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Thursday, October 13, 2005


Tup'erware* 


I went to a sex toy party last night.

Oh my, I don't even know where to start. So many ironic juxtapositions!

First, there was the disturbing flashback to my mother's Tupperware parties in the early 1960s – kaffeeklatsches of young housewives giggling over 'burping' plastic lids. I watched my mother and her neighbors with a bit of panic: Is this what growing up is about? "Oh God," I thought at 8, "it's not bad enough You made me someone boys won't allow on the baseball field next door, You have to go and make me someone who is supposed to get excited about containers for dinner leftovers?"

But back to sitting in the circle of more enlightened women who filled Holly's living room last night: As Marcey the party consultant was introducing us to bigger and more athletic ramming devices, the reference to 'tupping' from Othello popped into my head. It was hard to concentrate on the synthetically rubbery phalli and yoni we were passing around while I was wondering how Tupperware came to bear that suggestively tinged reference. Were those sly marketers of the '60s selling polyethylene lettuce keepers with subliminal sex? (Alas, no. The inventor's name was the rather Shakespearean sounding Earl Tupper – honestly, you can't make up shit like this.)

Thank god for synthetic materials: where would food storage and sex be without them?! Unfortunately we've twisted molecules around in so many ways that you now have to be smart about mixing your lubes and rubbery toys – god forbid you should use petroleum-based lube with latex, or silicone-based lube with your silicone strap-on. Yikes. Time was, when it came to lubricants, the only thing you had to worry about was whether your mother would notice her Crisco disappearing between Fried Chicken Sundays. (That wasn't a I-had-to-walk-5-miles-barefoot-to-school-in-the-snow story, but it was close – sorry.)

At a point last night, Marcey asked me to stand in the middle of the circle so she could demonstrate the effects of a warming lubricant on my skinny shaft of a forearm. I had a moment of dissonance when I was asked which flavor I'd like to try, "Hot Apple Pie, Cinnamon, Hot Buttered Rum, or Strawberries and Whipped Cream?" Oh dear. Can you even say "Apple Pie" without thinking "Mom"? Now add "Hot" and what else can you get but MILF? Where was Freud when I needed him? Forgive me Sigmund; I succumbed to Hot Apple Pie, and indeed later spent nine dollars and fifty cents on 4 ounces of the stuff.

It's been argued elsewhere that Earl Tupper's greatest invention wasn't his plastic products but the party-format sales pitch, and I agree. But I've seen it tried unsuccessfully with other products – I've been to stoneware dish parties, and country-craft kitsch parties and left without buying a thing. So it's not the format alone that works. Last night I bought far more than my budget allowed, and I think it was the giggling.

*See Othello, Act I, Scene I:
"Even now, now, very now, an old black ram / Is tupping your white ewe."