Warning: TMI to follow in the form of a long, not-very-serious rant about feminine hygeine products, dead Confederates, and secret-decoder rings. Menfolk are advised to read at their own risk. Some guys can't take this kind of humor. You have been warned.
Yes, the commies are invading. This led to a desperate 1 a.m. expedition to the store to get more supplies with which to hold off the onslaught.
This ritual, which I suppose all women must perform, is a neverending source of frustration and dread to me. I once more faced the Aisle Of The Damned. The first assault was visual, my retinas were swiftly overwhelmed with packages colored garish, Barbie-pink, soothing aqua, lively yellow, or forebrain-searing turquoise. The second assault was olfactory. Whatever unholy perfume they hose those things down with is second in offensiveness only to baby products.
Like a combination used-car salesman and bible-thumping preacher, the promised fresh smell delivers false promises and veiled insults: "You'll feel fresh as a spring morning! Nobody will know you're bleeding from the twat, you disgusting, sinful, smelly woman!"
And while I was there I witnessed perhaps the most pathetic pandering to a woman's insecurity about Period Odor I have ever seen. A doohickey attached to the shelf that contained pull-out coupons. But these were not just any pull-out coupons. These were little mini-advertisements for some new and festive variation on the same old cotton/nylon rag, a version that now thoughtfully allows concerned women to choose from two available smells – something springtimey and something rainy fresh.
That's right, we had scratch-and-sniff advertisements for a product that's just going to be kissing your gorilla salad. That's the perfect thing, says I. If I ever want my pussy to smell like an old woman's potpourri spray or a new-age hooker's douchebag, I will certainly keep that product in mind.
I'm going to tell you all something, and it may come as a shock. But it is impossible, no matter how much perfume you wear, to feel "fresh" when you are squelching in your own bodily fluids. Okay? No product you can buy is going to change this. No microweave covering, no multi-layer filling, no contoured channels, and no "fresh scent!"
The only people who are going to appreciate the "fresh scent" are you, when you first open the package, and any crotch-sniffing dogs you might run across during the day.
Anyway, the frustration did not end there. The only products between paper-napkin thick liners and industrial-waste absorbers were the kind of pads that would work just fine except that they have wings. Wings are supposedly there to keep the pad in place and keep overspill from ruining your panties. I say if you're wearing expensive panties to impress your Aunt Flo, you have your priorities all fucked up.
What the wings really do is rub the insides of your thighs raw, peel off your panties, and stick to your leg, or, worse, get sucked inside your panties where they wad up and jab you in the nether regions and create a critical breach in the absorbency layer through which fluids are guaranteed to seep, staining anything you sit on. In other words, they do not work as advertised. They were probably invented by men, just like five-inch-long tampons. As I exclaimed at high volume in the store "For Fuck's Sake! I am bleeding from my vagina, not HANG-GLIDING!"
Adding to my suspicion that the wings are universally loathed, every woman who heard me (there were three) laughed ruefully. They knew exactly what I meant.
I finally located a product I thought would do (these companies change their packaging and drop products every month so it's senseless to settle on a brand) and realized that its major selling point appeared to be "quietest pouch!" Complete with a touchable sample applied to the outside of the package, in case you need convincing.
Because God forbid your cats should hear you changing your she-diaper at 3 a.m. and think that you're opening a package of kitty-treats.
Seriously? All I can think of is that this must have been demanded by teenage girls who were so embarrassed by the Crinkly Pouch Of Humiliation that they would sooner use their own socks than admit to the world that they, just like virtually every other woman between thirteen and fifty, have a period. Gone, gone are the days of furtive rustling in high-school bathrooms, covered up by the sound of a flushing toilet or well-timed cough. Gone are the days of the incriminating crinkle when one fishes for a cell-phone in ones purse. We, my sisters, are Free At Last.
So I took them home, cursed and snarled until the perforations-that-weren't forced me to gut the package like a deer carcass, and I tried out the "quietest pouch" which was indeed so whisper-silent that if I were a ninja, and I was bleeding vaginally, I would accept no other brand. Of course, were I a vaginally-bleeding ninja, I would have bigger problems to worry about. Like the fact that I would likely have forebrain-searing turquoise hair and horrifically inflated breasts.
