Life in the Land of the Rising Sun

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Great Heat

I've heard that last Monday, July 23, was what is known as 大暑 on the Chinese calendar. I'm not sure how to read the word in any of the Chinese dialects, but in Japanese it's read "taisho". In both Chinese and Japanese it literally means "great heat", though my huge kanji dictionary translates it as "Midsummer Day". In China it is still believed to be the hottest day of the year. Japan, on the other hand, seems to have forgotten the tradition both figuratively and literally. Here in the Land of the Missing Sun July 23 was yet another gray, damp, and nasty day. Today, however, we had the first real summer day in ages. We were greeted in the morning by a brilliant sun shining in a glorious, sapphire-BLUE sky that remained with us all day. We also got some genuine summer heat minus the awful mugginess. Yes, it was a beautiful day. It was a birds and flowers day, a living day, a happy day. It was a day to feel good.

In fact, I feel so uplifted by the return of the summer sun that I'd like to offer a special hello and thank you to all the regular visitors to this blog. You really make it all work! I'd also like to extend a warm, fuzzy welcome to all the new visitors including the ones just passing through along their Google-search way. Hopefully we'll meet again sometime! Oh, and to the person (or persons) spying on this blog so they can report anything naughty to my superiors behind my back, I'll give you this nice, happy smile:


(Well, whatever. Probably better not to ask...)

(Warning: the following article contains subject matter that could be considered naughty and may not be suitable for people with virgin ears, but at least no workplace policies or privacy laws are being violated.)

(I'll go ahead and apologize in advance just in case.)

Speaking of naughty things, I was inspired by a recent post on Pandabonium's site talking about a fashion show featuring clothes made entirely from c-c-c-condoms. (*WHEW* I said it.) Not long ago my wife asked me if buying them (not the clothes, the...well, you know) made me feel embarrassed. Well, why should it? I mean, after all, I'm a healthy, adult human male, aren't I? I'm married to boot, and both sex and birth control are basic facts of life. I can clearly recall a speech given by a girl in my public speaking class at Oregon State in which she scolded people who felt squeamish about condoms. They are an important tool of public order, a valuable method of preventive hygiene, and a source of security. We shouldn't get all dizzy and weak-kneed at the sight or mention of a prophylactic! We should smile and say this...THIS is a key invention of human civilization!

So, do I feel embarrassed when I buy those little, rubber things? In a word, yes. As a rule, I only buy them at large, chain drugstores. I generally hang out in the vitamin and health food aisle until I'm sure no one's looking. Then I quickly duck around the corner, grab my usual brand from that particular endcap, and stuff it in among the other items in my shopping basket (mainly because older ladies there always examine the contents of my basket while I'm waiting in line at the register). Considering I have never, ever seen another guy (or gal, for that matter) anywhere near the "condom cap" tells me that most guys probably do the same thing. At least I'm not alone.

But what's really funny is that the discomfort is not limited to buyers. Take, for example, what happened the last time I restocked my supply at the local drugstore. As it turned out, there was a free gift attached to the box. The label showed a cute, smiling cartoon seal whose shape could probably be labeled obscene. And then there was was wearing. It was definitely something you'd expect to find in a seedy shop in a dark alley (or a high-fashion shop in Shinjuku), not in a local drugstore! Anyway, after I noticed the thing, I decided against going back to the endcap to search for a different brand. Instead, I waited for the line at the register to clear itself of old ladies, and then I made a beeline for it.

I really felt sorry for the poor, teenage girl at the counter. She managed to act nonchalant for a while, but about two items after scanning The Box with the Extra Phallic Seal Gift (arr arr) it must have finally hit her what it was, because her face suddenly turned deep red. After that the episode went something like this:

"Um, 2000 yen..."
"150, excuse me. 1500 yen..."
"Um, 2 yen, 80 items...excuse me. 80 yen, 2 items..."
(notices I'm holding my point card)
"Um, I'll take your point card..."
(promptly drops point card)
"Excuse me..."
(takes deep breath, picks up point card, manages to insert point card into verifier after three misses)
"Excuse me..."
"700 yen..."
(drops item, knocking over a couple other items, exposing The Box)
"Ah, excuse me..."
"1-150 yen. Um, total with sales tax,864 yen."
(sighs, bites lip, yanks out a plastic bag and starts stuffing items into it as if her life depended on it, promptly tears bag)
(flashes a Japanese smile of deep embarrassment)
"Ahhh...excuse me!"
(pulls out a second bag, fumbles with it, and quickly puts the first bag inside it)
(makes eye contact with me for the first time that day...and it lasts almost a tenth of a second)
(remembers that I've placed my money on the counter)
"Ah! Out of 600...excuse me, 6000 yen...136 yen is your change!"
(digs change out of the register with great difficulty, puts the change and receipt into my hand as carefully as her shaking hands would allow, remembers she still has my point card, yanks it out of the verifier and pops it into my hand in what was probably a new speed record for her)
"Thank you very much! Please come again!"
(makes eye contact for the second time, smiles, and then turns to the lady who is next in line so quickly the lady is startled)

I never waste any time leaving the drugstore after I've bought condoms, but this time I think I hustled out a bit quicker than usual. I was deathly afraid I was going to burst out laughing, and I didn't want to embarrass that poor girl any more. For all I know she might have spontaneously combusted. I mean, that seal...

I hope your Midsummer Day was a bright and cheery one!


  • I don't see the big deal about condoms anyway. Many of them are spacious and you don't have to worry about mowing the yard. Also, they often have free fitness centers and swimming pools as well as other amenities. I could see myself buying a condom at some point in my life.

    By Blogger Don Snabulus, at 3:58 AM  

  • The only problem that I have with them is the Home Owners Associations, or HOAs. They often charge outrageous fees for little to no service or value added. I have heard of HOAs charging upwards of $500. (All chuckling aside, this really is one of the big reasons I have not bought a condo...)

    By Anonymous The Intrepid Adventurer, at 6:46 AM  

  • That's a great story - We will have a little "naughty" post'll see some "sights" from our trip to Philly-gotta get Snabby to Bluetooth our Cell Phone photos....

    By Blogger ladybug, at 7:50 AM  


    I also find that condoms are useful for more than just sex, for instance, if you have to clean out the garbage disposal, you can slip one on as a sort of mitten.

    They're also great for keeping the soda in the bottle from going flat.

    You can tie several inflated condoms together and use them as a spare tire. Keep in mind I would only use a genuine bungie condom for such a thing, but...

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:10 AM  

  • Condoms are also good for covering the tip of your rifle to protect the internal working from elements so it doesn’t jam.

    By Blogger Swinebread, at 11:04 PM  

  • Great story Moody.

    I also find it odd that in Japan they wrap feminine napkins in an opaque bag to hide them from view, then put them into a clear bag with any other items purchased. Of course, that just makes it even more obvious what the item is, and again, what's the big deal anyway?

    Swinebread - I've never had a problem with my rifle - condom or no.

    By Blogger Pandabonium, at 8:59 AM  

  • heh heh

    By Blogger Swinebread, at 3:06 PM  

  • That's really nice of you to share a happy smile, cute though... hehehe..

    Condom? No experience at all, but I guess here in Indonesia, mostly female feel embarrass if they have to be near it in public.

    By Blogger Selba, at 4:37 PM  

  • ok... i'll have to come back to this post... but i'll say this...

    i think they should teach birth control w/ condoms in this country... ppl have way too many children... 10 and upwards in many families...

    anyway... can't wait to read this..

    By Blogger Um Naief, at 4:30 AM  

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