Here’s the deal. I was tidying up the house the other day when I noticed that the on-hand stock of a certain “relationship enhancement” product was alarmingly low. Now, I normally wouldn’t think it appropriate to publicly share details of the bedroom. But in this particular case, considering the mind-numbing adventure I endured whilst trying to purchase a simple product, we shifted into the realm of blog-worthy material. Therefore, it became necessary to bare all, so to speak, and address this shocking world imbalance directly.
We were out of motion lotion.
Now, it’s not like we needed vats of the stuff sitting around for the impromptu carnal raves that some people would like you to believe take place every night in rainbow homes across the nation. Our lives are not nearly as exciting as that. But my partner and I do have a particular brand that we favor. Lesser products will not suffice. Nothing ruins the mood more quickly than under-performing accessories. Just ask Cher. Or anyone in the Bush administration.
Trouble is, the number of venues that normally offer this specific product are very limited. Typically, we have to seek out questionable retail establishments in unsavory neighborhoods, scurry inside while avoiding lazy prostitutes in the parking lot, give a wide berth to unseemly men wearing trench coats and that slightly-glazed look that the truly-dedicated perverts have. Surviving that, you then have to wait impatiently in the check-out line as the person in front of you rents videos with illuminating names such as “Wanda Want It Bad” and “Saving Ryan’s Privates”.
I really wasn’t in the mood for all that mess.
So, this being the age of technology, I got on the Internet to see if any stores nearby might carry what I needed. Amazingly enough, a quick search revealed that a Walgreens just down the road supposedly carried the jewel I was seeking. Imagine that. (And imagine my slight pause of shame as I realized that I did, indeed, type in “personal lubricant” while using Google. Then again, I got over 700,000 returns. I’m not the only person in the world concerned about bedroom dryness.)
Anyway, I hopped in the car and headed to Walgreens. Once there, I wandered around the aisles for a while, trying to figure out where they might have placed the product. This effort was somewhat tedious. It’s not like they have signs proclaiming “Get wet here!” It has to be discreet, because this is a Southern state, where large chunks of the populace still deny that they actually have sex, despite their 12 children on welfare. But I finally found the tiny lubricant display.
The colorful little bottles were incarcerated in a glass case with a big-ass lock. Along with the condoms.
You’re kidding me, right? Somebody in this town (and that would be Dallas, not some tiny burgh that doesn’t get cable TV and can be slightly excused for the idiocy) actually thinks they have to lock up the lubricant? What is this world coming to? I can walk across the street and buy an arsenal of automatic weaponry at the weekly gun show without any supervision whatsoever but I can’t be trusted to make a boudoir decision without authoritarian involvement?
And of course they don’t have the actual product that I want. (Never trust a website that proclaims “In stock now!” Those people are always lying.) Yes, they have items in the same manufacturer’s line, but those things are for women. No disrespect intended towards what a girl might want, but I don’t want my partner to smell like honeysuckle and jasmine. It just doesn’t quite fit the mood.
I leave the store immediately.
As I sit in the parking lot, contemplating my next move, I notice that there is a CVS pharmacy on the opposite side of the intersection. What the hell, let’s check that out. I really don’t relish having to drive across town and fight off lazy hookers who aren’t willing to stand on actual street corners, and don’t seem to understand that I play for the other team. Honey, if I’m wearing an outfit that’s cuter than yours, then I’m not straight. Save your breath.
I enter CVS with a renewed dedication to my mission.
And it’s initially the same deal. I have to wander all over hell just to find the section that I need, because I’m completely on my own. Ain’t nobody up in this grill gonna help me out, because I seek the lubricant that dare not speak its name. Why are people so freaked out about sex? It happens every day. Until you get married. Then, not so much.
Anyway, I finally locate Taboo Central, and everything’s encased in a locked glass box as well. Great. On the plus side, they actually have exactly what I seek. OMG! Now I just have to find somebody that has a key and, more importantly, the willingness to use such key without acting like I have ruined his entire life just because I interrupted his conversation with a fellow employee concerning the pros and cons of taking woodshop in high school.
I survey the enemy camp around me, and I realize that I am just steps away from the pharmacy. I’m not really sure if I should seek assistance there, because the last I heard, you don’t really need a prescription in order to purchase lubricant. Then again, this is Texas. The state Textbook Review board just recently decided that Thomas Jefferson didn’t actually exist because he was too liberal. Seriously. Google it.
