Yesterday, I asked my boyfriend to pick me up a product on his way home from work. A product that I need and a product that immediately made him giggle at the thought of purchase.
First, let me begin my meandering thoughts by saying, I do not understand why men are so embarrassed to buy tampons. This is a product that almost every single woman in the United States uses and has been using for some time now. They are not a secret product. Their advertisements litter television shows with smiling, attractive and- most importantly- completely comfortable women regardless of the fact that they are bleeding from their baby canals: Women rolling in fields of daisies with labradors as the sun shines down upon them; women engaging in physical activities like boxing and yoga, beads of sweat dripping from their satisfied faces; women gathered in a living room openly discussing their favorite brands of period plugs while sipping coffee and laughing. Tampons are not new. They are not secret. They are not taboo. They are a product that everyone knows the use for.
Yet, full-grown men giggle and shift around uncomfortably when they are asked to pick them up at the grocery store. Why? I can not imagine a single clerk, save an adolescent, teenage boy, thinking in their mind Ha! That guy is totally going home to tampon himself.
Second, I would like to note, that in other countries, tampons are greatly misunderstood. I spent six weeks in Lima, Peru one spring and was shocked at how hard they were to find. When I asked about this curiosity, some younger girls said they thought they would lose their virginity by using them. Some of the older Peruvian women seemed even more lost in the understanding by explaining to me in broken, translated English that tampons did not allow all the bad things that built up in a woman to be released. Instead, it soaked up the evil a woman’s body produced and kept it inside. (This might explain my personality a little better… I’ve just been corking my evil inside.)
Most however, said that tampons were simply too expensive and were too much of a luxury to justify spending money on. A luxury. Imagine that. Up until that point, I had no idea that my purse contained such luxurious items. (One woman’s luxury is another woman’s standard, run of the mill, found in every medicine cabinet, drab frugality… ?)
Over the years, I have gained quite a bit of knowledge about the luxurious tampon. I would even consider myself close to an expert on the product, having used them since I was fifteen and having tried many a brand and style (usually on account of I didn’t have one, needed one -surprise!- and had to use a friend’s preferred brand).
However, after having asked my boyfriend to pick up a box for me, I learned that I could still be surprised by something I thought I knew everything about.
In this case, tampons.
After going over the type I wanted with him a hundred times -… Yes Tampax, blue box. … No, they’re regular size. I don’t bleed enough for supers. Blue box, size regular. It will be indicated by yellow. … No, blue box with yellow swirls and it will say TAMPAX R-E-G-U-L-A-R, regular. … Are you daft? How do you not know what tampons I use? … Yes, Tampax, blue box, yellow, regular- I was confident that he couldn’t get the wrong tampons. And he didn’t… kind of.
When he arrived home and placed the box of vag rockets on the counter, everything looked to be right: Tampax, blue box, yellow whimsical swirls, regulars. However, as I walked up and took them in my hand, I immediately noticed something was different. There was pink swirled in with the yellow, and the pink was not indicating that the box was a size combination pack. No, it was not until I read in itsy-bitsy letters at the bottom, fresh scent, that I realized these tampons were scented. Scented tampons. Absorbent, little cottony corks that smelled like something, and I could hardly contain myself to find out what that ‘something’ smelled like. What fragrance does Tampax think we, as women, should febreze our vagina with? What perfumed aura should waft from our unmentionables during our monthly cycle? What aroma should a lady’s panties be forced to suffocate with three to five days every, single month? Ah, life’s mysteries…
I popped open the box, all the while laughing, and plucked one of the individually wrapped period stoppers between my thumb and forefinger… and sniffed. I was hit with the scent of flowers, that generic bouquet smell that a candle company might package up with wax and call spring meadow.
I immediately did what any mature, young woman would do in the situation.
I opened one and hung it from the rear view mirror in my car.
After I wiped my hands in triumph and admired my handiwork with the multitasking tampon, I thought how peculiar it was that I could think I know most everything about something as everyday as a tampon and yet, twelve years after plugging myself up for the first time, still be washed over with stupefaction by one.
What other everyday items had surprises in store for me? What other things have I probably seen, but not even noticed throughout life? Did everything have a scented version? Why didn’t they have assorted smells?
I can not imagine that these little, blood-thirsty air fresheners for my lady parts will do anything so bold and wonderful that I will intentionally ever buy them again. (To be honest, I prefer fruity smells to flowery smells, so maybe if they smelled like mangoes… ?) However, later that night, when I opened my car door and and was taken back to the moment I first discovered the scented tampon curiosity, a moment that was brought back by an overwhelming smell of generic efflorescence freshening my car, I could not help but think now this, THIS, is a luxurious tampon.