The First Time Before the First TimeBy Matthew Baldwin
January 06, 2010
We were going to have sex.
Not right then and there, I mean. But it was in the cards. We’d been together a month, taking it slow, but things were steadily becoming more aggressive physically, with hours spent mapping the terrain of each other’s bodies with hand and kiss. We would have done it already, except for that particular monthly quirk of her biology. It was inconvenient but not earth-shattering. I’d already waited twenty years, so it wouldn’t kill me to wait a little longer. Especially when the sex was quite literally a promise.
My lack of experience wasn’t for a lack of trying. But when you spend your adolescence as the only “out” atheist in class after class of conservative Christian kids, conjugal invitations are not exactly forthcoming. College was a much better environment for that sort of thing, even if it did take me a while to wind up with a girl who was interested in more than just some marathon make-out sessions and heavy petting.
She had been sexually active for a couple of years, which was a huge relief; at least one of us would have some idea of what she was doing. For myself, I was confident my immense enthusiasm would compensate for any lack of skill (note: this is my go-to policy for most situations in life). It helped that she was sweet about my virginity, and seemed to relish the prospect of deflowering me.
But my masculine pride would not go completely unappeased, and I still felt obligated to bring something other than a can-do! attitude to the table–er, bedroom. After a little time pondering the issue, it hit me: birth control. There was no reason I should leave the onus for protection on her. If I was going to engage in sexual intercourse, it was my job—no, duty—as an enlightened male of the new 21st century to actively pursue and engage in responsible birth control.
A rare non-square high school pal had given me a three-pack of basic Trojan condoms as an off-to-college present but they were past their expiration date, so I threw them out. It would be a simple matter, I thought, to procure some more. So I shrugged into the full-length black trench coat I wore at every opportunity back in those days, and set out to walk the mile or so distance to the nearest Walgreens. It was a serendipitous wardrobe choice, as I’d left my umbrella at home and halfway there the winter clouds unleashed a torrent of rain, huge frigid drops lashing against my face. I kept walking, head down into the wind, coat wrapped around me, refusing to retreat in the face of the unforgiving elements. I was a man on a mission.
My bravado collapsed the moment I reached the store. For starters, I had no real idea where the desired item might be located, as I’d never had cause to purchase them before. Searching for the aisle marked “Birth Control” proved futile, and I sure as hell wasn’t going to ask. I finally found a section euphemistically labeled “Family Planning” at the far end of the same aisle as the feminine hygiene products. An inordinate amount of female shoppers seemed to be in the area, so I circled the store a few times, collecting a basket of household items I didn’t need as camouflage for my real goal. When the coast finally seemed clear I made my move.
As usual, I was unprepared for what I was getting myself into. The selection was more than I’d bargained for, column after column of brightly colored boxes, each advertising some different flavor, texture, or scent. Trojan Magnum. Durex Xtra Pleasure. Lifestyles Tropical Scents. Condoms that advertised raised ridges, bumps, reservoir tips, vibrating rings, additives like spermicide or benzocaine. Natural condoms claiming to be made out of lambskin (lambskin?! Eww!).
Like every other California public school kid I’d had my mandatory Sex Ed classes and witnessed the ritual with the condom and the banana, but I was woefully unprepared for phrases like “zesty mint” and “ecstasy twist.” Did these things matter? Was the female reproductive orifice actually endowed with such a discriminatory sense of touch (and apparently, one of taste as well)?
And the lubricants! All those little bottles, lined up like soldiers on the shelves below, ready to be sent into the sexual battlefield. What in the hell were they for?! Did some people really need a ¼ gallon of personal lubricant at a time?
And most importantly, should I buy some?
I stood there, frozen in a state of priapic doubt in the middle of the drugstore aisle, befuddled by the sheer volume of available options for my sexual needs.
Other shoppers tossed wary glances at me as they passed by, and they were right to do so. I was damp, disheveled, wearing a black trench coat, and staring ardently at a wall of prophylactics. The basket at my feet already contained ballpoint pens, shoe polish, razor blades, rubber dishwashing gloves, and a jar of peanut butter, so who knows what kind of deviant evening they thought I had planned. Even I thought I was some brand of pervert, and it was certainly only a matter of time before the employees showed me the door. Or just called the police.
