We know the visual clich? from film and small screen…

YOUNG BOY _ walks up to the check-out stand and, nervously, gets 4 packs of gum, a Woman’s Journal, and a Coke so as to cover up that he’s got 1 package of condoms on the conveyor belt_

This generally gets played out in that the cashier is a relative of the girl upon whom our YOUNG BOY has designs, or the condom needs a price check, etc.

This scene has been played out in both in The Summer of ‘42 and the venerable crappy teen drama that launched a thousand crappy teen dramas (and the career of Kevin Smith), Degrassi Jr. High.

Even my Dad knows a funny joke keyed off this cliche:

In the 50s we used to walk up to the druggist and say: “Can I have a pack of smokes whispers and some condoms?”

In the modern times we walk up to the druggist and say: “Can I have a pack of condoms whispers and some cigarettes?”

Now that we accept this as a cliche, the inevitable discussion turns to this modern mantra.

“Sex is natural and sex is lethal without protection. Ask for condoms sans shame, ask potential partners for their blood screening, etc.”

I mean if “The Facts of Life” were still on, the episode where Tootie gets a Trojan would no longer merit the “On a very special episode…” lead-in.

So now, here, in the 00s, one need have no shame of asking proudly and loudly for protection. Heck, on campus lawn at UT it was impossible not to pick up a free basketful every third week of the month. Nurtured in such a milieu, I haven’t the least shred of angst about asking for such pharmaceuticals.

What do I actually have a problem with? Asking for books at the bookstore.

Me: Do you have a copy of “I hate my job and my friends, what the hell is wrong with my life?

Guy: Let me check….

Now obviously this guy doesn’t know me except that i sound like a slightly depressed adult. I’m agonizing that he thinks I’m a serial killer instead of some sex-pervert who simply wanted those all-to-pedestrian prophos.

Or what about…

Me: Do you have a copy of “Channeling Learned Masters for your Cat?

Guy: Hang on puts hold on Hey Bob, some whack job wants to channel learned masters for his cat. Can you believe these whack jobs?

Imagine what kind of geek loser I am asking for a 50 year retrospective on Dr. Who (which I hate, whew, dodged that one).

Unlike a package of hats, asking for a book says something about my essential being as a person. It says I’m into tantra, or the history of cross-dressing.

Condoms, those sheaths of pedestrian laytex, simply say that I’m aware of the lethal risks of a biological drive that everyone has (ho-freaking-hum).

But don’t worry, I’m not really that angsty about the whole thing (who am I, Woody Allen?) - I just think that the parallel is amusing.