I open the sex shop door. Immediately, my nephew Dimitri recognized me, happy and surprised. “Hey, uncle! Oops,” he said, “I shouldn’t call you that in a place like this!” I burst out laughing. “Yes, I am, I’m an old pervert.”
An incongruous dialogue, if any, for a man who has rocked the other. I’ve known Dimitri since he was born. He has come a long way in twenty-four years, going through many attempts to get interested in school, and then fleeing to India for six months. He is an artist, an elegant elf, with this look in his eyes that are saying they want to have fun and that tell you that they have seen many things.
“I grew old too fast, when I was young, now I still want to have a little fun before I get serious again,” he says, and then introduces myself to his co-worker, a nervous little guy, a little older too. Both dressed in a sober uniform. Black shirt and pants, red tie. Real sex elves.
Despite his apparent good mood, I feel that Dimitri is intimidated by my presence. “Go ahead, shoot me your questions, that’s why you came.”
— “There’s no rush,” I say, “I certainly came to take notes, but it’s more interesting to know you as well as your colleague.”
I have the idea of camping my next text in the universe or around the universe of a sex shop, without going into Amélie Poulin’s kind mawkishness. If there is a place where you can show your true nature, it is well, with death, and in bed.
I go around the aisles. The place is well kept. The room occupies the size of maybe half my apartment and the heterosexual sexual panoply on the shelves is not very different from what I am used to seeing in their homosexual equivalents.
“There can’t be much that shocks you here,” Dimitri suggests.
— Indeed, there may have been more crudeness in gay shops.
— Yeah, when I go there, my eyes are wide open…”
I smile. Dimitri belongs to women, but he has the eyes and the frank heart of the one who must have tried a lot of things. And, in the end, an ass is an ass.
His companion is talkative, asks me questions about my writing. After a while, I ask them a frank question:
“Look, you seem to me like two smart, crazy guys. Without devaluing the place, how come you’re here?”
They laugh in good faith, understand my question, scratch their heads, look at each other. Jean-Louis finally sighs. And I know what this could mean, that his story is complicated. He suggests that he was anxious at school and that he had to run away. Kind of like Dimitri, I think. When you run away, you agree to change roads and it is sometimes difficult to get back on the highway of people who all do the same thing. This is the fate of artists in general. Dimitri is, Jean-Louis would like to be and he admits to me that he is burning with the desire to write.
“Well, then, you just have to do it.
Well, yeah, yeah, yeah.
It is on Wednesday evening. There are no crowds in the shop. I ask the boys many questions about the type of clientele, about the relationship between men and women. Many young people, it seems, are struggling to know what the school no longer offers them, namely a basic course on sexuality. Other young people, sometimes violent, have difficulty expressing the impulses of their hormones, still trapped in a stifling religious morality. Some tourists allow themselves to buy here what they wouldn’t buy from them.
Besides, a couple comes in. Jean-Louis goes answering them. There will be a sale of a small pocket stimulator for women. Dimitri advises him on the type of lubricant to use with this type of device. Total frankness, it’s very beautiful, I tell you. The young woman is happy, her partner seems happy too. He’s not buying anything for himself, but I guess he’ll be the accomplice of the evening.
A little later, two guys buy “natural” viagra, one of the biggest sellers in the area. Then come two happy, totally drunk but merry men who come to say good evening to their friends. They are regulars who leave almost as fast the come. Apart from the slightly boring music, the place is bathed in a simple aura of a small, ordinary and clean shop. Obviously, both the product sold there and the customers who come to the store have nothing to do with the local convenience store.
I would almost like to work there if only to feed myself on the humanity that lurks there. The sex shop is not a place of debauchery and many people come here to buy the necessary supplements to express their desires and fantasies. This is completely normal and harmless. Unfortunately, according to what my two hosts tell me, we also see the damage caused by so many misunderstandings. They are trying to restore the balance. The play somewhat the role educators, these two, because serious are the disasters of sexual miseducation. It is no wonder then to see those catharses on consent and rape that are emerging today.
Sexuality is the land of honesty and since human nature is still untamed (will it ever be free and consenting?), it takes a lot of skill and intelligence for people in a bed, or in the back of a corridor, to complete the sweet and warm dance of pleasure without spilling blood or crying. This applies to men, women and those who navigate between the two. This also applies to other human relationships born of the desire to move forward, to conquer, to transmit one’s genes at all costs.
A great dance, I tell you, a great fight.
I promise myself I’ll come back to this sex shop. I am a voyeur, after all, not in acts, but for human beings. I can also understand the Jean-Louis and Dimitri of this world to dwell on it. Strangely enough, this kind of place is good for the soul.
Dimitri tells me about his plan to continue his journey beyond India. We are all explorers. It would be so much easier if we stopped denying each other the adventure.