I finally settled on a 12-count variety pack, trusting to my girlfriend’s greater experience in the matter to make the final selection when the time came.
As soon as the choice was made and the box was in my hand, something came unlocked inside me. In one instant I went from being the poster boy for anxiety, self-conscious on cosmic levels at being seen with my purchase, and in the next I completely quit caring what any asshole thought about it. Because it was in that moment, box in hand, that the reality of the situation finally crystallized:
We were going to have sex.
I had condoms, and a girlfriend, and would soon be enjoying both in tandem. Let the world envy my fortune!
I abandoned my basket of unwanted items there in the aisle and strutted up to the register, “Stayin’ Alive” spinning on my mental jukebox. The cashier was a bored-looking girl about my age, who only made the bare minimum eye contact with me when she saw what I put in front of her. Her eyes flicked up to my face once, and then away, but long enough for me to see the light of curiosity in them. Oh, yeah, I thought. She knows.
“Is this is all for you today?” she asked.
“Damn straight,” I said. I paid cash and told her I didn’t need a bag, and she blushed as she handed them back to me. I didn’t. I held up my hand for a high-five. “C’mon!” I said, “Give it up for safe sex!” With another blush and an embarrassed smile she did, lightly slapping her palm against mine.
“Have a nice evening,” she said.
I didn’t answer. Slipping the box into my coat pocket, I ambled out the door, strutting all the way home. I didn’t give a damn that it was still raining.
And it rained all night long, huh?
There’s a movie called Summer of ’42 that has a scene in which a kid buys condoms for the first time. I was thinking of that the first time I bought condoms. I blushed so much that the guy behind the counter started blushing too.
It was an El Nino season, if I remember correctly, and I kept forgetting my umbrella when I went off to class, so I got soaked a lot that winter.
I worked at a Barnes and Noble for a little while after Grad School, my one and thus-far only venture into the retail industry. It was always an interesting experience whenever someone would bring a book like The Joy of Sex up to the register. Neither of you really want to make eye contact with each other, but there was always a part of my brain that would think Fuck yeah, dude/girl. You go get some! Unless it was a couple of older folks, in which case, ew.
I don’t think a lot of people would be bothered at all, buying sexually-related material. No eye contact? It would never occur to them.
Oh, no no no. A lot of it was giggly embarrassment, especially if the customer(s) were younger. Every now and then someone was nonchalant about it, but that was kind of rare. And the people who would come up and just maintain direct eye contact always got a little creepy.
B&N encourages their employees to upsell books via small talk when the customers are checking out: “Oh, you’re going to read Totally Killer? That book rules! Have you ever read D.R. Haney’s excellent Banned For Life? I think we have a copy in the store.” etc. This was difficult whenever someone was buying sex-related material. I mean, what? “Oh, my girlfriend and I love this new edition of The Joy of Sex! You should try Thirty Dirty Different Ways to Achieve Orgasm. We had so much fun with that one.”
My favorite adult gift shop here in town is woman-run and a totally comfortable place to go. I never feel awkward. However, they magnify some people’s kinks, but only if they’re busted shoplifting from the store. They have what is known as “Cathie’s Wall of Shame,” which has video surveillance photos of shoplifters. Underneath each photo is a date and a description of the would-be stolen item, such as: “December 4, 2009, Business Suit attempted to steal a four pound rubber fist” or “January 2, 2008, Purple Hoody Lady was walking out with a two-foot string of anal beads.” I’ve never seen a more effective deterrent to shoplifting.
I don’t think I’ve ever known anyone before who actually had a favorite adult gift shop. At least, no one who would cop to it.
Well, you know how it is. Certain things need replacing from time-to-time and whatnot. Things break, etc. My point is: once you find a place you’re comfortable in, why reinvent the wheel?
If only the chat sketched by Matt above were taking place at a B&N checkout counter right this second.
If I were still slaving away at B&N, I would have put BFL on the Employee Recommends shelf a long time ago.
Why, thank you, Matt.
You hear that, B&N?
Yeah, they never cared much about what I had to say, either. One of the reasons I’m no longer working there.
Did you really high five the shop assistant????
I most certainly did! Which, in retrospect, probably seemed a little strange to the poor girl. Damp guy in a trench coat, buying condoms and giving her a high five…….
