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Help on Register Three, Please

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Help on Register Three, Please

I was embarrassed. I was 18 and had never bought condoms before, and here I had to stand in the check-out line with them. The people in front of me didn?t bother me, it was the ones behind. They?d see the things being rung up. There was a youngish looking girl who?d taken over the register from the middle-aged man who?d been working there. I?d got in his line on purpose. But now, all three registers had lines, and I didn?t want to go to the back again. I was just going to have to gut it out.

I must have looked nervous as I put my items on the conveyor belt, because the girl looked at the things, then up at me, and got a funny look on her face, her eyes opening a little wider. She was a couple of years older than me. She had dirty blonde hair and both the air about her and the clothes she was wearing under her store cloak, and the tattoo I saw peaking out of the neck of her shirt, said ?trailer trash? loud and clear.

There was a grandmotherly type lady behind me who didn?t seem to be paying too much attention to anything except slowly putting her own items onto the belt. I hoped I could finish and get out of there before she looked up. There was a teen aged boy and girl behind her. They were both looking at me.

The clerk waited till I made eye contact with her again, then spoke in a sort of Southern drawl, and too loudly.

?Did you find everything you need, Hun?? She had an aggressive, brassy way about her.

?Yes, thanks.?

?OK, let?s see here. A dozen condoms, regular size, lubricated, with a reservoir tip.? Her voice was still too loud. Why did she have to say what I was buying? Why not just ring them up?

?A tube of K-Y jelly, regular size. Sure you don?t want two of these, Huh??

Damn her!

?Some medicated wipes. Say, we have a new brand, just got them in. They?re scented. You might want to try those. They make you smell real fresh. No matter what you?re wiping, or why.?

She looked at me questioningly, like she was giving me an opportunity to exchange the wipes I was buying with the ones she was recommending.

?Could you just ring me up, please? I?d like to move on.? I spoke softly, and with some urgency which I hoped would be transmitted to her.

?Oh, sure Hun, I don?t want to hold you up none. I can see you?re in a big hurry. Must have a busy night planned out ahead of you. Say, I?ve got some chocolates on sale, that might get her in the mood. Oh, wait a sec.? She stopped and sort of obviously looked me over. ?Or him in the mood. I?d hate to see all this prep work go to waste.?

She smiled, but there wasn?t any humor in it. She was trying to embarrass me even more than I already was. She was playing with me.

I?m sure I was blushing now. I felt hot. The grandma was done loading the belt and was now looking at the few things I was buying, then at me, then down at the counter again. The teens were grinning like they?d won a jackpot.

?Sure you got everything you need, Hun? We?ve got some nice douches, different flavors. And for afterwords, how about a nice can of feminine deodorant? She?d love it to know you were thinking of her, and wanted to make her smell nice down there, after.?

If I could have shriveled up and disappeared, I?d have been happy to. But she was going to draw this out as long as she could. And I just had to take it.

I looked up at her, gathering some courage. ?You know, that feminine spray might be a good idea. Can you get someone to bring a can up here??

Her quizzical look made me know she was thinking, and then her grin told me she was on to me, that I was trying to brazen this out. She gave me a cocky smile that said two could play this game.

She picked up her telephone, hit a couple numbers, then spoke into handset. ?Customer at register three wants a can of feminine hygiene spray,? rang out over the PA. Then holding the phone so her voice, and mine, could still be heard over the PA system, asked me, ?Do you want the large size, Hun? And what brand do you usually use? We have several.?

?Anything,? I said. ?Just hurry up.?

She got back on the PA. ?He says he needs that feminine spray in a hurry. Sort of an emergency, I guess. Bring the lilac scented one. I think he?ll like that. It?s strong.?

Then we waited. For some reason, the people in line didn?t seem as impatient as people usually are who have to wait for a slow moving line. The clerk was just grinning at me. I was looking at the floor, wanting this to all be over.

Finally a young teen ran up with a can. ?This what you want?? he asked the clerk.

?Ask him, it?s his,? she replied.

I grabbed it from him and put it on the counter. He grinned and left.

Finally I paid for everything. She bagged my things, then said, ?Have a good night, Hun. Hope you?re better in bed than in the check-out line.?

I took the bag from her, reached in, and handed her the feminine spray. ?Here, I said. This is for you. You need it.?

I was already walking away when I heard loud laughter from the line behind me, and then clapping. I was grinning as I left the store.

Cole Parker

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I was embarrassed. I was 18 and had never bought condoms before, and here I had to stand in the check-out line with them...

Cole, that was great, and it brought back a lot of memories. When I was in high school, I worked part time as a stock boy for a local drug store. I used to get the cashier to sell me condoms at the employee discount and then would take them to school. The guys were so embarrassed to buy them themselves, so I sold them to anyone who wanted one...for $ 1.00 each. And that price was back in 1962.

I was making a killing :icon_twisted:

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OMG, what a wonderful rejoinder to end a story that had made me uncomfortable reading it up to that point. Thanks for posting it, Cole. It's tightly written, perfect. I love it! And so does Doug.

