No glove, no love
July 26, 2012 12:15 AM   Subscribe

I born in factory. They put me in wrapper. They seal me in box. Three of us in box. In early days, they move us around. From factory to warehouse. From warehouse to truck. From truck to store. One day in store, boy human sees us on shelf. He grabs us, hides us under shirt. He rushes outside.

A short story from the New Yorker by Simon Rich, youngest writer ever hired on SNL.
posted by growabrain (80 comments total) 53 users marked this as a favorite

 
I'm such a crouton-petter - I teared up a couple of times while reading this.
posted by illenion at 12:27 AM on July 26, 2012 [17 favorites]


Who would have thought a short story in the first-person of a condom could be so endearing?
posted by allkindsoftime at 12:27 AM on July 26, 2012 [16 favorites]


I'm fascinated by the epithet "crouton-petter". What's the provenance of that?
posted by FrereKhan at 12:28 AM on July 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's like Toy Story, with condoms.
posted by Malice at 12:30 AM on July 26, 2012 [16 favorites]


This is almost insufferably cute and twee, but I liked it despite myself.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 12:30 AM on July 26, 2012 [5 favorites]


Re: crouton-petting, it's Metafilterese for anthropomorphizing, feeling compassion for the inanimate - see here.
posted by illenion at 12:31 AM on July 26, 2012 [6 favorites]


That was very clever!
I do believe Simon Rich has a bright future.
or already has a bright future.
posted by quazichimp at 12:33 AM on July 26, 2012


New Yorker Tags:

Condoms;
Wallets;
Student I.D.s;
Driver Licenses;
Dollar Bills;
MetroCard;
Expired
posted by honest knave at 12:37 AM on July 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


That made me really sad.
posted by Ad hominem at 12:41 AM on July 26, 2012


So apparently I am going to end my day feeling all sad for a fictional talking condom. Thanks, Metafilter.
posted by prize bull octorok at 12:43 AM on July 26, 2012 [17 favorites]


I almost didn't read past the first paragraph, but am glad I did. Sweet.
posted by Telf at 12:45 AM on July 26, 2012


oh come on this is SO unrealistic I mean latex doesn't support the biochemical or electromagnetic basis of consciousness let alone sensory perception and communication he must think we're reeeeeeeally stupid
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:50 AM on July 26, 2012 [10 favorites]


FWIW I liked MetroCard, I got a feeling he is still hanging in there, MetroCard is a survivor. Poor GameStop and Comic Discount cards, just tossed aside, they may have not made it into the shoebox but I bet they are chillin in a desk drawer. The saddest part is how Jordan (Jordi) ages, closer to death with each passing day, his memenos of Rachel will soon be all he has left, he will spend his days rummaging through them, knowing, perhaps hoping, that one day will be his last. Perhaps millenia from now Condom will be unearthed by sentient robots, or extra-terrestrial archaeologists, and begin a new life in an exhibit dedicated to early human life. I doubt it though, most likely he will simply rot along with those mementos of rachel. Objects that once had so much import, now forgotten.
posted by Ad hominem at 12:58 AM on July 26, 2012 [7 favorites]


In case anybody didn't realise (as I didn't for a moment), the story is in two parts; there's a second page after the part about being "expired". The first part sort of felt like a complete story so I didn't check to see if there was a next page.
posted by destrius at 1:12 AM on July 26, 2012 [17 favorites]


Yup destrius, they seemed to have broken the story at the exact point where it could end, so be sure to look for and read the next page.
posted by Neale at 1:28 AM on July 26, 2012


Yeah, you folks who are sad, I think you missed the second page. I was impressed by the way Rich managed to wrap it up without resorting to a cheap joke or some other short-cut that would betray the empathy for the protagonist developed over the course of the story!

oh come on this is SO unrealistic I mean latex doesn't support the biochemical or electromagnetic basis of consciousness let alone sensory perception and communication he must think we're reeeeeeeally stupid

