The movie “Hysteria” is a hilarious romp through hysterical Victorian England. It chronicles the invention of the electric vibrator through the course of many doctor-supervised orgasms. The costumes alone are worth the price of admission, but the dialogue is witty and sharp, and the story is compelling.
From my late teens onward, I was enthralled by the notion of feminine hysteria, that catch-all description for any and all traits deemed disagreeable by those on the planet who were not female. Melancholia. Nymphomania. General malaise. A contrary nature. Pretty much anything could be deemed hysteria, a condition caused by the displacement of the uterus that only, um, stimulation could correct. Women regularly visited doctors to achieve medically administered orgasms to treat hysterical symptoms. It led to the invention of the vibrator, a sex toy that was prescribed for hysteria until the 1950′s.
I guess I wanted to see the movie because I had a sex toy in my attic for years. I still can’t believe how it got there.
My ex worked for a certain shipping company that you’d recognize by their brown vans and brown uniforms. Everything had to be loaded onto the trucks and off the floor by a certain time, or management faced sanction. If my ex and his managerial team couldn’t get everything loaded, they put stray packages in the trunks of their cars to avoid detection during inspection, slipping them into the shipping roundup the following day.
One afternoon, I came home from a long day of work to find a plain box on my dining table. No return address. No markings. A name I did not recognize. Open it my ex instructed. Inside, I found a humongous, turgid man tool shaped vibrator.
I screamed and ran out of the room like I’d opened the box to find it full of rats, my ex’s laughter following me out of the house. I don’t care WHAT you do with that thing, but I don’t EVER want to see it again.
And, I didn’t.
Until I was packing up my first house to move.
My ex and I had been divorced for several years, all vestiges of him wiped from my life. Except for his toy lingering in the attic. After all, toys in the attic are much like skeletons in the closet, arent’ they?