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Our Most Popular Discreet Purchases

I just got an e-mail message from drugstore.com. In muted colors and sensitive tones, the e-mail reminds me that I can count on drugstore.com when I need to purchase products that I might feel a little uncomfortable buying in the presence of other people. The e-mail very helpfully provides a topical list of such products. Apparently, these are the things we buy, but don't want anyone to know that we buy. I share this list with you now as I feel it provides a fascinating snapshot of the deepest desires and most shameful secrets of the American consumer:

It's just tampons.dandruff
diet & weight loss
stop smoking
breath remedies
hair loss
men's hair color
pregnancy tests
sexual well-being
feminine care
yeast infection

A few thoughts: "Feminine care"? Is there really anybody in the drugstore.com demographic who is embarrassed to buy tampons? If there is, I think drugstore.com is doing such women a disservice by enabling their self-hatred. I bet the guys buying baldness remedies wish they had the problems of the guys who don't want to be caught buying Just for Men in Medium Brown. And are people ashamed of their efforts to quit smoking? Are they trying to keep a low profile until they are certain they can actually do it, or is the option of buying smoking cessation aids in an unmarked wrapper supposed to appeal to those smokers who think their wife/husband/whatever doesn't know that they smoke? If this crowd is indeed the target market, I've got news for you: They know. If you don't believe me, smell yourself. Seriously: You totally reek.

Just in case you're not a drugstore.com shopper, you might like to know that this retailer uses the phrase "sexual well-being" as a sort of erotic catch-all. Vibrators, clitoral stimulating gel for the unresponsive lady, desensitizing lubricant for overeager lads, chocolate body frosting—it's all there. It's unfortunate, however, that drugstore.com has chosen to market their sexy wares by lumping them in with some of the least sexy phenomena known to humankind. Looking at this list kind of makes me want to never have sex again.

In closing, I don't know about you, but when I need a home pregnancy test, I need it now. I can't wait 4-7 business days, and I just don't think concealing my possibly slightly less than risk-free sexual behavior from the Rite Aid cashier is really worth $29.95 for overnight shipping. But, hey, that's just me.

January 22, 2004 | Permalink


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