The Right Thing To Wear

February 23rd, 2017

You probably don’t think about condoms much at all, and certainly not heroically, but consider this:

The humble condom has the potential to give lives back before they’re lost, to save one generation and to assure the next is wanted and loved, to prevent sexually transmitted disease, and, in retrospect, it could have eliminated every idiot in history.

And just think, despite the idiotic efforts of some, condoms in Memphis are still free.

As published in The Memphis Daily News, February 24, 2017, and in The Memphis News, February 25-March 3, 2017

FreeCondoms Photo 2 Copy


About 25 years ago, we went to the Cooper-Young Festival with another couple. Our sons were about 9 or 10 at the time. As we lingered at this or that booth, the boys got antsy, so a later meeting place was agreed upon and they took off.

Some weeks later, the other boy’s mom was cleaning his room and found an amazing cache beneath socks and such – red ones, yellow ones, blue and green and pink, purple and fuchsia and violet, the whole rainbow.

Condoms, at least a hundred of them.

Seems folks were giving them away at Copper-Young, so being free, the boys went back and forth between those folks grabbing them by the handful. No clue what they were for really, maybe just having something you knew was for something you weren’t supposed to know about yet, maybe wicked water balloons, whatever.

He said he was supposed to hide them. He said it was all my son’s idea, and I believed him. It’s the genes. I’m into condoms myself – now there’s a line – and I believe we should be giving them away on street corners, as party favors and thrown from parade floats, on top of napkins in place settings and given to people along with their change – “You want fries – and a condom – with that?”

Of all the advertising I’ve written in the last 46 years, a recent campaign may be the most successful. After all, it had both sex and free in it.


To date, that campaign, along with the hard work of Planned Parenthood and their community partners across the city, has been responsible for giving away 1.7 million condoms and counting.

“GETTING IT ON IN MEMPHIS IS FREE. FreeCondomsMemphis.org”

I couldn’t be prouder. This is my town and that’s 1.7 million little things that directly address some of our biggest problems; the multi-generational social and fiscal tragedy of unwanted teenage pregnancy, the highest rate of new HIV cases in Tennessee and an almost equally alarming rate of sexually transmitted disease (STD), and so much more societal pain that can be stopped before it ever starts.

Yet the Shelby County Mayor and the County Commission made this about politics, about Planned Parenthood and abortion, rather than about something that makes abortion moot. Before narrowly approving the program, and just to make a point, they risked losing federal funding and 100 distribution points to bring it in-house to an already overburdened health department. 

Well, here’s the point; Planned Parenthood isn’t in the business of abortion; they’re in the business of women’s reproductive health and STD prevention. Abortion is about 10% of what they do because no one else will provide this constitutionally given right, and the reason they’ve distributed 1.7 million condoms is so they can do less and less abortions.

All those years ago, those folks at Cooper-Young got it. Sadly, so many still don’t.

I’m a Memphian, and I know where you can get free condoms.


There are no comments yet.

Leave a comment