I hadn't more than a few months as a staff photographer under my belt my freshman year of school when my editor called me in the early afternoon one day to tell me that we had a really important shoot and the person who was going to do it had just backed out at the last minute. He was begging me to take it.

I had nothing to do that afternoon except read some really awful novel, but I was feeling pretty lazy and was about to refuse him when he said, "Actually, it's really just an interview shot with Drew Barrymore."

When celebrities came to our campus to pitch their particular causes or give speeches on various subject material or whatever, our paper usually managed to steal about an hour away for an interview and pictures. During my four years of college, I had the change to hang and listen to Jerry Springer, Patricia Ireland, Oliver North, Wyclef Jean and Tori Amos, among others (I don't remember all of them). Good times. On the whole, they seemed to be pretty cool people. I especially enjoyed talking with Patricia Ireland and Oliver North.

Anyway, Drew had come to campus on this pleasant April day to talk with us about the female condom.

So suddenly offered the prospect of spending an hour with the girl who had many years earlier brought Gertie to life for all of us, I decided to forego my studies for the day and go shoot Drew. (Ironically enough, this is the same day I met my girlfriend. The female condom had nothing to do with our developing a relationship.) I think the deciding factor in my decision was the knowledge that years later I would want to write about the experience in my blog.

During her interview, Drew talked about the importance of women being able to provide for their own sexual safety and how great it was not to have to rely on immature college boys to be packing their Trojans. I didn't so much join the discussion (as a freshman, I was still pretty intimidated by people who appeared to know what they were doing) as much as I witnessed it, but I was right there the whole time. Drew laughed a lot and generally seemed pretty cool. And I've never known anyone to be so enthusiastic about condoms, ribbed for her pleasure (eeewww), glow in the dark, stealthy or otherwise.

I managed to steal about two minutes to take pictures with her (which the paper never used). Then I went on my merry way to have some dinner.

Later that night, Drew was participating in a panel discussion on the female condom, which was open to the public (the discussion, not the condom). I learned on this evening that the best way to get kids to listen to a mature discussion on condoms is to invite a celebrity to be part of your panel. Students swarmed the room to see Drew and ended up learning a lot of wonderful things about the possibilities latex opens up for all of us.

Toward the end of the evening, the panel opened it up for questions. A few scattered inquiries here and there yielded nothing interesting. I was in the mood to be entertained, so I stood up to ask about the availability of said female condom. I think I said something to the effect of, "At what point are we going to be able to buy these? I haven't seen them on the shelves of 7-11 or anything." For some reason this provoked a riotous laughter in the auditorium, and I'm sure most of the students were thinking, "well of course this numbnuts hasn't seen them at 7-11. We don't have a 7-11." It's true. White Hen Pantry was our campus convenience store. Quite a step down from 7-11, let me tell you.

Drew gave me a quick laugh. Perhaps she recognized me from our earlier meeting. Then she said that I made a very good point, and that since the female condom was still relatively new, it had not pushed its way onto many retail shelves. She then implored us to start asking our convenience stores to start carrying them. I immediately thought of the humor of a guy like me walking into 7-11 and asking for a female condom. Might be fun to do some day.

A quick aside: I actually love buying things like condoms. It's great to see the clerk ringing up the sale trying to supress that "someone's getting booty tonight!" face. People in line are even worse at it.

Anyway, that was the end of that. After the panel discussion ended, I had to run upstairs to develop my film from that afternoon, which they never used. Still, hanging with Drew was better than reading Jane Eyre for a few hours. I should probably go retrieve my negatives some day and see if I got anything good that day. Oh well.

And just so you all know, this was written mostly for the benefit of the Daisy Princess.