We all like sex, don’t we? And sometimes it is fun with strangers, the mystery and the excitement of the unknown.
Which is fine, providing it is safe….I am an older woman, and until my sexual revolution, described in my book, I never bought condoms. In my youth, it was the boyfriends (not that many) who brought them, and in that idyllic pre-HIV era, the only thing to worry about was pregnancy. And I was on the pill.
The experience was funny, but it explained to me why people often do not have that condom on hand when they need one.
I popped in to Boots, thinking finding condoms would be easy.
But it was a bit of an adventure. I looked around the shop, but I could not find them. I found toothpaste, nappies, pregnancy tests, various cosmetics, but not condoms. I would have asked, but all the shop assistants were young Asian men, and I was embarrassed. At my age, I couldn’t have been using them for contraception, and I felt like a Scarlet Woman having ‘illicit sex’ written all over my forehead. I walked round the shop for a long time. Then I suddenly noticed them. They were actually (suitably?) next to the home pregnancy testing kits.
Great, I thought, but it was not so simple. I never knew there was so much variety – shapes, sizes, lubricated, non-lubricated, scented, flavoured (I blushed at the idea of why would anybody put a flavour on a condom). I stood there for a while, staring, but then I picked up a red box of twelve condoms, something fairly basic.
When I got to the cashier, I was relieved that there was a young woman serving, not one of those men. But my embarrassment was not over. “These are two for the price of one,” said the shop assistant, “would you like another box?”
I thought 24 condoms, I probably need just one, for the only casual sex I will ever have! But then I said, “Yes, please.”
I turned bright red when the girl shouted loudly, “Ali, can you bring me another box of these?” showing him the box. He did. Sweating and blushing, I paid and fled … But outside, I started giggling and could not stop.
The next time, I thought “let’s make it simpler- go to the supermarket. I took a box of condoms, proceeding to the self-checkout. “More discreet” I thought.Not so! I could not scan it because of the outside plastic packaging. A shop assistant, one of my young patients, came to help me remove the plastic. We both kept a straight face.
But it made me think. How can we make young people using safe sex methods when we make buying condoms so hard?