Sensis: A new condom for drunks

Two male students sitting on stools are watching the Heat play the Lakers on a flat-screen at Coconut Grove's Sandbar Grill when a middle-aged man with boyishly parted hair and cherubic cheeks walks up. He's wearing a tight-fitting blue T-shirt that reads, "Sensis," and totes a full plastic shopping bag.

"Hi! I'm Beau, and I manufacture condoms!" he says eagerly. The pair stiffens and stares straight ahead. The stranger asks the young men where they're from.

"Norway."

He tries again: "No, really, I invented a new kind of condom."

"Good for you," hisses one of the duo.

"Oh," exhales Robert "Beau" Thompson, a 45-year-old Grove native. He appears momentarily wounded. Then he's suddenly a table over, where two guys and a girl appear just tipsy enough for his presentation. "You guys want to laugh?" he says, reaching into his plastic bag and bringing out a handful of condom packets. Then he produces a long blue plastic rod set into a wooden base. It looks like a target for horseshoes.

Beau rips open a wrapper. Two strange, stirrup-looking appendages dangle from the rubber. "They're handles!" he explains. He yanks the condom over the demo rod, pulling the tabs away from each other as if exercising with the world's smallest Bowflex. And he asks everybody at the table to fondle the handles. "One side has ribs," he says proudly, "and one side is smooth. You feel that? That's so you can figure it out in the dark."

Sometimes the Coral Gables High-educated genius explicitly explains his product's draw, but usually he doesn't have to: A little more than a decade ago, he invented a condom so simple a wasted guy could put it on. The table in front of him is now covered in wrappers, and the rod is sheathed many times over. "I hate to say it, but it's the truth," ruminates scruffy Mike Tenant, the only member of the trio who isn't bent over laughing. "When you got a chick in your bed and you're drunk and it's dark..." He pauses as if to let the gravity of the scenario sink in and then starts stuffing his pockets. "I just broke up with my girlfriend, and I'm back on Craigslist. I might need these."

Beau has spent much of his adult life working out of a woodshed, building a better rubber. Now his product — called Sensis, with handles branded as QuikStrips — is carried at pharmacy chains, including Walgreens and Navarro, across the nation. He estimates 2 million condoms have been sold at about a buck a pop.

It will take a lot more than icy Norwegian schoolboys to deter him. "I spent ten years trying to get people to believe in me," he explains as he gulps a beer between demonstrations. "I'm very persistent."

This night began at the Coral Reef Yacht Club, where he drank red wine and recounted the epiphany that led him to this point. The tale sounds like it was lifted from a movie. In the late '90s, he showed up at a party wearing only a bow tie and a black Speedo. "I was still doing construction then, so I was ripped," he says.

Soon he hit it off with the hot bad-girl daughter of an oil tycoon, who promptly drove her Mercedes S500 off the road and into an embankment. After a few similar misadventures, she ended up in his bedroom. He was "absolutely hammered," he says. In the darkness, he couldn't figure out which side of the condom was up. So he poked his member toward the open window and sheathed himself by the glow of a streetlight.

If the wrong person had walked by, he could have ended up a sex criminal. Instead, he had a thought that still propels him today: "There has to be a better way."

After inventing the handled condom, he told the same story to then-girlfriend and now-wife of five years, Cristina Gonzalez Thompson. Her response: "Is that all you think about? Your pecker?"

Beau's true craft involves harnessing wood of a different type: He's a master carpenter. He grew up poor in the pre-Johnny Rockets Grove and recalls receiving two presents from his contractor father, Bob: At age 10, there was a lawn mower, and after high school graduation, it was a chain saw. Some advice came with the latter: "If you ever find yourself in trouble, go chop down some trees. Don't come to me."

Bob Thompson died during his son's freshman year in college, but the old man still haunts Beau. Or so says Art Miller, Beau's business partner in the condom enterprise. "I don't think he got any accolades at all," Miller says. "In his own mind, he had to take on a very difficult task and succeed, to prove himself to his dad."

After graduating from the University of Miami with a degree in architecture, Beau lacked the connections to score a job. So he set to sweaty work building houses and furniture, repairing boats, and even paneling the walls at the Coral Reef Yacht Club, where he's now a member.

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13 comments
user
user

Excellent idea and finally some ingenuity in condoms after ... well, within my lifetime anyway. Anybody resistent to this type of inventiveness is the same type of idiot who originally thought the internet was a useless fad, but now uses it everyday, but only to criticize others. My hat goes off to this inventor!

zhenglishu
zhenglishu

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Liberatedi
Liberatedi

It is completely ridiculous that this is one of yahoo's lead news stories. SO SAD

guest
guest

Open condom, push thumbs through, if they don't go flip it over. If they do you know what side is where. Unnecessary invention.

EDDIE
EDDIE

TOO DRUNK TO CARE ABOUT A CONDOM.

Henry
Henry

yeah, the S. African Pronto got pulled b/c of quality standards - didnt work same way either. Either way, great idea - wonder if Trojan coming out with one.

A Guy
A Guy

These already exist in South Africa

Ekavet
Ekavet

As useful as a submarine with a screen door

Zhenglish38
Zhenglish38

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Zhenglish38
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israelikid
israelikid

@Henry where did you hear that Pronto condoms got pulled?

 
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