A woman with white hair, nicely made up, wearing jeans and a polo shirt approached the register. She was buying How to Win at College, a trade paperback, for $11.95. I figured it wasn't for herself, so I asked if she wanted a gift receipt for it, in case whoever she was giving it to needed to return it.
"It's for my grandson.
He won't return it.
He'd better not return it.
We're paying for his college.
He'd better read it.
He'd better commit the entire thing to memory."
A shortish, heavyish woman wearing a purple polo shirt and jeans, approaches me on the floor and whispers, "Do you work here?"
"Yes I do," I reply. "How can I help you?"
"There's a bachelorette party," she said quietly. "Do you have anything...for that?"
"Well, we have a few books that might have some games in it...are you giving the party?"
She shook her head, "No, no, no. I'm going to one."
"So you need a gift?" I ask."
"Yes, something that won't make me turn all red when she opens it. Do you have a book for...their relationship, for that...?"
I lead her back to the relationship section and she says, "No, for...the bedroom?" and she blushes.
"Ah. Right here. We have a sexuality section...most of them are pretty detailed," I said.
"Oh dear," she says as she starts looking at the titles and covers..."I can't give her anything like this..."
"Okay," I said, ready to move on, "Here's a book with questions the couple can ask each other about themselves and here's one that has romantic ideas, like giving her flowers or leaving him loving notes..."
"No, those won't work," she muses. "There will be things at the party that are certain parts of, uh, a man's body."
"Ah," I say, finally getting it. "So sex is the THEME of the party?"
"Yes," she says, relieved. "It's for my goddaughter. I don't want to give her anything that is..."
"...very graphic?," I finish the sentence for her.
"Exactly." More relief.
"Well, here's The Joy of Sex," I say, "Oh wait, they've updated this, now it has photographs." I pick up another version of it... "But here's a reprint of the original, no photographs, just drawings. It's pretty tame compared to a lot of this." (In case you haven't been in the sexuality section of a bookstore in the last 20 or so years, the books on sexuality have come a LONG way from the original Joy of Sex with it's pencil drawings of couples. Now there are full color photographs. Lots of them. And titles like Moregasm: Babeland's Guide to Mind-Blowing Sex and Tickle His Pickle and Hot Cougar Sex: Steamy Encounters with Younger Men and 101 Sex Positions: Steamy New Positions from Mild to Wild).
She picks up Cosmo's Naughty Notes, a book of little sticky notes. "I don't know about all this," she says. "She's my goddaughter. It's like imagining of your parents having sex, you just don't want those images in your mind."
I showed her The Art of Kissing by William Cane
and she thought that looked like a possibility.
I left her in the section to browse. She came up a few minutes later with The Art of Kissing and Cosmo's Naughty Notes, as well as How to Train Your Dragon, which she told me was for her son, not for the party.