And most importantly, should I buy some?
Man, who can’t love a story like this?
I loved that line up there.
Just the right touch.
and if you said “Damn Straight”
then good grief man.
I’m gonna clap for you right now.
I was thinking of the scene from Trojan War – a 90s teen comedy.
Sorta like this without the high five.
Thank you, my good sir.
It was difficult to even consider following your last. Such kindness and grace, and here I am getting crude.
A confession: I was at that point in time in the habit of saying “Damn straight” or “Fuck no” most yes-or-no questions put forwards.
I’m going to “High Five” you just for posting this! Loved it, Matt.
I blushed for you!
I hope there’s going to be a follow up on what happened that night…?
Intercontinental air five! Up high!
And a gentleman never f***s and tells.
Oh, man. I loved this story Matt. Reminded me of the first time I had sex, and had to use a condom. I was such a nervous wreck putting it on that by the time I actually got it on it had completely shred to bits. All that was left was the ring at the base.
Needless to say, I had to reach for another Trojan.
See, that’s where I actually had one genuine stroke of inspiration: I used the expired Trojans to “rehearse” putting one on beforehand, as I was terrified of encountering the exact same scenario you did. Proud to report that it worked like a charm.
I can LOL now, but I recall one time retrieving the used item and finding it in shreds…eeek! It was awhile before I didn’t insist on a double layer. I hate condoms.
Eeek indeed! Glad that’s never happened to me!
That story gave me a serious broner… It was very entertaining.
You really high-fived the assistant…? That’s the funniest thing I’ve read in a long, long time. I’ve done weird stuff in moments of embarrassment, but never anything like that.
And I’m sure your phenomenal enthusiasm made the night special. We’ve all got to start somewhere, and although girls don’t seem to desire virgin men like guys seek “unspoiled” women, your rampant horniness probably made an impression.
When I first bought condoms in Korea I was hyper-aware of the fact that there is a perception here that white men come to this country to sodomize all the “pure” women and basically spoil the country’s perceived morality. And so it was embarrassing having to go buy condoms. I was set back years after having acclimatised to the trauma of buying those damned things.
And so whenever I go to buy condoms I now buy them in bulk, along with as much beer and liquor as I can carry. Like with your high-five, there’s certainly something about over-doing it that takes away the embarrassment factor.
Actually … I think virginal dudes are oddly hot. It’s nice when they don’t seem to think they know everything. Also, if you are their first (or first in a long time) it’s um … easy to make a good impression. lol
A woman makes an impression every time she sleeps with me. I’m easy to please.
Wow. nothing like setting the standards low. lol
Wait, wait—you mean you didn’t move to Korea just to bespoil all those morally pure women? Get your priorities straight, man!
I think after the neurosis passed my brain just went and dumped a crapload of endorphins into my system, so I was probably a little high at the checkout counter.
I get this feeling now whenever I go and buy them. Sometimes I do it just to feel this way for a little while.
Matt, I think that crosses everyone’s mind when they move to another country – “What kind of genitals will I see? How horny are they? Do they do cool stuff I haven’t seen before?” and so on…
In fact, the first sentence of my novel about Korea originally contained the word “horny” but I took it out. Maybe I’ll put it back, but honesty only gets you so far in life…
And it’s a bitch when your chemistry conspires against you. Endorphins are probably banned by certain religions…
The hell with moving to other countries–that crosses my mind every time I leave the house.
Oh, and “rampant horniness”? I prefer “enthusiastically libidinous”, thank you very much!
I was once at a party where the hostess (a friend) and her boyfriend were too drunk to make the needed trip to the store, so me and a friend of hers went. We got a 2L bottle of coke and a pack of Trojans, laid them on the checkout, and waited for the checkout girl to scan them. And I thought to myself Ah, yeah. Condoms and coca-cola. Someone’s partying tonight!
And it’s not me.
Oh, well. I’m sure the checkout girl thought otherwise.
I did appreciate that aspect of it.
Many situations in life are made easier to bear when you know the person across from you thinks you’re going to go score.
