Cucumbers, Bananas and Condoms

30 Jun

So I had to travel up to Johannesburg last week for a job try-out thing. Very last minute.  A phone call to suggest I come up the following day. That sudden. I’m awake at 5am and in the air before 7am. Jozi is not a massive metropolis as far as world cities go, but it does dwarf the shit out of Cape Town. Except there is no mountain. And no ocean. Therefore, no sharks or dassies. But there is some serious traffic congestion. And a Gautrain. I caught this speeding bullet one hundred bucks later to get to the airport in time for my return flight. It’s very clean as far as trains go and is fucking fast, as far as train’s travel. Twelve minutes from Sandton to OR Tambo International. No car is going to make it through the Jozi traffic in rush hour in that record time. Minibus taxis make it in 15 minutes.

I liked the people I met. We played foosball. Always frustrating and humbling for whoever is unfortunate enough to be my partner and never fails to provide a moment of schadenfreude for our delighted opponents. I’m much better at taming llamas and slicing invisible boss-foes in half with my plastic Jedi light sabre.

It was a whirlwind two days of trying to figure out if I’d fit in and cope with the work. I think I would, but that’s not the point of this post. One conversation really stands out. (Hang in there, I’m getting to the longwinded point of this post.) We were talking about HIV/Aids, as people do in Africa. The conversation meandered into condom-buying territory, as conversations tend to do everywhere in the world. Except the Vatican. One young woman bemoaned the fact that her friend always asks her to buy her condoms, because she is too embarrassed to buy them herself.

“Fuck that shit, she can buy her own condoms from now on,” said Bemoaner. “Those aunties at Pick n Pay think I’m a major slut buying condoms every second day.”

A quiet, unassuming young woman chips in: “I’ve only bought condoms once at Pick n Pay, and it was just my luck that the check-out person had to stop the show and shout out: ‘Price check on this item!’ holding up the box of latex for all the grocery shopping world to see.”

We all laughed. People buy bananas and cucumbers and milk at the grocery store. The box of condoms is supposed to remain hidden amongst the fresh produce … until the barcode fucking fails and the person behind the till decides this is the moment to embarrass the quiet unassuming chick who is planning a night of possibly not-so-quiet horizontal tango.

“I know just how you feel,” adds Cheerful Friend. “My local grocery store doesn’t keep the condoms in the toothpaste aisle. They’re behind the cigarette counter, where you have to ask for them and then point to the ones you want. ‘Do you want these purple ones? What flavour? How about chocolate chip?’ And then when I’ve narrowed it down to ribbed-for-my-pleasure litchi-flavoured extra-large super-thins, there’s a mandatory price check. Announced over the intercom.”

No glove, no love. It’s a good motto to live and shag by if you don’t fancy something really traumatic happening to your schlong, love cave(s) or general sense of wellbeing. But please, grocery store owners and check-out tannies, don’t make it so bloody embarrassing for people to buy flavoured latex.

Hint to health-wise condom users: Don’t let embarrassment stand in your way of wrapped-up pleasure. Also, I think you can get free condoms at your local library. Maybe not in kiwi flavour. But I doubt the librarian will single you out for public humiliation.

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