October 8, 2007
By Judy McCrary Koeppen
For many, junior high was a time characterized by gawky looks, lanky extremities, braced teeth, and questionable skin clarity. Even for those fortunate enough to have a proportionate body, naturally straight teeth, and even skin tone, no one could escape the Big P.
PUBERTYA time in life when hormones invade and one's body begins to morph and alienate its owner. Adding injury to the hormonal insult is the obsessive desire by girls to be carbon copies of their peers. Well, that’s the way it was for me. Every moment was spent certain that everyone was looking at me. I just knew the eyes of the world watched and were interested in the exact length of my pants, if my hair was brushed, and if my lips were glossed. When one lives in a perpetual state of self-absorbance, the most embarrassing horrors are often caused by one's self.
With a November birthday, I was older than most of my peers. In addition, I was an “early bloomer.” So I experienced PUBERTY earlier than most. My breast buds were an AA size at best. But no matter, I was sure my voluptuous tatas turned the corner and entered a room an hour before the rest of my body. The embarrassment of my body embracing its early spring was further fueled by my mother’s insistence on using appropriate and anatomically correct terms. Three and four syllable words were stretched and articulated nearly beyond recognition.
“Oh that’s great! You are MEN-STRU-A-TING!”
“Do you need any more SAN-I-TA-RY NAP-KINS?”
“Are your BREASTS tender?”
“Are your NIP-PLES feeling sensitive?”
“Is your VA-GI-NA bothering you?”
In my junior high era, girls didn’t carry purses, or I certainly didn’t. Kids also didn’t haul back packs from class to class. So this made it difficult to safely secure and hide a SAN-I-TA-RY NAP-KIN. Now of course, I called them “pads,” not nearly as offensive a word, and no one used a tampon back then. Certainly, no one admitted to having crossed over to womanhood.
Following lunch one day, I decided to change my pad in the girls’ locker room bathroom just before P.E. But how could I carry a pad from my outdoor locker to the locker room? There were no pockets in my light blue Dittos jeans. No matter that it was 95 degrees F, I donned my lemon-yellow windbreaker and slipped the contraband into the pocket. I stepped into the swarm of moving students and headed to P.E.
I can still picture it. I was ten feet from the entrance to the girls' locker room. Suddenly, my not-so-mini pad dove out from under the lemon-yellow hem. It was then that I remembered the fist-sized rip in my pocket. It was a slow motion event.
After escaping, the pad jumped on a current created by all the moving bodies. It dashed left, glided right, swirled above a light-brown Wallaby, finally dipped down, and came to rest on the sizzling concrete. I couldn’t breathe. I wanted to run, but I was fixated like a moth on a bulb. Should I pick it up? Should I kick it under the bush? Should I just ignore it and RUN? I decided to go with ignoring it entirely.
I regrouped and cloaked myself in my best casual saunter and slipped into the girls' locker room. But I was certain that from that moment on, everyone in the entire school knew, and cared, that I was MEN-STRU-A-TING.