Someone’s gonna need a tetanus shot.

Yesterday we went to a flea market, which is always filled with equal part awesomeness and creepiness and a fair amount of people who maybe shouldn’t be allowed to park their own cars.

But my favorite part of the day was when I came across this box being sold by a very sweet older couple:


It was a little bizarre to find an antique vibrator box, but even more unsettling was that the lady at the booth told me that the contents were still “intact and pristine, considering the age.”  And then I opened the box and found this:

I don't know if this is more or less unsettling.
That’s the pinchiest looking vibrator I’ve ever seen.

And I stared at it and said, “Wow.  We’ve come a long way, I guess?  I mean, I don’t even understand how this would work,” and the woman said, “Well, these are just the attachments to the vibrator, obviously” and I was like “Well, obviously” and then she clarified that they would have been used with older “Domestic Vibrator” and I admitted that I didn’t even know there were commercial models available and she looked at me strangely and then her partner cleared his throat and said “The Domestic Vibrator was a brand of sewing machine in the 1900’s” and the woman looked at her partner like, “Well, of course it was.  Why are you even clarifying this?”   And then I nodded like I’d known this all along.

And I was relieved.

And a little bit disappointed.


And in other news, it’s Sunday, which means its time for the weekly wrap-up:


What you missed in my shop (Named “Eight pounds of uncut cocaine” so that your credit card bill will be more interesting.):

What you missed on the internets:

This week on shit-I-didn’t-come-up-with-but-wish-I-did-because-it’s-kind-of-awesome:

This week’s wrap-up is brought to you by Kelly Exeter at A Life Less Frantic. She’s got an awesome new book out called Your Best Year Yet – 7 Simple Ways to Shift Your Thinking and Take Back Control of Your Life and she’s so confident this short and sweet little tome of life-inspiration (Kelly loathes the term self-help) will deliver your best year EVER, she’s even offering a money-back guarantee.  You can check it out here.

147 thoughts on “Someone’s gonna need a tetanus shot.

Read comments below or add one.

  1. OMG, That is scary! I’m glad she clarified the sewing machine part…

    Ha, There was a sewing machine called a vibrator!

  2. i hope you still bought it, cause having a antique box emblazoned with Vibrator is just too good to pass up. you could use it to keep cat treats in, or by the front door for house keys.

  3. I wondered if it was an antique vibrator too and I’ve seen sewing machine parts. I don’t remember ever seeing them with round edges like that. I think she was covering up a secret society sexual counter culture from the 1920’s.

  4. I totally would have bought it and then whenever I had people over randomly ask “hey do you want to come in my bedroom and check out my old vibrator?”

  5. If you’re interested in reading a really fascinating history that covers the invention of the vibrator in 1880 (among other things), you should check out The Technology of Orgasm by Rachel Maines. It’s a really fascinating history!

  6. I’m not satisfied with this answer. I bet they made it up on the spot because they didn’t think anyone would have the guts to ask. Though, to be fair, what 19th century lady wouldn’t want some vibrating action while sewing? [stitch, stitch, happy-time]

  7. I would totally keep it in my purse and whilst checking out at stores pull it out and set it on the counter while I’m trying to find my wallet.

  8. In all fairness, if the Victorians HAD made sex toys, they would totally be exactly like what was in that box. Possibly with the express purpose of making the point that sex can kill you.

  9. hahahhahaha!!! Sewing machine?! Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight.

    I’m such a sucker for nice packaging that if I were you I’d probably buy it and use it as a storage box… and a good way to make house guests feel awkward. Two birds, one stone!

  10. I found an old box labeled Vibrator in my parents attic a couple years ago. Turns out it was from a barber shop. The contraption had a motor on top with some springs below and you slipped your hands between the springs and the motor casing and then used your fingers to give someone a scalp massage. I still laugh every time I think about my dad explaining it, and my sister and I turning purple from trying not to laugh.

  11. I knew those things looked familiar and I knew I had once seen them at my Grandmother’s house. I can’t tell you how relieved I was to go “Oh yeah, sewing machine attachments”.

  12. I don’t think you were the confused one. They must not know that the word means something TOTALLY different now. I feel bad for them, not knowing the awkward things that they said.

  13. I totally should have recognized sewing machine parts. I grew up making a lot of my own clothes on an old Singer. But I have to admit that the name threw me enough that I never even made the connection!

    Fun post and you make me want to go to a flea market.

  14. I knew immediately when I saw them that they were sewing machine parts, but just figured they were in a weird box.
    The more you know….

