Friday, April 23, 2010

The Things We Buy

I was in Walgreens once and saw a girl - probably late high school/early college aged - walking through the store clinging to something at her chest. Each step she took, she looked both ways to see who was in her vicinity; and with each step, she clinged harder to the box she was concealing with her arms. Could she be stealing something? But then when I got behind her in the checkout line, and she released her death grip, what fell onto the counter was a box of tampons.

At that moment, she made a look: she shrugged her shoulders and looked back & forth at me and the checkout woman. The shoulder shrug/look on her face said, "I know, I'm sorry, I couldn't help it, I needed them."

And I felt bad for her in that moment (although I didn't acknowledge the shoulder shrug - I thought it'd be best not to); I felt bad that she was so ashamed and that she felt the need to justify this purchase - especially considering who she was shrugging at: me (a woman older than her) and the crazy checkout lady at Walgreens who wears a wrist brace.

Then when we were on our honeymoon, we made friends with a couple from Chicago. They were in their early 30s, lived in the suburbs, and had a baby son. I have no idea how the conversation turned to this at one point (although I'm guessing it had something to do with a constant flow of drinks called "Banana Mama," "Playa Blanca," and "Caribbean Sunset"), but the wife told us she still gets too embarrassed to buy tampons at the store, so she has her husband do it. And he said he felt totally comfortable because he knew if anyone saw him, they'd know they weren't for him.

Tampons? Really? They are the most embarrassing thing one could buy? Because, I'd say I can think of many, many more things that would embarrass me to buy at a drugstore.

And yes, I do understand the younger girl, I guess - she's unaccustomed to doing her own drugstore shopping, she could see a cute boy she knows, etc. So perhaps, my shame has faded in that department because I'm in a serious relationship (married, I know, but my embarrassment faded before I took vows). But that doesn't really explain Stephanie from our honeymoon...

So what do you guys think? Are you embarrassed sometimes when you have to buy more personal items at the store?


LB said...

I personally like it when you can figure out exactly what's going on with someone based on what they're holding in the checkout line. Pregnancy test, condoms, advil, cranberry pills? Bad night.

Amanda said...

No shame here. I don't think I was ever embarrassed.

Jonathan said...

Homer: trying to casually buy illegal fireworks Let me have one of those porno magazines, large box of condoms, a bottle of Old Harper, a couple of those panty shields, and some illegal fireworks, and one of those disposable enemas... eh, make it two.