7. Lemon Flavour

7. Lemon Flavour

A Chapter by Peter Rogerson



Mr Selwyn Jones, pharmacist and lover of good humour, felt his heart leaping up when Walter Archer entered his shop mid-morning. The silly old fool had rushed out of his shop the other day to consult himself on the subject of the flavour of condoms of all things, and had no doubt since then consulted whatever lady was in his rather inexperienced and hesitant eyeline.

I’m back,” said Walter rather obviously.

So I see,” replied Selwyn, “do you have a requirement?”

She likes lemon ice-cream,” replied Walter, not sure what her choice in such frozen sugary confections had to do with personal protection, but prepared to give in to an experienced expert. “I wish I’d known about flavours when Peggy was alive. She was definite that she didn’t ever want to start a family and worried a lot about toilet seats.”

Ah lemon, tasty,” murmured Selwyn, almost completely at a loss, “do you offer to engage in such fascinating personal pleasures as, you know what once equipped with a lemon flavoured condom?”

Mr Archer most certainly did not know what. The notion of condoms had not come from the delicious Jennifer Dewberry but his own, albeit very old, memories of how sometimes it’s useful to do something in order to prevent all manner of consequences spoling the day. The terminology inside his head was as vague as that and he still believed the old lie that some women catch pregnancy from an inadequately washed toilet seat.

He’d never actually washed a toilet seat, though on occasion he did wipe the one in his own flat. He was careful, though, never to sit on those in public conveniences. His late lamented Peggy had rammed the dangers from such widely used facilities home to him on many savage occasions. Even though a decade had passed since her passing, he could hear her dead voice now, warning him, and she was quite racist in her considerations of micro-organisms lurking on non-English bottoms. She even considered the Scots and Welsh to be a danger, and as for the Irish… well, the less said the better!

It’s best to have some protection,” he acknowledged, “when using the toilets exclusively belonging to others, and I have a lady friend...”

A guffaw of laughter that Mr Jones fought to keep suppressed started exploding inside his head. Of all the days to be alive, this must surely be one of the finest! The man, the fool, this Mr Archer, thought that he needed protecting from the lavatories of such fine and undoubtedly unsullied females as the delightful Miss Dewberry, who once in a blue moon popped into his pharmacy for toothpaste and the odd prescription. Miss Dewberry must surely have a toilet that reeked of bleach and other cleansing chemicals! And anyway, how might a condom help this strange man if she didn’t, if the impossible was true and her own toilet suffered from the worst excesses of neglect?

The guffaw came out. It had to. There was no way he was going to keep it in without risking a medical condition like heart failure. But out of consideration for the feelings of his wretched customer who he wanted to retain for as long as he could for the purposes of personal amusement, he converted the aforementioned guffaw into a coughing fit and spluttered his way to relative sanity.

Personal pleasures were never high on my list of fancies,” replied Walter after a pause for the unfortunate pharmacist’s medical condition to fade away, and being a somewhat logical man he contemplated the possibility that the very shop he was standing in might offer a remedy for the unfortunate man’s series of explosions. “Might you have cough mixture somewhere on one of your shelves?” he asked.

It’s an allergy,” spluttered Mr Jones without explaining that the only thing he was allergic to idiocy.

So you would recommend a lemon flavouring?” asked Mr Archer, and in order to retain any vestige of sanity himself he nodded his head somewhat vigorously.

Lemon’s good, if that’s what the lady wants to… wants to … enjoy...!” Selwyn cackled, and reached for an appropriate packet of three lemon flavoured condoms. And such was the joy he had received in this brief interlude with Mr Archer that he handed them over.

Here,” he said, “we don’t have much call for lemon and these are becoming quite short-dated, so have them on the house and let me know how you get on!”

That’s most kind of you,” smiled Walter Archer, and he took the packet and looked at it curiously.

It’s quite small for a protective device,” he mused, “it’s wonderful what they produce these days! If my Peggy had known … she would have been all over them! She liked a clean bowl!”

I see,” said Selwyn, because seeing was the last thing he could do at that moment, “excuse me, sir, but I need to close the shop!”

Why?” asked Mr Archer, frowning, “it’s but ten o’clock! A bit early for lunch, I’d have thought.”

I need to see a dog about a man,” coughed the chemist, “come on, sir, you’ve got what you came for and at no charge!”

Of course, how bad mannered of me,” apologised Mr Archer, and he reversed out of the shop carrying his precious packet of three lemon flavoured condoms as if they might vanish any moment in a puff of magical smoke, narrowly avoiding the passing Reverend Smythe as he went.

No sooner was he alone than Selwyn Jones flipped the open/closed notice that hung on his door and rushed out to the bookshop where Mrs Bookworm was smiling to herself at what must have been an unusual and heart-warming joke.

That man,” he said to her, still chuckling, “the one who fancies Miss Dewberry…?”

Ah, Mr Archer,” nodded the book seller, dusting her till.

Does he know what condoms are?” he asked.

I should imagine so,” she replied, “surely everyone does, from twelve year-old lads onwards.”

That’s what I’d have thought,” agreed the pharmacist, “but that chap who just came in, that Walter Archer, doesn’t seem to.”

What would he want with condoms anyway?” asked Mrs Bookworm, “surely even if he and Miss Dewberry were considering cohabiting, that good lady has, how shall I put it, passed the age at which babies might arrive out of the blue? Such days are surely far behind her?”

They are,” confirmed Selwyn, “I do her prescriptions and I know what some pills are for.”

So what’s he on about?” asked Mrs Bookworm.

It would seem to have something to do with what he might catch from a toilet seat,” replied Selwyn, “I got the impression that he’s acquired the condoms to protect him from the lady’s lavatory and pregnancy of his own!”

Oh my goodness!”

And I was wondering, and I couldn’t help it, but when he opens a packet and withdraws the little rubber device, what he’s going to do with it if he wants a wee?”

Of all the…” and Mrs Bookworm was suddenly engulfed in similar floods of amused guffaws as Mr Jones had been not two minutes earlier when faced with Mr Archer’s strange dilemma.

We’ll have to see if he says anything,” murmured Mr Jones when they had both recovered enough to carry on a normal conversation. “Maybe he’ll work things out and come to some sort of rational conclusion.”

One would hope he does, but he was so dependant on his late wife to do his thinking for him, he might not...” giggled Mrs Bookworm, “and he could make quite a mess if he gets things wrong!”

The lemon flavouring might give him a clue,” grinned the pharmacist, “or guide the delightful Jennifer towards giving him a full and unexpurgated explanation one cosy evening in front of her log fire!”

It’s probably gas, but I’d love to be a fly on her particular wall anyway,” laughed Mrs Bookworm, “and she does prefer the steamier variety of romantic novels,” she added, “which is probably a good thing.”

© Peter Rogerson 29.06.20

© 2020 Peter Rogerson

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Added on June 29, 2020
Last Updated on June 29, 2020
Tags: widower, ignorance, pharmacy, condom


Peter Rogerson
Peter Rogerson

Forest Town, Nottinghamshire, United Kingdom

I am 76 years old, but as a single dad with four children that I had sole responsibility for I found myself driving insanity away by writing. At first it was short stories (all lost now, unfortunately.. more..