Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Pink Cigars and Cigarettes

In our family we really didn’t discuss anything of a personal nature. My education of girl-problems was learned from school friends and television. So, whenever I crossed the threshold into womanhood, needless to say, it was quite a shock. Not so much a Carrie-in-the-locker-room type shock, but frightening just the same.

The moment arrived when I was at home, so I was spared some of the horrors, but embarrassment didn’t fully escape me. Without going into too much detail, I'll just say whenever my sister handed me a pad, along with instructions, life as I knew it, was over.

That thing was so big NASA could’ve launched shuttles from it. The cotton mattress could’ve, without question, accommodated 8 - comfortably. And let me tell you, polyester P.E. shorts were bad enough without the added material. Forget about camel toe - I was carrying the whole, damned camel around!!

One indicator that I may have been wearing the wrong size could’ve been when I sat down at my desk at school and my butt cheeks lost all contact with any known surface. Houston, we have a problem. On a positive note, at least I didn’t have to lean from side-to-side anymore to see the chalkboard.

As if Catholic school wasn’t bad enough already, the additional stress was a bit much. You see, the little adhesive strip not only attached that futon to underwear, but also to anything that it came in contact with, for example: plaid, school skirt. Every time I stood up I had to make sure my skirt was hanging knee-length and not stuck anywhere else. It became a routine of sorts: stand up, rrrriiiiiip, and look around inconspicuously. Amen.

And recreation? Forget about it. No way could I go swimming with that. Even if I could’ve disguised the thing as a raft, the whole absorption feature would’ve sunk that idea real quick. And the only doll I'd be playing with from then on would be midol. Not exactly what I had on my wish-list. Yes, life as I knew it was ruined.

Even though I thought the week would never end, it finally did. But, much to my dismay, I realized this would happen repeatedly, every month - forever! The only question I had for my mother at that time was, “so, how old do you have to be to get a hysterectomy?”

About a year later, I spent the weekend with one of my sisters, who’d just had a baby. I happened to start while I was there. I was not prepared and all she had available in her bathroom cabinet were tampons and nursing pads. Regrettably, the nursing pads didn’t work out very well. So, I used the only thing left: the pink cigar, which I have never used before.

This turned out to be one of those moments when the phrase, “when all else fails, read the instructions,” comes to mind. However, the instructions would’ve been easier to understand if they were written in hieroglyphics. I couldn’t figure it out to save my life.

For those who aren’t aware, you’re supposed to use this plastic applicator to insert the cottony part and then throw the plastic part away. When my sister noticed only half of the plastic part in the garbage can, she began to wonder. She sat me down and then broke out a new one and showed me how it was supposed to work. “OH!,” I said, and then went back to the drawing board.

The trouble this method presented was when the changing-of-the-guard time came around; I had a bit of a tug-of-war match with that string. Gentle glide, my foot! I even considered tying a can to the end of it in an effort to negotiate the safe removal of the hostage.

Not only did I have to worry about toxic shock syndrome, I now had to worry about the Stockholm Syndrome as well. A few minutes later, everything came out okay and even though that was a little scary, overall, they were a godsend compared to the alternative.

Fast-forward about 13 years.

While in the Air Force, I participated in a field training exercise at Ft. Polk, LA. A fake war zone, if you will. One night while on patrol, friendly fire killed a buddy and me. We were temporarily out of the game at that point so we returned to the Army-base campsite. While I was there, Mother Nature decided to pay me a visit. Again, I was not prepared for this situation and all of my personal things were at the Air Force base camp…miles away.

There was a Red Cross tent at the site, so I figured if anyone would have supplies, they would. Wrong answer! However, they did everything within their power to assist me. And by assist, I mean, announced over the loud speaker - across the entire base camp, “Attention in the compound, we have an Air Force female who needs a tampon, I say again, an Air Force female who needs a tampon!” Holy God in heaven. Fortunately, my face was covered in camo paint and the true mortification of that moment did not show through.

For an hour, random women asking if I was the one looking for tampons - as though they were selling them from the backs of their HMMWVs - approached me. I had to set aside my pride and graciously accept their offerings, which incidentally, turned out to be a lot easier to get than cigarettes. Fake war is hell.

But now that I'm a seasoned veteran to this whole thing and I look back over some of the traumatic periods of my life, I can only wonder how good it could've been if only I could've had that hysterectomy when I was 13.


Blogger Death Warmed Over said...

That was one of the funniest things I've read and I can't even relate to it....it was supposed to be humorous, right?

I have a daughter that is approaching that age and I'm secretly mortified for her because I don't want her to be embarrassed. Alas, I don't believe she's prepared either.

5:38 PM, August 01, 2006  
Blogger Mayden's Voyage said...

LOL!!!! :)
I haven't laughed that hard in a week! :) Bless you! :)
I remember my sister and I (we were a year a part) asking mom to get us the pink cigars...she thought they were a bad idea- but sis and I were tired of the other, and who wouldn't be?
Mom got them, and sis and I read the insructions cover to cover, and felt a little guilty over what seemed like porn to us with the drawing of the woman on the instruction sheet! (oh- I laugh now about it though!)
Anyway, all this to say I relate :)
Thanks for coming over to MV.
All my experiences with anyone in the service have been quite lovely since that first one...which turned out quite well in the end.

5:40 PM, August 01, 2006  
Blogger OnMyWatch said...

DWO. Thank you very much. Yes, it was supposed to be funny. That's pretty much what I try to do here, hit and miss sometimes though. :)

Good luck with your daughter. You're gonna need it. ;) Have holy water handy.

5:41 PM, August 01, 2006  
Blogger OnMyWatch said...

Mayden: I'm so glad you stopped over and very glad I could make you laugh while you were here. and yes, it's all funny now, isn't it? until next time. :)

5:47 PM, August 01, 2006  
Blogger Ben said...

NO WAY !!!!

If you'd have had the hysterectomy at 13 then we wouldn't have had this hilarious post.

I'm glad you didn't.

3:56 AM, August 02, 2006  
Blogger OnMyWatch said...

Ben: Thanks, and yes, I guess you're right, or at least that's one way to look at it. :)

5:16 AM, August 02, 2006  
Anonymous Milred said...

Great memories!! I certainly can relate. It's good to laugh about it now....and I was happy to have my own hysterectomy(at a later age). Freedom!!!!!!!! We could do a book of stories...Chicken Soup for the Menstrual Crowd. Oh my Gawd!

6:18 PM, August 02, 2006  
Blogger OnMyWatch said...

Oh My Gawd, Milred, you're so damned brilliant! we should figure out how to make the book double as a heating pad and we'd be meeellionaires!

6:31 PM, August 02, 2006  
Blogger The Phoenix said...

I'm so glad I'm a guy.

6:35 AM, August 03, 2006  

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