I glance toward the front of the store to see if any of the regular employees might be able to assist me. They cannot. They are hiding behind racks of greeting cards and peeking around the corners. Apparently, I’m the very epitome of Satan, based on the aisle where I am currently standing, what with the nasty sexual aids and all.
I swivel around to study the pharmacy area again. This is my only hope. Right at the moment, there are tons of people waving little pieces of paper and demanding drugs for their various ailments. I really don’t want to be a part of that whole scene, as I don’t do well in large groups of people unless drinking is involved.
So I decide to wander around for a bit and wait for the crowd at the pharmacy to thin a bit. Perhaps this was a stupid plan. There are only so many things you can look at in this part of the store. Cold medicine, sinus medicine, lubricant. Vitamins, enemas, lubricant. Lice medication, crab medication, lubricant. This is not working out. Screw it, I’ll go stand in the pharmacy line.
Luckily, there’s a shift in the planetary alignment and I take my position while there are only two people queued up. Surely this can’t be too bad. And it’s actually okay for about three seconds. Then the first person in line loses her mind. She’s demanding that her prescription be filled RIGHT NOW. The lady at the counter calmly explains that, just like they told her this morning, her special prescription takes two days to be shipped. Why are you back up in here after only a few hours?
Girl ain’t happy with that. She wants something and she wants it now. The pharmacy staff just looks at her. What part of this do you not understand? We don’t have what you need. Two days. It’s going to take two days. We can’t give you what we don’t have.
Home Girl, instead of leaving, marches off to the side and starts bickering to someone who might be her mother but just as easily could be a complete stranger. The older woman just stares vacantly. Apparently her prescription was in stock, and she took too much of it.
Next up, we have another woman who wants something that they don’t even carry, never mind about ordering it. (Do these people not think about calling ahead when they need something special? Then again, I didn’t exactly make an inquiry, either.) This woman is also turned away, but she also doesn’t leave, as if standing around with an attitude will make something magically appear.
So now we have two disgruntled women standing off to one side, with approximately 17 children between them. All of the kids are bouncing off the walls and knocking over display cases. (Can someone explain to me again why the condoms are in a locked cabinet?) Naturally, neither of these parents says a negative word to the invading miscreants, a lackadaisical attitude that led to them having 17 kids in the first place
Then it’s my turn. I step up to the counter and I don’t even know how to phrase my request. Despite the obvious insanity of my fellow consumers, I’m still a wee bit embarrassed with this situation. How do I delicately discuss sexual lubricants in front of the juveniles bouncing all around me, marking time until they somehow get elected to Congress and continue their destruction.
Then one of the spastic kids enthusiastically destroys an entire display of jock straps, while his unconcerned mother belches and picks at her teeth with a twig that she pulled out of another child’s hair. Okay, I guess I need to quit worrying about this. Let Momma protect her offspring. (“Fabreeze, don’t listen to what that fool is asking. Go over there in the beer aisle and pick out which man might be your daddy. I sure as hell don’t know.”)
I turn back around to the clerk at the counter who is waiting patiently, her fake grin indicating that I really need to tell her what I want or she’s going to cut me. Do I not see the three hundred people behind me?
I clear my throat. “I’m not sure if you can help, but I need something in one of the locked-”
She’s on it. She lunges for a set of keys, motions for another staffer to take her place, and then heads toward the security door. Wow. That was pretty easy. Apparently she was perfectly willing to accept any kind of distraction that would take her away from the Wretched Counter of Disappointment and Death.
As my personal savior comes into view, one of the disgruntled women tries to accost her with more bickering. The clerk doesn’t even slow down. “Two days!” she barks, with a wave of her hand, and then marches toward me.
I lead our pathetic little parade as we head down the appropriate aisle to the age-restricted lockbox of sin and decadence. Once there, she pauses before inserting the key. “Which one do you want?”
I meekly point at one of the bottles. “This little guy here.”
She turns the lock, whips open the glass door, snatches up the product, then slams the door shut again. All within roughly two seconds. Either she doesn’t want the naughty air inside the box to taint the rest of the store, or she’s had experiences in the past where customers have lunged forward and grabbed up everything in sight. She hands me the bottle, with its nifty ridges on the sides that help you keep a grip on the tube so it doesn’t go shooting across the room at the height of your passion and give the cat a concussion.
