I’m thinking about condoms as I’m pushing a trolley loaded with about $300 worth of groceries through the local supermarket. Toddler Tyson, who’s in the child seat, is storing about another $20 worth of food internally and that’s because I’ve fed him an insane amount of food including – but not limited to – a bag of grapes, a banana, two yoghurt tubes and half a packet of dried biscuits.
Apart from stuffing him with food I’ve also let him spray a bottle of Lynx deodorant at the eyeballs of any people that attract his attention on the various product packaging. I believe this will help him to develop the mace-spraying skills he’ll need to survive as he grows up on the suburban streets of downtown Reservoir.
The food and the Lynx has done a great job of distracting him to this point but with only one aisle to go, and a few items still left to procure, he’s screaming to get down and reaching back into the trolley to find launch-ables and because I tend to snarl and bark involuntarily whenever anyone messes with my food I remove him from the trolley, place his furiously pumping legs on the shiny linoleum flooring and watch as he hits the ground running, completing a series of fishies before charging head first into a ladies handbag.
I’m already frustrated – because I’m shopping – so when she looks disapprovingly at one of my greatest ever creations I say, with a warm smile, ‘Hey, maybe you should shop online...’
She turns with her nose up and walks on and so I add, ‘I’d give you the finger but that would be rude…’ and there we are standing in front of the condoms…
Reservoir Mum and I have four children, who we love, but we’re almost certain we don’t want any more. For the past four months, since the birth of Maki, I have been suffering incredible pressure to get a vasectomy – not from RM so much – but from my mother in law and several old ladies from her aqua aerobics class. I should just book in and get it done, I know that, but I don’t want my mother in law to think she was the one that convinced me to do it and so I’ve made a decision to use condoms until my vasectomy has become a less popular topic at the local pool.
The song playing over the stores PA system is ‘Rock The Casbah' by Clash, which is excellent because it’s helping me to concentrate as I’m sorting through the several different kinds of rubbers on offer. They’re all from the Lifestyle Brand and the ones that initially appeal to me are Ultra Thin because I assume they’d make sex feel better for me, Ribbed because I assume that would make it feel better for RM, and Large because I want the checkout chick to assume I have a large penis. It takes me a few minutes to decide that I can’t decide which one to choose and so I throw a packet of each one in to the trolley, find Tyson a few aisles down spreading a packet of washing powder over the floor, and then head to the checkout with him safely back in the child seat.
The checkout chick is between the ages of 16 and 20, is wearing a hijab and a name tag that says Sara, and although I like her immediately – she has a nice face – I’m starting to feel a little weirder about the condoms.
Sara smiles at Tyson and I start unpacking all the items around the condoms. My plan is to place them on the conveyer belt between the toilet paper and the packets of tissues and to then turn back to the trolley just as she’s about to scan them. This plan is completely thwarted when I hear Tyson yell ‘lollies!’ and find him holding up the box of Ultra Thins to Sara who takes them, smiles again, and says ‘I don’t think they’re lollies.’
‘No!’ I scream instinctively, snatching them out of Sara’s hand. In a split second two things happen inside my mind – I realise I’ve revealed my nervousness about the purchase and I reason that I have to speak immediately to cover it up and convey some sense of cool. ‘What?’ I say, looking over-confused, ‘He thinks they’re lollies…?’
Sabrina Salerno sings passionately as the seconds pass and I am left with no option but to sheepishly hand the condoms back to Sara. She takes them nonchalantly and scans them and is about to move on to a packet of Cruskits when I whisper, ‘Wait, I have two more packets of those...’
I hand her the Ribbed condoms first and the Large condoms second and when Tyson reaches out desperately and pleads to get his ‘lollies’ back a craziness overcomes me and I say, ‘I don’t really need that many condoms… I just couldn’t decide… you know what they should do, Sara, is make a combo... I mean if they had a large, ribbed, ultra thin condom to sell, well... it’d be walking right out the door… impossible to keep up with the demand…’
Sara looks over her shoulder to make sure she’s not the only person in the supermarket with the condom psycho as Tyson scream, ‘Lollies’ again.
‘You better give him one of them,’ I say, resigned, ‘Or he’ll just get louder.’
When she hands him back the packet of Large’s I say, ‘Good choice,’ warmly, and then we complete the transaction without another word, as Sabrina croons for more boys, as Tyson picks frantically at the plastic wrapping around the box of frangas, as I decide to hurry up and get that vasectomy.