the purchase of contraceptives

How it happens in your head:

You walk in to the store- roll into the store- with your hands in your pockets and a trail of coolness drifting reverently behind you. You can feel the room perk up and pay attention. The female attendant looks up from the magazine she was pretending to read and smiles. You let your eyes trail over her gifts, which you approve of, and let them linger on her chest, which you then address:

“Excuse me, gorgeous. A box of condoms, please.”

You watch her blush and grin. You see her fumble around, produce two boxes and mutter something about choosing. You grin and say “I’ll take them both”.

You throw a five hundred shilling note on the counter and remind her to keep the change.
You wave away the wrapping paper she was offering and grab the two boxes, which you brandish proudly as you walk out- roll out- of the store.

You sag your trousers a bit more as you leave, winking at the lady with the open mouth by the door and saying in a carrying whisper: Shit, these will barely last a day.

How it happens on God’s green earth:

You stumble into the store after an hour of careful reconnaissance from outside. You have already established that the pug-faced bitch who usually mans the counter is on break, and has been replaced with the pimply teenager who never looks up from his phone. You have also calculated and drawn up an equation that indicates you are smack in the five minute window just before lunch when the store is practically empty. You give yourself a mental kick in the head and make an inhuman effort to keep putting one foot in front of the other.

You collide with the door on your way in, which sends you on a spiral that combines your best efforts at remaining upright with the step overs from Alex Oxlaide-Chamberlain’s last assist. The result is a very loud, very uncoordinated entry into the store; loud enough to cause the pimply teen to look up from his phone.

You remind yourself that your plan has already gone to shit.

So you go to plan B. You readjust your trajectory and affect an expression of utter contempt and disinterest.

“I need some cds,” you say, ignoring the impulse to glance at your shoes and the temptation to turn and run for your life.

“Ati nini?” the idiot replies, squinting to reinforce his confusion, when you can see from the twitch in his lip that he heard you perfectly, the raging lunatic.

“Cds” you repeat, a little louder.

“Ooooh, condoms?” he asks.

No, you fucking tampon, a cassette with the very best of DJ Afro.

“Yes,” you respond, trying and failing to sound calm. Nonchalant. The temptation to turn and flee is growing, building momentum, causing your feet to tingle with anticipation. But you realize that now you will need to move to China and assume a new identity.

“Which ones?” the pimply teen asks.

You focus on the giant zit on his nose, willing it to explode. But before you can respond, you hear the door swing open and became uncomfortably aware that pug-faced bitch has just re-entered the premises, and is now looming over you with a smug expression.

The rest of your plan has just been blown to bits. You make up your mind to leave. Unplanned parenthood cannot be that bad, surely. Nothing is worth this grand stage torture.

You hear the pimply teen speak.

“Chukua Studded, buda”

You cannot see straight ahead. You slap a note onto the counter without looking. Please, Jesus, let it be a hundred shillings. You wait for the two hours it takes him to leisurely walk over to the shelf, watch his fingers dance around the different packets and pick one out, all the while wishing him the most painful death.

When he hands you the packet, you sprout wings. You grab at it and sidestep pug-faced bitch, who you can just make out grinning stupidly, and bolt out the door. You fly away for a good fifteen minutes, until you are safely on the periphery of the earth, where you pause to wait for your dignity to catch up.

A few months later, when the post traumatic stress disorder has receded, you grin at yourself in the mirror.

You did it, you handsome bastard.

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