  15. Well, I might’ve been one of the few people who instantly knew what those metal objects were and honestly, I actually got a little excited when I saw them (no pun intended).
    For the last ten years, I’ve been sewing on my mom’s circa 1970’s Domestic (though not vibrating) sewing machine.
    So, when I saw those, I was all oooohh’s and aaahhhh’s. 😀

  16. “cleared his throat.” (possibly to avoid choking?) hysterical. I think my soon-to-be-middle-school-girl needs the pocket journal to arm her those first few months.

  17. At the turn of the (other) century, textile manufacturers gave saltpeter to the female factory workers because it was believed the rhythm of the treadle and the vibrations from the machines sexually aroused them. So I would venture that this sewing machine was aptly named.

  18. While watching a show about the diagnosis of “Hysteria”, of course the “cure of orgasm” was discussed, as was the advent of the vibrator. I was more than puzzled see the vacuum cleaner that dominated every Saturday (chore day) featured. Holy guacamole, Batgirl, my parents own that vacuum! So of course, I called right away and asked my very conservative mother if she knew. She was HORRIFIED. My dad, however, in the background, was laughing his ass off. He knew, and still had it, unopened in the original box. I guess it could be considered a collector’s item????

  19. There is a store in Provincetown, MA, that has a display of antique vibrators. There were some brave, desperate women back in the day.

  20. True story – my mom used to take my oldest to auction sales when he was younger. Once they were poking around in the mixed boxes and came up with an old fashioned plug in vibrator. Which considering the shortage of wall outlets in older style homes leaves me wondering things I don’t really want to wonder.

    I’m relieved those attachments are for a sewing machine, but it would be awesome if all vibrators came in such a pretty tin.

  21. I kid you not… I went to a flea market yesterday and found a 2 inch tack stuck in the bottom of my damn shoe. Pointy and rusty and didn’t stick my foot. Thank the flea market gods!

  22. so, in Europe they did not switch to foot powered sewing machines for a LONG time (at first all sewing machines were hand cranked). the reason is that a woman could….well pleasure herself while pumping to make the machine run. In Europe (which obviously has changed a lot) it was felt that this was wrong….after all Eve did eat that apple….so they kept selling hand cranked models.

  23. I laughed so hard reading Amber Tinsley comment. I love your followers they are Awesome!

  24. I’m sure after her partner explained things, they had a good laugh and they’ll be able to share that story forever. You do find some strange things…

  25. I bought a Domestic sewing machine in 1975 at a garage sale for $15. Best purchase I’ve ever made. I still sew with it and it’s an absolute work horse. I would have snapped up those attachments in a hot minute!

  26. I once was at a yard sale where there really was a kit with a dildo and attachments. The home owners kept saying there was more stuff in the house and I was welcome to come in if I wanted. I could not drive away fast enough.

  27. That is so funny. I recognized what the stuff was – my mother had a very old Singer sewing machine, and the buttonhole gadget looked similar. I would have LOVED to have seen you open that box.

  28. Wow- you scared me…I watched the movie “Hysteria” and it turns out women diagnosed with hysteria went to the doctors to get banged. Then they invented the vibrator. Around 1730 in France…it has quite a history.

  29. In Australia we have Vibrator Races. Put yours in the circle and watch it Gooooo Oh God

  30. I’m just jealous that Hunter S. sleeps in the TARDIS box that TARDIS boots come in…and that you are probably wearing the TARDIS boots. I am blue with envy.

  31. You must be a kid in a candy store at a flea market, Jenny. Or a beaver in an antique shop.
    Either way, you must squeal with delight the entire time, I imagine.

  32. Okay…was the BRAND of the sewing machine “Vibrator” or was that the model?
    Hmph…I wonder why I even think that matters…except that a whole COMPANY named Vibrator seems somehow worse than just having one of your model lines named “the Vibrator”.

  33. The vibrator story and the Sad Cat Diary – hilarious! You bring so much sunshine into my otherwise boring world!!

  34. Actual conversation with Dear Sweet Mama –
    Hoody: Did you read Jenny today?
    DSM: No, why?
    HH: She found the most interesting thing at the flea market.
    DSM: Oh, she just drives me crazy!
    Of course, in her defense, DSM has been looking for a taxidermied woodchuck for over a year…

  35. I go to yard sales on Saturday mornings with several friends all the time. At one, we did indeed find an antique vibrator, complete with attachments. It was NOT for a sewing machine. We bought it for another friend’s birthday, although I’m not sure it ever made it to her. True Story.

