold - but its definitely not as in-your-face as Pakistan. Well, can't speak for all of Pakistan, but when I lived in Karachi, I must admit I was taken aback by the obligatory-ness of Valentines day... I mean even the panhandlers on the street were in Vday spirit..the street vendors were trying to sell heart shaped things and pushing roses into your car window, forcing people to buy them because - hey its Valentines day!
I was like??! When did this become a more important holiday than Eid. Very bizarre. Of course, I'm obviously not from the 'We're too Muslim to celebrate Vday' camp. But maybe its a reactionary thing.. perhaps this pushback in the form of pink and red hearts is a necessary evil...
But really? can we not find any other way to combat extremism? If we really can't then I'll get behind Vday for this one reason. Cuz it pisses the religio-crazies off. And in that spirit, I will do a sexy post just for you Valentine's day celebrators.
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So, for this post; I decided to venture to the largest sex store in Toronto... and ask some questions, take some pictures (which had to be taken very discretely because I'm not sure if they allow pictures or not) ...
Started the day off with a midday lunch date, with my partner in crime and oh so supportive husband. It was a pretty standard Japanese restaurant. We made it there in time for their bento box lunch specials (yes kids, when you've been married for a while, a bento box lunch is considered a pretty decent date), the food ok - but the service was great.
And hey I'm not complaining...if its good enough for Samuel L. Jackson, its good enough for me.
The server told my husband that the Toronto Raptors often hang out there after a game too. Guess where my husband will be vanishing to after a b-ball game ends. sigh.
While we ate, I kept looking at this sign on the bar counter "premium cigarettes for sale". Wtf?! Since when do restaurants in Toronto sell cigarettes, this is unheard of. It's a sign from
"Honey, are you thinking what I'm thinking?" I said (we both quit smoking in '07)
"Yes. Lets do it." *evil grin*
That was that, we were very naughty, and purchased a pack of smokes. It was quite exciting really.... felt like a couple of kids. (For the record: I think you should not smoke ever, it is very bad for you.)
But I promise you, we will not bring that pack out unless we are having a drink or something.
So, the next part of our date involved us heading on over to the sex store. Once we walked in and started asking questions - a lot of the staff became interested. Especially when I said I write a blog about South Asian and Muslim sexuality.
Interestingly enough, the 3-level store is located right next door to an Islamic Centre. (I've posted a pic of this interesting juxtaposition before) Only in Toronto can you find such tolerance and peaceful coexistence. On both parts....I'm not sure who came in first. Seduction say they were probably first to arrive, since they've been there around 13 years...
The first sales attendant we spoke to mentioned that her recent ex-boyfriend was a Muslim and had serious issues with her working at a sex store. However, thats not so surprising...I can see many muslim guys (as well as non-muslim guys, and women) having issues with their partners working at such a store.
Anyhow. When I started asking about the Islamic centre, and if they've experienced any problems or any intolerance with them located next door - the manager jumped in and said that they've never had any issues at all. He seemed quite pleased with that. And so was I. I was thrilled to hear that they've never even heard any nasty comments hurled at them or anything. And the store staff had nothing but nice things to say about them as well. Tolerance for others looks like this... truly. Why can't our people be this tolerant in their home countries? WHY? Forget sex stores, they pretty much think belonging to a different religion is a sin, having a thought outside of your prescribed doctrine is a sin, cartoons are punishable by death, etc.
I asked if he had seen any visibly muslim looking people come in to the store (from next door for example) And he mentioned that they definitely do come in from time to time. Women with headscarves, and men with beards...
"fascinating", I thought to myself.
A third sales assistant came up (we were generating quite the interest from the staff) and mentioned that they don't often buy anything, but if they are approached by staff they will happily ask questions about products...
She estimated that around 30% of the stores clientele was of South Asian/Middle Eastern descent... I don't know how accurate that number is... but its a heart warming thought. Especially knowing that people from the Islamic centre next door are not what people would stereotype as being angry extremists, but rather just like anyone else... they are curious about the products and come in to ask questions.
Then my husband and I delved into some specific products. I asked the sales assistant if there was anything she recommended for someone who's a 'beginner', who hasn't had much experience with sex toys -- who perhaps doesn't have much access to buy these things, like people in Pakistan for example (yes, yes i hear there are dealers there... but it's all very hush hush and not accessible to most). She recommended this vibrator specifically:
It has less intense vibrations, its small and not intimidating - doesn't look like a giant plastic veiny cock, and that's a plus in my book. So ladies, or gentlemen.. if you're looking to start - this right here is a great stepping stone into the world of sex toys. You can order from their store online, they ship internationally! (Hopefully Pakistan doesn't intercept such packages) ...
or if u want to be ultra discrete, you could just buy this "massager" that they sell there for some reason lol.
Then she showed us some male-specific sex toys. Dick sleeves... textured ones; bumpy, wavy, with warming and cooling gels.... I am not so familiar with these things... but they seem interesting. My husband just chuckled (real mature, I know).... I don't think he found the idea of them too appealing.. he especially laughed at the one that was marketed as a "Home Entertainment System" but i dont think he managed to get a picture of it, since the sales rep was right there. He did however get a pic of the 'flesh light' one of the most popular male sex toys I've heard about...essentially just a tube u stick your wiener into...
While browsing, I came across a small-ish strap on... marketed 'for him' - That was an odd sight. I was perplexed as to why there needed to be a strap on specifically geared to straight men. I mean, If they wanted to be penetrated, wouldn't they just get a regular strap on? As I soon realised, the answer was no.
The girl explained that this was probably just a marketing ploy to make straight men more comfortable with the idea of anal penetration. If it was marketed to them, it'd make them feel more at ease. Also the smaller size would make it less intimidating, and perhaps the shape of it would be more geared towards hitting the prostate.
Now we're not teenagers anymore so giggling at everything in a sex store is something we're past. But one product on the shelves certainly made us chuckle like school kids...I had to ask just what the fuck that was. A chin-strap dildo? Wow.
Hahaha apparently its to assist in oral. But you'd have to be a very freakin' talented multi-tasker and not afraid of looking silly to pull off a dick on the end of your face. Also the head-thrusting would just get in the way of cunnilingus, no? Weird.
Then there was this little bell.
Oh, and I found the perfect little hat in the fetish section. Not ultra-fetishy... but something I've been looking for, for a long time now. Only I would browse 3 floors of sex paraphernalia, and leave the store with a hat.
I did see some rather beautiful bondage cuffs, but they were quite expensive.
Happy Valentine's Day to you!