"Why now?" I said to Claudia, the power attorney. I'd followed her into Walgreen's, where she'd dashed in "just to get some supplies." Now we were standing in front of the Hidden Sex Zone, the tiny area of the store where they manage to cram all the condoms, lubricants, Astro-glide, creams, gels and more onto two minuscule shelves. "Do you just save up until the time that you need this stuff, and then call me? Or is it just a coincidence that I happen to be around when you peruse the Walgreen's Bermuda Triangle?"
She smirked. "Interesting how it's all hidden away," she said. "In the rear of the store."
I picked up a phallic bottle of gel and considered. "Wait a minute. I thought you were on the pill."
"I am." Claudia frowned as she scanned the tiny print on a box of Trojans, as if she were reading a recipe from a faded newspaper clipping.
"I have some condoms at home," I said helpfully. "They have that stuff in it that gives me a yeast infection, so I can't use them. You are welcome to the entire supply. The condoms, I mean. Not the yeast infections."
"According to you, no one uses condoms," Claudia said. "I beg to differ. But no thank you." She dropped a blue box in her plastic basket and pried the gel out of my hands. "I will, however, relieve you of this."
I followed her down aisle B-3, past the diapers and douches. "If you're on the pill, and you're still seeing the same married guy, then why ..." I caught up with her in the line, where she glanced impatiently at the old woman discussing with the cashier what brand of film she should use for her niece's birthday. "Oh," I said. "I get it. The new taboo. So the bug has bit you too, huh?"
"Nothing wrong with a little rear entry," she said. "I've always liked it."
"Yes, but you're the woman who likes her feet kissed. You have no credibility." I did think it was interesting that this was the second time this week I'd heard someone express a penchant for what I had always considered the straight person's final frontier. "You do realize this is a trend," I said.
She frowned. "How so?"
"It was even in the Times," I said. "How anal cancer is going up among straights. They think it's because of this, um, back door trend." I thought back to the time, about five years ago, when my boyfriend and I had attempted it. Lubricants, condoms, the whole nine yards. I winced at the memory.
"You didn't work up to it," Claudia said authoritatively, seeing my look. "You have to be very patient. One millimeter at a time. Sometimes it's not going to happen the very first attempt. And you should be very relaxed."
"Patient and relaxed. That's you all over. Why not just shoot yourself up with morphine? Then you'll be patient, relaxed AND it'll be painless."
"Well, laugh if you want, but it's the most intense orgasm. Always is."
The line seemed to be moving quicker. "Is it better than the old safe and sane way?"
"It's just different. And for the guy, well, think about it. Why do you think gay guys like it so much? They always have their finger on the pulse of what's hottest in bed."
"If they're gay, it's not as if they have a choice between Door No. 1 or Door No. 2."
"Italian guys love it. The French have been doing it for years. 'Last Tango' and all that. But I didn't know about this trend thing."
"I've just heard a lot of talk about it suddenly." I smiled innocently at the old man two people ahead of us who was fiddling with his hearing aid and looking at us with his mouth slightly agape. I'd thought we'd kept our voices down but maybe not. Claudia always did speak a little louder than was necessary. "It really is the last taboo. Which may make it all the more interesting, I don't know. I asked these two guy friends about it and ..."
"Who? I want names."
"Names are not important," I continued. "I wondered if it had something to do with the domination factor, if that's what they got off on. And one of them said, 'Well, I'm hardly being dominant when I'm lying on my back and the woman's above, impaling herself on me.'" I shuddered again. "I just remember it being so painful. I like a little pain with my pleasure, just like the next girl, but sheesh. I was having bathroom problems for days afterwards."
"Yeah," Claudia said thoughtfully as she stepped to the front of the queue, swinging her red plastic basket as she spoke. "That can happen. Physiologically though, there are reasons why it can be so great. All men secretly want to be fucked in the ass. So consider that next time you want to bend a guy over and do him with a banana. And use a condom!" She reached into her Prada bag for her wallet and smiled sweetly at the adolescent boy cashier staring at her chest from behind the register. "Do you take checks?"