This Post Contains A LOT of TMI: You Have Been Warned

Since you regular readers are four of my very best friends, and based on what I’ve read on some other blogs, it’s clear we’re all comfortable with a little TMI, I’m going to put this out there.

I am 45 years old, and I am still embarrassed when I have to buy tampons.

There. I said it.

I know, "it" happens to almost all women (except those lucky bitches who have, one way or another, rid themselves of the massive pain in the ass that is the monthly menstrual cycle; I long for menopause), and it’s a natural part of life and blah blah blah, but I can’t help it. I reach for that box of Tampax, or that package of Stay Free Maxi Pads, and I’m fourteen years old again. Why don’t I just wear an enormous sign that says, “GUESS WHAT TIME OF THE MONTH IT IS FOR ME?” What's more, inevitably when I'm buying them, every fucking guy in the entire store needs something that's on the same aisle with the feminine products. I can feel their eyes following me as I make sure I get the right things (yes, I know, not really, but that's how it feels, you know?). Creeps.

Yes, I have given birth three times, with all the delicacy and modesty that implies. The first time I started a vaginal birth, and I’m convinced that every single person who worked in that hospital, with the possible exception of the woman who ran the gift shop and one of the part time maintenance guys (he wasn’t working that day), stuck their head between my knees and had a look at my…you know. I ended up with an emergency C-section, which meant that the twenty three people in the operating room got to look not only at The Place We Mean When We Talk About Feeling Not So Fresh, but at what that looked like from the point of view of my unborn child. It was a very special moment for all of us, I’m sure. I know it was for me. Fortunately 17 hours of labor had kind of dulled my sense of embarrassment (that, plus there were all those people who’d already seen everything anyway, so there wasn’t much more I could offer them in the way of oversharing).

And god help me when I’m buying these things and the checker is a man. I’ve been known to go to another store to avoid having to have a guy check me out.

I was in New England a few weeks ago when A Need Arose. I was running an errand (OK, fine, I was going to the liquor store—and really, Massachusetts, please join the rest of us in the 21st century and sell wine in the goddamned grocery stores) and figured I’d pop in someplace and pick up a box of tampons. I looked for a CVS or similar and when I came up short, was forced to seek out a convenience store for the task. (Dear Town of North Andover, feel free to reach out to CVS and suggest a location for them in your area. You have the world’s worst Cracker Barrel—it was worse than any other one I’ve been in, and that’s saying something because Cracker Barrel is pretty nasty to start with, but this one literally made me barf—but you don’t seem to have a drug store? That’s just weird. If nothing else, your residents need access to Pepto Bismol and Tums to help them get over eating at that shitty Cracker Barrel. Love, Me.)

I knew I was going to be annoyed at the selection a convenience store would have. Most likely the only thing that would be available would be “Regular.” Since I’m clearly going full TMI on you poor folks today, I’ll just share that I’m more of a “Super Plus” kinda gal most of the time. We’ll leave it at that. I want you to be able to come back here without fear that you’ll be subjected to too many graphic details.

There was a convenience store next to the liquor store, so I checked it out. Sure enough, the checker was a guy. Well, fuck that. Next.

I drove back toward the hotel in which we were staying, and remembered there was a gas station with an attached convenience store. Since I was running out of time, as well as options, this was it, and if there was a male checker, well, that was just going to be how it was.

Guess what? There was not a male checker. There were two goddamned male checkers. And a male customer who stuck his head around the point of sale display between us to look for a different flavor of Copenhagen or Trident or something just as I had gently and discretely laid my intended purchase on the counter in front of Butch (I’m assuming he was wearing his own shirt, and therefore the name on the tag was his).

Here’s the really shitty thing: I blush.

If I get embarrassed because I think I’ve made a mistake, or because I feel like I don’t know what the hell I’m talking about (these two things happen regularly at work), or if I just feel like I’ve said something stupid, I turn bright red. Naturally this also happens when I feel like I’m in an awkward situation. Like, oh, I don’t know, buying tampons from a guy named Butch in a convenience store and having a male customer stick his head around and see exactly what I’m buying. You know, hypothetically speaking something like that would make me blush. And when I feel myself blush, I feel stupider than I did when the thing that made me blush happened, which I’m sure makes me blush more. I hate my blood vessels.

It’s clear that like my dislike of eggplant, or lack of interest in Science Fiction, this embarrassment over the purchase of feminine products is not something I’m going to “get over” when I get older. In fact, I suspect that the only thing that will enable me to get over this is actual menopause. I’ll spare you the gory details of how things are going in that department. I’ve probably done enough oversharing for one post. Or one lifetime. So I guess I shouldn't add that it’s been recommended that I get an IUD. Oops. Sorry about that. I’ll stop talking now. I think that’s for the best. I’ve started blushing, and that’s usually an indicator that I should just shut up.