“Do I have to pay for this in the pharmacy, or can I-”
“Anywhere. You can pay anywhere.” Then she races off to rejoin her tribe of white-coated people. I glance at the sideshow in front of the pharmacy counter (Fabreeze is trying to convince her sister, Aerosol, that it would be really fun to set off the fire alarm stupidly placed at munchkin level) and my decision is easy. I turn the other way and head toward the front of the store. I’m so ready to be out of this place.
After navigating past one of those people who can’t comprehend that stopping your shopping cart in the middle of an aisle so that nobody can get past you is an unacceptable approach to life, I get in the shortest check-out line I can find, with only one person in front of me. Sadly, this one person insists on using every coupon known to mankind and wants to argue about a one-cent pricing disparity on her 80-dollar tab. She then proceeds to run through all of those questions that you’re supposed to address when the pharmacist asks “Do you have any questions?” and not when you’re standing in front someone who is not going to know the answers. Of course, throughout all of this mess, I’m trying to act like I’m not standing there with a bottle of hormonal WD-40, my single item of purchase making it very clear that I’m a raging sex fiend with no validation. Hours later, it’s finally my turn.
I plunk the bottle of lube in the middle of the counter.
Brittany just looks out me, wrinkling her nose slightly. “Is that it?”
Am I carrying anything else? “That’s it.”
She gingerly picks up the bottle with two appalled fingers, drags it across the scanner, and then hurls it into a little plastic bag, shoving the now-hidden wickedness back at me. Oh come on, Ethel. This can’t be your first time at the rodeo.
I hand her some money, and she continues with her squeamishness, making sure that she doesn’t actually touch my hand when she returns my change. I am so done with this.
I snatch up the bag and make my escape. Once out the front doors and into the cheery sunshine, I start to relax and breathe. But the fates are not finished with me just yet. Because right then the cheap little bag splits on one side and the plastic cylinder of love power tumbles to the pavement.
And of course I happen to be standing right at the upper crest of the wheelchair ramp, so the bottle gives in to the laws of gravity and happily begins to roll away from me, gaining a surprising amount of speed as it bounces along. The tube hits the bottom of the ramp, flips through the air in a graceful triple axel, then slams to the ground and disappears under a parked car.
Sitting at the wheel of this car is an elderly woman. She’s currently invested in checking her lipstick status in the rear-view mirror and doesn’t notice her near death from the projectile lubricant. She may have some focus issues, but surely she would notice if I started crawling under her car without her first extending an invitation. This could lead to misunderstandings and pepper spray.
I am so tempted to just get in my car and drive away.
But no, I’ve come too far. I patiently wait for Lurlene to be satisfied with her makeup, clamor out of the vehicle, and slowly make her way into the store on a quest for prune juice. Once the doors close, I dart over to the car, drop to my knees, and peer under. Sure enough, the bottle is lodged way under there, taunting me. I sigh and begin to crawl, which is essentially how I start out every day of my life.
And I only get about two inches under the car when I realize that things are not going to go smoothly. Apparently my cheeseburger intake over the last few years has had some unsavory side effects, and I can no longer accomplish missions with the speed and grace of a gazelle. So now I’m struggling and lunging and letting out little yelps of pain and frustration. I’m sure passersby found it quite entertaining, and there is now a snapshot of my wriggling bum on the Internet, if there wasn’t already. Finally, I manage to yank the vindictive and elusive bottle toward me.
Two seconds later, I’m fleeing across the parking lot toward my own vehicle, sweat pouring off of me, the knees of my jeans ripped to shreds from the rough concrete, and my hair peppered with that nasty black gunk that lives on the bottom of cars. I toss the hateful joy juice into the passenger seat, slam the car into drive, roar around the corner of the building where I narrowly avoid mowing down a trio of startled teens (who were probably doing drugs, why else would you huddle out of sight like that?), squeal through the lot exit, and finally melt into the anonymity of the thundering traffic.
From within the wrinkled and torn bag on the seat beside me, I think I hear the little devil bottle snickering at my situation. I quickly wad the plastic bag into a ball, cutting off his oxygen, and then hurl the whole mess toward the back of the car. Next time I’ll just go to my usual dealer, even if it means dodging prostitutes and out-running men in trench coats…
(Originally published in “The Sound and the Fury” on 04/04/10, revised and updated with extra flair for this post.)
Categories: My Life