Have You Got Any Condoms?

Have You Got Any Condoms?

According to my experience, condoms are like cigarettes: every man has his favourite brand. His preference might depend on comfort, sensitivity, or simply because a particular brand has never let him down.

When I was studying at University, condoms were given away for free. We could drop by the medical centre and pick up as many as we wanted. In addition, there were several different types and brands to choose from. I only realized how fortunate the situation was when I came to Spain and had to pay for them myself. The truth is I didn’t know they were so expensive. As a solution, I made my boyfriends buy them.

There were times when I had to buy them myself, unfortunately. But, on those occasions, I always tried to go to a place where I could hide the package in amongst other items I was buying. I didn’t want to ask for them at the counter. I was embarrassed because of my English accent and I was afraid that I wouldn’t be understood. Then, I’d probably have to repeat myself and raise my voice while a queue formed behind me. It sounds paranoid but, one day, my worst nightmare came true.

A few years ago, an old friend from university came to Barcelona for a weekend. We hadn’t seen each other in years. The truth is that I wish we’d used one of those condoms that I’d been given free when we studied together. We’d both been in relationships at the time, however, and nothing had ever happened between us then. But when he was in Barcelona, it was a different story. He invited me to dinner on a Saturday night so we could catch up. I didn’t hesitate to accept his invitation and we ended up dining on the beach.

We spent the whole dinner reminiscing and laughing about old times while we drank wine. We ended the night swimming in the sea and kissing in the moonlight. The attraction between us was even stronger than during our college days and this time we were both single. It was obvious that, before he went home, something was going to happen between us. After waiting so long, I wanted everything to be perfect and I decided that it would be better if we met again the following day. I didn’t want to do anything under the influence of alcohol.


The following day, he came to my apartment. Before even saying “Hello” were already kissing in the hallway. When we got to my bed, it didn’t take us long to get undressed and my impatience got the better of me. “Have you got any condoms?” I asked. He shook his head. I was stunned. I couldn’t believe that he hadn’t turned up fully equipped. I was disappointed but then I remembered that I had two condoms in my vanity case. I went to get them in a hurry and gave him one.  After unwrapping it, he tried to put it on but it didn’t roll down properly. Despite his efforts and mine, it proved impossible. The condom flew off suddenly and hit the wall. I gave him the second one but exactly the same thing happened.

We both knew that the only option was to get dressed and go to the pharmacy. Since he would leave the next day, we were wasting valuable orgasmic time. On the way I asked him whether he minded if I waited outside while he bought them. He looked at me with surprise and reminded me that he didn’t speak Spanish. It was going to be me who had to buy them. Not only that, I had to ask for XL-sized ones because, if not, they’d bounce off the wall again. This was going from bad to worse.

There we were, waiting in the queue with blushing faces and out-of-bed hair. I was nervous, uncomfortable and intimidated by the people in the queue in front of us  who were asking for everything from Band-Aids to paracetamol. As I waited my turn, I tried to analyze why I felt like this. I was no longer ashamed of my accent. This time it was more because of having to ask for XL-sized condoms for a person who was also present.

“A pack of XL condoms, please,” I said when I finally reached the counter. The pharmacist smiled and looked at us both. Keeping a straight face was a real challenge. To make matters worse, the XL condoms were on a high shelf behind the counter and the pharmacist couldn’t reach them. She had to ask for help from a colleague to reach them and suddenly the whole pharmacy was aware of our purchase.

When we returned home, between kisses and caresses, we couldn’t stop laughing about the episode in the pharmacy. As I touched him he suddenly said: “Sorry, Sorry …”. I was confused. Didn’t he like my technique? But, just at that moment, I realized that yes he did. So much so that he came even before the condom was out of its wrapper. There was no time to carry on, we had to say goodbye. When he left, he took the pack of XL condoms with him. I supposed that, inevitably, he’d use them with someone else-and after everything I’d suffered to get them.

Fortunately, since then I have overcome my fear of buying condoms. So much so that now I have a collection that is as extensive as the one I had when I was a student. Ribbed, flavoured, XL, I have them all. So, any lover can pick their favourite condom. For me, all that really matters is that the person wearing it is my favourite man.

Translation of ‘¿Tienes condones?’ published in El Pais.

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