Friday evening I ran into my roommate and his girlfriend on our couch. Since I was headed to the grocery store, I politely asked if they wanted anything.
“No, I don’t think so. What are you going to the store for?”
“Beer,” I said almost the instant my roommate asked. His head tilted toward the fridge, which I’d just stocked hours ago with Coors Light.
“Umm, yeah,” I mumbled, rushing out the door, not wanting to extend what I’d deemed an already awkward interaction.
I went to Harris Teeter and headed straight up the stairs to the second level, which — as everyone knows — is not where there’s beer.
I walked past the anti-perspirants, the two-in-one shampoo and conditioners and the sinus medication, all the way to the back corner where condoms are sold.
There’s a plethora of possibilities in the realm of prophylactics, but I’m not typically interested in testing the latest in condom technology.
Twisted for her pleasure? I thought guys were ashamed if it was like that.
Intensely lubricated? I want to have sex, not ride a vaginal slip and slide.
Super thin? Call me conservative, but I want a comfortably thick barrier between me and floating particles that are potentially HIV positive. Plus, I’ve tried the ultra-thin condoms before. The only reason they feel so much better than other one is because they break so easily.
“No. I don’t think it did. Just feels that way. It’s called the Trojan Invisible. Shit’s not even on the market yet. Good. I know.”
So no, I am not a condom connoisseur. I’ve used the same brand ever since I started slamming: Trojan Ultra Ribbed, which comes in a bright orange box that screams “Hey, we’ve got some condoms here!”
Which is why when I grabbed them I immediately stuck them in my hoodie pocket, which in turn gave the impression that I was a sketchy 16-year-old kid who steals condoms, not a sexually confident 28-year-old man who appreciates the importance of protection.
I don’t know why, but I’m still ashamed to buy condoms. I should be proud. I should walk the aisles of the Teeter, two twelve-packs raised high above my head. Doing some fucking, yo. Yes ladies. All of you.
But no. Something about the whole process still strikes me as man-in-a-van-near-a-playground inappropriate. I imagine people staring at me, thinking, “Why don’t you buy your condoms in private, like the rest of us?”
Which is true — I’ve never seen other people purchasing rubbers. In fact, I worked as a grocery store cashier for a year in college, and I never once saw a male or female with a box full of latexes coming through my aisle.
It’s almost as if I missed a seminar freshman year. Like during orientation, they pulled all the girls aside and told them that as college women, it was time to start shaving their box. And they told the guys about the secret places to buy condoms.
I must have missed that lecture, because I just stand in line, trying to hold my condoms like I’d hold an avocado or something else I’d casually pop in to purchase. Then I pray no one approaches me.
“Hey Brett! Long time. Doing some grocery buying?”
“Yea man, sustenance. Essential.”
“Where’s your cart? You’re in the checkout line. With nothing.”
“Oh. I actually just came to buy condoms.”
It doesn’t help that I’m usually doing it in the skeeziest clothes possible, wearing frayed sweatpants and a hoodie pulled up over my head like a Jedi — albeit a sex-having, condom-buying Jedi. Man, I bet Darth Vader never had this problem. He’d just Force-abort his babies.
I’ve just always had weird times with condoms. It probably began when I encountered them at an age too young to fully grasp the concept.
I was 10 years old and rummaging through my mom’s medicine cabinet when I came across a brown bag, the same kind that every day held my turkey sandwiches and Oreos.
Naturally I opened it, finding six Lifestyles condoms. I knew they were supposed to be placed on a penis, but I didn’t really know what step two was. Anyway, I grabbed one and scurried into my room, waiting for an erection to pop up. It didn’t take long, so I shut my door, put on my first condom and went straight to the mirror.
Since I was only a decade old, I didn’t totally understand the logic behind condoms and thankfully wasn’t aware that they were there because my mom liked to do it. I just wore it, fascinated. I also didn’t totally understand how to masturbate — amazing, but it’s a learned skill and not something ingrained into boys at birth — so I wound up just taking the condom off instead of utilizing it for its intended semen-catching purpose.
I didn’t encounter contraceptives again for a long time. Unlike my friends in high school, I wasn’t having sex, so I went to college without any understanding of basic condom skills and how hard they were to implement when drunk.
My inexperience manifested itself when, during my second time, I lost my erection while trying to put one on backwards.
But I soon became well-versed because that same girl, who eventually reached girlfriend(ish) status, was not into taking birth control. She claimed the hormones made her cranky and ill. And I couldn’t convince her to take it, because she said she’d only go through that kind of suffering for a man she loved.
I was not that man.
So we drove down rubber road every time. Except once early on, when she was in the mood and, cyclically-speaking, wasn’t likely to get pregnant. I gladly agreed to do it sans-sack. What I didn’t know was that she had an issue with ejaculation, one that didn’t crop up until we were well into our first session of condomless sex. And by well into it, I mean I learned of her disdain right after I told her I was about to come, which always carries an implicit “on you” insinuation. Or at least that’s what I thought. She felt otherwise.
“Where? Not inside me.”
Yes. I was not planning on doing that. I don’t really care how well you think you know your ovulation schedule — I was pulling out. But now, where was officially an issue. Especially since the climactic moment was almost upon us.
“Umm, on you.”
There possibly should be a question mark there. I didn’t necessarily present it as a declarative statement, but I wasn’t really leaving the door open for a single-spaced written rebuttal delineating her objections to having ejaculate on her skin. I always thought this was like universal, U.N.-sanctioned policy: If we’re having sex, you aren’t on the pill, and I am not wearing a condom, I come on your tummy. It’s in the Magna Carta.
But she responded negatively. “No.”
It was like we’d settled on eating dinner, but were having serious disagreements about the cuisine.
“Honey, I want Thai food. Like right now.”
“Ugh, I just feel gross after Thai. It makes my stomach all damp and sticky.”
At that moment, I didn’t know what to do. We were in her bed, and we’d only been hooking up for a few weeks, so I wasn’t ready to just grab her comforter, jam my dick in it and ruin a nice suede duvet from J. Crew. So, I reiterated my case. Sort of.
“Can I come on your stomach?”
There’s really only one other place, so I figured maybe she’d be okay if I proposed that location.
“Ummm,” I said as hesitantly as possible, to make it seem like it was a last resort and not something I actually really wanted to do. “In your mouth?”
She looked at me like I’d asked her if she wanted to snort peyote before her grandfather’s funeral.
“Are you kidding?”
Well, no, but I chuckled it off, because I wanted to keep hooking up with her. But my options were severely limited: She’d nixed anything that involved coming in or on her body. But I was gonna come. So, at the last possible instant, I pulled out and just kind of shot it toward her wall.
It got on the J. Crew duvet, the 600-thread count sheets from Ralph Lauren, and all over the wall, which, because of how we were positioned, was sort of right next to the pillow she rested her head on.
After the first few times we’d had sex, we engaged in an intense embrace, the kind everyone does right after they finish.
This time, she shot up, angry.
“What the hell was that?”
I just laughed. “What did want me to do?”
She didn’t answer then, instead coming up with a long-term solution, a strictly enforced policy whenever we were on her bed: Condoms. Always.