Friday, April 3, 2009

Out of my comfort zone

I haven't been updating my blog at all. There are a combination of reasons why. Mostly it boils down to being very, very busy.

I am taking three classes this semester that require a substantial chunk of my life. My favortie class is my journalism class. Our latest assignment required each student to do something outside of their comfort zone. I borrowed some material from a previous blog. I am really happy with how it turned out. My teacher really liked it. He even asked me to print an extra copy so he could bring it home for his wife to read!

Here is the finished piece:


I am wearing a sweater set. If I owned pearls I would be sporting those as well. I am going for a look that says normal, not seedy and sex addicted. So far I think its working. I look like a minivan-driving, meatloaf-cooking, housewife.

My first order of business is simple: purchase a douche and a feminine itching product; not a big deal, easier then lube, nipple cream, and extra large ribbed condoms. Embarrassing? Yes. Humiliating? It could be worse.

The feminine care aisle is located across from the pharmacy. There is a pharmacist in a white jacket peering at me as I scan the products. My paranoia leads me to believe that he is silently mocking me. You would think they’d situate this kind of aisle in a more secluded area! A couple of customers wander down the aisle; I pretend to study the different brands of tampons until the coast is clear.

I am amazed by the vast selection of feminine itching products. There is shelf upon shelf of tubes all in slick, shiny, boxes. Who knew there would be so many different varieties of creams? I am taken back by the sheer volume. Apparently there is a large market for this type of thing. Where do I begin? Some have bold fluorescent writing, others are more modest but all scream out exactly what they are for. Some have descriptions like anti-fungal (gross!); long lasting, soothing, and refreshing. I can’t help but wonder what sort of jokes the ad executives must have told while coming up with the packaging for these products. I can picture a bunch of dudes in suits cracking up, doubled over in fits of hysterics with tears in their eyes, all while discussing the marketing plan for the pesky feminine itch.

I decide to go with something that is obvious, something that the sales clerk will recognize as a cream used "down there”. Mostly I just want to hurry the process along in case someone I know finds me lingering near the Monistat 3-day yeast infection cream. I grab a mid-priced product in a pink and purple box. It has bold lettering and promises to sooth the “painful, burning, vaginal itch,” Ewwww! To make matters worse it is called Vagicaine cream.

Next up, the douches. I decide to go with Summer’s Eve because the brand is so recognizable. There is a list of ten warnings on the back of the box. “Does not prevent pregnancy or STDs,” is one of them “Use while on the toilet,” the directions state. Classy! If I weren’t so mortified I would find it hilarious.
T

They’re in my cart; the douche and the itching stuff. They are taking up space in the vast red Target basket. I turn the vaginal cream on its side so that it can pass as anything else, Neosporin maybe or diaper rash ointment. The douche is tricky. There is no disguising it. On every corner of the box it brazenly announces what it is, “feel like a woman!” One side screams, “Fresh scent douche” is spelled out on the top. There are directions with a large diagram on the back side. Summer’s eve is not a fan of discretion! I should’ve stuck with one of its less slutty competitors.

I roam around the store for a good fifteen minutes avoiding the check out aisle. I imagine everyone I pass is gazing at the contents of my cart, laughing to themselves, labeling me as yeast infected. I am paranoid! I have to give myself a pep talk before heading up to the check out. I remind myself that it’s no big deal! Clearly people buy these products all the time. Why else would they have an entire aisle dedicated to feminine care? Why am I so crazy?

I scan the cashiers and notice that there is not a single male among them, all chicks. It has to be a guy, I remind myself. It’s not quite as humiliating buying feminine products from a woman. Most likely they have been there, done that. Guys are squeamish about periods and other girl problems. They don’t get it; they don’t want to get it. I consider putting everything back but I have come so far, I can’t give up now. Then I remember that there are cashiers at the photo counter. There has to be a dude there.


I spot the bald head of a man working the photo counter. I sheepishly spill out the contents of my cart. I can feel my face starting to flush. I can tell he is as mortified as I am. It is apparent by the way he shoves my products swiftly into the plastic bag that he is not used to dealing with feminine products. I swear that he has actual sweat beading up on his forehead.

“$12.87.” he mumbles, avoiding eye contact.

I am tempted to ask him what the big deal is; after all he does work at the film counter. I am certain he has seen worse, much worse! Instead I quickly swipe my credit card and hightail it out of sight.

For normal people this sort of shopping isn’t a big deal. I have never been normal. To this day as a grown woman I will not buy tampons from a male cashier. Also, I have always been embarrassed when buying pregnancy tests because a pregnancy test is actual proof that I do in fact have sex. Who wants that hanging out there in the air at a local drug store? Not me! It's almost like having the word "Hussy" written in black marker on my forehead. I have never in my life bought condoms, lube, or any other sexual items from a drug store. I am kind of psychotic. I blame it on my rigid Catholic upbringing.

I decided I had a problem when a couple months ago my husband told me he was going to the store and asked if I needed anything. Tampons, I told him. He flat out refused.

“No way!” he told me.

At first I was annoyed and called him a caveman. Then I remembered that I too have issues with tampon buying so I got over it, a little.

I went to the store myself to avoid my husband’s fear of tampon buying. Before leaving, I asked him, just to be annoying, if he was worried that the cashier would think he had a vagina. He was not amused. I was.

While at the store I found the tampon aisle adjacent to the condoms, lubes, and feminine itching products. There was a man in the aisle, an honest to God, living, breathing, man, and he was looking at stuff. I was about to congratulate him on his bravery since my very own husband was hesitant to buy a simple box of tampons. Then I noticed that his arms were filled with lube, boxes of condoms, and other stuff that I was afraid to look at. Since I am prude I was automatically convinced that he was a sex addict. I envisioned one of those swings in his room, mirrors--lot’s of them everywhere, whips, and handcuffs. I was certain he was the type to have sex ads on craigslist, and that he hosted orgy parties on the weekends.

I snapped back to reality and realized that I might be the creepy one for staring and for thinking about sex swings. So there the two of us stood, he proudly and unashamedly searching for the perfect brand of lube, me humiliated over a box of tampons. I was definitely the freaky one. Oddly enough I found the Lube Man refreshing.

I am trying to be more like Lube Man when it comes to tampons and other sexual products. Seriously…what’s the big deal I keep telling myself? My mission is to buy as many humiliating products as possible—or at least look at them.

The condoms and lubes at the Food 4 Less in Clairemont are actually locked behind a glass door. I imagine this is because teenagers steal them or perhaps weirdoes like me pocket them to avoid the humiliation. Either way I am not happy that I will have to ask someone to unlock the sliding glass of sexual products for me. They have condoms that vibrate, a K-Y product in a black box called Yours + Mine couple's lubricants, and something called Finally in The Mood. They all look menacing. I scan the cashiers and wonder whom I will have to ask to unlock the door. What will I say? In the end I can’t go through with it.

I have decided that I will never be like Lube Man. It’s not in me. I don’t know how to be nonchalant about vaginal cream and lubricated-vibrating condoms.

3 comments:

archshrk said...

I loved your story. I remember how terrified I was when I had to buy a pregnancy test. I was so embarrassed and pretended to look at the tampons when someone walked by. The whole situation was ridiculous really. I knew if someone saw me with a pregnancy test they would know I had sex. I wanted to yell out "I'm 28 and I'm married. See, look at my ring!" hahaha.

Julia

Nicole said...

What a great story! Your writing is awesome! Love that the teacher asked to bring it home to his wife. I will be the first in line when your book comes out :)

Siobhan said...

Julia, I am glad I am not the only one with issues!

Thanks, nicole!