Friday night, I make plans to watch improv with a friend and end up buying lube.
My friend, Eliza, has been heckling me to watch comedy with her, so we print tickets for a UCB show which, as it turns out, is scheduled for a week later. So, instead, we meet in Washington Square Park after work.
It doesn’t take me long to find Eliza. She’s carrying a chunky, magenta backpack and wearing cheetah-print, knee-high tights (“Aren’t they so fashion?” she asks, thrusting her leg out). We watch the Beauty in the Streets guy do his racist gymnastics routine, then circle the park.
Eliza is unlike anyone else I know. We met at our residential high school, where she sported a mermaid-like blonde perm and wandered around the dorm in her underwear. She has crazy but brilliant ideas for creative projects – she once fashioned a giant ear out of papier-mâché, hung it next to her window, then picked out a curtain that resembled hair that she neatly tucked behind the ear. Currently, she sells laptop trackpad decals that resemble vaginas (the venture’s called DoubleClit Here – Jezebel wrote her up). I’m never bored in her company.
I ask Eliza if she wants dinner, and she babbles about Turkiss, a MacDougal Street shwarma shop. We walk that way and get in a disagreement about the improv event.
“What’d we really miss?” I ask. “It was at a library. At 6:30. It would’ve been so PG.”
“So what?? Don’t you get tired of hearing about penises?” Eliza says loudly.
We’re by the park’s corner of chess players, and one of them snaps around at her voice.
“What’s this about penises?” the toothless player asks. “You look like nice girls. Wanna learn how to play chess?”
One great (and often mortifying) thing about Eliza is that she loves to wander, but wandering with her always involves talking to strangers. So I’m stuck for another 10 minutes, listening to Eliza talk about the history of the bishop and about police camera usage in the park with the chess player, who introduces himself as Nation (pronounced Nah-Shawn). We shake hands with him, then head for shwarma.
We determine that there are no bathrooms in Turkiss (“Well, we have one for employees, but don’t go in there, it’s scary,” the shwarma guy tells us), so we continue on to Panna II, the Indian restaurant with all the Christmas lights. We stroll as the sun sets, talk to strangers outside a bar about happy hour, talk to a stranger with an Australian shepherd puppy (“Don’t you mean German?” Eliza says), before finally making it to Panna II.
After a colorfully cramped dining experience, followed by a conversation with a homeless man about the Chinese population in Flushing, Eliza and I stand on the corner, shivering, talking about house parties and condoms and chicken noodle soup, when all of a sudden, Eliza shrieks: “Did I tell you? I HAD A G-SPOT ORGASM!”
“With who?” I ask.
She snorts. “What do you mean, who? You think boys know what they’re doing?”
She tells me about her new vibrator, and the conversation turns to lube. I confess that the only lube I’ve ever owned was purchased by my first boyfriend (yes, Nascar). After we broke up, I didn’t know what to do with the leaky bottle, so I stuck it in a plastic Barnes & Noble bag and shoved it between the jars of foreign coins I kept under my childhood bed. I forgot about it until I was cleaning years later, pulled out the bag and spilled lube all over my pajamas. Literally a hot mess.
“You don’t have lube?” Eliza says. “Malia, lube is essential. You need lube! You need it! Let’s go to the sex store!”
She encircles me with her arms and attempts to drag me to the open sex store we’d passed before dinner.
“Lube! Lube! Let’s get LUBE! Maaaaliaaaa!”
East Village bros stream past us, faces buried in their phones, but one of them pops up at the mention of lube. To get her to stop screaming about lubricants on a street corner at night, I settle for the Rite Aid across the street.
It’s too bright inside. We’re not even a foot into the store, and Eliza is chattering away about how deep G-spot orgasms are and how lube is so useful blah blah. I speed-walk away. We pass the cosmetics, then spy the sex section (sex-tion?). The contraceptives, oils and court-approved paternity tests are neatly displayed behind rows of plastic doors. Eliza opens a door, and a piercing alarm goes off to tell everyone in the store that SOMEONE IS LOOKING TO HAVE SEX TONIGHT (WITH ANOTHER PERSON BUT PROBABLY TOTALLY ALONE). The beeping continues the longer Eliza leaves the door open. She loves this. I snap the door shut.
“How about this?” I gesture toward a small box of K-Y Jelly.
“Why would you buy on brand?”
“Because I’ve heard of it? I don’t know?”
She starts talking about all the different lubricant bases (something which I should probably know more about, having worked at Cosmo, but I’m also a girl who only owns condoms provided by NYC.gov). She fiddles with a tiny $45 bottle of lube and tells me this is the “good stuff” that “melts vibrators.” The door beeping continues, and a Rite-Aid employee laughs at us as I tell Eliza to keep her voice down.
She pulls out a giant, Rite Aid-brand box of “lubricating jelly.” The box is blue and white, says “FAMILY PLANNING” on it, and boasts that its contents are “excellent for insertion of rectal thermometers.” It’s completely unsexy, but Eliza is over the moon that the package contains two bottles.
“O-M-G,” she says. “Malia, we have to get this. I want us to have the same lube! TWINSIES!”
This all sounds kind of terrible if you don’t know Eliza well.
“Please, please, please!”
She offers to buy it, since she owes me money. I give in. Anything to get out from under these fluorescent lights. I feel like I’m 13 again.
“We need to document this,” Eliza says. She whips out her phone for a selfie. A girl passes us to look at tampons. I try to hide inside my infinity scarf.
I make Eliza buy the lube alone and hover near the nail polish. I shove my bottle of lube into my purse before we leave, but Eliza refuses to put hers away. She waves it around proudly outside the store.
“Byeeee!” she calls. “Have fuuun tonight! With your LUBE!”
I’m not sure I’ll ever be ready for this jelly.