I felt compelled to search for jock-itch cream* in Tallinn, Estonia.
No, my personal hygiene standards did not mysteriously plummet during our week-long visit.
No, I didn't mistakenly swap undergarments while changing in the MyFitness locker room.
No, I didn't receive (nor give) a lap dance from (to) one of the local streetwalkers with visible and/or tactile inner-thigh acne.
I had no intention of purchasing jock-itch cream should my search bear fruit. [And assuming I did need to purchase it, I would not have not used the "It's....not for me" desperate haymaker of an excuse-- nobody believes that it's not for you. Seemingly, your credibility to the cashier bottoms-out at this point, and like quicksand, any attempt at escape buries you faster, deeper. Why anyone cares about what the cashier thinks may be a topic for another day, but it remains a very real phenomenon.]
I was merely browsing, hoping to identify jock-itch cream on the shelf. If it's not yet obvious why, let me provide some background on Estonia (and capital city Tallinn):
- One of the most progressive and educated countries on the planet, Estonia has a 99.8% literacy rate (USA is approx. 86%) and is even beginning to teach programming language to first graders
- First country in the world to offer online political voting (since 2005)
- Free wifi is available nearly everywhere in Tallinn, including outdoor public parks & shopping centers
- Estonia is the least-religious country in the world, where only 16% of the population cites religion as an important part of daily life
- Tallinn offers free public transportation to its residents...yes, free
- Estonia as a country claims to have the highest percentage of models per capita-- my (admittedly anecdotal) experience there did corroborate the presence noticeably sterling genetics
- Tallinn has a beautiful historic old town that is lively and not overly gimmicky; there is also a great cat cafe in the downtown area
Nigh an ideal place-- at least to me. While not usually one to look a gift horse in the mouth, something in my subconscious was softly beseeching me to uncover an obvious flaw-- not one that would capsize the pedestal upon which Estonia sat, just something to lower it into a stratum of approachability.
That's where jock-itch comes into play. After minor deliberation, I resigned to seek consolation in, where else, but the 'anti-fungal' section of the pharmacy. If I could find jock-itch cream in Estonia, I could be reasonably assured that the affliction had not been rendered obsolete by societal innovation or superior DNA. Supply would suggest demand; solace would be consummated.
Preparation would be vital (pardon the pun)-- I needed to be able to recognize a handful of key Estonian words, which I looked up and noted in my phone for quick reference.
Armed with the knowledge of (perhaps) what to look for, I set off for the shopping center. So there I stood, the sole customer in the apteek (pharmacy), doing my best to browse without arousing suspicion from its 3 employees on duty. It was one of those duck-cliche situations-- appearance of calm on the surface, but paddling like hell below it-- I soon found myself scrambling to find one of the key words above or some sort of visual heuristic that would transcend the most impermeable language barrier.
But as soon as I found what I thought to be the right 'section'-- the employee at the counter asked me something, in Estonian, likely resembling "Can I help you find something?" When my response of "Sorry, I'm.. just looking" didn't entirely register with her, she proceeded to call over another (younger) employee whose English was much better in an attempt to properly assist me.
The young woman quickly and cheerfully trotted over and asked "Hi! What can I help you to find?"-- and at that moment, as the needle on my 'fight or flight' gauge swung resolutely toward the latter, I managed a terser version of my initial response and a true shot-from-the-hip with the phone camera as I exited that aisle, making a bee-line for dental. I gave their toothpaste offering a once-over and then saw myself out.
So, was the hip-shot successful? Let's take a closer look:
- Altermed Panthenol / Panthenol Spray / Panthenol-ratiopharm: treats minor burns and sunburns
- Braunovidon Salv: for open and partially closed external wound care
- Sodermix: topical scar treatment
- Contractubex: sounds gruesome, but also for scar treatment
- Bepanthen Anti-Exem kreem: for eczema and diaper rash
- Badiaga: homeopathic herbal remedy for a variety of ailments including eczema and psoriasis
- Paastja: translates to 'savior' in English, but no indication of what this is for-- though, when you google "paastja salv" you (predictably) get results for "pasta salad" (which may in fact be the more offensive of the two)
- Octenisept: primarily used as an antiseptic, but avoid using on your dog
- Bionect kremas: for burns and wounds
I'd be hard-pressed to consider that a success. I was hoping for a much more definitive result (as in the image below)-- leave it to 'the store brand' to make it painfully obvious.
In conclusion, Estonians probably suffer from jock-itch like everyone else, and they probably have access to over-the-counter relief if/when something flares up (staggering revelation, I know).
A fool's errand from the very start; I'd have it no other way.
*I'm sure there's a clear distinction for which homophone to use (cream/creme), but regardless, 'creme' carries too much of a dessert-like quality to me. I do enjoy the occasional Cadbury Creme Egg and prefer to keep the two products in separate ledgers for now.
[Post Script: the cream/creme debate appears to have taken place only in the narrow confines of my skull, as a cursory web search, consistent with Walgreens, identifies 'cream' as the medium's established nomenclature. Furthermore, I initially struggled with whether or not to hyphenate 'jock' and 'itch' (which, in retrospect doesn't seem to need the hyphen)-- but then got sidetracked by the Google query autofill before I could type "...hyphenated?"
I think the "I'm Feeling Lucky" link should be disabled in cases like this. If you were to ask the smartest person in the world, "Dr. Google, is jock itch contagious?"-- you would not want the answer to be "Well, are you feeling lucky?"]