When Plan A Fails…

A broken condom is like a broken promise. From the moment we learn what sex is, we’re urged not to have it. But then immediately warned “but if you do have sex, USE A CONDOM!”

Like taking vitamins, using a condom is one of those things we don’t do because we like to, but because we’re told over and over again that it will keep our bodies safe and healthy. We don’t all agree that doing charity will get us into heaven, or that recycling will save us from global warming, but we all hold the belief that using a condom ensures safe sex. This is why I was in absolute denial the other night when the condom broke during sexy time. I’d felt like I was doing something self-charitable by using protection, but I ended up getting screwed in a different sense of the word than I’d hoped for. Though the breakage happened during the middle of sex and not the grand finale, premature ejaculation is one of my greatest fears — so I decided I’d go to CVS the next day to pick up some Plan B.

’d never taken emergency contraceptives before, so I had no idea what was in store for me. I only knew that I was about to become $49.99 poorer. I had my friend come with me for moral support, and together we drove twenty minutes to the farthest CVS in my internal GPS. The car ride was rowdy and fun as I divulged all the details about how good the sex had been before the condom broke, but as soon as we pulled into the parking lot my confidence left me. My legs wobbled as I walked across the asphalt, which I jokingly attributed to getting pounded the night before, but was actually due to my pounding pulse. The automatic doors swooshed open hitting me with cool air and the cold reality of what I was there to do.

We took a detour through the cosmetics aisle so we could sneakily scan the vicinity for old teachers, friends of my parents, and parents of my friends. Once it was determined that the coast was clear, we hauled ass to the Family Planning aisle. There were no emergency contraceptives to be found, only dozens of boxes of condoms. Trojans, Lifestyles, Durex, lambskin, ribbed, ultra thin, spermicidal, all capable of breaking. We’d once had a good relationship, but now they were nothing more than rubber placebos to me. I was angry at every single one of the boxes, it was their fault I was even here. Now I had to spend fifty bucks because they couldn’t do their job. “I think we have to get it from the pharmacy counter,” my friend said. The Family Planning aisle is nerve-wracking  but at least you can conceal yourself by hiding behind the aisles. The pharmacy counter is like swimming in open water.

There were two men and one woman working at the pharmacy counter. We hung back by the condoms until the woman was available, then made the bold steps up to her register.

“Hi there, how can I help you?” Her name tag read Marilyn and I swear she had the warmest smile I’ve ever seen. She appeared to be in her early 50’s and was petite with dark hair. Behind her round frame glasses were kind eyes that matched her kind smile.

I lowered my voice to promote discretion, “Hi, um, I was wondering if I could get the uh, morning after pill?”

Marilyn immediately got the picture. She lowered her voice to equal the decibel I’d been speaking at and with a small wink said “Oh yes, just one minute.” With that, I exhaled for what felt like the first time since I’d been in the store. Marilyn came back a few moments later with a box of Plan B. Her voice still in a whisper she asked me for my ID and method of payment. I took out my license and debit card but retracted my hand in panic, asking “This won’t show up on my bank statement, right?”

“No, no,” my guardian angel of contraceptives assured me, “only the amount you spend will show up, not the name of the purchase.” She gave me another one of her comforting smiles as she swiped my card and bagged the box. I didn’t even care about the $50 price anymore, I just wanted to jump over the counter and hug her. My sense of trust had been so violated when the condom broke, but Marilyn was proof that there was still good in the world.

She handed me the bag and still in her whisper said, “take care, now.” I hadn’t even taken the pill yet and I already felt better. I was out of my denial and had come to accept the fact that in life plan A doesn’t always work out, and sometimes we need to resort to plan B.

Related ItemsGuys Love Birth Control plan b Sex


  1. Eimear says:

    Although I'm sorry that you had to go through that situation, I'm glad you highlighted that not every pharmacy sales assistant looks down their nose at a person requesting the Morning After Pill.

    I worked in a pharmacy for a number of years while I was in school and I was taught to always remain mature and professional, no matter what the customer requires. So when I hear of sales assistants being unfriendly when a girl looks for the morning after pill, it makes me so sad because I believe that girl is going through enough already without a complete stranger judging them.

    I hope this shows girls that there's no need to be ashamed, that plan A can fail for even the most careful of people.

    Brilliant article. :)

  2. anne says:

    thats a good personal story that hopefully takes the fear from girls having to get the morning after pill. good job!

    what i dont really get is why so many girls are afraid to buy plan b (or even go to the contraceptives aisle)? in my opinion its the responsible thing to do to take contraceptives and in case they didnt work take the morning after pill. its positive not something to be ashamed of!

  3. dot says:

    Aw, Marilyn sounds like a fairy godmother! I'm glad you had a good experience after a not so fortunate one.

  4. Jenny says:

    I can't believe any one who works in a pharmacy would look down their nose at someone buying plan B. That would be incredibly irresponsible and unprofessional. I'm always very careful with contraception but on the one occasion the condom broke when I wasn't on the pill, I didn't think twice before getting the morning after pill, and it wasn't a big deal for me at all (I'm in a committed relationship and there was no issue of STDs).

  5. Tatiana says:

    Wow, I'm so happy to hear everything went well for you and that this Marilyn woman turned out to be such a sweetheart! I get hot in the face when I buy condoms, I can only imagine how mortified I'd be buying Plan B!

    Which, btw, might be something else to discuss: Why, in this day and age, do woman like me feel embarrassed about buying condoms? I'm educated, I'm independent, I'm open minded, etc.

    BUT I was taught from a very young age that being sexual is something to be ashamed of. Despite my progression and realizing that this is just SO not true, I guess it still lingers, i.e. my mortification when buying contraceptives in public.

    Anyone else go through something similar?

  6. Emily says:

    Honestly women should have no shame in purchasing Plan B. It just shows that you are smart, mature, and know what is best for you body! Also.. just fyi, if you are in college, the pharmacies at student health often sell it for much cheaper than the big drugstore chains. I know my university sells it for $30 as opposed to $50. The only problem is they are only open M-F. My advice, it doesn't hurt to just keep an extra pill around!

  7. ajk says:

    I really would like to see a follow up on the after effects of taking Plan B. I've already had to take it once, for the same reason, and I never bothered to read up about the side effects until I did. I think it would be beneficial if also added that aspect to this article.

  8. criolle johnny says:

    Good article, good thinking.
    Please follow through …
    What is the OTHER reason one (two) uses a condom? What should you (both) do about THAT?

  9. sara says:

    i didnt know that plan b costs so much in the US. i mean im canadian and when i went to go buy the morning after pill a few weeks ago it was something like 27 dollars. dont remember the exact amount, but i know it wasnt anywhere close to 50.

  10. Peter says:

    Use a dental dam. You can buy them onnlie, at an adult shop, or occasionally at medical supply stores.It’s a sheet of latex original designed for dentists (they poke a hole in it, fit your tooth that they’re working on through the hole, then spread the rest over your mouth to protect the rest)You would hold that over her vagina and labia, get as big of a sheet as they come in, then put something tasty on the other side and go to town.

  • You Might Like