@Matt – that’s probably true for men. Women don’t always enjoy the same congratulatory messages in the same situations. Just saying…
Huh. I must be hanging out with the wrong women.
and by “enjoy” I meant “receive” – I’m from southern New Mexico where, even in 2010, women are sluts and soiled and dirty if they have multiple sex partners
Oh, come off it, Simon. We all know that you’re partying every night, in one form or another.
Though I have to say, it’s either a very good friend, or a very strange party, where someone asks you to run down to the shops for some condoms so they can slip off and do a little rooting.
Ha ha. Rooting. Ha ha.
So much fun to say in this context. Rooting. Root root root. Root for the home team. Heh.
I love this post, but “I had condoms, and a girlfriend, and would soon be enjoying both in tandem.” is my favourite line.
Brilliant. High five… jesus…
What can I say? I was in the moment.
I eagerly await Part Two, in which the high five’d cashier helps you and your girlfriend use up the 12-pack.
Oops, sorry, I thought I was still commenting on Duke’s piece and we were talking about porn movie scripts.
But seriously…man, buying condoms is always embarrassing. I thought with the trench coat that you might have tried to boost the box. I was tempted to do that, when I first bought them, but reason won out: the only thing more embarrassing than buying condoms is having your parents come to the store to fetch you after you got busted for trying to steal them.
Yeah, I think getting arrested while trying to get laid would probably put a damper on the whole affair. Few things kill a libido faster than those flashing police lights. Er, not that I’d know!
The whole Columbine thing was still pretty fresh around the time this story takes place, so people were hyperaware of me in public whenever I went out in that coat. I got used to the sight of a plainclothes store security following me around whenever I went to the shopping mall.
I have to say, I took an unexpected amount of pride in using my own money to pay for my own condoms to have my own sex.
And now they give them out in schools!
Ah, youth. I remember when I had to buy them for the first time,
my bf and I bought them together at a 24 hour grocery in the heat of passion.
We ran into the store and knew we should throw in a few more items to make it
look less obvious, so we grabbed this lemon pie near the register.
Think how this must have looked.
This is what the words “High Five” call up on the jukebox of my mind.
Wow. Obviously, your children have taken over the record collection.
That actually kind of scared me.
Seriously though, Yo Gabba Gabba is pretty cool as far
as kids shows. The music is by the Devo guys.
But, if you still have your assorted box, your chances of ever having to know are very small!
wait that came our wrong.
what I mean is….since you’re obviously versed in the matters of
birth control… oh forget.
Yes, we shant have to worry about any more rotten fruit dropping off of my twisted family tree any time soon.
When I started university we got a free bag of ‘goodies’ from the medical centre.
it contained a few pamplets on STIs, a keychain, two condoms and a small bag of sweets…
When I moved into the dorms they gave us a bucket (?) containing a pen, a pencil, a lanyard, a disposable razor, and a school t-shirt (which I still have). No condoms, though.
You got a much better deal.
I got a few pens and pencils at the freshers fair. I don’t know if you guys have an equivalent— its where all the student societies try and get you to join.
Oh, yeah…..here we call it “Rush Week” where all the fraternities and sororities try and get you to join…and then haze the shit out of you when you do.
it always sounds like a much bigger deal in the US.
We have freshers week, which basically entails an introduction, a few voluntary activities and free entrance to the SU events. At the end we just sign up for stuff we’ll never do.
I used my week as a holiday.
That’s usually just the first week of class: there are all these booths up about the different student alliances, political groups, extracurricular activites etc. There’s usually some (generally crappy) band playing.
I very nearly added a jar of peanut butter–which I actually needed–to my basket of camouflage goods. I’m glad I thought better of it. Peanut butter plus condoms in a single purchase pretty much equals “sex perv” in the eyes of anyone else associated with the transaction.
crunchy or smooth?
I like it smooth, all the way…..oh yeah.
I’ve just recently become a crunchy convert. That is all.
Crunchy is better because there’s a little more substance and texture to it.
Skippy “Super Chunk” is like crack to me. With crack-rock sized peanut chunks, even.
I’ll eat either, but when I’m buying, it’s going to be creamy. I use it for baking a lot, and creamy simply works better for those purposes.
Sunpat Crunchy. Perfect Peanut butter.
This was such a funny, sweet, awkward and honest story…. I hope you got to use the entire box.