I have three words for you: Universal Vitality Field. It's all explained by the retcon in Reëmergent Crisis Throughout Infinite New Yorkers.
posted by No-sword at 1:31 AM on July 26, 2012 [8 favorites]


I'm going to be so much more careful with my dollars and vending machines now.
posted by orme at 1:37 AM on July 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


The whole time I was reading this, I felt bad for red and blue PetSmart_paegan_, cheery green Sally's_paegan_, cartoonish ChibaHut_paegan_ and all the other cards that don't get a lot of action or, like Medicare_paegan_, get relegated to the add-on card holder but don't travel with me daily.
posted by _paegan_ at 1:42 AM on July 26, 2012


Sadly, this story could have been written by my first condom.
posted by maxwelton at 1:47 AM on July 26, 2012 [4 favorites]


I wanted him to see his old friends and Batman Wallet in there!

Lovely story though, thoroughly enjoyed it: thanks for the link Mr. Brain

p.s. I just rifled through all of my cards to make them feel loved.
posted by Cogentesque at 1:50 AM on July 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


I have a feeling this guy would have told the story as a total douche.
posted by ZaneJ. at 2:06 AM on July 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Condoms expire? What if you haven't even opened the box?
posted by Mojojojo at 3:36 AM on July 26, 2012


Condoms are "born"? How ironical. Does that mean there are little condoms for boy and girl condoms to use to prevent unwanted condoms? And littler condoms upon 'em? Is it condoms all the way down?
posted by chavenet at 4:03 AM on July 26, 2012 [4 favorites]


No, glove, no. Love.
posted by Mothra Pisces at 4:16 AM on July 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


Jesus, I hate it when something makes me experience emotions this early in the morning [dabbing at eyes with breakfast napkin].
posted by FelliniBlank at 4:29 AM on July 26, 2012


almost totally ripped off verbatim from a similar story that was posted to 4chan and reddit 3 weeks ago -- history of a microwave oven if i recall correctly..
posted by 3mendo at 4:44 AM on July 26, 2012


Why condom talk like Cookie Monster? Mmmnom, nom, nom, nom.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 4:56 AM on July 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


PlusDistance look up Simon Rich on Wikipedia. This what it say:

Simon Rich (born 1984)...
...best known for being the youngest writer ever hired on Saturday Night Live...
...Thurber Prize-nominated...
...attended The Dalton School and then enrolled at Harvard University where he became president of the Harvard Lampoon...
...his father is New York Times author Frank Rich...
...as an undergraduate at Harvard University in 2007, Rich received a two-book contract from Random House...
..Academy Award-nominated director Jason Reitman has optioned the movie rights...


PlusDistance not writing this way to make fun of funny condom story. PlusDistance writing this way because this how smart he feel right now.
posted by PlusDistance at 4:59 AM on July 26, 2012 [11 favorites]


Condom hurt and upset by microwave accusation. Condom ask for link to source of alleged plagiarism.
posted by ook at 5:14 AM on July 26, 2012 [5 favorites]


How does the microwave oven fit in a guy's wallet?
posted by rewil at 5:54 AM on July 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


Why condom talk like Cookie Monster?

Is Nookie Monster. But don't rib him about it.
posted by pracowity at 6:00 AM on July 26, 2012 [24 favorites]


If you have The New Yorker on your iPad, you can listen to Simon Rich read this story.
posted by hippybear at 6:02 AM on July 26, 2012


Come on, this was well done. The Pepsi machine gag alone was worth the read.

And, I think he doesn't use articles because he is one.
posted by hanoixan at 6:09 AM on July 26, 2012


Man, am I glad you told me about the second page, destrius. You quite literally saved my morning.
posted by Shepherd at 6:12 AM on July 26, 2012


It seems clear that the protagonist of the story talks the way he does because he simply doesn't know dick.
posted by cerebus19 at 6:15 AM on July 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


If you have The New Yorker on your iPad, you can listen to Simon Rich read this story.

