Aging is pretty brutal for dudes. Your hairline thins, your waistline expands and chicks no longer believe that you’re allergic to latex. This last fact is particularly damning for post-college bachelors, who can now empirically track their assflow, or lack thereof, by how long it takes to replace a box of condoms. And once the haze of university life subsides into a terminal reality hangover, you may rediscover the adolescent shame associated with purchasing prophylactics.

The Internet seems like the path of least resistance, but appearances can be deceiving. Maybe over beers one night, your penny-pinching ass decides to ask your fallen wingmen where they buy their cock socks for their bi-weekly boning of the missus (missionary, lights off, naturally). Maybe the answer is so economical that you forego your inalienable right to call them pussies for failing to close the deal on pills-and-pullout as a real man’s contraceptive. Later that night, your drunken iTunes expenditures are put on hold as you surf on over to Randy’s Rubber Repository and purchase the 100-count “Mega Man Pack”.

Congratulations, asshole, your penis now has a pedometer. Not a bad deal if you’re crushing cooze with Tiger Woodsian frequency, but God help you when a dry spell crashes your party like an Escalade into a fire hydrant. Suddenly, the Mega Man has turned from cheering fan to vicious heckler, mocking each time you brush him aside, grab your expensive sex lube and treat your meat to solitary confinement in Abu Ghraib. Mix in any residual religious guilt associated with flogging the bishop and the end result is a potent cock tale of shame.

But it’s a private shame, which pales in comparison to the humiliation potential involving another human being. Should you relegate condoms to the same “as-needed” status enjoyed by the esoteric kitchen ingredients required to cook your surefire, third-date pantydropper dinner recipe: Expect the unexpected.

For you brave souls, there are three proven methods to the transaction. A fair warning, each is highly situational.

The Lone Ranger:

  • Self-explanatory, and best employed when the clerk is a bro of similar age and disposition. Feel free to proffer a hearty “Fuck yeah, it’s on like Donkey Kong tonight” if he seems cool.
  • Slightly embarrassing and annoying when faced with a senior citizen who, despite overwhelming evidence that you browsed their wares for one thing and one thing only, toes the company line and fishes for an upsell by asking if you need anything else. Why yes, Betty, in my rush to sink the pink I forgot some breath mints. And, oh boy, I’d better snag some M&Ms too. My lady says they really kill the taste of baby gravy on that rare occasion she swallows, let alone gives head in the first place.
  • Downright revolting, where you expect Chris Hansen to ask you to take a seat outside the exit doors, if the only merchant around is a family grocer and there’s an underage girl behind the register. In the era of self-scan checkouts, with just a few senior staffers floating behind the booze/cigs/lotto counter, this has become an increasingly common occurrence and unfortunate casualty of cost cutting. Don’t kid yourself, she’s probably judging, as is the pimply-faced dude barely able to hide his laughter long enough to wish you a good night after ringing up your “extended pleasure” three-pack.

The Fratdog, a.k.a. “The Holy Trinity”:

  • Booze. Cigarettes. Rubbers. A brazen undergraduate classic, destined to go the way of the buffalo once its fratitioner obtains gainful employment outside a rock band and has a reputation to worry about. Long before Neil Strauss codified such behavior in his seminal account of douchery, The Game, generations of fratdogspeacocked” by loudly slapping these three items on the checkout treadmill for all to see – especially chicks. Concepts such as “earning potential” don’t exist for a woman aged 18 to 22. She’s only interested in the next weekend, and fuck if that dude’s not advertising a good time.
  • Career women, on the other hand, might as well catch you buying cocaine before the Holy Trinity. At least the devil’s dandruff has an air of white-collar sophistication, but a bottle of bourbon and respective packs of Marlboros and Trojans just scream that you’re off to rattle the ovaries of some herpes-infested cum dumpster. You get some points for using protection, more if it’s a bottle of wine, but neither offsets the estrogen warning flares that you don’t consider the night’s conquest worthy of preparing dinner. Maybe you’re Emeril Lagasse, and have a fully stocked kitchen, or maybe you’re going out to eat. Good luck selling that to your cube-mate, who in all likelihood is probably the dreaded office prude with HR on speed dial.

The Teenager:

  • Every dude has been here before. Adolescence is a painful time, where childhood’s pleasures are rendered obsolete from the instant that your dick becomes your new favorite thing to play with and government fascists age-restrict alcohol and tobacco – two commodities that seem like the fast track to outsourcing your manual labor. Fake it ‘til you make it.
  • The approach begins by adopting a thousand-yard stare at the object of desire. This conveys to the clerk that as a connoisseur of Mike’s Hard Lemonade and Beast Ice – who, like, totally buys this shit all the fucking time—you need a moment to decide which particular vintage and flavor is best suited to the evening’s entertainment.
  • And so it is with the rubber rack. Lubricated, dual pleasure, extended pleasure, ribbed for her pleasure, glow in the dark, flavored, colored and the recent mainstreaming of vibrating rings around the wrap are all pretty fucking scary at first glance. In the spirit of the recession, one would hope that generic-packaged “condoms” make a comeback to take the guesswork out of this arcane science, but no… the market is like a prophylactic arms race. The best advice I can offer to my Caucasian friends: There’s a reason that Magnums come in black boxes.
  • Eventually, you decide on a box of jimmy hats. Upon your approach to the register, like an old west gunfight, you lock eyes with that seemingly innocent girl. Aw fuck, I’m not pulling the Lone Ranger, she’ll judge me. Suddenly that impulse aisle before the counter, which last held your interest in childhood, looks like an old friend desperately trying to save you from drowning. A couple magazines here, some candy there, maybe a soda to wash down your shame – anything to pad the condom purchase. Weeknight drunks have mastered this technique, fooling no one but themselves into believing that anyone with half a brain didn’t just watch them race down the liquor aisle to buy hard stuff before closing time.

In summation, the previous thousand words and change have all been a waste of space and time. As any veteran soldier in the meathammer militia knows, the only aisle worse than the condoms is the one with the feminine hygiene products. A real man totally pussies out and delegates prophylactic purchase to the lady in his life. They buy tampons regularly, and generally seem annoyed when you use their tits for target practice with your love lava, so this is really a win-win situation for everyone.


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