Heh. No comment!
Aaaah! It’s perfect. “C’mon! Give it up for safe sex!” And you high fived the clerk? You, sir, are a badass. Great job, great writing.
Wow, I’m dense. I only just now realized “Give it up for safe sex” is an entendre.
Ahhhhhh! Amazing. Especially the high-five. Your girlfriend was a lucky lady–and no, I am not being facetious.
Having enthusiastically made out but studiously avoided going all the way with boys in high school, then enjoying the awesomeness of being queer through my twenties (seriously…women with matching parts who knew what to put where, who couldn’t make you pregnant and who were soft and snuggly with no beard stubble the next morning…dang! that’s some good stuff!), I found myself purchasing condoms for the first time, at age 34.
It’s amazing how intimidating that pharmacy aisle can be, even with 20 years of tampon-purchasing under my belt. I knew where to find the condoms, and could even pretend I had taken a few too many steps past the feminine hygiene section, if I felt shy. But still…
Well played, Mr. Baldwin!
Okay….that comment just got me a little hot…..excuse me…..
(goes and takes a long, cold shower)
Tampons and such never bothered me, growing up as I did with two sisters close to my own age and no sisters. I was even sent to the store as a teenager to get them; I think my stepfather got a perverse pleasure out of thinking the chore humiliated me, but I quickly became inured to it. But damn, that first time heading down that aisle for my own sake (and I still don’t quite understand why at least some of them aren’t also stocked with the men’s health items)….nerve-wracking.
The funny thing is, I tend to run out of both condoms and tampons at the same time, and find myself fumbling the cartons back and forth–which one to display to other shoppers, and which one to tuck discreetly out of sight behind the other box? Oh, the dilemmas of the modern lady…
Fuck discretion! Make ’em jealous! Your reproductive system is healthy AND you’re going to get some!
I was in my email doing some actual real live work, when your comment response popped up. I’d forgotten about this little exchange and was all “wtf?! getting some and I what in my reproductives?!” Then it came back–ohhhh yeahhhhhh. Too funny.
I’m so glad I’ve never worked anywhere that sold condoms. I couldn’t stand to watch this kind of awkward scenario play out day after day. I’m too affected by other people’s embarrassment. Or maybe it would be hilarious. “That guy has been standing in the condom aisle for 20 minutes.”
The high-five would have put me over the edge, though.
Hmmm….in which direction?
Not sure. Either I would have found it totally hilarious or been all, “Hoookay, buddy. Nice trenchcoat. Nice jimmy hats. Now get out.”
Or maybe both.
Don’t the kids call them that anymore? Hats for your jimmy. Condoms.
Huh. Never heard that one before. The most out-there terms I ever heard were “cock socks” and “groove tubes.” We mostly just called them condoms.
In Britain we say ‘johnnies’ or ‘rubber johnnies’
I think it’s cockney slang.
See, Matt? This is what happens if you don’t do enough drugs. Boring names for prophylactics.
Great post, Matt. Very charming in its honesty and humor.
As a stuffy British, I don’t really approve of hi-fives. But I’ll make an exception for this one, I can’t think of anything more appropriate. Respect to the cashier, too, and I bet she told the story of the guy who was going to wrap it up, but didn’t even want a bag.
Also I totally L’ed OL at “…the full-length black trench coat I wore at every opportunity back in those days…”
I’m stuffy and British too.
Hearty handshake accompanied by throat clearing, I reckon.
Quite right too old chap!
….resisting the urge to make an Austin Powers “That’s not my bag, baby!” joke…
I wore that coat all the time, even when the weather made it pretty damn impractical. Personally, I thought I looked like a total badass in it. And it WAS good when the weather was fould.
I worked in a convenience store for five years, so I was fortunate enough to witness desperately-scrambling-for-a-condom purchases, as nobody goes to a convenience store first for prophylactics. I would have loved it if anyone had ever high-fived me in the name of safe sex. That’s awesome. 🙂
*chest bumps Tawni in the name of safe sex*
*chest bumps Gloria in the name of making Irwin giggle some more*
There was a 7-11 right down the corner from my apartment complex, but I was sure as hell not going there! “Hi, I’ll take a medium Slurpee, a bag of gummi bears and….that three-pack of Trojans with spermicide, please.”