Once I opened the package, I received the coup de grace. On the little peel-strip, printed in mimeograph-blue ink, were "Kotex ® Tips For Life," including such helpful gems as "Drink 6-8 glasses of water daily to help keep you hydrated and feeling fresh," and "Staying active during your period can help relieve crams." It also helpfully informed me that "Avoiding caffeine may help reduce cramps and headaches," and that "Kotex ® Lightdays ® Pantiliners [are] also available in Longs, Extra Coverage and Purse-Paks." All this in English, French, and Spanish.
What the fuck? My twatrags are talking to me?
Tips For Life? How about some REAL pearls of wisdom? "If you lend someone $20 and never see them again, it was probably worth it." "Chicken breasts are done when they feel like a hard penis." Or this, which millions of women and axe-murderers need to know: "Hydrogen peroxide removes bloodstains!" Now THAT would be useful.
Just so long as they don't go the fortune-cookie route. "You will soon take a mysterious voyage." "Accept the next proposition you hear." "A star is a forever light. Like a star, let your wisdom shine." That would just be too fucked-up.
I have long maintained that we should put pictures of gorgeous men on the packaging. Really butch guys on the heavy-absorbency products, and femme guys on the pantiliners. For the ever-more-popular "teen" size, we could get pictures of the boy band du jour. So you could have pictures of N'Sync and Justin Timberlake on your black thong-cut pantiliners (yes, such things exist).
You know if guys had periods, the packages would be slathered with pictures of Carmen Electra, and would frequently include a free bikini magazine or offers for $50 rebates on Coleman grills. What do girls get? Fucking pastel colors and super-quiet pouches. Such is our shame. I really think hip advertising is the key to breaking this taboo.
My husband thinks they should take it one step further and create cartoon characters, like Tony the Tiger or Cap'n Crunch. I suggested they should use caricatures of real-life people . . . like a cartoon Bloody Mary holding her severed head. His suggestion was the best. Bloody Bill Anderson, that grim figure of the American West.
I can just see the commercials now.
"When you're ridin' the rag . . . ride with the best! Dancin' girls and preachers' daughters alike agree: use Bloody Bill's Pads! Available in two delightful scents: poison sumac and gunpowder. Now with blood gutters!"
"Cork that revoltin' wound with Bloody Bill brand Tampons! Individual packages come with cotton batting, gauze, and a 60-second length of dynamite fuse. Free ramrod with each purchase."
"Monthly Curse got you feelin' a mite insecure? Get the assurance you need with Bloody Bill's Roll-your-Own Tampons! I left a trail of blood clear across Kansas, but you don't got to!"
But we will never see the subject approached with such humor.
Advertisers would probably just come up with a zany animal, like a cartoon beaver or something. They'd make it cute. This would tie in with the conventional wisdom that girls are getting their periods younger and younger. With any luck, you could make it "cool" to be on the rag. Girls would brag about it. "I'm up to three packs a day!"
I think they should include a surprise in each package, like a secret decoder ring, and print cryptic messages on the backs of the pull-strips that you can decode while you sit there on the toilet at 5 in the morning with cramps and nothing to read. And if you save UPC symbols and mail in your $3.95 shipping, they'll send you something cool. Like, 20 UPCs would get you a book of erotica.
50 would net you a really kick-ass waterproof vibrator.
200 would net you a personal visit from the male of your choice, who would, on bent knee, apologize on behalf of his whole gender for not having to suffer the affliction of The Monthlies, after which he'd fix a three-course Italian dinner, bake brownies, give you a full-body massage, fuck you heroically, and then, if you were having a very, very bad month for cramps, he might allow you to kick him in the nuts. Just a little. He'd go limping out about the time your girlfriends arrive with Heath Ledger DVDs, allowing them to snicker at his plight before diving into the brownies, which ought to be cool enough to eat by then.
No, I am not angry at men. I just hate the way that they smirk smugly and say "well, cramps may be bad, but you can't get kicked in the balls."
Buddy, you don't get a three-day knock in the cluster every month. Guys can go for months, nay, years without a good kick in the balls. So can it and fetch me the remote. Knight's Tale is on.
And while you're up, bring me some of those goddamn brownies.