Please not that \"flavours\" seem to include banana, orange, strawberry, and... mineral water?

Since I relocated to the UK, my mother has routinely sent me lovely care-packages of books, American magazines, and most importantly, products from home.  The comfort and familiarity of brand-loyalty is never stronger than when one finds oneself on foreign soil and unable to purchase a bottle of ibuprofen containing more than 16 pills.  Thank you, British Government, for protecting me from myself, but honestly?  If I had the bad judgment to off myself with a paracetamol overdose, wouldn’t I just visit multiple stores?  And if I’m an irresponsible enough parent to leave tempting, candy-like pills within childhood grasp, can’t we also assume that the broken booze bottles on the floor, unneutered Rottweiler, and forks sticking out of the unprotected wall sockets are a more imminent danger?

My co-workers alternate between amusement and puzzlement over these care-package items (in December, it was a ten-pound box containing nothing but cold medication – yes, I know you have cold medication here, but my American generic Walgreen’s Sudafed is VASTLY SUPERIOR and there is nothing you can say or do to sway this staunch belief).  They WERE noticeably impressed by my bottle of 200 Advil, however, as they’ve never seen the like, and now everyone with a headache or period cramps in the office makes a pitstop at my desk (the company itself can’t stock painkillers for legal reasons).  At my office in America, we had gallon-sized bottles of Tylenol and Advil which were replenished monthly.  Assumedly, our insurance also covers any subsequent bleeding ulcers.

Which brings me to my ultimate though meandering point:  Durex seems to have a stranglehold on the condom market here, at odds with the luxurious pleasure selection of my hometown Target.  After visiting multiple chemists and franchises, I have yet to find an alternative besides “Mates” brand condoms (a name that does not inspire confidence and is surely only purchased in some sort of desperate, 3:00 am, banana-flavored panic when the bathroom vending machine has malfunctioned and swallowed your last pound). 

One dear friend thoughtfully mailed me some Trojans ultra-ribbed with spermicidal lubricant (three packs of 36, you hero), which served me well until recently.  I have since been forced to resort to Durex, a brand that, while I’ve never been partial to, have never had specific complaints about.  Especially because they were free in the college health clinic.

That has all changed.  UK Durex is made of tougher or less sensitive stuff than the Durex of my previous experiences.  In fact, after a recent, tissue-tearing tryst, I proclaimed it the Rapiest Condom Ever, much to the horror of my partner.  People, I did a finger test – the lubrication problem was not on my end.  Not one to judge TOO harshly, I’ve embarked on this experiment multiple times, with varying amounts of KY, and the result is always the same.  FUCKING OUCH IF YOU DON’T FINISH SOON WE WILL NOT BE SEXING FOR A WEEK.

Using a thorough, journalistic approach that requires no more than two minutes of my time, I’ve Googled Trojan’s website and found that the brand is available online via Boots.  Grateful though I am, I am perplexed by the Durex monopoly, as well as the seemingly poor-quality of the product.  An informal poll of my female colleagues yielded results such as:  “It does feel rapey!  I thought that was normal, though, with condoms” and:  “There are other brands?” 

I think this could go a long way towards explaining the distressingly high rate of STDs like chlamydia here, as well as the number of teenage girls I see on the street pushing prams and looking insolent.  Obviously, more research is necessary, and I will happily rise to the challenge but for the moment, I offer the Durex executives the following commercial slogan:  

“Durex – Perhaps not the UK’s rapiest condom, but it sure feels like it!”