Unknown said...

Oh.My.God. I laughed the whole way through that esp. the "Dear Town of North Andover" part. I also loved this: "I hate my blood vessels." This post reminded me of Mr. Mom - remember that part when he was in the food store & had to buy tampons for his wife?

I won't buy them from a male cashier either.

Oh, and you're my BFF too or as my daughter would say, "Bifle" for best friends for life.

Tracy said...

I'm so glad you liked it! I'm also glad to know I'm not the only woman who refuses to buy them from a guy. Normally I buy them at the drug store and I can kind of negotiate to get a woman cashier.

We can totally be Bifles! We clearly have many of the same neuroses, and as I always say, when your neuroses mesh, it's a match made in heaven :)

Michelle said...

HAHHAHA...I love this.

I had my uterus burned out 2 years ago and I have to's been freaking awesome.

Tracy said...

I can only imagine! LUCKY LUCKY YOU!! In fact, that's one recommendation that was made to me. The IUD was the stronger recommendation. I promise not to share any more information than that! :)

Unknown said...

Our neuroses and our names (almost) match. We might even be the same person - except I don't have 4 kids thank God. That's cray cray.

Oh, and I also want to have a hysterectomy. I don't need it anymore. It's a pain in the ass. It's the cause of all my problems. Take it out. I don't understand why ppl are upset to get their uterus removed - other than surgery is scary. I would kill to get a hysterectomy. Can you get an elective hysterectomy?

Tracy said...

And do you know how many times in my life I've been called Stacey? In fact, it's what my dad wanted to name me but for some reason my mom preferred Tracy.

I don't know about that, but since I'm clearly on an oversharing kick here, I will tell you that that's why the dr recommended the IUD. I said, I AM DONE, and she said it can make everything go away, if you get my drift. I don't have it yet, but I have high hopes!

Jana said...

Tracy – just found your blog and…boy, what an introduction! I had a hysterectomy about five years ago and I’ve never regretted it even once. However, don’t be in a hurry for menopause! I just had a necrotic ovary removed last week (for some reason, I kept wanting to write “neurotic ovary” – which also may be correct). If you want to see disgusting, yet educational pictures, just check out my blog. While I have one little ovary left that is doing the best it can – I’m suddenly a mass of periodic blistering heat, drenching night sweats, and most disturbing – incredible crying jags that have my family and coworkers wondering if they need to have me committed for my own safety. PS – I also blush – and mine presents itself has huge, blotchy red marks on my neck and chest. Super attractive and confidence building, especially when I’m on a job interview. I’m just now becoming a single woman again after 26 years – I am not looking forward to the menopausal symptoms AND the blotchy blushing on dates – men will run from me in terror!

Tracy said...

Jana - Thanks for sticking with it--I know it was some major TMI! :) Yeah, I know menopause can suck with all the stupid side effects (but hell today I cry during shampoo commercials, so really, unless I start crying over Pine Sol commercials, can it get worse?)but my doctor has recommended an IUD to get rid of the more annoying aspects of pre-menopause (this comment thread is turning into my GYN file notes--hi, any guy who reads these! Happy to hear about your prostate exams if y'all want to share!) so hoping that'll help some. We shall see (but I PROMISE not to share the details, because really? I think you guys have all heard enough about my female problems for pretty much ever). And blushing SUCKS BIG TIME. Ugh. I know I've blushed during interviews. I haven't been on a (real) date in 18+ years, but I'm sure I'd blush then too! I feel ya, sista!

Jeff said...

The thing I learned most from this post is that in your world men are always poking their heads into rooms, around point-of-sale displays and between legs.

Tracy said...

There does seem to be a great deal of poking in my world (Insert "That's what she said" joke here...)

ercatalano said...

OMG, I totally relate to this. I remember shortly after I had my daughter going to the CVS to buy tampons plus pads, because all the blood was leaving my body, plus tucks, plus nipple cream, plus laxatives. Checker was a teenage boy. Cute too. I call it the day I brought sexy back. And killed it.

Tracy said...

Oh yes, worse than an adult male is a teenage boy. Because you know they're so sensitive and understanding, because they've been through the same thing with the women in their lives.

Steph said...

Oh, I am a blusher too. It is SO EMBARRASSING. As you said, it's way worse than whatever I was embarrassed about in the first place. You should totally get an iud. Just don't read my blog post about it until afterwards.

Tracy said...

Right? It SUCKS. And I KNOW I get even more red when I double blush! Ugh.

Tracy said...

Actually, between you, me, and the internet, I got one. It wasn't so horrible (I know a LOT of people who had a bad time with them), and I'm loving it. I'll just leave it at that ;)