Do you want to know what I wear to bed these days? I’m going to tell you anyway so you may as well say yes. Don’t worry, it’s nothing that’s going to make you blush or feel awkward about life if we suddenly bump into each other outside Tottenham Court Road station – I’m not about to tell you about some sort of strappy leather contraption that has “revolutionised my sex life” or “special knickers” that have no fabric in exactly the place you’d think fabric would be quite handy. I know that the trend online is to now share all sorts of intimate things such as which sex toys you like to use and which – kill me now – ethical p*rn sites you frequent but I cannot and will not ever go down that route. Mainly because the only sex toy I’ve ever owned cannot be found for love nor money and the only p*rn site I frequent is Rightmove.
The mislaid sex toy thing is actually quite worrying (it’s an early 2000s “rabbit” if you must know, and yes we all had one, it was mandatory) because I live in constant fear that someone (an electrician, a visiting uncle, one of my children) will one day pull a box down from a high shelf and the toy will just enthusiastically bounce out and dong them on the head. The mortification. I know it could be worse – there must be high shelves all over the country with all sorts of things on them, like deflated dolls neatly folded into shoeboxes (open mouths up) and extra large bottles of industrial-strength lubricant – but it’s the unpredictability of the whole thing. They say to keep your enemies close, but I have absolutely no clue where this lurid pink dong-a-long is and it couldn’t be a greater enemy, its sole purpose in life being to humiliate me at an inopportune moment.
Maybe it’ll only be discovered when I’m dead – that in itself would be horrendous. A great grandchild (let’s be optimistic here) going through boxes of old, dusty photos wondering what the hell we all looked like because they’ve only ever seen pictures retouched and filtered or produced by AI, rummaging in the bottom (lol) and suddenly grasping a strange, pink rubbery thing. Imagine what they’d think! Pulling it out through the dozens of faded photographs and school reports and finally holding it up to the light.
‘OMG Gr8 e-Gran’s dildo!’ they would say to my daughter, their grandmother (sheesh!) ‘What is this funny section in the middle with little balls in it? And why does it have…rabbit ears?’
‘Ah,’ my daughter would say, (God this is weird and morbid, where have I gone?) ‘at the turn of the century self-wellness-i-pleasure e-appliances were something of a silly joke, they made them in bright colours and people only talked about them when they’d had a few drinks. Or if they were at special parties called Ann Summers.’
‘LOL emoji, what was a party, Gr8 e-Gran?’ the great-great-grandchild would ask. ‘Was it like a livestream?’
‘A party was a gathering in real life,’ my daughter would say, ‘where lots of real people would be in the same physical room and they would talk to each other and sometimes even touch.’
‘Before virtual reality, Gr8 e-Gran?’
‘Before the world even really began, my child,’ my daughter would say. ‘Before…the internet.’
OK where was I? Sex toys and online overshare: this is something I just will not do. You will never, ever catch me talking about anything remotely sex-related.
The whole point of this post is that I have never felt less sexy in bed, so it’s highly unlikely I’m suddenly going to come out with the sort of scanty ensemble that puts bits of see-through mesh in all the places a sane person would want covered. No: the things I am currently wearing to bed are such an enormous turn-off, for all involved, that I couldn’t feel sexy if I tried.
I’ll just go straight in and list what I’m currently donning in the marital bed: Invisalign aligners in my mouth, ear plugs in my ears (I mean, obviously), a herbal sticky chest patch, an eye mask. Does any of that scream “frequent close encounters of the rude kind” to you? Firstly, I’m sleeping in what can only be described as my very own sensory deprivation bubble because I can’t hear, see or taste and secondly I’m so full of things that I have to insert or apply there’s little room for anything else. The earplugs I need to drown out the occasional snoring (I only have to hear one snore and I’m incensed for the rest of the night so I think it’s best just never to hear it in the first place); the eye mask I need because if I see shadows and weird light patterns when I’m half awake I get strange night terrors (see below) and the Invisalign aligners are self-explanatory. It’s the first stage in a programme to “save Ruth’s weakened teeth“.
The chest patch is a new thing, the Breathe Patch from Victoria Health. It’s a sort of warming, herbal sticky patch shaped like a pair of lungs (cute!) that are supposed to help with breathing difficulties and I’m testing it on my lingering cough.
So you see? I cannot be sexy and sylph-like with these accoutrements! Add to this problem the night terrors thing. I’ve had them for life, pretty much, but they’ve been worse over the last year or so. It tends to be a “trick of the light” thing, so I’ll think that the lines in the curtains are metal bars, or that the ceiling is closing down on me, but it’s equally bad if there’s no light at all. If I’m on my own, I can completely freak out because of these quasi-hallucinations, though I don’t think I make any noise for the first twenty or so seconds, I’m just absolutely paralysed with fear.
Anyway, this problem has ramped up recently with the addition of a little bit of leisurely sleep-walking. Yes! Not only do I wake up fearful and with such a pounding heart that I could probably be at risk of having a stroke, I now also have a little amble about every so often, risking life and limb by peering down the stairs or having a nosy peek out of the window. I woke up the other week in the corridor of my London hotel wearing just a pair of knickers because I was looking for my kids. Who were safely at home, a hundred or so miles away. I fortunately came to just as the hotel door was about to lock shut behind me and thank God nobody was around.
‘What am I going to do about this sleepwalking?’ I said to my husband, who was busy putting his Airpods in and applying a snoring strip to the bridge of his nose (those who accessorise together, etc). ‘I’m really worried I’m going to fall down the stairs,’ I said, ‘or open a window or do something stupid.’
‘We could always get you a surfboard tether,’ he said.
‘You know, that rubbery cord that surfers use to tie themselves to their board. We could put one end around your ankle and then tie it to the foot of the bed.’
Bloody great. There I’ll be with my (what feels like) dentures in, my ear plugs in, my eye mask on and a leash around my leg. Could I be any less sexy? Maybe I should go the whole hog and wear the compression tights I got when I had my babies, some sort of sleep bonnet and perhaps those big rubbery socks you can get that are supposed to moisturise your feet overnight?
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