Pretend Sex Is Chocolate Cake, or: How I Explained That Problematic Adult Toy Store Billboard

One evening while driving the kid home from rehearsal, we drove past a billboard for an adult store. It framed the words “Romance Boutique” in quotation marks, and the kid being the kid, she made a comment about the use of said punctuation. She also made fun of the sign a bit, because fifth grade.

Now, my kiddo is pretty mature for her age. She’s an only child (basically) and hangs out with adults all the time. There’s only so much that we can shield her from with YouTube out there too. I also do this funny thing where I tell my daughter about things. She was in the fourth grade when she asked about sex the first time. I decided to take a very biological approach and describe all the mechanics using correct A&P terms. So when she said something about the billboard, I just brushed it off, knowing I’d have to explain it when she asked a question about what a “Romance Boutique” was. But that day was certainly not today, so I was in the clear.

Well…for like a week. Because the second time we passed it—and I remember exactly what that hot pink and black billboard looked like against the navy blue sky as the sunlight waned and dusk approached—she asked the question.

Oh, God. How to explain an adult toy shop to a 10-year-old?

Thank God for the genes I inherited that make me a swift thinker (or maybe it’s life experience, whatever), because I suddenly came up with an amazing metaphor. Or at least I think it’s amazing. Oh, and my doctor friend wants to have me on-call for when little ones ask uncomfortable questions. So there’s that. Anyway, here it goes: Pretend sex is chocolate cake.

So imagine, if you will, that you get together with a new partner and not only is this person really great to be around, but he or she brings a chocolate cake with them each time they come over. Now you’d think this was amazing! I can have cake anytime I see this person, you’d think. And what do you think you’d do when you realized that this person that this person really wants to share their chocolate cake with you? You eat cake often.

Maybe you eat cake every day. Maybe you eat it twice or even three times a day—breakfast, lunch, and dinner—at first. And you love it! Well, after a while, you’re going to want less chocolate cake. You still love it, but maybe you just want it a couple times a week.

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She was still following the metaphor, by the way. Because I got the smart kid.

Well, what might it be like if you and your partner moved in together or got married? You would still love the chocolate cake and still enjoy the chocolate cake, right?


But you might now want it all that much. Maybe you only want it once a week, or once every couple of weeks. You might only want it once a month. I mean, you can have it whenever you like, but the newness has worn off.

Ok. She’s still with me.

Then one day, your partner walks into the house and says, “We should have chocolate cake tonight. And I brought this cherry ice cream to go with it.”

And oh boy! You’re suddenly super excited to try the cherry ice cream with your chocolate cake, because you’ve never had cherry ice cream and chocolate cake before, so this becomes something new to eat together.

So that’s what an adult toy store is for! It’s like adding cherry ice cream to your chocolate cake. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with those stores. There’s tons of stuff there that’s just for fun, and other things that are perfect for couples.

And suddenly, it was like a light went on over her head! Bing! She got it. And she didn’t make fun of the store’s sign anymore.