I have a PC, so I can only have Stephen Hawking read it to me.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 6:20 AM on July 26, 2012 [5 favorites]


That was strangely moving. I will go about the rest of my day questioning my sanity. Like any other day
posted by Splunge at 6:25 AM on July 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


I thought that was great, despite the fact that this successful writer is four years younger than I am.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 6:37 AM on July 26, 2012


...Inside are Cigarettes Gauloises and Film Forum Schedule

That is awesome.
posted by jquinby at 6:39 AM on July 26, 2012


I thought the narrator was fucked for sure, at the end there.
posted by Skygazer at 6:40 AM on July 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Is this really what the New Yorker does? Twee stories about condoms? And people think this is worth subscribing to, and paying money for?

I feel like I'm missing something.
posted by ellF at 6:49 AM on July 26, 2012


When I had figured out that the narrator was a condom, I was all "Nooooo, it's been in there for years now! The guy better not use that! Stupid New Yorker, teaching people to use ancient untrustworthy condoms!"

But then it didn't get used because it was expired and I felt better.
posted by Scientist at 6:53 AM on July 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Is this really what the New Yorker does? Twee stories about condoms? And people think this is worth subscribing to, and paying money for?

*blows noisemaker and breaks out party hat*

Hooray! The official thread-pooper showed up! Now it's a party!
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:53 AM on July 26, 2012 [28 favorites]


Second page? What the heck for?? WE REALLY NEED THE HOLLYWOOD ENDING HERE?

I'm sorry, but this could've been truly penetrating fiction, but instead it went all soft and Disney-like.

May I suggest they call the movie based on this story: Forrest Hump.
posted by Skygazer at 6:54 AM on July 26, 2012


Visa really is a creepy lady. And MasterCard is an old pervert.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 7:10 AM on July 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


I showed up ready to enjoy this, my official Complete Sucker for Anthropomorphization card in hand, but what I wasn't expecting were the examples of completely healthy sexuality! First girl uses her right to refuse sex, second girl checks expiration date and has her own condoms; there is playful laughter, even! Laughter! I am just so pleased!
posted by Pwoink at 7:18 AM on July 26, 2012 [9 favorites]


Forrest Hump. Nookie Monster. I don't think I've EVER silently guffawed as hard as today. BTW, if anyone needs me, I'll be petting my crouton.
posted by garisimo at 7:45 AM on July 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


almost totally ripped off verbatim from a similar story that was posted to 4chan and reddit 3 weeks ago -- history of a microwave oven if i recall correctly..

Yes, it is possible to submit something to the New Yorker one week, and have it show up online and in print a few weeks later, so what you suggest could just have happened; also no one ever thought of writing stories from the perspective of unconscious things before, pay no attention to the "Night-Sea Journey" behind the curtain.
posted by kenko at 7:55 AM on July 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


this was oddly endearing.

But.. is it like common for guys to steal their first condoms or something? Or was it suppose to indicate free distributed ones?
posted by royalsong at 7:56 AM on July 26, 2012


Yes. Condom-lifting, as it's called in the lingo, costs the pharmacy industry millions of dollars.

I know this because my first year in college I was working at a pharmacy, and I was the one stealing most of them because I was curious as to what all the different types felt like when worn.

Sometimes I would wear one all day while ringing people out at the cash register, at aforementioned drug store.
posted by Skygazer at 8:07 AM on July 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


Wonderful story. Thanks for sharing it.
posted by highwayman at 8:11 AM on July 26, 2012


ook, i looked for it but couldnt find it. then i remembered what i saw on reddit was actually a screencap of a 4chan thread.. little hope of googling that.
posted by 3mendo at 9:08 AM on July 26, 2012


On condom-lifting:

Buying condoms can be a really stressful thing for some people, especially in a smaller town... It's something that should be encouraged and simple, but there are many barriers put in place that are hard to deal with unless you, and everyone else involved in the transaction, has a healthy view of sexuality. This is especially difficult if you are younger.

