Today’s prompt was “Darlingo”. Initially, my head went to some kind of comedy western (maybe it was too close Django?), but ultimately…I decided that Darlingo was obviously the name of a porn shop. Writing this was actually a little harder than I really expected it to be, but I did eventually come to a point where I felt like it had reached an end. Hopefully Dee and Meredith have unique personality that comes through? This is definitely one that might see some future editing down the line to improve it.
Day 4 Prompt: Darlingo
“What are your birthday plans next week?”
My friend Meredith had been asking me this question for a solid year. For some reason, she seemed to be under the impression that because I was turning eighteen, I was going to turn into either a smoker or a sex fiend. I had no plans for either.
“I don’t know Mer. Probably dinner with my folks? Something basic.”
“I think you should go check out that new store over in Oakdale.”
“What new store?”
Meredith was aware of predilection for thrift shops, antiques, and “dusty old crap” so my hopes were high for a new store to check out. I ran a regular circuit in the existing stores to the point where the employees knew me by sight if not actually by name. I was never looking for anything in particular, until I was. I’d gone through phases with old local maps, Japanese Urns, silver sets, and I was always picking up cheap used books. My favorite find was an old Smiths-Corona typewriter, that after a little internet research and some basic tools, was in fine working order.
“You haven’t heard about the new porn shop?”
I audibly rolled my eyes.
“Why would I want to go to the porn shop? Even if I was interested in that stuff, I’d just buy it online. Like a normal damn person. As it is, everything I need I can find for free, so…thanks, but no thanks.”
“Come on, Dee. It’s a right of passage kind of thing.”
“Why? It’s got a cute name, so it probably caters more to women and couples than, like, creepy loner trucker dudes.”
“Darlingo.” She pronounced each syllable, “Dar-Lin-Go. Like, Darlin’ Go –get that orgasm.”
“Yuck.” I wrinkled my nose. It was a cute name, but the image of some little fifties era, curly-haired “darling” caricature, holding a giant dildo was a bit much. Hmm…maybe if it was in a Pin-Up Girl style? That was a little better. Definitely sexier.
“Don’t be such a prude, Dee.”
I gritted my teeth. She knew that she could say a lot of things about me, but calling me a prude was over the line. Just because I didn’t particularly care for shoving my genitalia in people’s faces, which she was know to physically have done in several occasions of high school drunkenness, did not make me a prude. Who was the one who always made sure our friends had condoms? Who went and got our friend Tess a pregnancy test when she realized her period was two weeks late with no lecture? And who had seen more actual penises in her life than literally any of our friends? That’s right me.
Don’t freak out about the penis thing. I’m the middle girl in a family of six boys; all of whom walk around naked practically twenty-four/seven. On the weekends anyway. Penises literally mean nothing to me.
Way to go, Bros. You desensitized your sister to the point where her friends think she’s a sexless prude. Congratulations. She’s never going to find a boyfriend now.
…Fuck. Maybe a trip to Darlingo would be worth the time?
But I didn’t want to go with Meredith. What a bitch.
I also didn’t want to go by myself. That was probably just asking for some kind of creeper trouble, right? But which of my friends would be a good person to accompany me to a sex shop? Someone non-judgmental, who wouldn’t pressure me into buying anything super expensive, but also wouldn’t let me buy anything super cheap. Someone who was sex-positive, but not overly so. Someone who…well, shit. I was describing myself, for all of my other friends. I was that person. Damn it. Because, it was true. If Meredith had just asked me to go with her, I probably would have. It was the twisting it around as to some “right of passage” bullshit to correlate with my impending adulthood that made it stupid.
“Maybe it’s more like Darling-Oh?” Meredith was still repeating the name over. “Like, a pet name for orgasm? Darling O.”
“Would you stop,” I sighed. “I’m not driving all the way to Oakdale to go to a porn store, regardless of how you pronounce the name.”
Meredith pouted at me.
“Fine. I’ll leave you alone about it then.” She huffed out a heavy breath. “But don’t complain to me when your birthday ends up being a bust.”
I frowned at her. Birthdays weren’t really a thing in my family. For three months, because apparently my parents are particularly horny in the winter months, it felt like we had at least one birthday to celebrate. Add in my parents themselves, plus extended relatives…it would be never ending if we cared.
She caught my look and frowned back at me. “Eighteen is a big deal, Dee. You’re finally an adult, at least in the eyes of the law. You can buy lottery tickets, cigarettes, and porn. Just to start. You can open your own bank account, you can get a credit card, you can—”
“I get it, Mer,” I cut her off. “I do.” I released a slow, cleansing breath. “Tell you what. Not for my birthday, but why don’t we plan to go for yours in December, huh?”
“We can’t,” she pouted at me. “You’ll be here at SU and I’ll all the way down at Parkville. Remember?”
Well, shit. So much for that compromise, huh?
