About a year ago my boyfriend moved into a new apartment, and I spent the weekend with him helping him clean and organize it (It was fun, and my boyfriend is complete feminist who is not afraid to do “women’s work”). At some point we discussed his lack of condoms, and he mentioned how he should buy more that weekend (for medical reasons I can’t take hormonal birth control). I offered to step out and get them for us, since he was busy cleaning the kitchen cabinets in preparation to make dinner.
I went to the nearest bodega down the street, and the condoms were regrettably behind the counter–usually I find this sort of thing embarrassing no matter what the context, but I asked the man behind the counter for a box with as much dignity as i could muster.
HIM: [after a pause] How old are you?
ME: …I don’t think that’s any of your business.
HIM: [taking it off the shelf slowly and with hesitation] Why isn’t your boyfriend buying them?
ME: ..uh, how much do I owe you?
I left the store after he reluctantly look my money, feeling incredibly angry as to why i was questioned. I’m 23, but I don’t look particularly young, and even if I did, he was way out of line. I’m sure it’s that kind of behavior that makes many women (especially young ones) shy away from purchasing birth control at all. But, you know, I’m sure he just thought he was “looking out” for me and me female inability to deal with my own birth control. My bad; born with a uterus.
In retrospect, I almost wish I had answered “My boyfriend is at home, cleaning the kitchen and preparing my dinner.”