December 2, 2012

A bunch of free submarines

NEVER IN THE THOUSANDS of columns I wrote for family newspapers did I mention the word condom. It still makes me uneasy, but I have to steel myself and move with the times. Condoms are now front-page news everywhere.

Apparently, the U.S. government gave away more than 560 million condoms to various foreign countries in one recent year, and not all Americans are happy about it. The government is getting lots of complaints.

My first contact with a condom came when I was about 8. My cousin Walter and I found a sausage-like balloon half filled with milky water. It was just barely afloat in a rock pool at the beach. Fascinated, we pressed it into service as a submarine.

It was round-nosed, with a knot in the end and a ringed cone at the stern that looked just like a real submarine’s propeller housing. It plunged and rose very satisfactorily.

Back home, my mother and Aunt Peggy clutched at each other and nearly died laughing when we told them. They never explained what it was, though. It was years before we figured it out.

But, to get back to the government: let us contemplate for a moment that pile of 560 million condoms representing, say, 559,994 sex acts, allowing for the half-dozen idiots who will inevitably put them on backwards or swallow them or something.

At an average of two acts a week, this would take one couple 279,997 weeks. Alternatively, it would take a whole country the size of South Africa, with 44 million people, 0.006 weeks, or 0.04 days, or 1.07 hours or 64 minutes. Just think of it: the whole of South Africa could be at it simultaneously for 64 minutes, thanks to the U.S. government.

No wait. Now I come to think about it, only 22 million actually wear the condoms. So double the time. That’s 128 minutes’ worth of sex for the whole country.

But I’m told that few sex acts last 128 minutes, or 2.13 hours. I’ll admit, of course, that it all depends on who you ask. Women, being more realistic, tend to think in terms of 30 to 90 seconds. Men’s estimates tend to be four or five times (or even 10 times) longer, depending on how prone they are to lying.

In any case, time, to men in a sex act, is probably as elastic as a condom. And what would men know anyway? How many men take stopwatches to bed with them? Even if they did, when would they start timing?

Sometimes, while fumbling in the dark, it can take five minutes or more to place the condom on the right protuberance. In the heat of frenzied passion, toes and thumbs and things get in the way.

Anyway, if we allow two minutes as a reasonable average, that’s 64 acts a year, or 1.23 acts a week. So if the U.S. government were to give all the condoms to South Africa alone, it would keep that entire country smiling happily for a whole year. And the kids would have a bunch of free submarines to play with. Who could complain about that?

Today’s Thought
Litigation takes the place of sex at middle age.
— Gore Vidal

Two homeless men helped a limping nun across the street.
"What happened to your leg?" asked one.
"I twisted my ankle in the bath," said the nun.
After she'd gone, one man asked: "What's a bath, then?"
"Jeez, don't ask me," said the other. "I'm not a Catholic."

(Drop by every Monday, Wednesday, Friday for a new Mainly about Boats column.)


Smiling South African said...

With the use of the word "submarine", that article only just makes it into the naughtycal story category.

John Vigor said...

Ja well, Smiler, the name of this column is actually "Mainly About Boats." And mainly it is. But now and then sailors think of other things -- things beside boats -- and I try to reflect those thoughts. (Well, OK, I got carried away.)

John V.

Anonymous said...

You went from 560 million to 560 thousand. The 44 million in South Africa (or 22 million couples) would need about 13 weeks at twice a week to use them up.

John Vigor said...

Oh Bob, you were supposed to be concentrating on the love and excitement of it all, not the nitty gritty of mundane figures.
Never mind the numbers, man, relax and enjoy the passion. (And yeah, okay, I never was any good at math.)

John V.

Anonymous said...

Jumped the shark, later dude.

Ken said...

(It plunged and rose very satisfactorily)

Really John? Is THAT how you remembered the round-nosed sausage-like, milky liquid filled imaginative submarine?

John Vigor said...

Yes, Ken, that's how it was. We held it up, and let it fall into the water. It sank a little way, then slowly surfaced like a submarine coming up for air.

John V.

Jack said...

I was interested to see several more comments to the piece than usual. Though generally your blog is anchored in all thing nautical, it seems "sex sells"
Please don't be persuaded to succumb to this form of journalism ! Jack