Under normal circumstances somebody offering you their help could be seen as a gesture of good will, but when it comes to shopping the “can I help you’s?” become tediously repetitive. You’ve barely put one foot through the door and some over eager sales assistant pounces on you, broadly grinning “can I help you with anything?” Jarring as it is, you often reply “No thank you, I’m fine.” But how do you react to the unwanted attention when you’re in a sex shop intending to remain incognito?
The other day I ended up in Ann Summers as my friend wanted to pop in and pick up some ‘goodies’; “Don’t worry I won’t be long, I know what I want” she said as she strode off with confidence downstairs. Not wanting to invade her privacy I remained upstairs and gingerly edged towards the underwear section at the front of the store. I was hovering in the corner reluctant to draw attention to myself, when alas I heard the words “Can I help you?” over my shoulder. My heart sank. I turned around to see a big grin matched with a big cleavage two inches from my face. I squirmed and muttered “No thank you, I’m just looking.” But she was not deterred. Instead she reached over and grabbed the item I was looking at off the shelf and held it up to my chest. “Suits you” she said with a playful wink. “So who’s the lucky guy?” I was lost for words and stood there bemused, rapidly trying to think of a polite way to tell her to stop being so invasive.
At that moment, my stomach rumbled loudly; I was starving. Saved by the bell I thought as I made a poor joke about heading over to the ‘Lubes ‘n Licks’ section to see if they had any candy. My escape route executed, I stood there lovingly gazing at the candy thongs and dipper dicks, in want of food in any shape or form. I couldn’t believe I was standing there salivating over a chocolate penis in a sex shop but I was too hungry to care. I grabbed it off the shelf and made a beeline for my friend downstairs before I could hear another “can I help you?”
Once downstairs, before I managed to find my friend, my eyes were drawn to a lone man wandering around the shop who had a facial expression like he was in heaven. From afar, this guy was like a kid in a candy store; basket full, face beaming, he couldn’t help himself but pick up every other item off the shelf. I smirked as I scanned his basket; he seemed to have every aspect covered; lube, toys, cuffs, whips. But my grin dropped when I looked at him more closely and realised how old he was. Ancient. He went from kinky to lascivious in matter of seconds. My empty stomach recoiled as I stopped in my tracks clutching my chocolate willy. It put me off my food.
“Can I help you?” The shop assistant with the brimming bosoms had made her way downstairs and was back. “I take it you’re not out this weekend then?” the lady said to him cheerfully with a suggestive wink.
“No. I have better things to do with my time,” he replied, proudly gesturing to his brimming sack of goods like Santa Claus. All he needed was a sleigh; after all he had the wiry white beard sorted. Lewd.
I was flabbergasted, sauntered over to the toy section and feigned interest in a battery operated product while I waited for my friend to finish up. Unbeknown to me was a prying sales rep breathing down my neck, ready and willing to give tips and suggestions where they were not needed. I as I turned to her, I could feel the words “Can I help you?” coming once more and quickly put the item back on the tester shelf. Too late. She leaned across and picked it up the gadget, insisting on showing me every different speed level and technique with which to use it. “Good choice” she said. “This is our top seller; your boyfriend would love it.” Was that flattery? If so it made me feel uncomfortable and I shuffled side to side on my feet like a hotstepper.
I was busy trying to muster up a response when my friend came over and said she was ready to pay. Saved by the bell once more. I was just glad to leave so we could go and get some real food and I didn’t have to walk down
Oxford Street nibbling on a chocolate penis. I'd encountered one too many “Can I help you’s?” for one day.