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Steve Bartlett: Fifty shades of red

Embarassing buy
Embarassing buy

It was kinda awkward. A friend took a call from her daughter and I couldn’t help but overhear part of the conversation.

Steve Bartlett: The Deep End

I was trying to unhear it, but my friend filled in the blanks.

“Oh, she’s about to graduate, they are having her high school pip day, and they’re doing a scavenger hunt, and one of the items on the list is (an adult toy, censored by blushing columnist),” she told me.

CLUE: There is a place in Newfoundland with the same name as this … ah … device, and it almost rhymes with “Bilbo,” the first name of the lead character in “The Hobbit.”

Anyway, I wasn’t expecting this explanation, or what followed.

“And,” my friend continued, “she wants me to go buy it, because she’s not old enough to shop at the adult store.” What?


“You know, Steve,” my friend suggested, “you should go buy it for her and write a column about it.”

Hmmm. It was a tempting offer because some of the best columns come from uncomfortable predicaments.

As someone who blushes at the sight of a La Senza bag, adult shops are completely out of my comfort zone.

Making a purchase there would lead to idiopathic craniofacial erythema or what you might describe as excessive blushing, what my grandmother would consider turning “red as a beet.”

(Idiopathic craniofacial erythema! Don’t tell me reading newspapers don’t make you smarter.)

I considered making the purchase, going through this incredible discomfort, and putting the “idiot” in idiopathic.

That train of thought was abruptly derailed, though, by the possible news coverage if things went south.

I imagined Mansbridge staring into the camera with one eyebrow lowered and reading, “A group of parents are protesting after a newspaper columnist purchased an adult toy …”

I wondered what the guys at hockey would say — “Steve, did you bring an extra jock for your friend?”

And I thought of how it might play out on the playground for my kids — “Ding dang dong, what your daddy bought was wrong …”

Hence, I didn’t take my friend up on the offer.

But I’ve been troubled about the future ever since.

I’m not concerned about today’s generation or anything like that though. The kids are all right. It’s awesome they are comfortable discussing these things with their parents, and making such requests. The only adult toy I requested as a teen was a dirt bike.

Nope, what troubles me is that, someday, my kids will be graduating high school and they might be asking me to make such a purchase.

Steve Bartlett is an editor with Saltwire Network. He dives into the Deep End Mondays to escape reality and Rihanna videos. Reach him at

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