It's somewhat humbling for me to admit to myself that all of you reading this know all about my methods of birth control and that this is my own fault (special apology shout-outs to Mom, Dad, and Grandma, if she is still alive after reading this post).
Anyway, having ditched the generic hormones I found myself today, for the first time in I don't even know how long, purchasing condoms. And even though I am 29 and married, the experience was still vaguely humiliating. First you have to find the condom aisle, which is different in every drug store (in the worst cases, they are stored right in front of the pharmacist, who stands there and watches as you silently weigh the pros and cons of ultra-thin vs. ribbed). If there is someone already standing in the condom aisle but NOT buying condoms (say, a fresh-faced teenager perusing the feminine hygiene products or an elderly man looking for Gold Bond... hypothetically) you have to stand there pretending to look at something else and wait them out, or, if they don't leave soon enough, grab something indiscriminately and jet. The problem, I think—the indisputable fact that lies at the center of the condom buying equation—is that by buying a box of condoms you are announcing to all strangers in view: I am going to have sex. If you linger before choosing, you are announcing: I am deciding what type of sex I am going to be having soon.
Of course, worse than strangers NOT buying condoms are strangers who ARE buying condoms. Right next to you. Standing next to a stranger in front of the condoms is not only saying, I will be having sex soon. It is saying, We will BOTH be having sex soon. And then you have to deal not only with your own silent sex-admission to a stranger, but with their admission to you. And if the other person is a man, you have to send out extra brain-wave messages to any other strangers who might be watching: This is not the person I will be having sex with. Why would we buy 24 condoms just for today? That is clearly too much. Even for a nymphomaniac. Which I am not. He might be though. Who knows? Ha. Ha. Ha. Please kill me.
Then, once you finally have your condoms and have fled the aisle, you must check out. This is perhaps the most unavoidably embarrassing part of the experience, since you are forced to actually hand the condoms to the check-out person. Here, you are saying. These are the condoms I have chosen with which to have sex soon. Please hold them for me while I open my wallet. It occurs to me that you could see it another way. You could see it as boasting, I am going to have sex now. Jealous? In that way, condoms are a less embarrassing purchase than, say, yeast infection cream or laxatives, which have absolutely no positive spin. But I have not yet mastered the art of the confident condom purchase, and so inevitably I look down at my feet while the person counts out my change.
It's such a cliché, but is buying condoms ever not embarrassing? Why does filling a birth control prescription feel responsible, while buying condoms always feels dirty? If you have tips or tricks, as I am going to be doing this more often, please share. God knows I've overshared enough for all of us.