“Will that be all, hon?”
Trying to blend into the floor, I hung my head and mumbled a response.
The cashier grabbed the box of condoms like it was nothing more than your average gallon of milk. But to me, she might as well have been spelling my name out with fireworks. “SHE’S BUYING CONDOMS.”
Oooh nooo, I realized. Wrong size. Having just become sexually active, (with the man who would later become my husband) I didn’t know the rules. Will he be offended if I get the wrong kind? I’d heard that guys were very concerned with size, and I didn’t want to unwittingly emasculate my new (and inaugural) boyfriend by getting something too small.
“Um, I’m sorry, I think I got the wrong ones.”
“Oh yeah, which ones do you need?”
“Probably something a little…er, bigger.” I couldn’t believe I was saying this.
“No problem, Al will grab them for ya.” She swiftly fetched the walkie-talkie from her belt and barked the order. Her deep southern drawl formed a chorus with the other walkies in the building and echoed off of every surface. “AAAAL!! This here young lady needs help with the CONDOMS! Can you grab a couple boxes of larger sizes and bring them to register 2?”
Thanks. I’m never shopping here again. EVER.
I paid for the contraband and left the store, feeling a whole new wave of conviction about what I was about to do. Sex with someone who I wasn’t married to was wrong, I knew it and believed it. But it wasn’t enough of a reason to stop me, at that time in my life. I spoke fluent “Christianese” but had not pursued a relationship with the Father.
Two years later, both my boyfriend and I began to feel the tug of the Holy Spirit in our lives. We became convicted about our sexual activity, and became celibate during our 9-month engagement. (Hardest thing I’ve ever done, AFTER having given this man my virginity. But the Lord was faithful and we made it to our wedding night.)
A few weeks before the wedding, we were at the apartment that we would later share, setting up some things. My fiance had moved in by himself a month earlier. There was a knock on the door, and a package delivered to the doorstep.
It was addressed to him, but without thinking I sliced through the tape and pried open the cardboard flaps. Inside the box were several other containers, about shoe-box size. I opened one.
CONDOMS. Hundreds of them. More than I had ever seen in my life. I was mortified.
My soon-to-be husband came around the corner from the bedroom and saw me, stunned, with a handful of rubber.
“Oh.” He stammered. “I ordered some condoms online.”
“Yeah. Well, we don’t want to run out!”
“No, I guess we don’t.”
“And you know, it’s always so embarrassing when you buy them at the drugstore.”
THIS MAN. He’s a keeper, I thought.
We had condoms coming out of our…. cabinet for years. YEARS. By the time we wanted to discontinue use of contraceptives, we still had two boxes left.
It was around then, our second Christmas as a married couple, that we received the invitation to our friends’ house for a “Dirty Santa” party. It was the perfect setup.
I carefully wrapped the box of raincoats, topped it with a bow, and we left for the party. The hosts of the shin-dig were our friends from church, who were only a few years older than us, but had 6 kids.
I placed the present under the tree.
Half-way through appetizers, I panicked. My husband saw the look of trepidation, followed me to the Christmas tree, and caught me red-handed trying to remove the gift from beneath its branches.
“Leave it! It’s going to be hilarious.”
I wasn’t convinced, but he assured me he would take the blame if the prank fell flat.
Presents were opened, and one “steal” was allowed. Number 9 was called, and our box, with a big “nine” written on the top, was selected and presented to its new owner. The only teenager at the party, whose mother was in the home group with the large family. I nearly died as the 16-year old boy ripped the wrapping paper, and lifted the lid of the box.
Those darn fireworks seemed to go off again. “THEY BROUGHT THE GINORMOUS BOX OF CONDOMS!”
A few people laughed awkwardly, but the real punchline was about to land. The man of the house and father of 6, drew the number 10. Instead of choosing a new gift from under the tree, he marched decidedly over to the teen, glaring, and snatched the box from the boy’s fingers.
The entire party erupted in laughter, as the irony of the decision sank in.
As I caught my husband’s eye, we smiled at each other.
“Public display of protection,” I whispered.