“All right. Next Saturday, we’ll go to Oakdale to this Darlingo place,” I said. “But, then you have to come with me to Junque Junction.”
“I hate that place! I sneeze the whole time I’m in there,” she bemoaned.
“Too bad. If you want me to go to humor you, you’ll have to humor me.”
Her expression darkened. “Fine. I’ll go to Junque Junction with you. After Darlingo!”
“Of course,” I rolled my eyes. “I’ll pick you up around, what? One? When’s a proper time to visit a porn shop?”
Meredith shrugged. “No clue.” She grinned and threw her arms around my shoulders. “I’m excited to find out though!”
The small parking lot in front of Darlingo was empty, except for one car, parked at a side door. The outside looked innocuous enough, aside from the giant rainbow flag with XXX written on it. As we got closer to the door, I could see some sex-positive and LGBTQ welcoming messages posted. In addition to sex toys, porn, magazines, and books, they also apparently carried a variety of tobacco and CBD products. Finally, a large sandwich board near the door touted “BACHELORETTE PARTY CENTRAL – ASK ABOUT OUR SPECIALS”.
I’m not entirely sure what I expected on the inside of Darlingo. Meredith’s face flushed bright pink as we stepped inside. The “party” supplies were at the front of the store; like those who were faint of heart didn’t have to venture too far into the store to stock up for a night of exaggerated debauchery. Meredith was drawn into the bright lights of the display cases that wrapped around the counter. The staff person working was cleaning up around their register during their lull. The giant “they/them” embellished across their chest cued my into their pronouns, although the rainbow hair definitely had me guessing. They looked up as Meredith approached the case to look at the knives.
“ID?” They raised an eyebrow.
I didn’t blame them for wanting to card Meredith. She was eight months older than me, but she still looked more like a high school kid than I did. Middle school even. She didn’t argue though, and pulled her ID out of her wallet, slapping it down on the counter. The cashier looked it over, deemed it legitimate, and slid it back to her. I did the same, even though I hadn’t been asked. They didn’t seem to give mine the same amount of scrutiny.
“If you need help finding anything, just ask.” They handed my ID back and went back to their cleaning.
While Meredith looked at the glass case of blades and drug paraphernalia that was labeled “Tobacco Use Only” (as though that stopped anyone from putting pot in them), I wandered deeper into the store. I was oddly…disappointed. The lighting was bright, but not overwhelming. Everything was arranged neatly with a clean and streamlined look. There were even nice directional tags on the shelves, pointing out divisions between all the different types of toys. I could see a sizable clothing selection in the back; not just vinyl and leather kink wear, but “sexy” lingerie as well. Then, of course, there were racks and racks of magazines, books, and DVDs. There was even a small “vintage” collection on VHS.
I’m not sure what I had expected, the more I wandered around. Some dungeony sort of place, maybe? But it was just a store. Strange how you could package up sex and actually make it…boring?
I did a circle of the store and found Meredith trying out a trainer butterfly knife. It was unbladed –evidenced by the number of times she smacked her own knuckles and went ow.
“You can modify that with a blade when you’re ready,” the cashier was leaning against the counter with a semi amused expression. “But, ah, I wouldn’t recommend doing that until you’re really comfortable with it.”
“Good call,” Meredith set it down on the counter and rubbed the back of her hand. “I’ll take it.”
“I don’t think so.”
“Really?” I leaned my elbow on the top of the counter beside her. “You’re the one who wanted to come here and you’re not going to make it past the register?”
Meredith shrugged. “Was there anything worth looking at?”
“Depends on what you’re in the market for,” I replied.
“Well, I’m apparently in the market for a butterfly knife,” she said.
I hummed, giving the cases a precursory glance. It seemed rude to walk into a store and not buy anything. I knew if I brought any of the toys or magazines into my house, and if my brother’s found them, I would never hear the end of it. I wasn’t a smoker, and I definitely didn’t need to bring a blade into my house. Even one that was only an envelope opener.
While Meredith decided if she wanted to buy anything else to go with her new weapon, I perused a nearby rack of bumper stickers. I wasn’t inclined to put one on the back of my rust bucket of a vehicle, but some of them were amusing.
“Dee, did you find anything?” Meredith asked, her knife boxed and bagged for her.
“No, not today,” I replied. “You ready to go Junque Junction now?”
She sighed heavily. “Yes. If you insist.”
“You’re going over to Junque Junction?” The cashier asked. “Tell Lolli that Rae says hey. Maybe he’ll give you a little friend-of-a-friend discount if you find anything neat. She hit up a couple of estate sales last week.”
“Thanks for the tip,” I gave them a small smile.
“Have a great day. See you next time.”
Meredith and I stepped back out of the store.
“So, what was the rest of the store like?” She asked, as she slipped back into the passenger seat.
I shrugged, sliding my sunglasses back on. “You’ll just have find out for yourself. Next time. Not my fault you didn’t make it past the counter. Prude.”