Therein Lies the Rubber

I've recently fallen into the habit of wearing sunglasses indoors, which is easy for me to do when I've been outside in the sun for a while and then walk inside. I just forget that they're on my face. And so I walked into a Duane Reade, as such, greeted by the cool air and even cooler sounds of non-descript, ambient pop music that played over the PA system. In my head, all I heard was Marcy Playground's "Sex and Candy," because I was there to buy some goddamn condoms. In my sunglasses.

Try your best to listen to "Sex and Candy" from here on out.

As it turns out, Trojan had launched a marketing ploy to promote the sale of a newer product, and it threw a wrench in the works. I was presented with a compelling new option. I would have to choose.

I could buy a 12-pack of the usual in the blue box with the red shield that lets me know the condoms inside have spermicidal lubricant, which always makes me wonder why spermicidal lubricant is even an option. Why is it not mandatory? Why not kill the sperm? I guess maybe it seems a little aggressive.

Inside the 12-pack without the spermicide came two bonus condoms that boasted "pure ecstasy," which sounded pretty attractive right off the bat. But, to get my two shots at pure ecstasy, I would have to compromise on the spermicide. I found myself staring at the condoms for way too long.

Lingering in front of the contraceptives aisle is not good. It looks like you don't know what you're doing, which only matters if you imagine that anyone is watching you or gives a shit, which, apparently, I have a tendency to do. I checked out one box, put it back, grabbed the other box and marveled at the phrase "pure ecstasy" before my brain short-circuited and I went for the most ridiculous solution I could find. I reached to the bottom shelf and picked the ridiculously large box of 36 condoms. Think of the savings, I thought. But this isn't about savings, I reminded myself. This is about getting laid, and striding across the store and up to the register with a giant blue box of 36 orgasms is pretty fucking baller.

Then, I started to wonder how many inches of condoms I was about to buy. Like, how long was the strand of condom squares? They're never all in one chain, but for illustrative purposes, I supposed I might duct tape them together. How many times would it wrap around a gallon of milk? What about my waist? Could I measure my inseam with it? My pants are 36 condoms long, I thought, before reconsidering. It would probably be more like 30. Maybe 31, which, I'm pretty sure, is the number of dollars I paid for that box of 36 condoms.

I took my receipt and turned for the door. Then, a whole new equation entered my head. How long would it take me to use all of these? It started to feel like one hell of a commitment. I'd only just met this girl. Maybe I was being a little overconfident. What if I saw her tonight, and that was it? How sad would an open box of 35 condoms look in my sock drawer until I met someone else? How long would that be? And why do I keep my condoms in the sock drawer? I have two nightstands, for crying out loud.

Halfway to the door, I looked down at the box and stopped walking. No red shield. No spermicidal lube. Shit!

Maybe killing sperm is extreme, I reasoned with myself. They're gonna die anyway, but how? They don't drown. It's like the opposite of drowning. They dry up. What do you call that? I could Google it.

It doesn't matter, I decided. It sounds cruel, like leaving a fish on the dock to die. I decided to do the right thing and outright murder my sperm the way the Internet would probably tell me to -- with spermicidal lube.

I lifted my sunglasses onto my head and got back in line, holding a total of 48 condoms. Thirty-six to return, 12 to purchase. By now, I didn't give a shit how many condoms I had in my hand, as awesome as holding 48 at once might look to the casual observer. Or maybe it would look like I drew the short straw and had to buy condoms for the whole orgy.

"I need to return these." I slid the box of 36 across the counter, "and buy these." Enter the suddenly interested cashier.

"What happened?"

"Nothing. I bought the wrong kind."

"'The wrong kind?' It's a condom. Just put it on your dick and jam."

"It's the spermici... I just need to swap them."

"Sign here." He presented a receipt and folded his arms.

I looked back at him. "Do you have a pen?"


We shared a special moment of silent disagreement over who was responsible for bringing the pen.

"Fine, I've got one." I pulled a pen from my bag, a Bic Soft Feel, clicked it open, signed the receipt, took my box of 12 murderous condoms and emerged back into the street. My phone bloop-bloop-bleeped. Two missed texts, both from her. I squinted at the screen. I couldn't see anything. The reflection of the sun against the glass was too strong.