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.