By Eric McKinley King
So I grab The Kid’s wallet this morning to put a few dollars in it and discovered that he had recently become a condom carrying member of the teenaged community. My immediate thought was, this dude is barely responsible enough to keep-up with his wallet, much less to use a condom. But in this case, I suppose over-ambition is better than the alternative. Of course it was also cause for conversation, so I waited ’til we were eating dinner to bring it up. Segueing from a totally unrelated conversation about … I said, “Speaking of … why’d you take a condom without asking and put it in your wallet?”
Honestly, I was almost scared of the answer. Then I remembered I was talking to a 14 year old boy. So, of course he said, “I don’t know.” I asked if that was the first and only one he took. He said, yes. I asked him if he felt like needed it. He said, no. We were both a little uncomfortable and there seemed to be a mutual sympathy for having to put each other through this, yet we both understood it was entirely necessary.
I told him, while it was wrong to have taken it without asking me, I thought he should keep it. Yeah, he wasn’t exactly expecting to hear that. And I’m pretty sure I wasn’t expecting to say that either.
There were a few conditions, however:
1.) He still had to ask me for it, if only for the sake of reinforcing the principle of the matter and because I wanted him to hear me say, “Yes.”
2.) He also had to store it responsibly, not exposed, half-hanging out of his wallet.
3.) He had to tell me if he used it.
4.) And finally, he had to know how to use it, which meant I had to show him how to properly inspect, open and unroll a prophylactic (sans the banana).
Then I desperately pleaded with him to talk to me about any and everything that happens, before it happens–which I fully realize may not happen. But the most important part of the conversation came post-demonstration. I spoke to him very candidly about my experiences and the perspective I’m afforded as an adult that I didn’t have as teenager. I told him about the unplanned pregnancies (him being one) and the fact that I’m practically a unicorn for never having contracted an STD. I even showed him the (positively negative) HIV screening I took last month.
None was meant to scare him, but impress upon him a greater sense of responsibility. We’ve always had a unique relationship and never was that more evident than tonight. It had its awkward moments, but it was also peculiar thrill to see him look at me with disbelief and reverence at the same time. He knows he’s getting intel that most of his peers are not. And I found myself thinking about how much I could’ve used this kind of wisdom at his age–how many of my friends could’ve–how many of his friends could now.
It’s a Google wallet I got him last year ’cause I figured it was too red for him to misplace or lose. Embossed on the front is, “I’m Feeling Lucky.”