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Opening Arguments

No play on words advisable

It's such an old story. The bad guys break the rules, forcing the adoption of tougher rules that do nothing but hurt everybody else. Today's version results in a step back in Milwaukee, to the probable dismay of thousands of teenagers:

If you wanted to buy condoms 30 years ago, you had to bear the embarrassment of asking a pharmacist to fetch them from beneath the counter.

Now with thieves wiping out the entire stock of prophylactics in some stores, more retailers are putting them back out of reach - and, in some cases, are even locking them up.

Many convenience stores in Milwaukee have again placed condoms behind the counter to keep shoplifters from pocketing them, and some major pharmacy chains have placed them in locked glass cases along with other frequently stolen goods such as costly replacement razor blades.

At least those teens will get back a rite of passage so many of their fathers had -- going to the counter nervously, egged on by friends, hoping the clerk is a man instead of the woman who reminds you of your aunt, putting one in the wallet so that, five years later, you can see the impression of it on the outside.

True story: I was with a friend in the drugstore, and he was apparently under the impression that "condom" was an abbreviation, because he asked the clerk for a package of condominiums. He is now the father of three, so he probably never did figure it out.

Posted in: Current Affairs


Thu, 01/04/2007 - 6:02am

How about abstinence, now there's a unique idea.

Bob G.
Thu, 01/04/2007 - 7:05am

Gee...and here I thought some of the government's "give-aways" were CONDOMS(along with hypos for those with AIDS and bleach to clean the needles) at specified centers for disease control...whatever happened to that? Did it go the route of the "free cheese and rice"?


tim zank
Thu, 01/04/2007 - 8:08am

Bob, how much you wanna bet that program is still be funded, just not carried out. I'm sure we're still paying for it as I can't recall any government giveaways that have EVER been discontinued.

Jon Olinger
Thu, 01/04/2007 - 9:17am

Stopping Condom theft is simple. Label them as "Small" no one will steal them. Of course no one will by them either.. but ya can

Steve Towsley
Thu, 01/04/2007 - 12:04pm

When I was a kid I worked in a Purvis drug store in New Haven for the princely minimum wage of 65 cents an hour, sweeping up, cleaning the grill, working the register, and on rare occasions helping out "Ollie" behind the pharmacy counter register.

One day a man came in and quietly asked for something I wasn't familiar with, so I turned toward Ollie upstairs in the office and yelled, "This gentleman wants something called TROJANS!" The man's face got very red, and Ollie barely concealed a smile at me as he took over the transaction and filled the order -- quietly.

Twenty-some years later, I got my comeuppance. I was in a large Osco drug store in Studio City, California, at the check-out counter and in front of a long line, when the lady ringing up my purchases turned toward another employee at the other end of the store and yelled, "I NEED A PRICE ON THE LARGE BOX OF RAMESES!"

The good thing about the latter incident was that by that time, I was an adult and saw the humor in what had just happened -- I chuckled at the classic gaff, but by then was far too mature to be embarrassed. I thought for a second about educating the lady, but decided against it. Maybe someone in the store gave her a clue later in the day. Not every young man has my thick skin for this stuff.

In fact, I remember when, as a younger guy, I would place a phone order for pick-up at a pharmacy, under an assumed name, which just happened to include Trojans. Few growing boys are completely immune to nervousness when almost all of them, at one time or another, buy these venerable polymer allies for the wallet.

I'm sure many if not most of young boys' first purchases rotted in the wallet. It is worth knowing that you have to discard and replace your supply in a reasonable period of time -- unless you want to experience an unforeseen breakthrough in your next serious relationship.