Colored Condoms


S.Q. Lapius had been fidgeting at his work bench for most of the evening.  His work kept him from soliloquizing, and I took advantage of the quiet moments to try to assimilate the latest on the endless skein of events that transpire during the immunological response.  But it didn’t last long.  With a final grunt of victory Lapius turned from his work and held up a small velvet board.  “What do you think of this, Harry?”


Affixed to the board were five small balloon things in exotic colors.  “Lovely,” I said.  “A present for your granddaughter?”


“I haven’t got a granddaughter, Harry.  And if my son-in-law uses these properly, I may never have one.”


I looked closely.  “You don’t mean---?”


Lapius was triumphant.  “I certainly do.  These are condoms.”


“In color?”


“Yes.  Smuggled in from Japan.”


“Why smuggled?  You mean imported, of course.”


“No.  I mean smuggled.  We in America, proud country that it is, do not import condoms.  Matter of national pride, perhaps.  But look at the colors.  Aren’t they splendid?”


“Most assuredly they are.  Do you think color is a selling point for that product?”


“It is in Japan.”


“What are you going to do with that display?  Hang it on the wall?  Wouldn’t you   rather have a Picasso or a Matisse?”


“I’m going to show these to my patients.  To the young girls that come in asking   for the ‘pill’ or for an intrauterine device.”


“The girls can’t use them.”


“No, that’s true.  But I am going to try to talk them into having their consorts use them.”


“Do you think you will succeed?”  I asked dubiously.


“Of course I will succeed.  Because I will combine this display with the pictures of venereal disease that I have collected.  You know, those not very pretty pictures of sores and ulcers.”


Indeed I know them well.  “With those pictures you might scare them away from sex altogether.”


“I doubt it.  But I might convince them that the condom serves a double purpose.  It protects against pregnancy and against disease.  It is unquestionably the best device conceived to prevent conceiving.”


“That’s not what I heard.”


Lapius chuckled.  “Of course I had forgotten.  Your generation has had no experience with these devices.”




“Don’t apologize Harry.  We are all products of our own age.  But let me fill you in on a few details.  It is true that the condom diminishes somewhat the tactile pleasures one might anticipate during sexual contact, but even that drawback has been overcome to a large extent by the sheer of the material used, lubricants, etc.  Condoms have never recovered from the observation of Mme. De Sevigne, who claimed that the condom is ‘armor against pleasure and gossamer against infection’.  But of course she said that in the 17th century.  Technology has improved since then.  Actually now the aphorism can be reversed.  The device is gossamer for pleasure and armor against infection.”


“Can’t there be an accident?”


“Of course there can.  But they are tailored better now to prevent slippage.  And as for effectiveness, there is a quote in the magazine Human Sexuality (July 1973) of a most impressive statistic by Dr. Christopher Tietze, who said that ‘a group of normally fecund couples, copulating 120 times per year and carefully using a good grade of condom on every occasion, would experience an accidental pregnancy rate of 3 per 100 years of exposure.”


“You can’t beat that.”


“No.  The ‘pill’ doesn’t beat that, nor does the intrauterine device.  Besides, look at the medical risk incurred by women who use birth control pills.  They suffer a ten-fold increase in the risk of a blood clot in a vital organ compared to the normal population, generalized endocrine alterations, possibly psychological changes, an insult to the tissues of womb and cervix.  And women wearing the intrauterine device run the risk of low grade infection.  I must say I don’t know why women put up with these contraptions.  Why they risk the mutilation of their bodies when a condom would do the same job safely.  And don’t forget the additional factor of infection.  Use of the condom would certainly halt the spread of the epidemic of venereal disease in this country.  It certainly is a paradox that the women’s lib movement, that fights against having the male use them as sexual objects and that demands equality in sexual matters are willing to run these high risks to become sexual objects.  Real equality would be achieved if they persuaded their escorts to use a rubber.”


“You’re old fashioned, Simon,” I said.


“Old fashioned?  Old fashioned, you say?  I think I’ll make one for myself.    Would you like a drink?”


“Thanks. Make me a Martini.”


“You are too young. I was thinking orange juice.”