See, I wanted a couple of condoms.

As the popular button has it, I am currently Doing Strange Things in the Name of Art. My primary area in school was watercolor; my secondary was ceramics. Thus, I enjoy color–and texture. I’ll post the link to the thing I’m mucking about with some other time, like when/if it’s finished. Suffice to say that I wanted a couple of condoms of particular spiffiness. They’re glossy, stretchy, and come in colors. (Sorry.)

The merry young lady at Walgreens thought it was worth taking a look, but all I discovered was that condoms are damn pricey these days, and that almost everybody thinks he needs an Xtra-Large, which is a marketing triumph if ever there were. So I whinged to the girl that I would have to schlep down the street to the local sex shop, poor lazy bitch that I am. She took this in good spirit.

So I went to the local sex store. With some regret, I will not publish their name (but local residents probably already know and can personally ask me if they like). I was sure they’d have condoms. Black condoms, to be specific. (I should say here and now that I later decided that these were not in fact going to do what I wanted, so I’m over it per se.)

Now, with black leather and black maid’s uniforms and black high high stilettos and whatnot, I figured that black condoms were not very special. In fact, I went in there vaguely seeing them as a party favor for New Year’s Eve, tossed into a punchbowl with silver glitter.

I’ve been in this shop before, for some reason I don’t recall but that is undoubtedly none of your business. Although they had previously had a charming young saleswoman (with whom I ended up having a motherly chat, as people often confide in me), tonight they had the more senior sales associate, who has the flattest affect I’ve seen outside of a heavily medicated loonie bin.

“Hi! I’d like some black condoms!”

“We don’t have any.”

“You’re kidding!” (I mean, really. See above.)

“I never kid about things.” (Oh dear.)

“I was so sure you’d have them.”

“Ma’am, you’re the first person to come in here asking for black condoms. It’s a supply and demand. If people end up wanting black condoms, then I’ll order them.” (Gosh, the creativity and vim and brio of Cambridge disappoints. Nobody wants black condoms? What do the SMBD people use?)

I was then recommended to try Condom World. This brought me visions of a Walmart of latex and sheepskin, and I was delighted–and, being me, amused. (I’m sorry. Condom World?)

“Where are they?”

“Newbury Street. They’re closed now.” It was indeed almost 8pm, when the condom-desiring (sorry) were undoubtedly safely home with their moral and utilitarian purchases.

She was clearly unhappy with me. As far as I could tell. It soon transpired that she thought my being somewhat tickled (sorry) was because I had never heard of the store. (I have no idea what other reason there might have been.)

“Um, purple?” Artists always have a Plan B.

She did wearily draw my attention to the condoms available which were flavored. Maybe some of them were colored. She didn’t know.

Now, boys and girls, I have been in several other such establishments during my long and faintly checkered career. They usually tend to have bouncy and outgoing personnel who know everything about their merchandise. As you can extrapolate, I thought this lady’s ignorance about these fetching little packets right by the register to be . . . well . . . limp. (Not sorry.) Anyway, they didn’t have licorice or anything. She tediously thought that maybe they had chocolate, and fished out the cola one. Hmm, I thought. Probably pale brownish. Not what I was going for.

The lady who owns the place (I think) came over to help if she could. Fortunately, she had somewhat better affect. I couldn’t find chocolate. But they had grape. In the face of no other method of discovery, I recklessly shelled out a buck and opened it on the spot.

“Woooeeyy!!!!” A quite fetching bright purple.

Although I had now enlightened them about their product, they were supremely uninterested.

The owner was concerned. “Do they have to be a certain color? They all do the same thing.” It was now very clear that I was misbehaving, and possibly putting my sexual health at risk by being pettish (sorry) about which condoms I thought suitable.

I explained that it was for an art project. Condoms are used in art all the time; I’m not the only one who thinks they’re nifty. The boss was very surprised when I shared that the Alien’s mucous membranes were condoms–and the slime was K-Y, which had the right viscosity so as not to melt under the lights.

The scary girl told me with weary annoyance that she had handed me a chocolate condom, ma’am. I told her that it was cola, and she apologized for giving me the wrong condom. (“Condom.” Not “one.” Pronouns are apparently forbidden due to their intrinsic funniness. Comparatively.)

Apologetically, I said, “I’ve never before looked for condoms that weren’t for penises.” This very concept was amazing and offensive. OK, I immediately realized what I had said–and was unfortunately amused, me being me. I explained the way I’d meant it, and that I did in fact understand that condoms were an item expressly designed for the penis. It was all too clear that they thought I was some kind of moron.

As such shops often do, I was being educated about the world’s oldest subject: Sex is not funny. At all. People who think sex, or sexual paraphernalia is funny, or who are enthusiastic about purchasing an object that is often wrongly construed as having funny possibilities–are very very . . . well, naughty.

Flat affect girl wandered off. “Well, I’m not the most eccentric customer you’ve ever had,” I muttered to the air, and the owner’s lack of reassurance indicated that apparently, I probably was. I tried to rehabilitate myself with the owner by confiding that I had in fact utilized the objects in their penile-adorning form back in my salad days. This obviously reassured her.

I said various things touting their marvelousness at Doing What They Were Meant To Do, and my truthfully fervent agreement that they should be used by all for those purposes. I then appeasingly bought some of the dandier ones (I know somebody who collects them) and slunk out with my small leopard-skin paper bag.

I then returned to the drugstore to pick up my prescription, and confided to my cheerful friend the events above.  She was jeeringly amused (at them) by their complete lack of humor; was appropriately impressed by the intense purpleness of my very serious condom; and did vouch for Condom World, where she had been with her boyfriend. I was greatly relieved to find that he had brought her there . . . because it was Condom World, for crying out loud! Disappointingly, it was apparently rather small, and my envisioned racks upon racks of exotic membranous confections didn’t exist. I hope that they appreciate the . . . well . . . funniness of their name, but for all I know, they too are serious about their sacred mission to keep penis-related fluid exchange safe for democracy.

And yes, it tastes like grape.