Around town, I’m known as the period mom. But getting the ‘tween and teen females in my circle tampon-ready doesn’t have as much to do with swimming, as it does with my own horrifying maxipad childhood, which went something like this:
“You wait here,” I yelled over my shoulder to the cute boy cautiously stepping off Bus #16 while I sprinted President’s Council Physical Fitness style, up the walkway to the house. I spun around, and glared at the boy: “YOU WAIT.”
Ty, the only 8th grade boy with a hint of a mustache was coming to MY HOUSE for ‘homework.’ Really.
But first things first: I had to get inside before him, to make sure the coast was clear, because, it was . . .
. . . that time of the month.
The time of the month when kotex, triple wrapped and stuffed way down deep into the bathroom trash just wasn’t enough. The time of the month when I rolled and rolled and rolled each pad like a jelly roll from the A&P, fatter than a fist, then wrapped mummy style until the size of a human cranium. Or folded it super tight, origami style, then jammed back into their mini-boxes, and barricaded deep in the depths of the vanity, behind a wall of Pine Sol, Q-Tips and Scotts 2-ply.
Or my best attempt, tripled rolled, wrapped, shoved into an empty toilet paper tube, like a bloody pipe bomb, and taken like a hostage up a shirt sleeve, from the bathroom to the kitchen, and shoved past nasty coffee grounds, bacon grease, soggy cereal, and crushed egg shells in the tall, secure metal can with the snappy foot pedal.
This was my monthly routine, a necessary precaution, to keep the one thing an 8th grade girl wants top-secret from being quite literally, spread all over the house, and quite possibly, all over the school.
All because of Oscar.
Oscar, the perfect pooch, except for that time of the month, when he turned relentless in his dogged furor for all things feminine: underwear. Swimsuits. And his all time favorite … maxi-pads.
Slowly, I opened the front door and peaked inside for any signs that my life was over.
A carpet of bloody fuzz appeared. A hailstorm of kotex mini and maxi-pad doggy spitballs dotted the floor. Kotex confetti danced in the wake of the disappearing dog, scampering down the hall and no doubt belly-sliding under a bed.
MUST STOP TYLER.
“STAY,” I commanded the boy on the stoop. “YOU. STAY,” pointing at Tyler’s feet and the first step of the front porch. Who’s the dog now? “Sorry, gotta check on something. I’ll, um, be right back,” I said with a spin, I slammed the front door in his face, and turned to glare at The Bloody Period Horror Picture Show playing out on the living room floor. And kitchen. And bathroom and hallway. It was everywhere, as far as the eye could see: a fuzzy, scuzzy mess of shredded kotex.
An explosion of white and red cotton fluff balls skirted oriental rugs, stuck to baseboards, and cowered in corners like bloody dust bunnies. I was on the floor, arms extended, a human carpet sweeper, the 3o year precursor to the Swiffer. Scoop, swish, scrape the trail of monthly reminders down the hall. I bent and scooped and swept as much StayFree as I could in my arms. It was everywhere. Bloody dandelion poofs in masse.
“JUST A SEC!!” I yelled through walls to the cutest boy in the 8th grade, disguising my disgust and horror with what I hoped was a carefree and, um, feminine voice.
I pushed and swept and blew fuzz away with the furor of Bill Bixby.
I wrapped the mess in towels, newspapers, and sweatshirts – anything I could grab – then shoved the convoluted wads into closets, under chairs, back into the bathroom vanity. With Cathy Rigby acrobatics, I zigged, I zagged, I sweat and swept all the fluff, fuzz and gauze out of sight, out of mind.
“Be right out!” I sing-songed towards the front door, praying to Margaret’s god under my breath, in repetitive furor:
Do-not-come-in, do-not-come-in, do-not-come-in. Please god, do not come in.
Quick scan of the rooms, no sign of the kotex massacre. No fluff to be found.
Done, finished. Success. Breathless, I checked my sweater and jeans for remnants, and with a swoosh of my Dorothy Hamill, I invited in a boy. A real, live handsome boy, to my home, to do homework. Together.
I swung open the door with all the confidence, flair and ease of a modern day woman-to-be, and it was then that Oscar appeared from his guilt-induced exile under the bed.
With no regrets, he wedged past me like I did not even exist.
He bounded through the front door with an all-is-forgive-tail-wagging welcome, and happily jumped up to greet his guest, with one last, delicious panty liner stuck to the end of his nose.
And that is why tampons are this girl’s best friend.