Why I Keep a Costco-Sized Box of Condoms in My House

by Kathryn Mayer
Originally Published: 
Condoms packed in blue, red, purple and green packages

I have a Costco-sized box of condoms in our hall closet, opened, right up in front, with a handful removed so nobody’s counting or keeping track if any go missing. Easy access, no questions asked.

Like mints: Take one. Take two. Just take.

I’d prefer these horny teenagers save it for someone who matters, someone who will love them inside and out, to their very core and soul, and not just until the parents get home.

But it’s been proven that such perspective takes time, and often much trial and error, and while that maturation percolates, I want the teens to have all the facts about sexually transmitted diseases, pregnancy, responsibility, compassion, accountability—and free and easy access to condoms. Because the only thing safer than a condom is abstinence, and well, that preacher done gone home for the day.

The condom brigade began when my girls started drooling over my daughter’s very gorgeous friend. He was smart, ripped, cuter ‘n cute, funny, and every parent in town loved him. Us included. Way too short for my daughter (says she, not me), so since kindergarten, they were just buds.

Which is how I found out about his purity promise card.


“This,” he said confidently, taking out his promise card from his wallet and proudly showing me. His promise to wait to have sex until marriage. Signed by the priest and himself. Said it right there, signed on the dotted line. Looked a little like this:

© Kate Mayer

This boy. This young, naive boy whom I’d known since kindergarten, who still climbed trees and played manhunt in our yard. He was quickly becoming a smokin’ hot teenager who in ninth grade already had upperclassmen jockeying for prom dibs. And only a cheesy piece of oak tag to protect him. His brain hadn’t caught up to his brawn yet, but when it did, that card wasn’t gonna help and I knew it.

“Listen, I want to give you something. Just in case, ya know? I’ll be right back,” I said, and bounded up the stairs. I hadn’t a moment to lose. The weekend was fast approaching!

“Mommmmmm. Mom-mom-mom-mom. MOMMMMMMY!!! DON’T …. ” My daughter’s disgust started as a low warning growl, quickly escalated into an emergency broadcast system alerting the boy to the approaching sex-ed tornado coming in. Fast. Take cover.

Which is exactly what I wanted him to do. TAKE COVER.

“Your promise is perfect—really, it is. But do me a favor.” I applauded his intentions, hiding my disgust in my best SNL Church Lady voice, coming back downstairs slowly and deliberately.

“Put this in your wallet, because all due respect, but some hot summer night in the back of your parents’ minivan, that promise card is gonna get you in a whole lot of trouble, and this, this here might just save your night. And your life. Keep it? Please? Just in case—you never know. Maybe you’ll never need it, but take it. Promises are good, but condoms are a smart back-up plan just in case your promise card gets dry rot or something.”

The story got out around town and teasing ensued. Then it wasn’t long before they started stopping by, just to say hi. Or pick up a forgotten book. Or cleats. Teenagers. Teammates. Friends. Not-so-much-friends. Boys. Girls. Slowly but surely, the box began emptying. Not all in one weekend, but over the course of high school—clearly somebody was getting something. Safely, thank you very much.

By her senior year, most of my daughter’s peers knew where to go when promises made might be broken. “Seriously, Mom. Do you have any idea how embarrassing it is that everyone comes to me for condoms, and I’m, I’m, I’m still a VIRGIN? Agggghhhh. It’s pathetic.”

“Oh honey,” I told her. “Patience. I promise it won’t be forever. You’re going to college. I’ll get you your own Costco box to take with you. It’ll be worth the wait, I promise. Do you want me to make you a card?”

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