In the ninth (I think?? Maybe 8th. Fuck if I know! I was young, and unable to drive, okay?) grade, as a member of my school’s chorus, I got the opportunity to travel to Orlando Florida for a choral competition. Me and my fellow vocalists, along with the school band, were THRILLED. Not only did we get to compete (which we all loved to do, since we were pretty frickin’ fabulous), but since we’d be in Orlando, we got to hit up a bunch of the amazing theme parks while we were there.
It was a week of parent-less (yet heavily chaperoned) fun!
Since I live in Virginia, the school had rented charter buses to take all the choir and band students all the way down to Florida. A 13+ hour trip. Charters are far more comfortable than cars, but put that many kids in a bus for THAT long? Well, you’d better make sure you’re prepared for a numb ass, obnoxious group activities, and being stationary. This meant making sure you dressed comfortably and brought enough snacks and music not to lose your damn mind before the third rest stop.
People wanna make jokes about band geeks and chorus brats, but there were some cute guys along on the ride, y’all- so as a young lady (read: completely boy-crazy), comfort was going to come second to looking good.
My mom had just bought me this super cute pair of wide-leg drawstring khaki pants (I cringe even typing that now, but they were IN back then!). They were soft, they made my butt look good, and they were comfortable enough for a very VERY long bus ride. Armed with those, a bookbag stuffed full of snacks, games, and CDs, and a giant duffel bag, my mom dropped me off in front of the school and drove off as I was tossing my bag under the bus.
Now, this was before having kids made my uterus hate me, so I could actually accurately predict my menstrual cycle- and if predictions were correct, that sucker was going to start at any moment. Our first stop once we hit Florida, OF FUCKING COURSE, was a water park- so the pads I’d always used just… I can’t even… No fucking way. I’d NEVER used a tampon before, but the concept seemed pretty simple and I had no other choice. I had my mom buy me a box, and that got tossed into the duffel that got tossed under the bus. There was no conversation about my shiny new hoo-ha plugs. No directions given. Not even a second thought. I guess my mom figured tampons are a way of life and this kind of knowledge just came to women naturally? Yeah…. this wasn’t going to end well.
“FIVE MINUTES UNTIL WE LEAVE! IF YOU NEED TO GO TO THE BATHROOM, NOW’S THE TIME”
Girls being girls, my friends and I rushed off to give ourselves one last once-over. Well, not me. I actually had to pee, and that was when I saw it.
A Big. Red. Stain.
On my NEW khakis. ON KHAKIS! OH MY FUCK! Absolutely mortified.
In a panic, I tried to scrub it out in the stall with toilet paper. Nope. Wasn’t happening. And I wasn’t going to just walk up to someone’s MOM and say “HEY LADY, I BLED THROUGH MY PANTS! CAN YA OPEN THE BUS JUST TO GET MY BAG SO I CAN GET NEW NON-VAGIFIED PANTS AND A TAMPON OUT IN FRONT OF ALL OF MY CLASSMATES?”
No. Look, these days- I wouldn’t even hesitate, but I was young, and I was shy, and openly talking about your period was just something NO ONE DID then. Not at that age. Certainly not with boys present.
Mother cuntbag whore shit fuck! There went being cute AND comfortable. I was going to have to hide this blood stain. For 15 hours. In close quarters. FUCK MY LIFE!
That wasn’t the climax of this story. No, it gets worse.
If anyone saw the stupid bloody stain on my new pants, they didn’t say anything. At least, not to my face. I made it to Florida without committing social suicide, and our first stop? A water park. YAY BLOODY AND BLOATED AT THE WATER PARK! IT’S ABOUT TO BE SHARK WEEK UP IN THIS BITCH! But at least I got to get those damn pants off and BURN THEM!
We were only given a few short minutes to grab our bathing suits and towels out of our bags, and to get changed. Where were we to get changed? The bus bathroom. The TINY bus bathroom. All 40 or so of us had about 10 minutes total to get this shit done (no, I have no idea why we were in such a rush. To this day it seems completely ridiculous). Needless to say (but I’m saying it anyway), I didn’t have time to give my current predicament the attention it deserved. I didn’t just have to get changed, I had to put in a tampon. For the first time ever. In a tiny bus bathroom with 39+ other students waiting for me.
A) I’m sure they thought I was eating a fucking snack in there. This was before the time of silent tampon wrappers.
B) The instructions were like Ikea directions to me. It all made sense, but didn’t make sense, and in the end you just get frustrated because you’ve wasted more time than you have, and you just wing it.
C) You should never “wing it” when it comes to your vagina unless we’re talking about pads, and then you should ALWAYS wing it.
Once more, I avoided social suicide. It seemed that no one noticed I’d taken longer than everyone else in the bathroom… or maybe they were just so excited about WATER PARK that they weren’t paying attention. Either way, I was relieved.
All of the students broke off into groups, mine was one of about five or six females, all of whom I considered my closest friends. Pretty quickly, I could tell something was… off. As much as it pained the painfully shy me, the off feeling was TOO off not to mention.
“Y’all…. this tampon feels like it’s going to fall out.”
Now, before you make a “like throwing a hot dog down a hallway” joke- there had been NO SEX ever. Mmmkay? Let’s not go there!
“Yeah… I don’t know. I’ve never used one before and it just feels like it’s falling out!”
“It’s not supposed to feel like that.”
How the hell was I supposed to know?? I mean, cramming cotton up your hoo-ha doesn’t sound like it’s supposed to be comfortable at ALL, so for all I knew, this weirdness I was experiencing was totally normal.
I shrugged it off for the time being. What else could I do? Anything was better than wearing a pad in my bathing suit, so a little bit of discomfort was acceptable in my eyes.
Two water parks. Universal studios. Medieval times. Choral competition after choral competition. Twelve hours of walking and singing and laughing and celebrating and water slides and roller coasters. Five days I spent in sunny Florida, wearing tampons with the plastic applicator still on. OH MY HOLY MOTHER OF WHAT THE FUCK?!
I’m not a stupid person, y’all. And just think about how much smarter I was before kids ravaged my brain!
As simple as a tampon seems, to a young girl who’s never used one, it’s a fucking Rubick’s Cube. I had NO IDEA that in order to properly ‘wear’ a tampon, you had to push the cotton OUT of the plastic using the plunger. I didn’t even know there were terms for these things. I just pulled off the bottom and thought I was good to go. Yes, that was embarrassing to type. I know you were wondering. With a pad, you just pull the damn paper off and stick it to your stupid underwear. A tamp should have the same amount of steps,yeah? Doesn’t that make sense?? THERE ARE A LOT OF PIECES TO A TAMPON! This was before the age of Google! DON’T YOU JUDGE ME!
Ladies, what I’m saying is this- take your daughters, sit them down, and explain to them in horrifying and awkward detail how pads, tampons, and everything along with the menstrual cycle works. It doesn’t matter if it’s uncomfortable, or if they blush or try to get away. A little embarrassment is worth not having them walking around feeling like their vagina is falling off. Take it from me.
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