Ode to the Condom

28 Aug

The first time I ever saw a condom was when my mother showed it to me. My dad was in the Army, and whenever they traveled to other countries they were given prophylactics. Since my dad didn’t need them, he came back with them. My father had gotten a vasectomy right after my sister was born (I remember being 3 years old and seeing my dad with an ice pack on his tenders), so they basically just wasted away. I don’t remember the conversation we were having, but my mom asked me if I’d ever seen one. I told her I hadn’t, so she took me to her room and took out one of my dad’s perfume bottles. It had a large round cap, so my mother put the condom on the bottle. She showed me how to put it on leaving the reservoir on the tip, and how to roll it down the shaft. I was probably around 11 when this happened. I didn’t feel embarrassed or weirded out because my mother had treated it as the most normal thing in the world. As you can probably tell, my mother’s attitude towards sex may not have been the same one most girls I knew had growing up. She studied psychology and instilled in us a view of sexuality as something that was as much a part of human nature as eating or sleeping was. She always re-enforced the importance of safe sex. By the time I eventually had sex, I’d spent years reading up on it. I had safe sex, always. Condoms were always there for me, and it was the most normal thing in the world.

At 19 years old I’d been single in over a year and I wasn’t having sex. I wasn’t thinking about condoms at all until one day my sister told me she’d had unprotected sex. I wanted to smack her. She said the boy picked her up, took her to his grandma’s house, and then proceeded to tell her he didn’t have any protection, but they had sex anyway. I was livid. Had we been raised by the same woman? I told her she could never do that again and that since she was sexually active, she should always have protection. She looked embarrassed so I asked her if she wanted me to buy them for her. She said yes, relieved. So I went to the pharmacy and bought condoms for the first time in my life. The fact that I ran into my highly religious high school English teacher in the check-out line isn’t relevant to this story, but I just really enjoy that detail. Since that day I kept a pack in one of my bed stands, but never really needed it. It wasn’t until years later that I started having sex more often that I realized I never wanted to be without one. I went to the store and bought about two packs, and put condoms in each of my purses, that way, no matter which one I was wearing, I was packing. I realized that if you’re a responsible adult who is in charge of your sexuality, there is always a possibility you’ll have sex. You never know where the night will lead you, no matter how inconspicuously the day starts, you could still find yourself knee deep in penis in a matter of hours. Okay, that’s obviously a hyperbole, but the thing is, you just don’t know!

At one point in 2007 the awesome movie Knocked Up came out. I was already a big fan of Judd Apatow, and this movie was getting great reviews, so I bought it without having seen it. I loved it. It revolves around a two people who have a one night stand and when he doesn’t put on his condom before having sex with her it results in a pregnancy, as it usually happens. When she meets him months later to tell her she’s pregnant, he gets angry at her, saying he was drunk and she should have known he wasn’t wearing a condom because of how it felt. Wait, what? Sex without a condom feels different? I’d never had it, so I didn’t know my vagina was so sensitive that upon penetration it would detect whether the penis was covered in extremely thin latex or just going au naturale (I originally wrote “whether or not the sausage was in its casing” but decided against it because of me being an “adult”). So far sex had felt wonderful and I couldn’t imagine it being any different going bareback.

 

 

Someone very close to me is in an unplanned pregnancy. They never bothered using protection because she was irregular. They were very surprised when after going for a routine gynecologic check-up led to the reveal of her being pregnant. Why the surprise? Don’t people process this is what happens when you don’t protect yourself against pregnancies and STDs? She’s lucky all she got was a kid, specially since she’s a repeat offender in the unprotected sex division. She can’t work because her pregnancy is high risk. After being in a house less than a month they’ll have to move out because they can’t afford rent on his minimum wage. And that baby is going to be so extremely expensive, as all babies are. But a pack of condoms that costs a couple of dollars? Nah, not worth it.

Right now I haven’t used a condom during sex in over a year. I’ve been in a relationship for over 9 months. Due to the fact that we were long distance from the beginning we knew beforehand we weren’t going to be having a one night stand, or having sex after the third date. When we finally got together we spent over a week doing everything together; eating, sleeping, driving around North Carolina. We skipped Couples 101 and went to the advanced course, and along with it, birth control. I started using NuvaRing before I left the island to see him. I knew he wasn’t a fan of condoms but was willing to use them for me. Ironically, what triggered me deciding to get on hormonal birth control was the fact that I have thirty-something day cycles and would have been menstruating my whole week there. I wasn’t about to let Mother Nature ruin my week with what was potentially my future boyfriend, so I took charge and put a ring on it. When we finally got together it was wonderful. It was the best sexual experience of my life, but it was all about the intimacy and how we felt, and nothing to do with the fact that he wasn’t wearing a condom. To tell you the truth, I didn’t really feel a difference. He was what made it amazing.

So, condom, I’m sorry we broke up. It’s not you, it’s me. You kept my vagina healthy and my uterus empty for many wonderful years and I am eternally grateful to you for it. You were cheap (not in a bad way!) and effective, and you will continue making boys and girls happy all around the world. And, in case I never said it before, I loved you since the day I first laid eyes on you.

About a year ago my sister was working at a pharmacy and she saw that Durex was coming out with cute little boxes to keep your condoms in your purse without risking them getting damaged. She saw them and remarked that they were cool and that she wanted them, which made the women she worked with tease her about it. She confidently responded that women should take charge of their sexual health and shouldn’t depend on them to be the ones to carry the protection. She told me everyone agreed and looked at her with respect. And I couldn’t have been prouder.

P.S. While looking for a link to the Durex Love Box I found Cosmo had done an article of cute ways to store your condoms. So, if you’re interested in something good looking to keep them from flopping around your seemingly bottomless purse (my sister says mine belonged to Mary Poppins), click here!

Have fun and stay safe!

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