|The good shit.|
I stocked up last time I was home. Bought a few dozen packs of condoms in Boots. I should probably clarify that. I wasn’t wearing boots, and neither were the condoms (though I’m pretty sure I’ve seen that movie). Boots is a chain of chemists/drug stores in England. Slightly more upmarket than Superdrug. You can tell this from –
a) The name. You know exactly what you’re getting with ‘Superdrug’. The lower orders can be so uncouthly literal, don’t you find?
b) The prices. Ever so slightly more expensive for no apparent reason.
c) The fact that on your itemized receipt, condoms are listed as ‘family planning goods.’
They are, however, the only things described as such. Pregnancy tests aren’t called ‘family planning goods’, and nor are diaphragms, sponges, or coat-hangers. Here’s a hint: if you’re trying to use a vague, catch-all term as a euphemism, and you only use it to refer to one specific thing then, it’s not vague or catch-all any more; it’s the actual thing. There are no parents of teenage boys who, upon finding a crumpled receipt listing ‘family planning goods’ in the pocket of their son’s jeans whilst doing the wash, think to themselves, ‘Well, maybe he’s bought a wall calendar for everyone’s appointments. At least he’s being responsible.’
I’m a proper adult now, so buying contraception isn’t as embarrassing as it once was. Still though, you buy a whole gross in a single transaction and you do suspect a few eyebrows will be raised. Only one way to deal with that. Bluff it out. Deadpan. Emotionless. “Yes, I will be having a lot of sex. What of it?”
|I shall also be smoking, drinking,|
and gambling. Problem?
The lady behind the till of the Tottenham Court Road branch has other ideas. Initially completely professional; the huge pile of prophylactics I dump on the counter causes not a flicker of enquiry. She takes a box from the top and scans it. Looks at the screen. Looks at the box and the pile. Looks back at the screen.
“Terry!” she barks across twelve aisles of shower gel and razorblades, waving the johnnies in the air. “Terry!”
The security guard stirs from his vacant repose by the front door, sees what she’s waving, and raises an enquiring and not unamused eyebrow.
“Terry! Says there’s a special offer with these! Have a look, will ya?”
No no. It’s fine. I don’t even have a loyalty card. I know I could get a special receipt so Mum could get the points on hers, but that’s not really going to happen, is it? She never bought the ‘wall calendar’ line before and is unlikely to start now.
Terry takes his own sweet fucking time strolling over to aisle four. Till Lady continues to hold the box aloft. Liberty enlightening the world. Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses, and I’ll humiliate them with a dozen Pleasuremax.
Terry’s finally reached the appointed place. Looks. Bends down. Rises with a packet in either hand and brandishes them high, to be better observed by all who wish to see.
“Comes with some free lube!”
Jesus. Kill me now.
Terry approaches the counter. Lube still raised high in a semaphore of frictionless mortification. Slaps both down and looks at Till Lady in a manner which makes clear that if they’re not shagging already, it’s something Terry would very much like to see happen in the near future. “Says he can choose.”
What? If you think I’m offering any opinion on this sordid little masquerade of shame, you’re sorely mistaken, my friend.
“Well, Love,” Till Lady now, talking to me with a barely suppressed smirk. She’s enjoying this just a bit too much. “Which do you want, Menthol Cooler or Lusty Tingler?”
To which there’s really only one possible response.
“Well,” I say, “which would you recommend?”
That’s not really so ‘Alpha Male’ now, is it? Perhaps I should have stuck with the traditional ‘they’re insufficiently capacious for my gargantuan Western todger’ line. But really, it’s my contact allergies that I’m worried about. Wouldn’t have the first inkling about their size because I’ve never tried them.
|The image searches for this post are soul destroying.|
Here's a basket of puppies.
‘Contact dermatitis’ it’s called. We first realized it might be an issue when I was about twelve. I was swimming a lot at the time and that meant verrucas. The family remedy for this was to stick a bit of zinc oxide tape over it for a couple of days. Starve it of oxygen and when you pull the tape off a bit of the wart comes with it. Rinse and repeat a few times and you’re golden.
I was on crutches for a month.
For once, I’m really not exaggerating this for effect. I developed a blister on my heel the size of an egg and had to use crutches for a month because I couldn’t put any pressure my right foot. Something, clearly, was up.
So I had to do a ‘patch test’. They get a few dozen little metal discs, put a drop of a different suspect chemical on each one, then tape the lot of them to your back for a week. You’re not allowed to get them wet, which made showering a problem. This alone would have been unpleasant, but remember that you’re wearing a carapace infused with stuff they quite specifically think will irritate your skin. I’m still squirming from the memory. After a week they take it all off and see what’s caused a hideously painful allergic reaction and what hasn’t. As a child I somehow expected more from modern medicine.
Turns out I’m allergic to a fuckload of different things. The biggest reaction was to something called colophony. It’s used in glues (such as for sticking plasters) and occurs naturally in conifer resin. If I ever cut myself decorating the christmas tree I’m fucked, basically. That was the reason for the blister. There was also mention of ‘fragrances and colourings’ probably being a difficulty. You see? That’s how you do vague and catch-all.
‘Fragrances and colourings.’ Useless. Just useless. So what I have to do is experiment. Deodorants, soaps, shaving gels, detergents and on and on. Stick with what you know is safe, and introduce one new thing at a time. If you develop an unsightly and uncomfortable rash then you know it’s not for you and you need to try a different brand.
Over time I’ve managed to find acceptable local substitutes for pretty much all my personal hygiene needs. Except deodorant, though that’s not because of my allergies but because Japanese deodorants are shit. It’s been a long and not always pleasant process, but I’m at the point where I don’t have to panic if I’m running low on any of the above.
Except condoms. I refuse to test my luck with condoms. After all, isn’t the whole point of them to avoid getting an unsightly and uncomfortable rash on your cock? I’m all for experimentation in the bedroom, but you have to draw the line somewhere.