I just bought condoms for the first time in my life—at age 28.
I realize this is a pretty ridiculous fact. I’m a grown-ass woman; I have a car, I clip coupons, I even buy the double-ply toilet paper. By this point in my quasi-adult life, I should be buying my own safe-sex accessories. But until now I just relied on the free bin at the doctor’s office or, more pathetically, I banked on my partner providing the condom.
Recently I’ve found myself in a lovely little situation and need to fish through the old condom grab bag pretty often (sometimes a few times a night—self high-five!). Soon we were down to those unnecessarily ribbed numbers or the even more awkward black tuxedo ones. My partner offered to go buy more condoms, but I decided it was my time to face the strangely intimidating family-planning aisle at CVS.
Of course when I got there, I scanned the weekly specials and snagged two bottles of Barefoot Cab for $10 (such a steal!). I then casually strolled the aisles, seeing if anything else sparked my fancy, until I reached the brightly-colored boxes filled with latex joy.
Any tinge of excitement about purchasing my first condoms quickly dissolved to pure intimidation when I saw the sheer volume of options and ridiculous prices. Am I the only sad sack who didn’t know condoms, on average, are about $1 a pop?
I quickly passed over anything textured, because to be honest that stuff is a pointless gimmick. I vetoed the spermicide ones because those aren’t any more effective than normal condoms, plus they taste gross and can do some damage if you have sensitive lady parts. I glossed over the overpriced foreign condoms because, you know, America. That left me with a lovely purple box of lubricated Durex. Now all I had to decide is do I go for the normal 30 pack or spring for the value option.
In the end, the giant box of condoms was just a little too Costco-y for my tastes. Plus I didn’t want to look like I was bragging. I headed to the checkout, my wine, a card for my mum, some mouthwash and a box-o-condoms in hand, pretty satisfied with myself but also realizing that I’d been living in ignorance for years. I had no idea the pricey decisions my partners had faced over the years.
At the same time, I realized my partners probably never realized the price and overwhelming choice that goes into selecting a birth-control pill. We share body fluids, intimate moments and our lives with our sexual partners, but not the details on how we keep each other safe and baby/STI free.
To truly walk a mile in our partners’ sexy shoes, we need to start sharing the cost and choice of each others’ safe-sex paraphernalia. This is a hetero-centric missive, but women need to take a trip to the CVS condom aisle and men need to go pick up their lady’s prescription. When we start sharing the safety portion of our safe sex, we can all feel fully invested in the fun times made possible by the glory of latex and synthetic hormones.