Daniel Gingras

Buying a condom these days is like running the gauntlet. And by running the gauntlet, I mean a punishment formerly used in the military in which somebody was forced to run between two lines of men armed with weapons who beat him as he passed. It’s hard to look the cashier straight in the face and say “Do I make this out to Albertsons?” when you’re filling out an $8.11 check for sunglasses, rubbers and a jar of pickles.

But I’m getting ahead of myself – that’s toward the end of the gauntlet.

The automatic doors tower before me like the gates to Hell, and slide apart eagerly as though they can taste my fear. I make a laser to the pharmaceutical section thinking it’ll be quick and dirty, but Murphy’s Law rears its ugly head. As I turn the corner, I nearly collide with an idle grandmother, who quietly debates what flavor of Metamucil to purchase while I awkwardly reverse direction and hide myself in the next aisle over, anxiously spying on her through gaps in the condiments.

But now a mother and her 6 year old to my immediate right see me peering through the jarred goods at an old woman, and the mother tries to be polite and tugs on junior while he drools and points his scornful finger at me. “Googoo-loo!” he gurgles. But in my guilty fervor, it sounds more like “Excuse me, sir, are you planning on putting that penis somewhere?” So I grab a jar of dill pickles off the shelf and shake it at them like that’s what I was there for in the first place. Just shopping for and comparing pickles, people. Grandma has moved on, but now that I’ve manhandled the pickles for several minutes I feel it would be wrong to not buy them.

So I step toward the aisle again and, oh NO! I see my ex-girlfriend walking toward the aisle out of the corner of my eye, and I certainly can’t have her spot me buying prophylactics. I speed-walk to safety and yank some generic sunglasses down off of a nearby rack to protect my identity as I flee. Now it’s dark, but there’s still enough light to discern as grandma walks by and smiles having chosen Metamucil Orange.

The improbable opportunity has arisen. I close in on them and reach out fast, only to discover Albertsons has encased the condoms in some kind of invisible ethical forcefield. I take off my sunglasses and realize that it’s actually a locking glass case to discourage theft. Now I’m extremely frustrated and I just want to get laid, so I stomp furiously to one of the wall phones and access the P.A. which crackles as it comes to life. “Attention Albertsons employees! Will somebody come let the condoms out of their cage?”

A checker girl who looks old enough to be breaking several federal child labor laws is the one to whom they have given the condom key. She walks over, though she looks like she would have been more comfortable riding a tricycle. She suppresses a smile the whole time. “Yes, I will take the pink magnums, please. The ribbed. Ribbed for me, not for her. I DON’T CARE WHAT IT SAYS ON THE PACKAGE!”

I get to the check-out and set my items on the conveyor belt. The cashier picks up the pickles, then the sunglasses. When he lifts the pickles, the condoms aren’t heavy enough to suppress the sensor and they dance on the end of the conveyor. I stare at them and sigh. I sign my check and scribble “protection” in the comment section. The next time I need to envelope my member in latex, I may find it easier to hop on a jet to Thailand and chop down a rubber tree myself.

For questions, comments or a do-it-yourself home vasectomy kit, write to dgingras@calpoly.edu.

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