First written February 2010. Rated R.
Last week I jumped on the illness bandwagon and got me a common cold. They’re all the rage – everyone’s wearing the puffy eyes and red nose look.
I’ve suffered many an illness in my time, and being the fastidious hoarder that I am my drawers were already stuffed to the gills with pills and potions and placebos to banish most ailments. My medicine cupboard was full, but my nose was running like a bear was after it, and I was out of tissues. Now the average man would have used toilet paper, but like the true average man, I’d just about run out of that as well. After a quick root through all my pockets for old scrunched up bits of soft paper proved fruitless, I realised I’d have to brave the outside world and buy something.
Determined to knock this disease on the head, I wrapped up warm and shuffled into a well-known chain of chemists, which also does a spectacular Meal Deal offer. I don’t know why I’m being so coy; it was Boots. Figuring I’d kill two birds with one stone, I grabbed lunch as I passed, selecting a smoothie and a fruit bar, in order to fool other customers into thinking I ate this healthily all the time, the gullible fools…
I then spent what must have been a good five minutes wandering around the shop looking for the desired tissues. Being an aforementioned bloke, I was not accustomed to the layout of shops that sell things like make-up, and was also not going to ask for admit defeat and directions if I could help it. I wandered up and down each aisle in sequence, perusing, browsing and ultimately wasting precious minutes of a finite and rapidly passing lifetime.
I found myself towards the back of the shop in the section that deals with the sexual items and other downstairs departments.1 From here, I had a good view of the rest of the store, and was also well placed to hear some steady reggae rhythms being emitted by a nearby speaker. I bobbed my stuffy, gloopy head in time, and shortly spotted a convenient, obvious and truly massive sign saying ‘TISSUES’.
Here I had a quandry. Many of the tissues appeared to be scented, or laced with something (chloroform for all I know) and encased in exquisitely flowery boxes. Already out of my depth in a sea of beauty products, some innate male foolishness in me decided I needed to overcompensate. Anything feminine looking was immediately written off, and I selected a big black box; the one that looked most like a sports car. There was even a pattern to suggest carbon fibre.
My Suspicious Package
Not content with this however, I also picked up an also-needed pack of razor blades for my invisible, cactus-like facial hair. I contemplated a packet of prophylactics, but no-one would be coming near me in my condition, and in any case, I am well versed on forgoing the need for contraception, as I spend almost every evening working myself into unconsciousness instead of going out and meeting girls. That word was working. Go back and read it again.
At this point, dear reader, you may be giving up hope on this ramble ever becoming amusing, and instead writing it off as a glorified shopping list, and you’d be right to think that, because it is dull, but it’s about to pay off; I wouldn’t let you down like that.
I approached the cashier, and handed my selections over to the pretty young thing behind the till. As she beeped them through, I reviewed my soon-to-be purchases. Sandwiches, good. Apple and banana smoothie, healthy. Fruit and nut bar, doubly so. Razor blades, with no actual razor – odd, but unremarkable. Tissues. I caught a look in her eye as she scanned them. To my horror I noticed they were ‘man-sized’. ‘Man-sized,’ as in ‘for filthy business’.
My mind raced. What must she be thinking? What had she seen me do? I had entered the shop, wandered up and down the aisles suspiciously, as if I was trying to find something, stopped near the sexual lubricant, NODDED TO MYSELF, THEN GONE STRAIGHT FOR THE MAN-SIZE TISSUES. God knows what she thought the razors were for AS I CLEARLY DIDN’T HAVE A BEARD. Maybe she thought I was into auto-erotic-asphyxiation or other branches of onanistic self-harm, or maybe – yes, that must be it – I was so disgusted at myself and the hideous wanking monster I had obviously become I was going to tug my way through this box of tissues, climb into the bath and end it all.
I opened my mouth to say something. I thought about telling her how ‘I spend almost every evening working myself into unconsciousness instead of going out and meeting girls,’ and rejected it immediately, because it would only prove her false assumptions. I thought about arguing that if I – or anyone else – was planning a lengthy stint of unmentionable activity, surely I would have taken an item from the lubricant aisle I spent so long standing and nodding in. I though about arguing that if I was going give my bucket a good kicking surely I wouldn’t have opted for such a healthy last meal, and then explaining to her how much I would have preferred the steak and onion crinkle crisps, but didn’t want people to think badly of me. I even thought about saying ‘WHO ARE YOU TO JUDGE ME!?’ but that might have caused a scene. God forbid.
Then I realised I had a panicked look in my eyes and illness-begotten clammy, pallid skin. The look of a chain-masturbator who’d been caught.
I looked the girl straight in the eye and did a very loud and deliberate snort. There was no doubt to her, the other checkout girls, the nearby security guard and the rest of the queue that I had a runny nose. I shoved a tissue up it and left the shop with head held high.
Why can’t all boxes be as friendly as this guy? Via GnomeSweetGnome on Etsy.
1 Not to be confused with the downstairs department of the shop, which sold hair-care products, electric straighteners and those funny plastic jellyfish skin things ladies put on their heads in the shower.