    If I can find it, I will send you a picture for proof.

  36. I jumped to the same conclusion you did. I wonder if her partner will explain the confusion to her later.

  37. Does anyone else get that thing where you start out laughing, then the laughing with tears starts, then that laugh turns into the ugly cry, and then pretty soon you feel so much better?

    Thank you, Internet. Thank you, Hunter S. Thank you, zefrank1. Thank you, Jenny, I feel better now.

  38. As soon as I saw the picture of the open box, I immediately knew what it was! I have even more intricate sewing machine attachments from my grandmother.

  39. It has been a very long day at work, and I am now out of wine, but this made me so very happy. Thank you, Jenny!

  40. Well, they used to sell “personal care” attachments for mixers (so you could mix cake batter and then yourself?) back when orgasms were masquerading as solution to women’s hysteria. “The Technology of Orgasm” is an informative (if a bit dry) read of this history between not acknowledging women during sex, and tying the female orgasm to sex.

  41. I would have bought it, then displayed it openly to see which of my friends and family had the guts to ask me about it.

    Does it make me a bad person that I would have turned to her and said “Did you know there was a movie about the invention of Vibrators? Totally worth checking out.” (Hysteria btw.)

  42. OMG! I was SO disturbed until i read ‘sewing machine.’ I looked at that picture for a few minutes, like ‘who the HECK designed that vibrator? People are into some kinky shit…’

  43. I did not recognize these are sewing machine parts and thought it was something kinky…
    but Terri#39 & Kitty#50 are correct. My grandmother told stories of the women in the textile shops working along on the foot powered machines suddenly getting red faced and sewing really fast then suddenly slumping back for a minute or two…

  44. Now that I’m aware of the existence of the domestic vibrator, I realize how incomplete my life is. I need to own that sewing machine.

  45. My brain went immediately where your brain went when I saw the box and the attachments.

    Welcome to the gutter my friend.

  46. Thank God! She clarified you all the stuff that those attachment works for sewing Machine.. I thought the same what you thought when I saw the box and the attachments.

    I am imagining, what if I would have bought it in despiration without knowing the actual use of it and how the thing would turn out??? Funny! 🙂

  47. The attachments frightened me! I wonder if vibrating sewing machines and bored seamstresses were the initial motivation to invent the vibrator as we know it today:)

  48. Hmmm. I never heard of the vibrator sewing machine brand, but I played around with my mom’s sewing machines enough that I knew the box was full of sewing machine feet. So for me the thrill was gone before it began . . . which I guess is topic relevant feeling I suppose.

  49. omfg i would have done the same thing. as soon as she said something about ‘domestic vibrator’ i probably would have lost my shit. HOWEVER, depending on the price, i might have purchased it just for that case.

    i’d probably keep pens in it and take it out at work all the time to get a pen. in the doctors office, i need a pen for forms… pull out my vibrator case for a new pen. obvs.

  50. Just one recommended link away from the Sad Cat Diary lies Dog Girlfriend VS Cat Girlfriend. Worth the price of admission. 🙂

  51. That looks like an Altoids tin. I hope you bought that to take out the metal stuff and fill with Altoids to carry around in your purse. Bad breath? Get the “virbrator”.

  52. I have that SAME box of sewing items – but mine just says “Attachments”, how disappointing!

  53. ROFLLLLL!!! The things that are going through my mind to comment with are completely inappropriate and would probably have me banned from internet-dom.

  54. The pieces in the top part of the box look like parts of a saxophone — which got me all excited for a minute because I imagined making beautiful music with the vibrator. Huh.

  55. I’m going to write a Zombie Apocalypse Preparedness Guide. Chapter 4: Creative Uses for Treadle Sewing Machines. Then you’ll be able to use that attachment for its TRUE purpose.

  56. My grandma had a “Vibrator” and it didn’t patch holes in socks. I’m just sayin, I think he may have gotten embarrassed. I mean I could google Vibrator Sewing machine, but I don’t want to bleach my eyes today.

  57. When I first moved to San Francisco 2 decades ago, someone told me to check out Good Vibrations. It was a female friendly sex toy store, less pictures of naked women, no porn, all kinds of toys. Anyway I didn’t buy anything but I remember the entrance had a glass display case with a very old, wooden, hand cranked vibrator… I remember wondering if anyone ever had to worry about splinters! Thanks for making us laugh and reminding us that we are not alone <3

  58. OMFG, I want to get this for my wife, she would be running all around the house yelling “let me sew that button back on your shirt using my “vibrator”” and “let me sew your zipper back in your jeans using my “vibrator””. This would totally be true and be absolutely hysterical.

