17 October 2006

Household appliances

Last weekend, I took a trip to one of those large, all-purpose electronics stores. You know, the kind where you can pick up a washing machine, a mouse and the latest iPod accessories, all under one giant roof. I spotted a high-quality blender for an insanely cheap price, and waited patiently for six employees to try and figure out the computer system. My eyes wandered around, half interested in the other merchandise but determined not to go on a purchasing rampage.

Then, nestled between the hair dryers and the baby accessories, there it was: the sex toys display! Dildos in every shape and size; fur-lined handcuffs; vibrators; erotic massage oil. What the hell? I glanced to the left. Yes, a baby thermometer. To the right? Yep, the hairdryers. And back. No, those are not multi-colored rolling pins. It's true: this mega-store sells risque sexual pleasure devices along with all the other mundane household appliances. And the section is so neatly stacked between the others that I almost missed it (thanks to Mr. Q. for his sharp eye and handy camera).

Let's pause for a moment, and imagine this scenario in the U.S. If, in fact, such a "family friendly" store decided to add an erotica display in a, er, surprising location, I'd give it 30 minutes from opening time before dozens of irate citizens would be screaming at management for their distasteful decision making. Corporate would be called; people would be fired; the story would make the six o'clock news, and middle class families would clutch their highly-insured chests in horror as they heard the story relayed at the dinner hour (sans video footage of the offending materials, of course). Tongues would cluck and heads would waggle. Moral values would be dusted off and placed back on prominent shelves.

It's the Dutch, I say, shoulders shrugging. I knew that they - stereotypically anyway - viewed sex as an everyday boring event, but I never thought I'd see the day where that assumption was so clearly put on display.

No pun intended. Happy shopping.

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