The Tampon Diaries
Issue No. 1: Sex Ed
Words - Carmel Brown
Illustration - Singha Hon
Christina was a heavyset Mexican girl who mostly communicated by smiling and nodding in agreement. Her hair was dark and greasy but always nicely combed to the back in a tamed pony tail with a butterfly clip delicately put above the hair tie. She was new to Parkway North High’s freshman class and as if high school didn’t already have a class system according to year rank, the white suburban kids from west county made it known she was an outsider, and called her cruel names like spick behind her back. Her parents just moved from Corpus Christi Texas in the middle of the school year and she had no friends. I understood her struggle being surrounded by people who naturally considered themselves above you. Here I was, a freshman city kid getting bussed from the southside because I was one of the lucky ones picked to be apart of the desegregation program of Saint Louis. I refused to participate on the sports teams because it was made clear the only reason they wanted us city kids there was to further their teams. I was never the type to be a token, even if it presented opportunities.
In my Rocawear backpack purse I kept my tampons hidden behind my walkman in a purple plastic container that perfectly fits two tampons at a time. The container came in the box of Tampax my Mom purchased from the Shunucks grocery store. Being on your period is such a disgrace. For seven days I’m bound to feel dirty and go out of my way to conceal my scarlet letter. I swear one day I’m gonna have the courage to raise my hand, get a bathroom pass and walk to the bathroom with my tampons in hand loud and proud. I wear a maxipad just incase I have an accident and can’t get to the bathroom fast enough. The other day a girl named Christina in my history class started her period and bled all over the seat. It was right after lunch when I came into class and sat in the seat to the left of her, as I always do, when she passed me a note asking if I had a maxipad. I only had tampons and I told her to ask the teacher for a pass to see the nurse. Poor girl was red in the face. I was confused and wondered to myself how could she not know she was gonna start? My boobs always hurt right before I come on. Isn’t every women’s period the same, every 27 days right? How embarrassing, after she left with her sweatshirt tied around her waist, I passed a note to my best friend telling her all about Christina’s mishap. The bell rang ending history class and I told everyone. On the way out the door I glanced at the seat to see it. Word got out about Christina’s situation and she had to continue the rest of the day like that. Some of the girls called her bloody marry, which is so not original. The next few days Christina didn’t come back to school. Rumors circled around that she tried to commit suicide but I don’t really know her like that to know if it’s true.
I have this lingering feeling of sadness that I can’t shake. I did her dirty and I feel awful. I was convinced if I never said anything, no one would’ve noticed her bloodied khaki straight leg jeans. When she returned to school I couldn’t look her in the face, yet she was still nice to me. I know it’s because she had no clue that I was the one who told and for whatever reason she now considered me to be her friend. She keeps asking me questions about history homework and I distance myself from her by rolling my eyes ignoring her. When will this day end?
I got home just in time to watch Total Request Live on MTV. My best friend came over and we talked about all of the gossip from the day. This boy likes her, but she likes another boy, blah blah. My Mom arrived home from work and started dinner. Ashely and I continued gossiping. I wasn’t worried about my Mom over hearing all the dirty details because she was never listening, but on this particular day she was. The fight at school between two girls was the hot topic until Ashely brought up Christina. I did everything to avoid talking about it, I felt sick to my stomach. My Mom over heard the story, gave me a look, and asked Ashely to go home. I knew then not only did I shame Christina, I had shamed myself, my Mom, and ALL women. My mom told me about myself that night. She said I was cruel and no better than the white girls that talked about my afro puff hairstyle, knock off Tommy Hilfiger bag, and full lips. I needed to make it right with Christina.
Twenty seven days passed. My period always seems to start off very unlucky, I have cramps. OMG I wish I didn’t have to go to gym 4th period. And why do they call it that anyway? Class times called periods? I was very careful to pack all of my stuff in my gym bag. The teacher let girls sit out if they were on their rag because we were swimming. Why do old people call it a rag? Gross, right. I participated anyway because my flow wasn’t heavy. The girls in my class say that when you’re in the swimming pool the water stops your period from bleeding but I think that’s a myth. I inserted a fresh tampon and tucked the string in my coochie, heaven forbid if it falls out while in a coed swimming class. After gym in the shower I didn’t see blood so I left it in continued getting dressed, half of the school day was over.
It was a Friday so we didn’t do much class work in history. We mostly watched movies and took notes. I was leaving the locker room, heading to lunch when the craziest idea entered my mind. After lunch I went into the bathroom and took out my tampon and didn’t replace it. I felt so naked and felt unusually wet in my panties. I walked the long halls to history class quietly and didn’t feel like socializing. I sat in my seat on the left of Christina, as I always do, and bled all over the seat next to her. After the movie, I raised my hand and said,” Ms. Shwartz can I go to the nurse’s office?”