How condoms can be a bother if not outright dangerous...etiquette, assumptions, and all that rubber jazz...

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Summary: Condoms have long been the standard icon of the prophylactic world, though recent debates on birth control have threatened to usurp. Figured I'd get a bit nostalgic about the ins and outs of the phallic sheathing with a couple of random oddities from my own life.

BLOT: (14 Mar 2012 - 04:23:50 PM)

How condoms can be a bother if not outright dangerous...etiquette, assumptions, and all that rubber jazz...

Had a brief, joking conversation with a friend about [in part] the offering of condoms to young couples that you know. Maybe a pair of couples are off on a trip, one prepared and one not, and sexy times happens for all1 or maybe you have couple spending the night at your place and et cetera. Now, in this latter case, one thing I am fairly sure is that it takes one hell of an urge to justify getting up, waking up [and/or interrupting, *wink* *wink*] your host just to say that you are popping out for a bit and could they wait up until you get back with a fresh box of rubbers in hand oh and by the way go ahead and wash the sheets come the morning.2 I know of both of these scenarios happening, and some variations, and unless you are of the persuaion of "no sex when not in own bed and that means you", you probably do as well.

Had it occurred to me, back then, when sexy-young-things often did stay in something approximating pairs over here, that sometimes the passageways of love have to come stocked with night lights and signs pointing to the exit, I probably would have played double-plus-good host and bought some sizable box of generally acceptable condoms4 and put them in some easy to access AND known place like our hall bathroom so that if a need was ever surfacing, said need could be met. At the time, what was had was buried away in various secretive places about our own bedroom out of something like embarrassment, and could have been offered up, but of course it is already huge burden to actually knock on your hosts' door and ask for such a thing much less then having to wait as they go to multiple potential hiding spots just in case you are watching so that you do not know, for sure, the extent of what is being hidden away.

In that regards, all you people out there with sexy-young-things in visitation, take my advice, give their love a chance. Besides, it's not like a non-impregnable receptacle for bodily fluids that isn't your bed sheets might NOT cut down on the, shall we say, stain factor.

But this is not a post about double-plus-good hosting and the sort of advice that neither Martha Stewart nor Emily Post should, but will never, give. This is about how those little tubes of latex with oils on can be a bother, a pain. Not a literal pain, which is also true. I'm unlucky with them, I know. Two-thirds of the time, they are fine. The other third? Things happen. Did I say, "the other third!?" you might ask. Like I said: unlucky. Things twist. Tiny little perfect [as in never seen in even the depths of intergalactic space] vacuums are formed. Tearing occurs. Things get a bit trapped and pulled. Elasticity becomes tested. Not always of the condom. Good times, all. Good times. All the ways that pain can feel NOT good during sex and all that.

But this isn't even about that. This is about a couple of times where the presence of the condoms became a symbol of things. I'm sure we all have such stories. Girl goes out and buys a box of condoms just in case [the sort of guy who doesn't bring condoms is almost always the sort of guy who goes on about how its a woman's fault if she doesn't stop herself from getting pregnant, etc]. Later, a boyfriend new to the scene finds the box and reads into it. If she has them just laying around, she must just be laying around! And why hasn't she lain around with him? That sort of thing. Guys famously buy them all the time to make someone, even if just the cashier, think there is a need. High school boys running around with yellowed rubbers in their pocket to make a ring shape pressed into the leather. Yet, these boys grow up thinking than anyone else with a box must be in great demand. I suppose that's why the illusion works. Why it persists.

The first box I remember buying was after I came up to college. I was trying to be practical. I didn't have a car. Had something like romance developed, presumably in an all-in-one-night scenario, I was terrified that I would have go, "Oh, I need some protection, back in a jiff!" and then walk half an hour to nearest store. Nothing says romance like a sweaty dude, out of breath, going away for longer than it takes to watch a sitcom. I suppose I assumed that romance at college would be like that—sudden and sweaty and lending itself to brisk walks in the middle of the night—which it can be if we are not quite the socially awkward nerd that I am and even moreso was. Hell, even if you are the socially awkward nerd, you probably got laid more than I did, assuming that you at least tried for a bit of romance [trying, you see, was my failure in the field].

Why it never occurred to me that any woman available and excited enough about me to make condoms a need would probably willing to either walk with me or drive down double-haste to get them, well, I suppose I didn't realize it could work like that. Look, at the best of times, I consider my sexuality something like mild joy that can be shared, and never the kind of thing I can use to make demands. "Woman, if you want some Dougie you had best run along now and get the good kind, top shelf!" is not the kind of phrase of which I have a proper grasp to use non-ironically.

It was never much of a problem to have that unused box [true story, I opened it and threw a few away for appearances], though it did get spotted once or twice and that scenario where guys think present equates immediate need happened [maybe we should impress upon young men that it is ok to be prepared BEFORE battle and not just DURING, lest the zombie attack overwhelms5]. As hinted, my Freshman-through-Junior years of college were mostly me being so inept at the opposite sex that had it turned out I was gay then I probably still wouldn't have been able to solve my no-sex-being-had issue but at least I would have had an easier time talking to women without stuttering. Oh...the joy of breasts and legs and hair and cute little tattoos and freckles and the sweet, sweet smells and smiles to a young just takes the ability to not sound like a tit completely away. Now I know that you are supposed to embrace that delightful fear and channel it into something like a fiery dance of words and flattery and get caught up in the chase; back then I was probably lucky I never developed sudden-onset Tourrette's and spewed invectives all over a conversation.