If we ever meet in person Tawni, I’m so gonna high-five you in the name of safe sex!
Looking forward to my high-five greeting. I will even pre-warm my icy cold fingers of doom for your pleasure.
I have no fear of icy fingers, unless they happen to be placed on my—
This is a hilarious piece, Matt. It had me smiling the whole time.
Did some people really need a ¼ gallon of personal lubricant at a time? ha ha ha I’ve wondered the same thing. But then, I think about how unpleasant it can be for some people to buy it. So maybe the goal isn’t to use it all once, but to just not have to buy it again for a while.
“…I was woefully unprepared for phrases like ‘zesty mint’ and ‘ecstasy twist.'” Ha! I still don’t get this…
Please know that I will, from this point forward, begin referring to my vagina as my female reproductive orifice. Let the world envy my fortune!
A little while back I discovered my local CVS sells it in the 1/2 gallon size. Still haven’t figured that one out.
And this raises the question: does the discomfort of repeat trips to buy the little ounce-sized bottles really outweigh the discomfort of an occasional trip to get one of the larger ones?
This has just reminded me of that scene in Wayne’s World.
“ribbed for her pleasure…. ewwww”
And let me tell you, before those ribs, sex was sooooooo boring. Once they put the ribs on condoms, it was a whole new ballgame for us ladies. (<—sarcasm.)
Every woman I’ve ever slept with has told me they can’t tell the difference at all. Which is why these days I usually just stick with the basics.
I’m convinced that some woman-hating inventor came up with ribbed condoms to make us all insecure about our girl junk. (“I can’t feel the ribs! Is my vagina broken?! Do I need vaginal rejuvenation surgery? What the fuck IS vaginal rejuvenation surgery? Ahhhhhhh! Never mind! Don’t touch me! I’m hideous!”)
I still don’t know what the fuck “vaginal rejuvination theory” is. And I don’t want to!
Let’s just say that time, gravity, and childbirth are not always kind to the nether-regions.
Heh. You said “ballgame.”
Ribbed is only the start of it, James. Go down to your local chemist’s and have a look. I mean, this was when I was twenty…..the variety of selection NOW would probably blow your mind.
The pharmacy aisles in supermarkets has stacks of them opposite the headache medication.
More flavour variety than the ice cream aisle.
What’s up with the “eww” about lambskin? Back when, that means the early sixties, Trojan Naturalamb was the way to, ah, go. Thin, strong, well-lubricated. No, wait, that was me.
Don, you may have missed your calling as a stand-up.
I’ll be the one to say it, since I haven’t seen it here yet….What is the deal with Trojans? They suck, in my opinion, yet they’re a household name! I blame marketing.
Durex (brand of choice–loud and proud) are polyurethane and don’t cause the reaction, and are, I believe, rated higher for sensitivity and safety!
My mama told me, before my first experience, “If he won’t buy a condom, he’s not mature enough to handle sex.”
And hell’s yes to Gloria, for having a favorite sex shop! Mine is Eve’s Garden, a delightfully pleasant and classy studio located in an office building in the middle of New York City. Girl’s gotta have her place too, you know? Too many of those places are skeevy.
“the reaction,” being, of course, a painful, physical sensation experienced by girls if they are allergic or sensitive to latex…which a lot of girls are.
Which I count myself happy to have never encountered, or experienced (it happens to guys as well, though far less frequently). Back then I was so innocent and naive about these matters, but nowadays I keep a variety of brands on hand so as to be ready depending on what her inclination may be.
I think you’re right, too–Trojan seem to have the best marketing going for them.
Sudden insight into your and Dave’s relationship that I was not quite expecting there…..
Yes, Dave and I are quite often scandalous. We’re the only couple we know who are card-carrying members of MoSEX. We read books on fetishes and attend workshops on sexuality. Meeting each other was one of those rare moments in life some call Chance, and others, like me, call Miracle.
An odd little pair we are, but ideally suited.
That’s very cool. Good for you guys.
I think the country would be a lot more at ease generally speaking if more people could learn to unashamedly embrace an enthusiastic sex life, instead of all the repressive, judgemental Puritanical nonsense we have to put up with. We’re physically built for it and chemically driven to do it. So do it, already, people!
