In High School, my wallet contained the usual assortment of things, but I also kept two items most people did not carry. One was a sugar packet, the other . . . caused some interesting conversations.
I kept it nestled where a credit card would go if I had one. I never mentioned I had it (or even called attention to it at all), but somehow people would see it. This usually happened if I dropped my wallet or had it out for something unrelated. Whomever I was with would notice the corner of a square foil packet. Whenever someone saw it, a conversation always followed.
“Is that what I think it is?” someone would ask.
“I guess it could be. Why, what do you think it is?”
“Um, no. If I knew I wouldn’t have asked.”
“There’s only one thing it could be.”
“If you say so.”
“So why do you have it.”
“Uh, cause I used to be a Boy Scout?” Actually, that’s completely untrue. I was never a Boy Scout, though I was a Cub Scout and a Weeblo (worst name ever).
“What does that mean?”
“You know, always be prepared.”
“Fine, but why would you need it? You can’t even get a date.”
“What does that have to do with it?”
“Well, if you can’t get a date, why would you need it?”
“Are we still talking about this?” I would point to the corner of the foil packet peeking out from the card slot.
“Of course.” Eyes were usually rolled at this point.
“Well, like I said, I might need it someday and I want to be prepared.” This is when the other person would usually say something such as, “Yeah, good luck with that.” Sometimes they just provided derisive laughter. Or both.
I was much worse of the conversation was with a girl. They would catch sight of it and immediately start in on me. Once during senior year (the only year I consistently ate at a lunch table with other people), one of the girls at the table noticed the item as I was getting out some money to buy ice cream.
“Who is that for?”
“Well, I thought I would use it, but I guess if someone else needed it I would give it to them.”
Derisive laughter (what’s up with that?) followed by, “I’m sure someone would need it before you.”
“How can you know that? I can imagine lots of situations where I might need it or could use it.”
“Name just one.”
“Um, okay. Well, take right now. You and I are talking. I was about to get ice cream. I might get it and we keep talking as I get back. We talk so much I forget the ice cream, which starts to melt, it might drip on us and . . .”
“Never mind! Stop talking!”
“Why? You asked, I was just giving an example.”
“I don’t want an example.”
“That’s not what you said a minute ago.”
“I changed my mind then.”
“Suit yourself.” I never understood why the girls always asked for an example but never let me finish.
I carried it with me through most of high school and in to college. One night, I finally got the opportunity to use it when I was in the dorm room of a girl I was kind of interested in. We hung out some, but hadn’t dated. That night, we were eating pizza. I was lamenting my horrible luck with the ladies and she was complaining about jerks she had dated. Somewhere during the conversation I realized she was slowly moving closer to me.
She leaned toward me and we were almost touching as she finished her pizza. She held up her now greasy fingers and said, “I hate this part.” Then she proceeded to sloooowly lick each finger while staring into my eyes. I reached for my wallet. I knew this was the moment I had prepared for. I pulled out the square foil packet. As I tore of the edge she said, “Believe it or not, I was hoping you might have something like that with you. You must have been a Boy Scout.”
“Not really,” I said, “but I do try to be prepared.”
I finished opening the packet. I was going to give her what she wanted. I pulled out and unfolded the moist, lemon-scented towelette and handed it to her. She smiled and took it to clean off her hands.
“I can’t believe you actually had this. In your wallet. I bet people always thought it was a condom.”
“Wait . . . what?” Comprehension crept into my brain. That’s why I had all those awkward conversations.
She just laughed and said, “I’m not sure I’ll ever understand you.”
I’m not sure I will either.