Getting It On: A Condom Reader
Edited by Julia Dubner and Mitch Robertson
Soho Press, 1998
Distributed by Farrar, Straus & Giroux.

I recently emerged from a six-year relationship that took up the better half of my twenties, not to mention the nineties, and it felt a lot like coming out of a dark movie theater on a bright and sunny day. It took a while to adjust my vision, orientation, and context--where the hell had the time gone? While I'd lingered in the tiresome droll of "monogamy," "the
birth control pill," "commitment," blah blah, my friends were having sex--lots of sex. I thought I was in on the joke, when we'd laugh about weekend adventures, but I didn't realize how out-of-the-loop I felt and was--until my time came. A short two months had passed since my breakup, a time in which I was convinced it would take months, maybe even years, to recover and even consider sleeping with someone new. But before I knew it, I was there, in the condom aisle of Rite-Aid, getting ready to get it one with my lithe, sinewy yoga instructor. I felt a surge of real excitement--I'm actually shopping for condoms; I'm reading the boxes to find the right sperm-murdering-AIDS-protection-STD-fighting balloon! Yippee! I'm part of society again!

Apparently I'm not the only one who felt that way. When I picked up Getting It On, A Condom Reader, edited by Mitch Robertson and Julia Dubner, I realized I was reading a collection of short stories not just about condoms, but about how they represent everything that sex and relationships have come to mean. It's funny how condoms propel us--in that defining moment--to think about and question so many of our assumptions.

The stories in this collection express the irony and complexity of this brief moment. Thank God for the spectrum of possibilities that these editors have brought together. What could have been an annoyingly one-sided politically correct anthology is instead an honest portrayal of life and relationships. The assortment of writers, including Martin Amis, Ann Rice, and Armistead Maupin, provides the whole gamut of possibilities: from T. Corraghessan Boyle's "Modern Love," in which the protagonist has taken a flying leap into the deep-end of sexual paranoia and insists that she and her lover wear body condoms, to John Irving's excerpt from World According to Garp in which we are reminded of sweet old "ignorant innocence," and then all the way to the other end of the spectrum, with Binnie Kirshenbaum's "One Place: Brooklyn Ts." In this story, the characters decide to throw all caution, along with their condoms, to the wind, and
"fuck like we were in Paradise," as if they were in another time, "before the world became such a complicated place--with no fear of communicable diseases, no self-consciousness, when there was no original sin."

There are so many things we must contend with just to get a roll in the hay, a romp in the sack, to make loovve. This salacious collection reminds us just how much there is to deliberate, suddenly, in that moment when we have to stop and think about the condom, about getting it on, and indeed, what it means on a deeply personal level, to get it on.

--Catharine Sutker

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