I’ve heard about MoSEX. It and AMNH are near top of my list of things to see/do if I ever make it out to NYC.
We used to have pink dot, which would deliver liquor store items to your door 24 hours a day. I can remember placing an order with them and trying to round out the purchase to hide my intent.
“O.K. so that’s 1 avocado, 1 copy of the L.A. Times, 3 kitchen sponges, and a pack of rubbers. Will that be all sir?”
I recall saying to Duke and Ben when I was in L.A that when I was younger I used to collect rubbers. Oh, how they laughed.
I mean, really. How was I supposed to know that American’s DON’T call eraser’s rubbers??
And what’s with the whole ‘pants’ thing?
My favourite radio show here was Jonesy’s Jukebox, hosted by Britain’s own Steve Jones. He played a lot of really old reggae, which was unheard of at noon in Los Angeles radio. Anyhow, he used to have a new song review day where he would bring in guests and they would listen to the new tracks and judge them either “pants” or “mustard”. They always got terribly confused, and I’m still not sure which one is good and which means “that sucks.”
”pants” is working class slang for something that sucks
I just met Steve Jones a couple of weeks ago. He was at a party thrown for the release of a new book about Johnny Cash, A Heartbeat and a Guitar, which was written by Antonio D’Ambrosio, who’s a friend of my friend James. Shepard Fairey was DJ’ing, and James suggested that I give a copy of my novel to Shepard, and, just happening to have a couple of copies in my bag, I did, and then I realized that Steve Jones was standing right next to Shepard, so I gave a copy to him too. He’s mentioned in the book, and I love the Sex Pistols, so it was a huge thrill to meet him. It was also nice to meet Shepard, who’s a very nice guy.
A bit off the subject, not to mention name-droppy, but…
Pants is such a great word. I love it.
Damn, that’s cool!
I love Jonesey’s Jukebox. It was available for a downloadable podcast for a while there.
Steve ought to get a hollywood star for that radio show. He could never remember the names of the songs, often got into stories about the old days, and would get caught up narrating the Chelsea football matches over the radio. But damn if that old man didn’t have the greatest taste in music. And it was minimal punk too, which would surprise most people. He was really into reggae and glam. T Rex, Desmond Dekker, Johnny Guitar Watson. He had great taste in soul music. I think indie 103 may still be an internet station, but I don’t know if he still has the show or not. He’s starting to get a little Ozzy in the head, so we gotta enjoy him before he starts shuffling around in trackpants.
D.R. — inappropriate place for me to comment perhaps – however – I got your book before Christmas and only read about 2 chapters before life got insane with work, family etc. Can’t wait to get back to it!
I’ve never met anyone who does. Though I did meet some people who called gumboots/galoshes “rubbers” which was highly confusing. “It’s raining outside, put your rubbers on!” “Huh?”
My personal favorite is “propho’s.”
“Doug, what are these? (holds up condoms)”
“They’re propho’s Dad. I put em on my dinkus when I wanna have sex. Forget it, I’m outta heeeeeere….”
I feel like I’m getting typecast as the TV guy, but below you will find a classic example (excerpted above) of New York Hipster Sketch Comedy, circa 1995.
Ah, “dinkus.” Regionalistic American slang for the penis. Also used as term for someone who is a moron, as in, “Good one, dinkus!”
Also, love that sketch. Remember seeing it on TV back in the day.
Gumboots? I’m not familiar with that one. Rubbers is very commonly used in the mid-west for galoshes. Or at least it was amongst older people I know. Now that I think about it, when was the last time you saw anyone actually USE galoshes? People have specific foot apparel for everything now. You should totally see my sex shoes.
“Gumboots” is a pretty frequent term for them down in the south, where they’re used as swamp waders.
And I think your husband might object to me seeing your sex shoes.
I loved this! I like to read anything having to with sex so this was perfect. Your words put us right there with you on that aisle. I, too, heard staying alive. so how was the rest of the night? Everything go as planned?
That, m’dear, is a story for another day.
“…something came unlocked inside me. In one instant I went from being the poster boy for anxiety, self-conscious on cosmic levels at being seen with my purchase, and in the next I completely quit caring what any asshole thought about it. Because it was in that moment, box in hand, that the reality of the situation finally crystallize…”
I love this! Such a sweet pride.
