In the last episode of the continuing Kim Saga sub-story, we learned that teenagers can be sneaky (read me). (We didn’t know that before, did we.) In that story, Kim sent me on an expedition, an exploration, a clandestine Indiana Jones quest. The goal? To find the secret location for the blue prophylactic condom.
The reward? Sex, real sex, lost virginity. Have you read The Goal by EM Goldratt? If so, then you will be able to relate to the teenager boys’ version. Teenage boys have an ultimate goal of drinking from the chalice which is the female form. Yes, I’m talking about sex. Just like in Goldratt’s book, our task as a teenager was to recognize the constraints and eliminate them. If successful, we might be lucky enough to enjoy the fairer sex. My quest was issued to me the night of the big sleepover – find the blue condom and thou will get to have real sex. Oh I was going to reach the goal alright.
Ok, where the heck does a person buy rubbers? This was the 70’s, 1975 to be exact. We hadn’t yet heard of HIV or AIDS where I grew up. Aids were people who helped the nurses at the hospital. Condoms weren’t within an arms reach at your local Walmart or CVS like they are today. Back then, we boys were issued a single condom we either got from a friend or a seedy gas station men’s room machine for a quarter. We’d keep it in our wallet, always ready for action until the the big day came. Like all boys, I had mine but also like all boys, it remained in my wallet so long that it deteriorated; package punctured, condom rotted into an unrecognizable hunk of circular matted plastic tubing. Besides, it wasn’t blue.
Who could I ask? My buddy Joe? No, he hasn’t done it yet. My buddy Terry? He said he’d check around at the gas stations he stopped at. Randy? Nope, he said he hadn’t yet done it either. What I needed was an older man to ask about these things, but I just couldn’t ask my Dad or Joe. Dad would tease me and Joe, well Joe might tell Mom.
Hey wait, the Beckmans had all kinds of older brothers! I didn’t really know the older Beckmans – we younger kids were just squirts to the older kids. After all, Steve Beckman was a whole two years older than I. So I asked Jeff to go ask Steve where the heck I could get a colored condom. And of course, naturally this wasn’t going to be that easy – Steve just had to come out to tease.
“Does little Robbie have a girlfriend? Does little Robbie think he’s going to get laid?”
Can you pleeassee just tell me where I can buy a blue condom?
“Blue? Why does it have to be blue?”
I don’t know, it’s just what my girlfriend wants.
And after another ten minutes or more of teasing from Jeff’s brothers, (yes, another one came down to join in on the fun), Steve finally clued me in – Hughes Drug Store. Really? I can buy rubbers there? I knew a lot about Hughes. We kids used to buy the crucial ingredients to stink bombs there, (read me), and I used to stop buy there everyday after delivering papers so I could slurp down a milkshake while staring at Sue Hall (read me).
I’ve never noticed anything like that out on the shelves?
“Idiot, you have to go back to the drug counter and ask for them from the old man!”
Oh. This wasn’t going to be easy. I was scared of the old pharmacist. He ran a tight ship. In life though, there are many moments when we just have to reach down deep inside ourselves and find the strength to overcome our fears. And if the trade off is no sex, well we man-boys are experts at mustering up large amounts of bravery (and stupidity).
So….the sulfur and saltpeter, (the critical elements we kids needed for making stink bombs and gunpowder), were out in plain day on the shelves. The condoms, the evil condoms, they were kept back with the prescription drugs, behind the counter out of sight. Kinda’ messed up, wouldn’t you say?
I walked into the drug store and saw several people milling around, waiting for the old man to fill their prescriptions so I took a seat at the ice cream bar. I waited and watched for an opportunity. I was nervous. Ok, that’s an understatement, I was sweating underarm bullets. How was I going to do this? What was I going to say? I decided to act, to act like an adult. Adults must come in here and places like this all the time to buy rubbers, right? How do they act, what do they say?
Quick, there’s only a couple people in here, this is my chance. I got up and walked back to the counter. (I’ll never forget this for as long as I live). Ok, remember, act grown up. Acting as nonchalant as I could muster, I made eye contact with the old man. In return, he looked at me and said, “could I help you young man?”
Me, trying to act subtle, and in a somewhat lower voice because there was a middle-aged lady standing several feet to my left, “I’d like to buy a box of prophylactics”.
Yes, “prophylactics” is the word I used. I thought it was a noun, I didn’t know it was an adjective. I thought I was sounding adult, grown-up. That old guy knew exactly what I was asking for too. I didn’t know it then, but he obviously lived for opportunities like this, these little vignettes of comedy where he was the primary comedian and little man-boys like me were his targets.
“Prophylactics?” (In a much louder voice than necessary). “You mean RUBBERS?” (Yes reader, I felt tiny and embarrassed).
“Why didn’t you say so? How many did you need?”
Me – a box of blue ones.
“Blue ones? You want a 144 blue rubbers?”
(Can’t he keep his voice down?)
Me – 144?
“Yeah, that’s a box. How about we start you off with 2 three-packs Tiger.”
(Oh, this guy is having fun)
He went to the back and came back with a couple of packs in a paper sack and proceeded to inform me that he didn’t have any blue ones, “she’ll never know the difference, just don’t turn on the lights.” (And at that point he winked…is this guy a mind reader?)
It would work. It had to.
Find out if it did in the next ‘Kim Saga’ story a few weeks from now.