Colin :icon_twisted:

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Surely everyone knows that clerk, or her twin. And will be vicarously validated by seeing her lose this round. I wanted to join in the clapping myself, and would have, had I been there. No doubt this has been

very close to an actual experience for someone, and representative of numerous others.

Written in your consistantly flawless manner, a delight to read on all fronts!

As always, thank you for your effort, Cole.


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I loved this, Cole. I would like to say it took me back to my early youth when I bought condoms at the supermarket. But the truth is I would never have had the brass neck to queue with condoms in my basket. I'd have been buying them at school at inflated prices (!) from Richard Norway, if I'd needed any, which I didn't...

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The story has another aspect, which we should all consider in our every day lives; safer sex is dependent on the use of condoms, and any type of actions, inactions, and pressures that might make someone not buy and use them is BAD. As long as there is a stigma to buying them, there will be unwanted pregnancies and increasing numbers with STDs. Somehow or other, we need to break the stigma. Maybe one condom should be handed out with every purchase at a supermarket, free, to everyone, young, old, male, female. Do that for a few months, and I think we'd all be over that angst.

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I suggest we make necklaces of condoms (in their packets and unused, and being careful not to break the hermetic seal.)

We could wear them everywhere and when people realise how fetching they are, especially the ones in the shiny foil, then I expect we would achieve a level of acceptability for their use that would offend only those who do not understand their necessity.

After reading Trab's supermarket suggestion, I raised the subject with my partner to see if he would agree to handing out condoms with our video store's R-rated DVDs.

His reply, " Are you mad?"

I suppose I can understand his point of view as most of our customers who borrow R-rated movies are going home to watch them alone. :icon_twisted:

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I think you could get away with handing them out willy-nilly (sorry: couldn't resist) at supermarkets and library checkouts in Europe, but not here. Other places seem to accept the fact that having sex is a part of a happy life. Here, there's still shame somehow attached to it, and we try our best to pretend sex isn't a part of anyone's life. Normal, mature adults certainly aren't interested it in, don't discuss it, and are embarrassed if it comes up in conversation (do I have to apologize again?)

Why we're so prudish I have no idea, but sex just isn't a subject that's mentioned in a mixed group unless there's been some drinking going on, or something else to lower the tone a bit. That's why condoms are still a sort of naughty thing here. I'll bet many, many middle-aged men shy from buying condoms or K-Y Jelly if the clerk is a teenaged girl.

And I'd guess that simply isn't the case in most of Europe. I don't know about Australia. You guys have to have a more mature attitude than we do.

I wrote that piece mostly to be humorous. People I let read it in my presence all laughed, several times, so I think it met that goal. I had no idea it would in any way resemble real life, but I just got an email from a writer I know who said almost the exact same thing happened to him when he was 21. All except the last bit. He said he wished he'd thought of it, but probably wouldn't have had the nerve to do it.

We all feel that way a lot, don't we?


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I expect Australian at large is halfway between the US and Europe with a smattering of the English rule: "No sex please, we're British."

Our present Left wing governments (State and Federal) in Australia seem to be under the control of members who have a rather extreme allegiance to a certain religion based in a Mediterranean country. The conservative bent (?) of these politicians is actively setting an atmosphere more in keeping with President Bush than President Obama's expected liberated policies.

At street level, Aussies are very pragmatic and if sex needs to be discussed we will do that, but in most cases we would rather just, do it.

On the whole, prudery is definitely on the rise in Australia, very sad.

I am doing all I can to fight it by distributing as many double entendres as I can. :omg: So far I have been successful in getting many people to realise that they really do have potty mouths, or at least unclean thoughts. The usual result is that they lighten up and join in the fun of discussing sex.

I certainly remember being too frightened to buy a condom when I was a teenager, and I think that is why I became gay, because in those HIV free days, I didn't need them for a same sex encounter. :icon_twisted: Yeah, Right!

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The first time I decided to actually buy a condom, I drove to another county to a drugstore I'd never been to nor ever go to again. I grabbed them, went to the cash register which was, sadly, being manned by a motherly looking type. This was before price scanners.

I managed to get one without a price sticker.

Pretty much right out of the above story, "I need a price check for a Raccoon Size Trojan* three pack, please" I have yet to recover.

* I do not remember the brand or size. That's the only part made up.

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Ah, to be 18. Actually, I was under 18 when I bought mine from the vending machines at gas stations. I always remembered to flush so as not to arouse suspicion.

Nicely told Cole. Didn't have that experience with condoms, but my mother was always sending me to the store to pick up Kotex. After a while it didn't bother me, but in the beginning it was humiliating.

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I only had four friends in my teens and one of them when around 18 had managed to woo the girl of his choice into his bed.

The next day we all went to the chemist which was crowded with shoppers, and he said to the assistant behind the counter, "I seem to have a problem," and with that surreptitiously handed her a matchbox.

The young female assistant carefully opened the matchbox and announced to all in earshot as loudly as she could, "Oh. you have got crabs!"

I didn't know faces could go that red.

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