A carelessly discarded object lying on the footpath provided my son and I with many moments of hilarity this week as we walked from our car to the hospital. It took our minds off our troubles. The object in question – a used condom.
My son being the switched-on kid that he is, saw it first. Bets were immediately placed as to how long it would stay there and how many people would see it and would hurry past it. “It’s gross but funny at the same time,” he said,” but I bet that no one, not even the street sweepers will want to pick it up. You could get anything from it, maybe even leprosy.” He bet it would stay there for a whole week. Hoping to show some kind of faith in my local council I bet it would be removed in two days.
Two days later it was still there, well, what remained of it. The rubber ring bit was still there but the rest was gone. Hypotheses were quickly formed regarding its fate. After much discussion we concluded it might have been caught on the sole of someone’s shoe, blown into pieces by the bad weather, or eaten by a dog. Further bets were placed concerning the fate of the remaining rubber thingy. I felt it would be gone by the end of the day but my son stuck to his original prediction of the end of the week.
The days melded into an endless succession of trips to and from the hospital. Hundreds of people accompanied us on our trek – on bikes, skateboards, in prams, in wheelchairs. Boot-wearers, sandal-wearers, sneaker-wearers, stiletto-wearers. Dogs snuffled, cats pranced, street sweepers hovered, but the condom remained.
Jokes were formulated that resembled urban myths – the only condom to survive a nuclear holocaust, one of the objects found a thousand years from now when the hospital site had become an archaeological dig, the only condom to have ever taken root in an urban street. (Taken root, get it? For all you non-Aussies out there ‘root’ is Australian slang for well, you know – hubba hubba.)
The days passed, Alfie was discharged and insisted on walking to the car. My son began to snigger as we neared the spot where the condom lay. Lots of nudging and winking ensued. It was still there. A week later. My son did the victory dance. He had won the bet.
It’s funny how a discarded object can provide a welcome respite from the tension of dealing with a life or death situation. An object that would normally draw my ire instead drew my mirth. I wonder if the person who discarded the condom had any idea at the time of the peculiarity of its fate.