Often, the transaction usually goes like this: Ask pharmacist to retrieve condoms from locked glass case, then purchase in front of an actual cashier. Again, if you are in a small town, or a more conservative area, this is not only two opportunities to be judged, but two opportunities for the transaction to be outright DENIED depending on the "moral outlook" of either.

I suspect most of the "lifting" happens due to situations like this, or embarrassment, as opposed to other reasons.

I really don't understand why you can't just pick them up and take 'em through the u-scan... When I was younger, more shy, and in a less progressive area of town, I felt a need to seek out the few gas stations that actually had vending machines, so I could buy a really shitty condom. Many people did not opt to do so, due to societal pressures and the like - this resulted in a lot of unprotected sex, and some unfortunate consequences.

All of this is still a real thing in most of KY. You'd think they'd be better, since they have a state lubricant...
posted by MysticMCJ at 9:09 AM on July 26, 2012 [10 favorites]



*blows noisemaker and breaks out party hat*

Hooray! The official thread-pooper showed up! Now it's a party!


Really? Really?
posted by ellF at 9:15 AM on July 26, 2012


try googling for these exact terms: "born in poor family with too many children" "i am a microwave" .. the only hit is a 4chan thread from july 18th. Anyway, not that there's anything wrong with being inspired by others... just wanted to point out that once again the "i am writing from an unconscious object's perspective" seems to have generated on the chans...
posted by 3mendo at 9:15 AM on July 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ohh yeah .. there are a lot of those on 4chan where they spring it on you at the end that it is from the POV of some random object. Here is one here is another. Fuck, you are right. This dude is a trolled The New Yorker.
posted by Ad hominem at 9:29 AM on July 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


That was pretty brilliant.
My friends try to calm me down. One of the dollars, a One, tells me about the time he met Vending Machine Pepsi. He was stuffed in and out, in and out, so many times he almost died. I know he is trying to make me feel better, but I am, like, please stop talking about that.
posted by delmoi at 9:36 AM on July 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


No, you guys don't get it. A factory in the business of producing devices for the purpose of preventing the inadvertent creation of conscious living things, is inadvertently creating conscious living things! It's irony! Burgess Meredith breaks his eyeglasses!
posted by George_Spiggott at 9:40 AM on July 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


There was definitely a bit of ceremony with folks buying condoms when I worked at a drug store. If it was a couple, the female rarely walked over to the register with her partner but would appear to be browsing in some other part of the store. Women rarely rarely ever bought them unless they were with friends and usually there was some story involved like they wanted them gift wrapped for a baby shower or something.

But more than anything I really prided my self on being as neutral and discreet and judgement free as possible frequently even feeling like telling dudes who were overly bashful or nervous, that they should relax, it was such not a big deal....just another transaction. They might as well have been a candy bar for all I cared.


And anyway, I was most likely wearing a condom myself while ringing them up. Just cos I was bored out of my skull working at that drug store and trying to pass the time...
posted by Skygazer at 9:42 AM on July 26, 2012


Skygazer, you've given me a second reason to think that maybe it's a really good thing that I habitually get my condom stash from a woman-owned adult novelty store here in Brooklyn.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:45 AM on July 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Sometimes I would wear one all day while ringing people out at the cash register, at aforementioned drug store.
posted by Skygazer at 11:07 AM on July 26

Wonderful story. Thanks for sharing it.
posted by highwayman at 11:11 AM on July 26 [+] [!]



Well, that's enough Internet for me today....
posted by magstheaxe at 9:59 AM on July 26, 2012 [4 favorites]



posted by Lynsey at 10:03 AM on July 26, 2012


Is this really what the New Yorker does? Twee stories about condoms?

