callasOff the school bus, Lena hops into the station wagon beside me. We head for a territory that few mother-daughter teams have explored before us–of that I am quite certain.

As a reward for Lena’s vaunted straight-A report card, we are going for a visit to McLane Way, an inconspicuous foot-traffic alley in one of the city’s “B” neighborhoods. McLane Way happens to be home to two sex stores that I had visited on several prior occasions with my boyfriend: Velvet, and Please!. I steer in the direction of Velvet first because I like its elegantly sensuous environment (understated lighting, floor-to-ceiling aubergine velvet curtains gently dividing section from section, customer from customer), and I like the cordial, professional yet relaxed manner of the young staff.

The first time I had visited the store (actually the first time I had ever ventured into a store like that) I had marveled at these kids’ matter-of-fact ways of answering customers’ questions. A prior version of myself would have wished for a rock to crawl under at the excruciating immodesty of it all, but thankfully I am no longer troubled by such feelings. Having happily succumbed to the charms of this store on that first visit, It seemed like the nice choice for my daughter’s first sex store experience.

This is surely not an outing ever suggested by our Sunday paper’s “For the Family” section, and I’m hardly recommending it should be. But I have pondered this choice very carefully for my particular daughter, and so here we are. Are you crazy!—the conventional branch of my maternal instincts repeatedly declares its outrage. Yes, I am–out of my mind. I have been feeling my way through this, and I don’t feel my intuition is steering me wrong.

We go in.

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