My family and I moved to California from Minnesota several years ago. There was a certain amount of culture shock associated with the move, and we had to make a few lifestyle adjustments. I discovered that I really do have a Minnesota accent and Norwegian food isn't' sold in grocery stores across the country. The Minnesota Vikings aren't America's Team and hockey isn't America's Sport. We've made several changes over the years, some in reaction to the cost of living out here, and others in reaction to the California culture. In California, a "drive-by" isn't something you do to check out garage sales.

The cost of housing was one of the biggest shocks. We ended up buying a house that was half the size of the one we left behind and 50% more expensive. It was obvious to us that we were going to have to make some major budget adjustments. One of the first things we did was join a Warehouse Shopping Club, thinking that would help us save money. If you've ever shopped at a warehouse, you know that you can't by a "little bit" of anything at one. Paper towels come in pack of 15 rolls, bread in 4 loaf packs I'm not sure if it has helped our budget or not, but we never run out of anything.

Also, in reaction to the Natural Living/California Culture, my husband and I decided to abandon our method of artificial birth control in favor of Natural Family Planning. It didn't sound too difficult, we'd keep an eye on the calendar and use condoms during the danger days. There we were, eating tofu and wheat germ, and practicing natural family planning. We felt like Flower Children. We even tie-dyed our own clothes.

One day shortly after we'd made this birth control decision, I was cruising the aisles at my warehouse store. I saw a condom display. Since I knew we'd need condoms soon, I figured I might as well buy a box. I must admit I don't have a lot of condom experience, so I was glad that I didn't have to make a choice at the drug store. I'd just grab a box off the warehouse shelf and be on my way. Of course I couldn't buy just one box, they were bundled in cases, 12 boxes per case, 12 condoms per box 144 condoms. Sounded about right to me. I quickly tucked the case of condoms under some towels in the cart, not wishing to answer any questions from my six-year-old daughter who was shopping with me.

We finished our shopping and approached the checkout. "Please, oh please," I thought, "just let me get through this without embarrassment." I left the condoms for last. As the clerk picked them up, she looked at me, at the case of condoms, and back at me. "These aren't, like yours, are they?" Apparently I didn't look like the type of person who would need a case of condoms. I wasn't sure if I should be offended or complimented, I just nodded. My heart was pounding, I felt my cheeks flush. "Yes, that's my case of condoms."

Then, horror of horrors, they wouldn't scan. I heard the clerk say these awful words: "Price check on aisle 9, one case of Trojan, Ultra Pleasure, Lubricated."

Now, could you, or anyone you know, hear the words, "Case of Trojan Ultra Pleasure, Lubricated" without turning to see who would be making such a purchase? Right. Neither could the 57 other people who were in the vicinity of aisle 9 that day. I felt the heat of 114 eyes (including my daughter's) staring at me and blurted out the only thing that came into my mind,

"They're for a craft project."

Of course that got the attention of my daughter and she chattered excitedly all the way home. "What are we going to make Mommy?" She asked. "Will I be able to help? Can I invite my friends over to help too?" Nothing was more fun for her than a craft project, and apparently, this was going to be a big one. I told her that it was a Thanksgiving project and we wouldn't be able to get started on it right away. I was hoping that by the time Thanksgiving rolled around, she would have forgotten the whole incident.

The result of our experiment with natural family planning is now 5 years old. She's the joy of the family and a true blessing. But, I'm still left with the bulk of my condom purchase. I wonder if my relatives would appreciate latex Thanksgiving centerpieces?


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