Yes, that's what it does. It can be entirely summarized in no other way.

And people think this is worth subscribing to,

That is really what people think. All of them. And they think nothing but this.

and paying money for?

That is what money does, it buys the New Yorker.
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:25 AM on July 26, 2012 [11 favorites]


try googling for these exact terms: "born in poor family with too many children" "i am a microwave" .. the only hit is a 4chan thread from july 18th. Anyway, not that there's anything wrong with being inspired by others... just wanted to point out that once again the "i am writing from an unconscious object's perspective" seems to have generated on the chans...

The chans? Really? What, no credit to Sylvia Plath?
posted by sawdustbear at 10:49 AM on July 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


EmpressCallipygos: ...you've given me a second reason to think that maybe it's a really good thing that I habitually get my condom stash from a woman-owned adult novelty store here in Brooklyn.

Hey maaann! Don't be judging me, yo...


Seriously though, most people who work at pharmacies couldn't and shouldn't care less what people are buying...

And if they do, it's really their problem.
posted by Skygazer at 10:51 AM on July 26, 2012


This reminds me of Oscar Wilde's The Remarkable Rocket.
posted by loquat at 11:11 AM on July 26, 2012


Is this really what the New Yorker does? Twee stories about condoms?

No. This is Shouts and Murmurs, which comprises 1 page of the magazine, and nevermore. The page is always satire/parody/from an unlikely perspective. In fact, just today TNY published a history of Shouts and Murmurs:
Since 1992, Shouts & Murmurs has been a regular venue for many notable humorists, including Bruce McCall, Steve Martin, Christopher Buckley, Veronica Geng, David Sedaris, Garry Trudeau, and Wendy Wasserstein. But long before flourishing as The New Yorker’s showcase for comic writing

Shouts and Murmurs was the personal column of Alexander Woollcott...[he] prided himself on producing a column that fit exactly in the space of the single page he was allotted each week. In addition to being a show of virtuosity, this precision was a defensive tactic intended to make it more difficult for his editors, Ross and Katharine S. White, to alter his text without disrupting the layout. This escalating editorial tension, plus the demands of the weekly deadline, ultimately led Woollcott to end the column in December of 1934.
I don't feel the need to be a New Yorker apologist. If not for the cost, I'd be a weekly subscriber...instead I have to scrounge for copies at the public library, or print the articles from work, as I just did with today's 28-printed-page Springsteen profile (posted on the blue). So, the answer is "no," this one-page condom piece of questionable provenance is not really what The New Yorker does.
posted by obscurator at 11:28 AM on July 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


So, the answer is "no," this one-page condom piece of questionable provenance is not really what The New Yorker does.

Thanks for the sincere answer. As a non-regular reader of the New Yorker, I hadn't caught that this was part of the Shouts and Murmurs section, nor did I know the background of the column. While the article is still little more than tripe, it's helpful to know that the magazine on the whole is of a higher quality.
posted by ellF at 12:03 PM on July 26, 2012


Oh, wow. I loved this. But I read the entire thing thinking the guy was holding on to one of those little fake IDs that you get in a kid's wallet...with the 11yo's handwriting, old address, mom as emergency contact, etc. I couldn't figure it out till he tossed it on the bed. lol
posted by Chaussette and the Pussy Cats at 12:21 PM on July 26, 2012


I thought this was great. Thanks for posting!

Full tripe is right out, but just a little more than? Sign me up!
posted by ephemerista at 12:43 PM on July 26, 2012


The first part sort of felt like a complete story so I didn't check to see if there was a next page.

I thought it was better just as one page.
posted by mrgrimm at 1:29 PM on July 26, 2012


There was definitely a bit of ceremony with folks buying condoms when I worked at a drug store. If it was a couple, the female rarely walked over to the register with her partner but would appear to be browsing in some other part of the store. Women rarely rarely ever bought them unless they were with friends and usually there was some story involved like they wanted them gift wrapped for a baby shower or something.

