Warning: Men might want to skip this one.

25 Jan
WARNING: Today’s post is brought to you by the Flashback Machine and True Stories of Teenage Girls. If you are a man, hate embarrassing stories, or don’t care to take a trip down memory lane, then you might want to skip this one.

Wow. That didn’t throw you? Good. Because I’m pretty sure my third paragraph will.

I swam a mile before work yesterday at one of DC’s public pools. A local high school swim team was there practicing as well, which always brings back fond memories of my own high school days… even though I was a diver an couldn’t be PAID to swim laps at that point in life. (Probably because of my preternaturally high metabolism.) I digress.

So what is memorable about yesterday’s swim is this: the bloody footprints leading into (and around) the locker room.

Don't google "bloody footprints." Gross.

While DC *does* boast some pretty staggering murder statistics, I’m pretty sure there wasn’t a crime to solve in the locker room. Rather, I suspect some high school girl cluelessly got her period and didn’t realize it. Until the workout was done.

<Equal parts horror, sympathy and disgust.>

I was tempted to have a Sue Sylvester moment: blow a whistle and ask who didn’t know about tampons.

And I might have, had I not been so focused on stepping AROUND the footprints so that no trace amounts of blood even touched my flipflops.

By the time I navigated my way to my locker without risking exposure to HIV, I was deep in thought, back to the days when I had to hunker down (potentially a pun) and figure out how to use a tampon.

Let’s take a step back: my mom isn’t a “Congratulations – now you’re a WOMAN!” kind of mom. No… had she been featured on “This I Believe,” with Edward R. Murrow when she was graduating college, I suspect her essay would’ve sounded something like this:

Women earn 59% of the wages men earn for the same jobs. We have to wear bras, which tug on our shoulders and cause us back pain. We have to shave our legs. And while it’s great that we can crank out babies, the reality is we get periods every month – which is a ROYAL pain in the ass – and we have menopause to look forward to. So you  guys just need to stop your bitching.

My words, not hers. But still, I suspect they’re close.

Anyway, now imagine THAT woman teaching you about tampons. It was what I suspect many Army enlistees face: “Here’s a map and a tent. Head East and we’ll check on you tomorrow. If we don’t see you, we’ll assume you didn’t read the chapter on poisonous snakes.”

She handed me a box of 16 tampons and a mirror, pointed me toward the bathroom and said, “Read the instructions. You’ll figure it out. Use as many as you need until you’ve got it right. If you need me holler.” I was actually quite relieved that this wasn’t something we’d be doing together.

So here’s when we really hop into the Flashback Wagon. It’s my first week attempting to use a tampon and I’ve figured it out based on the diagrams included in the Tampax box. Everything seems to be fine: by tugging the string I’m able to retrieve the tampon at the end of the school day.

UNTIL my first diving practice. Everything SEEMS fine, but the tampon is decidedly uncomfortable. I make it through practice and hustle into the bathroom, eager to remove it. It’s a bit more tender than usual, so I strike up conversation under the stall with one of my teammates.

“Damn,” I say. “Do you ever find it hard to pull out a tampon?”

“Not really,” she responds. Awkward silence ensues.

“It’s like the cardboard has completely uncurled in the water,” I continue, not knowing when to stop myself.

More Silence.

Then, “Cardboard? What the hell are you talking about?”

And that’s when I get my first REAL lesson on tampons. Apparently I had been walking around for a week inserting both a tampon AND the applicator.

Yes, the women reading this are cringing right now, think, “Bless her heart. I can’t believe she even sat down.”

And the men – the two of you still reading – are asking themselves, “How does she even PEE with a tampon in?”

And my mom – if she’s reading this – is thinking, “I should’ve given her a HELMET instead of a box of tampons.”

4 Responses to “Warning: Men might want to skip this one.”

  1. Leanne January 25, 2011 at 12:23 pm #

    The most fearless post, ever!

    • pithypants January 25, 2011 at 2:27 pm #

      Wow. That means something, coming from the lady who tweets about twats. 😉

  2. Seasweetie November 11, 2014 at 11:36 pm #

    Okay, I love this. Sorry, but I do. Does that make me weird? I never did master the Tampon thing, and now menopause, sweet menopause, has made all such trappings unnecessary.

    • pithypants November 12, 2014 at 10:39 am #

      Does that make you weird? No. But that might be the first time I’ve ever seen “menopause, sweet menopause” in a sentence! Thanks for checking me out!

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