Every Easter, my family used to go on holiday to the beach with two other families. I loved those holidays. Our parents would basically leave the army of kids to our own devices, trusting the older ones to look out for the younger ones while we all ran riot.
One Easter my parents had to leave early, because my brother was about to start some exams and they wanted him at home where there were fewer distractions. Our family friends invited me to stay with them for the second week and I happily jumped at the chance – at their house you were allowed to have ice cream for breakfast and you could swear whenever you wanted. So essentially, a teenager’s nirvana.
On the first day I stayed there, we went down to the beach as normal. I lay down a light blue towel and stretched out with whatever book I had managed to pilfer from the bookshelf. I sunbathed, I went for a swim, I read, I sunbathed some more, and then I got up to go for another swim and I saw it.
It was horrifying and huge. It was literally impossible to ignore. How had I not seen it earlier? How hadn’t I felt it? How could a human possibly expel that much blood from their body and not notice?! How could I human expel that much blood from their body and still be alive?!
Yep, my period was everywhere. It had seeped through my cossie bottoms (which, by some stretch of good fortune, were black) and onto the towel. To add to the beautiful scene taking place south of my belly button, I had a concoction of saltwater and period running down my inner thigh like raindrops on a window pane.
“Um, I actually might just stay here, you guys go on without me,” I said, feigning an intense interest in my book, and to be fair it was probably an Agatha Christie novel so I wouldn’t have even have been lying. That woman is the master of murder mysteries.
Using Poirot levels of cunning (if you guys haven’t read any Agatha Christie you really should and this joke would make more sense) I wiped down the, erm… leakage onto my towel and then folded it in half so you couldn’t see the brown puddle that had formed where I had been lying. Next step was trying to locate a tampon. I was still newish to all this period lark and I am notoriously bad at taking bags anywhere, so I knew for a fact I didn’t have a tampon on me. My best mate who I was staying with had yet to start riding the crimson wave and her sisters were already at home.
I hobbled off to the public bathroom, trying to keep my thighs as close together as possible to prevent any further leakage. Using MacGyver-esque ingenuity (if you guys haven’t watched any MacGyver you really should and this joke would make more sense), I wrapped a some loo roll into a makeshift pad and popped it down my pants. I now know that everyone does this at some point or other in their lives and it’s actually incredibly obvious, but at the time I assumed I was inventing it.
There was, however, a slight… moisture problem. My bikini bottoms were wet and so the loo roll seemed to just disintegrate into nothingness within seconds. Panic set in and I decided it would be a good idea to strip them off and wave them around for a bit to try and dry them, because sure. I was convinced that standing in a public loo waving around my blood-infused bikini bottoms was a bazillion times more preferable than asking my friends’ mum if she happened to have a tampon because that would be the most embarrassing thing that had even happened and I would rather die.
Let me explain how I ended up standing in front of her, my bikini bottoms still stubbornly damp, sheepishly looking at the my feet and mumbling, “I, er, have my… um, period and I, er, don’t…” Thankfully, she caught on to what I was asking pretty quickly and grabbed her car keys and gestured for me to follow her. She opened her glove box and inside was sitting the most perfect tampon I have ever seen. It was a thing of beauty, a majestic piece of cotton wrapped in plastic that almost had me weeping with relief before I decided there’d probably been enough bodily fluids escaping from me in this trip to the beach.
I learnt two lessons from this truly horrifying experience: firstly, it’s never as embarrassing as you think it’s going to be to ask another woman for a tampon. Never. And secondly, perhaps more importantly, if you ever end up owning a car, I urge you to keep some tampons in the glove box. You never know when someone’s going to need one.