Yes, we all remember that one episode of The Golden Girls. Poor things.
posted by hippybear at 5:54 PM on July 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


As a non-regular reader of the New Yorker, I hadn't caught that this was part of the Shouts and Murmurs section, nor did I know the background of the column. While the article is still little more than tripe, it's helpful to know that the magazine on the whole is of a higher quality.

I've been reading The New Yorker for about 20 years now. I'm at the point just about anything printed in the magazine I will read, except the fiction unless something about it grabs me early on. I have issues with some of the regular writers, but on the whole, it's been one of the more interesting weekly (yes, it's a goddamn weekly!) things to arrive in my house. Fascinating and educational and sometimes deeply moving. Plus cartoons which are rarely funny but nearly always insightful on some strange level.

(And I feel ever so informed about theater and concerts in NYC... Often I don't even know someone is touring until I read about it in TNY, and then I end up seeing them as they make their way west.)
posted by hippybear at 5:59 PM on July 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Often, the transaction usually goes like this: Ask pharmacist to retrieve condoms from locked glass case, then purchase in front of an actual cashier. Again, if you are in a small town, or a more conservative area, this is not only two opportunities to be judged, but two opportunities for the transaction to be outright DENIED depending on the "moral outlook" of either.

Lifting the condom from a locked glass case can't be easy.
posted by kenko at 7:30 PM on July 26, 2012


I showed up ready to enjoy this, my official Complete Sucker for Anthropomorphization card in hand, but what I wasn't expecting were the examples of completely healthy sexuality! First girl uses her right to refuse sex, second girl checks expiration date and has her own condoms; there is playful laughter, even! Laughter! I am just so pleased!

Now that you mention it, this might be the first time I've read a New Yorker fiction piece where one of the people in the sex scene wasn't preoccupied by their own emotional numbness (if not seething, even murderous hatred) towards the other.

But of course he stole practically the entire plot from Hans Christian Andersen. And now I have to go pet some croutons.
posted by milk white peacock at 10:26 PM on July 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


As far as stories being told from this kind of point of view goes, I think that A Gift Of Gold from Animaniacs is one of the more effective. I thought it was really odd when I first saw it years ago, but as I've rewatched it over the years, I've found it is better and better.
posted by hippybear at 11:24 PM on July 26, 2012


Seriously though, most people who work at pharmacies couldn't and shouldn't care less what people are buying...

No, they shouldn't.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 5:47 AM on July 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


So, 3mendo, when you said "totally ripped off verbatim" you actually meant "shares a trope which is arguably millennia old and is so common that it's frequently used as a prompt in writing workshops. Got it.

Accusing a writer of plagiarism is actually kind of a big deal. Especially something in a major, respected yeah, shouts & murmurs is usually pretty terrible, especially when they let Woody Allen have it, and their short fiction editor sure seems to enjoy aimless depressing stories about aimless people being depressed, but otherwise... publication like the New Yorker. I mean the one thing you can't blame the New Yorker for is not taking itself seriously enough. Actual plagiarism in that magazine would be a huge scandal.

For future reference, the fact that the first time you hear of things often seems to be on 4chan or reddit probably doesn't mean those things were invented on 4chan or on reddit; it just means you maybe spend too much time reading 4chan and reddit.
posted by ook at 8:02 AM on July 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


The 10th Regiment of Foot: No, they shouldn't.

Vile, vile pharmacists....


Nothing even approaching that would've been tolerated by anyone at the drug store I worked at. If anything the pharmacists were constantly getting taken aside and quietly asked for advice on personal medical issues. Which they gave without hesitation just for the asking.
posted by Skygazer at 8:30 AM on July 27, 2012


still little more than tripe

No, no, tripe is part of a cow's stomach, whereas a condom might be part of a lamb's intestine.

Totally different!
posted by Sys Rq at 9:30 PM on July 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


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