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41 1/2 — On the Job, On the Prowl Advice

Drawing analogies, as thin as they might be, is something I pride myself on. Take, for example, the analogy of preparing for a job interview and a date.

Before a job interview, I print out extra copies of my resume and work samples. I also find out as much as I can about a company by visiting its website and reading just about everything.

When I go on a date, in this case my fantasy date(s) in Antigua for Sailing Week, I think it would also be a good idea to come prepared, which means bringing some condoms and nice underwear. Like I wouldn’t want to disappoint a prospective employer with a lack of knowledge, I wouldn’t want to disappoint a sailor with a lack of gear.

I have never bought condoms before, honest. I don’t even know what kind to get. There seems to be so many of them when I breeze pass the family planning aisle at CVS. I never stop to look because I had been married and then my boyfriend (now ex) had a vasectomy.

Now, the fact that I’m unattached doesn’t make it any easier for me to stop and check out condom brands. Just thinking about what other people must be thinking, which is she’s planning to have sex, embarrasses me.

But today was my last chance to buy them before I hop on a plane tonight to leave for Antigua. I didn’t want to limit myself with a mass-market variety at the airport, if I could even get them there, and I wasn’t sure what I’d find in Antigua.

Confused and challenged, I thought I could ask Phillip, a homeless man who sells a newspaper by the CVS I frequent. He was pretty forthcoming the last time I talked to him about where homeless people have sex (see Homeless Sex), and I had no doubt he’d have plenty to say on this topic.

After a workout at the gym, I bopped off the subway and headed toward the CVS. Phillip stood in the parking lot in his signature green Dr. Seuss hat. I don’t know why he wears that thing. I thought maybe he stuffed his dreadlocks in there, but he once made me squeeze it, and all I could feel was newspaper.

Before I approached him, I lined up my questions in my head. Well, I only had one. Which brand should I buy? For some reason, everyone always says to buy generic because you can’t tell the difference from the brand names, which come in fancier packaging but cost more.

Our conversation was brief but satisfying. “Phillip, what do you know about condoms?” I don’t think he understood what I was after, because he started to tell me where he bought his. “No, the brands,” I said. “What do you know about the different brands?”

“Lifestyles Extra Sensitive.” Tell me more. Before I could get the next question out, he said, “More fulfilling.”

“O.K., other brands?”

“Trojans,” he said, pausing, “very uncomfortable. They’re the No. 1 selling brand, but I don’t know why.”

Scratch Trojans. “That’s it?”

“Magnum,” he said. “Extra large.” Phillip, I didn’t need to know that.

Inside the CVS, I counted more than 20 types of condoms. Boy, am I glad I asked Phillip. And, he must have meant Ultra Sensitive Lifestyles, because I didn’t see the extra sensitive kind. I scanned each shelf, standing on the balls of my feet like I was ready to bolt, which is what I’d do if I another person stopped to shop alongside me. Like I said, I find this embarrassing.

I found the “big value” pack of Ultra Sensitive Lifestyles, but it cost $20.99. Then, I saw the smaller boxes, but the ultra sensitive kind was sold out. Phillip must have known what he was talking about.

There was a new offering, Lifestyles Skyn-to-Skyn. That sounded pretty good. But when I picked up the box, there were only three for $4.99.

Now, how many were in that value pack. Forty! Boy, that’s a lot and a bit ambitious thinking, even for me. After all, when I print out my resume to bring with me on a job interview, I think five is enough. But buying a pack of five condoms wasn’t an option.

I thought of bumping up the bill to $25 so I could use my $5 off coupon, which becomes valid when you spend that much, but I got interrupted finding it. My phone rang. My girlfriend, who’s coming with me, said rain is forecast for Antigua. I felt better about buying the 40-count box since I might be dockside rather than topside.

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