Also a great concluding sentence you’ve got there…
Thanks, Kristen! It was kinda hard to determine where the cutoff point for this one should be. Glad it worked.
I remember the first time I realized I was about to have sex. It was awesome. There had to be the perfect music playing so I popped in a cassette of “Bedtime for Democracy” by Dead Kennedys. Jello Biafra started lamenting, “Take this Job and Shove It.” I think we made it to “Rambozo the Clown” before I rolled over the happiest man on earth.
A euphoric moment.
We went to the movies afterward. We returned home from the movies and had sex like two more times. The stamina of youth.
My girlfriend and I didn’t use condoms the first time. We were young. Dumb. Both virgins. I did have some. Luckily my friend Josh worked at a pharmacy after school. He used to hook all of us with jimmies. Every friend should have a friend that works at the Pharmacy. When I have a son one day I’ll tell my own son that: have a friend who works at a pharmacy.
Enjoyed the story, Matt.
There’s that “jimmies” term again…..
I was seeing this girl once, who came off as a very girly-girl type. Except we get back to my place, and she chooses Nine Inch Nails The Fragile as our make-out music. Which was just awesome.
And thanks for the read, Jeffrey.
“C’mon!” I said, “Give it up for safe sex!”
I’m thinking about reading it at the next Dime Stories. Just to see the looks on their faces at the opening line.
Aww, that’s awesome. I love that you high-fived the cashier. And that you had a can of ravioli and dishwashing gloves in your shopping basket. Sweet and fun, Matt!
I was so nervous I was just grabbing stuff of the shelves, trying to pick the most innocuous items possible–which, when added up together, made it look like I was up to something seriously kinky.
“I had condoms, and a girlfriend, and would soon be enjoying both in tandem. Let the world envy my fortune!” Hee! Love it-
It’s an empowering feeling, for damn sure.
Damp and disheveled and wearing a black trench coat?
I am surprised they didn’t call the police just on principle.
I certainly would have turned you in for looking creepy and probably planning something bad, bad, bad.
I’m glad they don’t! I’d get the police called on me all the time.
Wait, that might be cool. Eventually I’d get to know everyone down at the station. They’d be like “S’up, Matt?” and I’d be all “Keepin’ it real, Sarge.” We’d all joke about that time I got arrested just trying to buy some condoms. And maybe they’d let me go on ridealongs or visit crime scenes with the detectives and stuff. That would be awesome.
HIGH FIVE!! I think this may be my favorite of yours Matt. Flows beautifully, made me cringe, blush, laugh and feel triumphant (on your behalf of course).
Thanks! This one came really quickly while I was writing it, too!
Uhh…….that’s not a Freudian slip.
Huh, so there ARE actually men out there who think that birth control/safe sex isn’t just a woman’s job. I learn something new every day.
Very well written Matt. Oh, and *high five.*
Yeah, seem to be in something of the majority, which is just sad. I’m pretty sure that actually learning about these things and being attentive about them has made me a better lover.
Inadvertant side-effect of this essay seems to be that *high-five* has now been assigned as my code for “I’m gonna score!”
I need a high five. 🙁
I love this, I needed the giggles and the condom shame description was almost palpable! Yay!
I think everybody could use more high-fives. Of both kinds.
I’m envious that you remember your first time – or almost first time.
“My immense enthusiasm would compensate for any lack of skill (note: this is my go-to policy for most situations in life)” – my philosophy as well. Does it work better for you?
I’d say it’s about a 60/40 success rate. And when it fails, it tends to fail spectacularly, which is usually fun.
[…] 7. The First Time Before the First Time, Matt Baldwin […]
I’ve had the Madness song “House of Fun” (about a first-time condom purchase) in my head all morning. I think this story’s to blame.
I am SO very sorry I missed out on this discussion. Excellent storytelling. I can’t figure out the flavor and texture thing either. And why? Why is it so embarrassing to buy condoms? I have three kids and I’m embarrassed. Ridiculous. As if anyone looking at me with my brood thinks that I don’t have sex.
[…] there are other concerns: birth control (research, procurement, implementation), the potential for cold feet, the need to shield the news from the veritable TMZ […]