The box that did cause problems was bought for impractical reasons, largely a joke. During the Summer of 2003, Sarah moved in with me and two other guys—like a sitcom!. She and I were friends, fast becoming great friends, and we had a similar sense of smart-but-stupid sex-joke humor. Not all of our jokes involved a bit of the naughty, but when we told sex-jokes, we could, and involuntarily would, go both broad and narrow at the same time [see: this post]. Somehow, we got it into our heads that it would be funny to buy condoms plus some stuff like...well, I forget. Rope and maybe peanut butter and some tarp or something. I think baby oil and a toy was in there.6 And maybe a sixpack of some flavored malt beverage was involved.

Anyhow, you had a 19-year-old female [technically a pair since her friend was along, which is vital to the story] and a dude in his mid-20s buying...household supplies, toys, baby oil, food, mild booze, and condoms. At the time, we were CONVINCED that the cashier HAD to be picturing weird ass sex and that was hilarious to us. Now, in retrospect, he was seeing a young couple and their friend buy some household supplies, some food, some toys for their baby, some baby supplies, and condoms so that they don't have another one right away. Had we bought jumper cables and rock salt it wouldn't have been outside the realm of possibility that a couple needed those things at the same time as prophylactics. I guarantee that some actual couple has already bought legitimately to-be-used condoms with pretty much every combination of things you can buy at Walmart, which kills the mystique. It's not actually a joke nor actually funny to merely combine things + condoms in a shopping cart [maybe there are some combinations but I'm guessing it would take longer to plan than it would be worth], but I bet we are not the first nor the last to do it. I bet deep in condom-company business meetings they refer to such sales by a codeword, like "flutterbuys", and discuss ways to perhaps encourage them.

Later, after Sarah and I had started dating as roommates—like a sitcom!—and some people of a particular mindset took it very, very hard [while many of the better friends thought it was a good thing, and those are the friends to whom we kept talking], there were some mummerings about the box of condoms bought that night. The friend in attendance seems to have assumed we were merely passing off buying them as a joke when actually we were buying them because we had been seeing each other.7 And she told at least one guy, if not two, and the guy I know she told thought it was a sign of conspiracy afoot, which he took as an abuse on his friendship [he was also entering into an unstable, really jealous period when he was the man who was supposed to get all the girls and hated pretty much every friend that had a girlfriend...or a job...or enough friends to have party...and so forth]. His fear-of-conspiracy later drove a number of wedges because he spread the concept, a bit like a virus, that we had manipulated and maybe cajoled others into accepting our "friendship" when really it was a fuckship and we were getting people on board to support our tribulations when we had actually be aiming to hurt others and settle our own lust. Why he thought, and why a few others listened to him, that a young couple would go through so much trouble rather than just have a good time out in the open, I have no idea. I guess if you think people are keeping secrets it can be kind of hurtful, but I'm sure if two of my friends came up to me and said, "Guess what, we've been having a bit of a fling..." I cannot imagine my response being "YOU BASTARDS! YOU SEXED UP CONNIVING BASTARDS!!!"

Maybe it was some sort of them using us to prove that guys and girls can't be friends and especially never best friends and the fact that we had tried and, by eventually hooking up, failed then we were proving them right and the anger was some sort of victory thing? Or maybe they were, by and large, assholes who thought we should have gotten their permission. You know who else thought people should get permission to do things?

But this isn't about our rocking beginnings, it is about how unused boxes can have such implications and assumptions attached. Something like shame dished out, even though you would be hard pressed to explain to me how a young, potentially sexually active male or female should ever be ashamed for having them whether or not they plan to use them or even if they are strawberry flavored. Maybe she likes to have sex or maybe he likes to have water balloon fights. In and of itself, it means just about nothing. And that's fine. Generally, a society where sex is only shamed when it is prepared for is pretty damn dumb about sex. I mean, sex swings take things like screws and a stud finder. You don't just do that in the spur of the moment.

1: In which case the prepared couple gets to experience coitus interruptus by the ill prepared one, and I guarantee you the ill prepared one will claim that THEY were the real victims.

2: There is no doubt etiquette out there, in books and on the Internet, about what a couple should do if they find themselves together, in a bed or on a floor or wherever, in someone else's place. I'm a practical man: I assume that there exists a non-zero chance that getting it on will be had. I'm not saying, "Please come to my apartment and screw like even rabbits would find exhausting," I'm just reasonable at such things. And, well, I'm also saying, when you invite Sarah and myself over to your place...well, I'm a practical man.3

3: One of the great advantages of not knowing exactly when you are going to die is that you can relatively justify doing just about anything, at least once, just about anywhere. It might be the last chance you get.

4: Extra ribbed for her pleasure AND extra thin for his, I suppose. Watermelon flavored with hints of chocolate. Win-win.

5: I mixed something like metaphors. Sue me...still a valid point.

6: A toy as in a doll, you perv...

7: In her defense, we had bought alcohol and Sarah ended up sleeping in my room that night. While we didn't share the bed, someone who was outside of the room wouldn't know this and so it pretty much sealed the concept into two critical people's heads.

Illuminations about my past, Sex


Written by Doug Bolden

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