I met Nadine at while at Ragdale, an artist’s residency in Illinois She’s a poet. Her husband is a scientist working in research at the Kinsey Institute. Somehow, during our morning coffee, the subject of condoms came up. I said, “Nadine, this may come as no great surprise to you, but I have been collecting humorous condom packaging for about 20 years.”
I thought that condom packaging was the perfect expression of our obsession with sex and our discomfort with it. Sex often brings up a nervous giggle. After all, we do refer to sex as “doing the nasty” and we do laugh at the oddness of our positions and the sounds we make.
We eat in public and in fact pay a fortune to do so at a restaurant where the atmosphere and the food promise sensuality and pleasure, but we make the double-backed monster in private and not paying for it is a badge of honor. Nor do we return our partner when the promised pleasure isn’t what we hoped for… Well, not immediately.
I thought that when condoms were no longer necessary for disease protection or as a contraceptive, my collection would be worth an extraordinary amount on Ebay. I don’t know what I thought was going to replace those two necessary functions, but I haven’t read anything about it in the NY Times so I assume science hasn’t caught up with my fantasy.
Anyway, Nadine was not at all surprised that I collected condom packaging. She commiserated with the me over not cashing in on my collection by auctioning it at Sotheby’s and suggested that I do something noble by donating it to the Kinsey Institute and so I have.
Dear Ms. Hollander,
Thank you so much for your generous donation of your unique collection of condom packages and sex toys to The Kinsey Institute. I am very pleased to add these materials to our research collection. Although we have been acquiring condoms and other artifacts since the institute was founded in 1947, we did not have any of the items found in your collection. We will make these materials available to researchers, as we also may feature them in upcoming exhibitions in the Kinsey Institute Gallery.