    On a side note, looking at the box that the so called “attachments” came in you can see an interesting shadow between the T-O-R of the word “Vibrator”. Hint: this in not a long stem mushroom shaped item. That is all.

  59. That is all kinds of awesome! I would totally have the box out on a table someplace. Or maybe on the fireplace.

    And somebody needs to make an actual movie of Zombeavers.

  60. just in case u have not seen it u should check out on youtube “Danson la Capucine”… because cats : )

  61. See? This is precisely why I miss your sexis columns, because I otherwise wouldn’t find out about vintage vibrators that turn out to be parts of sewing machines. Unless I read your blog, which I do. And I just did, and I found out about them… So, I guess what I’m saying is I wish you wrote more about horrifying and funny sex (or not?) related stuff. Only if you want to, of course. I’m fine reading everything else you post anyway. I’ll just shut up and wait for your next book now, this is getting awkward.

  62. Have you seen Hysteria (the movie about the invention of vibrators)? It was awesome. I would totally buy an old timey vibrator. It would be like steampunking my orgasms.

  63. The Domestic Vibrator is almost identical to The International Vibrator, but for voltage. You have to get different batteries for it if you’re in France.

  64. Wait…are you saying this is the first time you’ve been caught discussing sex toys with elderly strangers? Surely this can’t be so… That would seem wrong, and…sad.

    I think the worst part of this entire exchange is that these people have little idea that they were just spooged in your awesomeness. You should really make business cards that say something along those lines, so when this happens, you can just hand one over and ride off into the sunset. I feel they should also have a questionable graphic…one that can’t be shown to children.

  65. This made me laugh. I was pretty sure I knew what was in the box before you showed it opened. My mom has an obesession with sewing machines (and yes, her obesession has rubbed off on me…). However, I had never heard of a Vibrator sewing machine. Now, my life’s goal is to find one, make a quilt on it and tell everyone I made this quilt with my Vibrator. Oh the look on people’s faces would be pricelss!! Thanks so much for the laugh!

  66. When I was a kid I was snooping in my parents closet looking for hidden Christmas presents and found my mother’s vibrator. Lost a little of my innocence that day and never searched for presents again.

  67. Whoa. I just realized that this picture of the vibrator box appeared in my dream last night. There was this huge 100+ group of older folks in full kevlar outfits protesting gang activity. One of them had a cart of stuff, and this was on the bottom shelf. Not that you care about my dreams, but I’m now afraid to look at future posts — because I now also recall that the very old man next to the cart woman was frantic after losing his Cialis pill. I didn’t need that in my head.

  68. Zombeavers now. Oh goody. We didn’t have enough to worry about? I’m afraid to brush my teeth. Thanks a lot.

  69. Must be the perfect gift for Kembra Pfahler, a controversial artist, who – as documented in Richard Kern’s short film “Sewing Circle” – likes to have her lady parts sewn up. Better not watch with your kid.

  70. oh shit, I LOVE me some flea market finds! I went to a terrible (and by terrible,I mean terribly entertaining) flea market this weekend. I was overwhelmed by dead butterfly jewelry, salt & pepper shakers held by skull eye sockets, and a home fragrant oil collection which included, “Monkey Farts”.& “Sweet Pussy”.

  71. Laughing hysterically…and then I saw Hunter S. Thomcat in his new sleeping spot and seriously fell out of my chair laughing so hard. Thank you Jenny! Thank you so much!

  72. I would’ve been just as confused! It’s like a great joke, except real. Like the “dildo” I found in the kids toybox at our daycare. Yikes.

  73. Everytime I see that photo of the box I am disturbed by the mangled baby’s foot just under the lid.

  74. And to think, for 23 years, I have been silently cursing my cousin in East Tennessee for getting my grandmother’s pristine Singer pedal-push sewing machine…. when I could have had a Vibrator model instead. SUCK IT COUSIN VICKY! You keep that old Singer! My new life goal is to get a Domestic Vibrator.

  75. I sew. I use vintage sewing machines. I have NEVER heard of a Vibrator sewing machine, but this post made me laugh out loud so hard, I started choking, then laughed some more and cried.

  76. So the zipper foot attachments for the vibrator really would have made your heart zing! Can we call all our local antique stores and ask if they have a “Vibrator with a complete attachment kit”? Let’s post responses and act horrified if they assume we mean a marital aid.

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