I recently had to pick up a prescription for antibiotics at the local pharmacy for a sexually transmitted disease spider bite. While there, I saw an old friend who avoided me like the plague. Coming from someone who regularly ducks out of the way at the first sight of an old friend like I’m in the middle of a high stakes dodge ball game, I wasn’t particularly offended. Sometimes you just don’t want to get stuck making small talk when you’re in a rush. Sometimes you don’t want someone to see how fat you’ve gotten since high school. Sometimes you just don’t want anyone else to know that it’s 7pm and you’re already (or still) in your pajamas.
But sometimes you just don’t want people to know what’s in the pill bottle. I’m lucky enough to not need any prescription meds regularly so maybe I should have realized this earlier, but apparently you do not want people to run into you at the pharmacy. You bump into someone at target and what’s the worst that someone can find out? That you use cheap toilet paper? (God I hate the rough stuff) Or you run into someone at the liquor store and at least neither of you can say anything: you’re both buying a handle of hard alcohol for yourself. On a Monday. At 11am. But at the pharmacy? You can’t just ask what they’re there for. It could be getting rid of that unwanted cold. Or those hemorrhoids. Or that unborn child. Shit gets awkward.
If you take me at my word that I’m just taking antibiotics for a spider bite, there’s not too much to be embarrassed about. Maybe that I’m dumb enough to let the bastard get me twice before getting rid of it. But that’s about it. Sure beats “I have a infection from the stripper I met at Denny’s and told me that she never does this with her other customers.” We have a class in middle and high school specifically to warn us about the dangers of STDS. Then everyone goes to college, gets drunk 8 days a week, sleeps with anything that moves, and somehow we’re supposed to believe that everyone we know has disease- free junk? Something like 1 in 6 people between 14-49 have herpes. With those odds you’re bound to run into someone you know picking up some ointment right? There’s no back entrance where you can slip the pharmacist cash and avoid paper work like that sketchy Chinese food take out place at 3am. For all those saying drive-thru pharmacies… shut up, you’re ruining my poorly planned out argument. And you probably have STDS. Or you’re really lazy.
Even if your dingle doesn’t tingle you might not want to let your former buddies know that you need 3 types of anxiety meds to get through the day without vomiting. All mental health drugs are, uh…pretty sensitive. What are you doing here? Me? I’m just picking up some Claritin-D, you? Oh, I’m just picking up some anti-psychotics so I stop hallucinating that the mail man is trying to elope with my cat. Want to go grab a beer? Uh, maybe later. But hell, we’re all a little crazy. And we all know some of us are a lot crazier. But none of us want to run into an old acquaintance when we’re paying for don’t kill myself pills. To be clear, I don’t think I’m any better self medicating my depression with pre-noon whiskey purchases. But there’s just not the same stigma. Somehow the person caught picking up something that actually helps them function is judged harsher than the person trying to destroy their brain (and liver) functioning. Yet, how many people would run into the next aisle and hide behind the tampons when they’re buying their booze? You know, if they sold tampons at Kappy’s.
I guess it’s tough not to be curious. What’s my old basketball coach doing here? You seen his wife? Gotta be Viagra. Who thought they were too cool to hang out with me in high school? Yeah, well, who looks like they’re addicted to painkillers now? Or, what’s my 3rd grade English teacher picking up here? Hope whatever it is makes you a lot happier now than you were back then, you miserable old bitch. It’s dumb, but it’s interesting to speculate. And more importantly it’s a conversation starter. We’re all so bad at engaging small talk that inevitably the first thing we ask people is “what are you doing here?”. Well, we are at a Dairy Queen, I’m clearly picking up snow tires. Obvious or not, it’s the ice breaker. But when you run into someone at the pharmacy and ask them that question it’s like asking someone to look into their brain. Or read their diary. Or to pull down their pants. And sometimes it’s just better pretending you didn’t notice them.