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Payne's Complaints


The Last Tampon. A Period Piece.



     Tucked back behind the teeth whitening strips that apparently I will now be using comparatively more often, the gradually more cavernous box of tampons huddles. I always rip off the flaps of each new box, so I can quickly whip out the cotton sword and tap it swiftly into its place, just to the right of the string of my underwear. I have never put it in to the left of the string, and now I suppose, I never will. 

     Oh god, the lost opportunity.

     The box is almost empty, and for the second or third time only, apart from being preggers a hundred times and missing two billion periods in the past, I wonder if I need to invest in another jumbo pack. Oh sure, I’ve got a few random OB rolling around between the band aids and the wart remover and other choses glamour in the shoeboxes that I haul from home to home—when did I ever use OB?? Like, never—how did they even get there?? But do I need to get prepared for next month? Or will next month never arrive? 

     I’m 14 again for a moment. My friends have all “started”, and I’m so very far behind. Not only am I not in the club, I’m an infant, or a terrible, terrible old lady; one who hasn’t had her period for 40 years and doesn’t even remember what it was like. I’m 16 damn years old before I’m in the club. I’m scandalized that my daughter is, like, three feet tall when she starts. It’s not fair. It’s weird.

     Pride goeth before a fall, they say. And I’ve been proud of every period I’ve ever had for every year across decades. The more painful they are the more pride I feel. I get bloated, hungry, thigh-huge and cambozola-redolent; my tits sting and make me think I’m pregnant and I’m paranoid about it, and I’m just beaming anyway. This period thing, it’s mine, and I’m young and I am farty, and let’s party. I’m bitchen in the kitchen.

     So now what am I; what can I be? Will I become Nora Ephron overnight, writing about my neck? Will I be ridiculous? Will I save those few tampons for young women who recklessly visit me without some of their own, and who when they see mine will gasp in horror, saying “how old ARE these???” I will slap them repeatedly and pull their hair.

     Cranky and booby all the month of December, I cupped those tender orbs in my hands and wondered what the devil was going on. Turns out my period was pretty much about to start and starting and stopping and starting all month. And then again as the new year began. I’m thinking, I don’t want to give this up, my old friend the menstrual flow. 

     I’m worried mostly about my skin. I like my jaw and chin, clearly delineated as they are from my cheeks and lips and throat. I’ve heard that when our period stops, we suddenly dry up, droop down, and find that everything sexy about us is now laughably dusty. 


     Being the youngest of the family, and often the youngest everywhere I spent any time (my jobs, my first grad school, my boyfriends’ apartments), I got spoiled. I still feel like the youngest person around a lot of the time. My current boyfriend is 11 years older than me. My oldest sibling is now 70. So did I become old between yesterday and today?

     This naval-gazing is absurd. I sound so vain and so venal to myself. I think of my friend Patty, and how I wouldn’t want her to know how self-focused I am, and my friend Lisa, whose thoughts are so lofty her periods probably consist of little thought bubbles emanating from her bellybutton once a month; no toiletries needed. And they are dignitaries in my life, so I’m chagrined that right now, I’m the only woman who has ever stopped having her period.

     Perhaps this is goodbye, dear Period. Saying now that “I missed my period” will never mean I’m pregnant. I no longer have to believe in god once a month. I can’t say “I can’t”. I can go swimming anytime. I can go swimming anytime.

     I can go swimming anytime.


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