The toy story not suitable for children

"There's no doubt, as I write this, that I am showing my age, conservatism and possibly immaturity" … Chrissie Swan.
"There's no doubt, as I write this, that I am showing my age, conservatism and possibly immaturity" … Chrissie Swan. Photo: Julian Kingma

The editor of Sunday Life casually mentioned to me over email that this week's cover story would be about vibrators and sex toys and if I could just explore that topic a bit ... it might be nice ... a little tie-in. I quickly tapped out an email saying that I couldn't possibly write about that as I found the whole concept to be a bit "icky". That's the exact word I used. Icky.

Then I thought, why do I find it, as I so intellectually put it, icky? What's wrong with it? And if every woman is harbouring a plastic gherkin with an on/off switch in their knickers drawer, then why can't I?

I went to a Catholic girls' school. Now, before you jump to any conclusions about me wandering the timber halls protecting my candle from the breeze during prayer vigils (and let's be honest, there was a fair bit of that), let me just say for the record that if I could've had a boyfriend, I would've. I had rampaging crushes that inspired behaviour that would today probably get me jailed for stalking. I obsessed. I calculated compatibility according to how many letters our combined names had in common with the word "loves". If I got a low score with the boy I was in love with I'd just change the spelling. I tried this trick with everyone I ever met, and only stopped when I'd reached a rare 99 per cent compatibility with Omar Camel*.

Boys were just a mystery. I never knew what to say when they were talking to me. I felt like the guys I knew wanted small, quiet blonde girls. Not big, brown, curly ones who belly-laughed and loved the Smiths. I always felt so conspicuous, and "less" than.

I clearly remember watching a film clip in 1986, possibly on Countdown. The song was Breakout by a one-hit-wonder band called Swing Out Sister. They had a bob-haired woman as the singer and two other male members. I studied the clip intently, and learnt all the words.

If every woman is harbouring a plastic gherkin with an on/off switch in their knickers drawer, then why can't I?

That achieved, I continued on with thoughts such as: "Wow. That woman is in a band with men. They're not married ... so they must be friends? Imagine having a male friend? What do they talk about? Is she always trying to keep quiet and not be funny? Do they want to kiss her even though she looks like a bit of a show-off?"

So I never had any boyfriends and was deeply jealous of the girl at our school who was rumoured to be "doing it". Boohoo.

But now I believe I've hit the man jackpot. My fella is both charming and sexy. He really likes me, and I like him, and we are enormously happy, and, frankly, I don't want to mess with it by doing what many articles suggest and go off to "buy a vibrator together". I just can't imagine it. I would laugh. A lot. Then I'd get worried it would get weird and I'd have to mumble, "Only joking. Let's get home to the kids." Oh, yeah. Foxy. That's me!

I've even heard people say that women who are adamant they don't have a toy at home are lying. I assure you, I'm not lying.

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It may be a generational thing. Those "aids", in my memory, are sold in creepy stores that always seem to be accessible only via a shady doorway and a flight of stairs. The windows are painted out. If anything, I've always found this particular line of merchandise to be funny, not sexy. And definitely just for other people.

It seems, though, that women have been secreting away these pleasure machines for decades. My friend's brother actually found a little something in his own mum's shelves. Let's say he got a little more than he bargained for one Sunday afternoon in the '80s while playing murder in the dark in her walk-in wardrobe. Technically, he wasn't snooping ... because who knew glow-in-the-dark technology and sex toys were a match made in heaven? The horror/hilarity of this story has gone down in folklore among that group of friends. And his mother's name, Brenda, is now only pronounced "Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrenda".

Perhaps that has scarred me? The hushed laughter we all shared over that story has meant that this topic has hitherto meant comedy, not titillation. There's no doubt, as I write this, that I am showing my age, conservatism and possibly immaturity.

But by all accounts "things have changed" ... so excuse me while I get enlightened and turn to the naughty pages in this week's issue. I always did love a sealed section!

*Omar was a camel ride at the local fair.

Chrissie Swan is the co-host of Mix 101.1's breakfast show in Melbourne and 3pm Pick-Up nationally. She's also on Twitter.

This article first appeared in Sunday Life.