Mom, Dad seriously don’t read this. You have been warned.
One upon a time I was a teenager. And like most teenagers I developed a fascination with the opposite sex. Eventually this fascination led to meeting a nice young lady who then became my girlfriend.
She was smart, fun to be around, pretty and most importantly willing to let me see her naked. Like most young men I considered these to be wonderful qualities in a woman, especially that last one.
Eventually things moved in the direction that they frequently do in the back seat of an ’88 Ford Bronco after watching Stop or My Mom Will Shoot at the dollar theater while listening to Guns and Roses’ Get in the Ring. I have always been a hopeless romantic. Also to my mother, father and two sisters I TOLD YOU NOT TO READ THIS! This is what you get for ignoring me. I can actually feel Thanksgiving getting more awkward by the second.
So clearly the subject of protection became somewhat urgent to me. When we started dating I had a small stash of applicable devices due to a poorly thought out attempt by my mother to be the “cool parent”. Because if there is one thing that strengthens the maternal bonds its a box of lubricated rubber tubes and a rather unfortunate cucumber.
Note to parents: If you feel compelled to be the “cool parent” choose a smaller vegetable. Otherwise you are setting your kids up for some serious insecurity/disappointment depending on their gender and/or orientation.
Of course we eventually ran out of supplies and found ourselves in need of more. Now I am not 100% how things work for teenagers now. I imagine picking up a box of condoms is probably not all that big of a deal anymore. Heck I imagine that kids these days are picking up the giant Costco sized boxes and wearing them strapped across their torso like an ammo belt in a WWII movie.
But when I was a kid the idea of buying condoms was embarrassing. Because you were basically telling everybody in the store what you were planning to be up to in the near future. Or worse they might think that you were wasting your money in a misguided fit of optimism. Strangers judging you is a serious concern at that age.
Being a responsible young man, I set out to restock the cache. Also, my girlfriend was too embarrassed to do it for me.
And thus I found myself going to the condom store. It wasn’t actually a store for condoms, it was a mom and pop gas station with a well stocked convenience store. They pretty much had everything from slurpees to oven cleaner to charcoal briquettes. Most importantly it was nowhere near my house or school.
And so I girded my loins for battle and strode in. And by strode I mean nervously skulked.
Now as a nervous adolescent boy I couldn’t just walk up to the condoms and grab a pack. That would make me look like some sort of perverted sex freak. The best method, I determined, was to sneak up on them. I started perusing the oven cleaner, as if to imply “Hmmm, I do need some oven cleaner, but I’m not sure if this is the brand for me.” I then casually slid closer to my goal. “Oh maybe instead of oven cleaner I need some canned stew.” And closer still “Perhaps a set of toe-nails clippers or maybe this roll of Tums.” Finally the moment of truth. I was standing in front of a display, which contained more options than I had anticipated. Panicking I just grabbed the yellow box. Red-faced, I approached the counter, put some money down, and vaguely mumbled something about the weather.
The clerk gave me a small smile and rang up my purchase, and I emerged victorious.
A few weeks later I repeated the process, but this time my girlfriend came with me. I went in and stalked my prey, while my girlfriend pretended to be deeply interested in charcoal briquettes.
The clerk, who was in fact the same clerk as before looked at the both of us and looked me in the eye. He gave me a wink. Victorious again.
But victory had an unanticipated side affect. My girlfriend talked to her friends. And now I was the brave guy who was not afraid to buy condoms. I had basically become a drug dealer, except for prophylactics.
And thus the day after purchasing a box of condoms I found myself back in the store with my girlfriend’s best buddy. I’m pretty sure she was expressing interest in a 12 pack of Coke while I went about my task. I received a very considering look from the clerk that day.
A few days later, yet another associate of my girlfriend wanted help. Back to the store, she was brave enough to sneak up on the condoms with me, but not brave enough to actually handle the merchandise. There was a look of incredulity that time.
The next week found me, my girlfriend and yet another friend of hers returning to the store. This new friend wasn’t afraid of buying the product in question, she just needed a ride. Also she was a bit of an attention whore. She simply marched up, grabbed what she wanted and went to the counter. “I want to purchase these condoms!” The clerk looked at the girls. And then at me. And then at the girls again. He grinned and gave me a thumbs up as I was walking out.
The next week I went in with my friend Dan. The man behind the counter never made eye contact again.