She was the type that PP has always felt intimidated by. You know her. Weird colored hair. (Hot pink in this case) Lots of intricate tattoos. (Hissing snakes and intricate Celtic designs adorned her arms, legs, and back) an aura of coolness that permeates from every pore in her porcelain white skin. She works for some groovy Bay Area non-profit and hits the YMCA on her lunch break between hot quickies with her equally cool girlfriend.
How do some people do it? PP wonders to herself. Maintain that Bay Area Chic Coolness all day, every day? It must take a lot of work! But then again, probably not. It’s just who she is at this point. She probably doesn’t even think about the black fishnet stockings, silly (but on her cool) black leatherette knee high boots and catholic school girl pleated skirt topped off by a very non-catholic school girl spandex black t-shirt.
So, when Miss Coolness turned to PP with a shy, apologetic smile, PP was secretly thrilled. She could do this. Pretend to converse with a cool young hipster.
“Excuse, me…..sorry to bother you….” MC seemed nervous, so unlike her outer self.
PP smiled encouragingly, not saying anything yet.
“But… do you have a tampon?”
AHA! Even Coolsters bleed! What a relief! For some reason, periods are decidedly un-cool. At least PP’s always had been. What with the pain and….okay, no reason to go into all the gory details right now.
PP shook her head, “No, I’m sorry. But that Time is long gone for me.”
“LUCKY YOU!” Miss Coolster had nodded, envy creeping out in her tone. And PP had to admit that, yes, she was lucky to not have to endure this heinous cycle of womanhood anymore. She remembered what a huge big deal this had been at 14 when she’d wanted to go swimming. The tampon thing had been almost as intimidating as Miss Cool. She remembered her best friend, Lani Aldrich, trying to convince her that using a tampon wasn’t that hard. Sure it was gross at first, but if she could just get herself to do it, then she could go SWIMMING!
This had been hugely traumatic for PP. Not being able to swim because of her goddamn period and those goddamn pads with all the belts and little metal hinges that never seemed to work to hold the belts that held the pads that kept her from swimming. For of course, she couldn’t go in the pool during her period as long as she couldn’t get the Tampon Thing down and even with Lani Aldrich standing outside the bathroom door, coaching her through the process, it took her almost all summer before she mastered the goddamn little cotton cigars to the degree that she felt comfortable swimming. Lord knows she didn’t want the humiliation of It falling out in the pool.
So today, at the YMCA, when Miss Coolness needed a tampon so she could work out (“I had no idea It was gonna start today. And here I am all the way down here ready to workout and I go to the bathroom and shit there IT is….”), PP nodded in sympathy.
“I think I saw a machine around here somewhere.”
”Really?” Miss Coolness brightened slightly.
“Yeah….” PP pulled on her suit and marched over to the first row of sinks with all the hair dryers lining the mirrored wall. No machine here. Ummm…she knew that she’d seen one. Though it wasn’t surprising that it hadn’t been etched in her memory too well given her lack of necessity for one. Frowning, PP headed round the corner to the first row of bathroom stalls, and Voila! There was a machine here, mounted on the wall in all it’s silver glory, little pictures of tampons and pads etched in black and the slots for 25 cents.
“There is a machine over here!” PP called out enthusiastically, pleased that she could be of some small assistance to one So Cool.
“I gotta OB Tampon if you want,” came wafting over the lockers at PP and Miss Cool, who stopped mid-search for a quarter as one of the amble African American women emerged with The Solution.
“Wow. Thanks!” Miss Cool murmured as PP grinned. If you talk loudly enough about anything in the women’s locker room, help will arrive, esp. if it’s anything to do with periods or menopause. Women do bond on these two heinous realities of being female. For many years, PP wondered what it woulda been like to be a man and not have these intense bodily functions to contend with every month or every day. Must be very freeing is all she could think. Yet men wouldn’t know any differently. They don’t have periods. They don’t have menopause. If ‘They’re 32 they’ll look 32, 8 years before they’re 32 and 8 years after 32 as Bette Davis says in All About Eve, “I HATE MEN!”
There’s a nice tangent for you. But Bette was right. Men do have it easier in the aging department, and maybe this is cuz they don’t have periods. All that monthly loss wears women out. Though as Dashingly Handsome Boyfriend always likes to point out to PP whenever she bring up Women's Body Issues, “Women do out live men,” which she had to concede was true. But still…..
“Some people, they don’t like to use the OB tampons, but I found that they work better than the other kinds.” African American Tampon Woman asserted. To which Miss Cool murmured some quiet response, ready to just get the Tampon Thing done and get to her workout before she met her girlfriend for band practice at some ultra-groovy renovated loft in Downtown Oakland.
Back to being cool now, she disappeared into the bathroom as PP headed off for the pool, glad that her Tampon days were over, but also happy that in some small way, she’d helped.
And Bette Davis? How would she have helped in such a situation? PP giggled to herself. Not only would Bette Davis never deign to workout at some disgusting, smelly gym, but lord knows, if there’d been tampons back then?
Bette would never have been caught without one!
Now there’s Cool for you!