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On the Road (But How'd it Get There?)


Nathan Hartswick

A few days ago, as I was walking in my consummately civilized Long Island town, I noticed something that struck me with such overwhelming oddity that it quite literally stopped me in my tracks. Like the skin of some strange, latex snake that had discarded its outer layer and slithered off into the underbrush, this sociological anomaly stared up at me from the sidewalk.

"Huh," I said aloud. "That's a condom."

Yes, a condom. Not a condom conveniently flattened and hermetically sealed in a half-dollar-sized package (though were this the case, I can't say I would have exclaimed "score!" and pocketed the trinket for further use). No, this animal was very much out of its cage, and for that matter, its natural habitat. What set of circumstances, I began to wonder, could possibly have brought this little token of someone's affection into my path as I wandered the streets of my suburban neighborhood?

Many people engage in protected sexual congress; of this we can be certain. And some surely engage in said sexual congress within the confines of an automobile; this has also been proven. Additionally, if one had the inclination to research the data, one might even discover instances in which this sexual congress has occurred in a car moving along a street at speeds of up to sixty miles per hour.

But even these adventurous and illegal vehicular circumstances do not excuse this particular couple's method of prophylactic disposal.

I suppose we cannot expect a high level of preparedness from two people so desperate to relate sexually that they haven't the time or consideration to even search for a phone booth in which to do so. I doubt the following conversation happens often among the high-speed lovemaking set:

Woman: Honey, have you got the keys?

Man: Yup! Ready to go?

Woman: What about the rubbers? Did you get the rubbers?

Man: Right here! How long's the ride, anyway?

Woman: Depends how long you can last.

Man: No, I mean the trip. How long's the trip?

Woman: Thirty minutes.

Man: I'll bring two rubbers.

Woman: Do we have any Ziplocs?

Man: Ziplocs? What for?

Woman: Disposal, silly. You weren't just going to throw them out the window, were you?

Man: Oh, no, of... course not. Hey, we're out of Ziplocs. Is a Tupperware okay?

It is more likely, of course, that any two people combining their love of travel and intercourse in this manner are going to subscribe to the "hucking" method of disposal, whereby the woman rolls the window down halfway, wings the unneeded apparatus onto the gravel shoulder, and attempts to straighten her hair and adjust her tube top before she and her boyfriend arrive at her mother's trailer to watch Walker, Texas Ranger.

But it is not this, the most probable explanation, which concerns me. The most troubling question is, if this discarded, one-fingered phallic glove did not fly from the window of a passing car, then where on God's good green earth did the disgusting little thing come from? The condom fairy?

Let us puzzle over the alternatives. Perhaps it was stuck to the heel of a prostitute; but no, this was not that kind of neighborhood. It could have fallen off the back of a condom truck, but I have never even seen such a vehicle (though when pressed to envision it, a modified version of the Oscar Meyer Weinermobile springs to mind). Or maybe 18-year old Peter Johnson was walking home from his girlfriend's one night and decided to get rid of the used item that, when her parents returned home unexpectedly, he had so hastily (and regrettably) placed into his pocket.

This is a likely direction; the youth of America are always a good group to blame these sorts of things on. This unwanted sleeve could well have been left behind by a group of pre-adolescent schoolboys. One of them probably pilfered it from his father's sock drawer, opening it as he walked home with his friends. They snickered at the way it looked, inflated this limp little item, blew some balloon animals, and when they became bored, threw it to the curb.

But none of the above solutions explains another strange element. Hard as it is to believe, this was not the first condom I have seen on the street. Having witnessed more than three of these cases in my lifetime, I must surmise this to be a regular pattern, and I doubt there are groups of boys in various towns regularly discovering condoms, becoming bored with them, and ditching them gutterside. No, this is most definitely an epidemic (defined as any time the total number of worldwide cases rises above, say, zero).

It is often said that the simplest solution is usually the correct one; could it be that we are overlooking the most obvious cause? If one were to find a used condom lying on a bedroom floor, one would naturally make the assumption that it had been used in that room and not, for example, on the roof, and then transported to the bedroom. Perhaps, then, the fact that this implement of safe sexual relations lay on the side of the road means only that two people engaged in safe sexual relations on the side of the road.

I wonder if it is possible this is a common occurrence. If indeed it is, then to these audacious couples I have a message that is twofold.

First: the next time you absolutely must make love in the out-of-doors, please, take only pictures and leave behind only footprints (also acceptable: indentations from various other body parts).

Second: you may be under the impression that this valiant rubber scabbard can protect you, but trust me -- if your idea of successful sexual congress includes rolling around horizontal and naked on a hot stretch of asphalt, there is nothing "safe" about it, my friends.

Thank you for reading. One day when we live in a civilized society, this sort of thing will no longer be permitted to happen. Until that day arrives, however, we must all do our part to spread the word of how people can live a cleaner, more responsible sexual lifestyle. I will begin my own quest a bit later on; at the moment, I have to drive over and see my girlfriend.

I'll be picking up Ziplocs along the way.

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