Writing

A Brutally Embarrassing Coming-of-Age Story

My mother wanted to keep me in an arrested state of development. I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s that most parents don’t want to see their little babies grow up. Or maybe they don’t want us to become familiar with our burgeoning sexuality and have us shame the family by getting knocked up at 15. Maybe they’re just prude. Or asexual. Which might both be the case with my mother (Yo Mom, if you’re reading this, STOP RIGHT NOW!)

At 13 when most girls had freshly shaved appendages and a new found interest in what Victoria’s Secret had to offer, I was still tomboyin’ it with furry legs and a sports bra that may or may not have stunted my breast growth. Mom told me there was no reason to grow up so quickly and like so many stupid stupid children, I believed what my mother told me.

Take for example her neglecting to introduce me to tampons.

For years, when I got my period, I’d walk around with a bulky pad between my legs. The official adult diaper (no, well, I guess that would be Depends, wouldn’t it?). I even wore those puppies in the pool! Those guys soaked up water like a sponge. I’d rise out of the pool with a water-laden bulge in my neon blue dolphin-covered one piece suit.

I’m pretty sure I looked like I had a penis.

I was oblivious at the time but now I can only imagine kids’ faces as I climbed out of the pool magically sprouting a dick. I’m surprised rumors didn’t spread around school.
“Did you see Lauren at the pool the other day? I think she may have a bigger penis than you, Steve.”
The awkwardness of the lead weight cradled in the crotch of my bathing suit forced me to run like a monkey across the pool deck as I scrambled to shield myself in a towel.

Fast-forward to two years later. I’m working at my first job in an Italian restaurant. My period surprise ambushes and I must have forgotten to put those hateful little pads in my purse that evening. They’re not the easiest thing to carry around in your purse, you know? Do you know how embarrassing it is at 15 years old to have a gigantic maxi pad plop onto your feet when you reach for your wallet? DO YOU???

I was stranded! I knew normal people didn’t use maxi pads so I was terrified to ask around.

I scavenged the restaurant for a co-worker whom I knew would understand my situation.
There weren’t any. I worked with a bunch of sassy young women who read Seventeen- the official magazine of tampons.
I was screwed. I was at that point where I was going to have to get creative with whatever was lying around the restaurant. Luckily, Rachel walked in as I was about to stick wax paper in my underwear.

Rachel was cool. Her and I got each other. She didn’t give me a perpetual “duh” look while smacking her gum like the others.

“Oh my God, Rachel! I just got my period. Do you have anything? You know like a tampon or maybe a maxi pad.”

“Only a tampon bigger than my boyfriend’s penis.” (Amendment- Rachel says that this is not exactly how the exchange went down, but I’m going to leave it. This is how I remember it. I’m sorry, Rachel.)

“Oh.”

Exactly what I wanted to hear.

My mind flashed to later in the evening, a customer commenting on the “spaghetti sauce” on the crotch of my pants and realized I had no choice. It was either the super jumbo tampon or a taking the chance on a bunch of wadded up toilet paper in my underwear for the rest of the evening (and we all know how that will end).

I took the crude object from her hand and locked myself in the bathroom.

I carefully peeled back the paper like a popsicle stick.

What the hell is this!?

Ok, there is an outer container, then something inside it. Do I shove the whole thing in my crotch, or just the smaller piece inside? But it’s made of cardboard!!! I don’t think that I should put that in my body. I guess it’s just the fiber glass feeling piece I have to put in there.

I pulled the tampon from the cardboard and put it in between my legs like a plug.

Surely this thing can’t go ALL the way inside!

So, I work for the rest of the evening with a tampon bigger than someone’s boyfriend’s dick sticking half-way out of my vagina. It hurt like a son of a bitch. I was walking around like someone stuck a stick up my ass.

Or vagina.
I had the look of dog shitting as people gave me their orders. The pain was unbearable, but it was mine and mine alone. I couldn’t tell anyone my predicament.

As I walked in to the house later that evening to pull the shrapnel from my battered cootch, my mother stopped me in my tracks.

“Are you ok? What’s wrong?”

“Ma, I had to use a tampon tonight and I don’t think I did it right.”

“What did you do?”

“Well, I only stuck it in only half-way. It hurts!”

She could barely contain her laughter.

How.
Dare.
She!?!?!?
I was in this awful predicament because of her!
This was all her fault!!!
I stormed off into the bathroom where I pried the evil, spiteful object from my body all the while having to listen to my mother call all her friends, shrieking, “You’ll never guess what my daughter just did!” I dug out the trusty ol’ chastity belt of a maxi pad and slapped it into my underwear.

Ooohhhh, that feels so much better.

That night, as I forced myself to lie on my side so I wouldn’t period all over my bed, I thought about the tampon.

If I used it right, my life would be so much easier. I wouldn’t have to worry about rolling over in my sleep. Better yet, I could swim without worrying about the pad floating up to the surface of the pool!

The next day, I took my tip money from the night before and bought myself “tampon lites” at the supermarket. Now knowing that I had to push the tampon ALL THE WAY UP, I pushed it as far is it could go.

Wow, it doesn’t hurt!
It disappears!

I felt liberated! I could walk and swim and sleep freely now! No more worrying about magic penises and “spaghetti sauce” on my pants. I WAS FREEEE!

I walked into the house strong and confident. This was the beginning of a new Lauren. Little did I know I had a long way to go.

It would take me another three years to learn about trimming the little caterpillars above my eyes and the beast that once partied with my maxi pads down below.

Looking back, I can’t be angry at my mother for not explaining these things to me. Did I endure ridicule and embarrassment because of it? Sometimes. Did it make me want to rip out my ovaries and bury them in the dirt? Maybe. But I did learn something priceless from it. A very valuable lesson that I will carry down to my children. Forget drugs and sex, talk to your daughters about the positive attributes of tampons. It will save them a lot of pain and heartache (and therapy).

Love you, Mom!
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41 Comments

  • Reply The Vegetable Assassin March 26, 2010 at 5:10 pm

    Man, people just don't realize how traumatizing being a teenage girl is. I mean no one teaches you about those damn things. I'm pretty sure the first time I used a tampon I put the entire applicator in and thought "Well, this isn't at ALL comfortable like they told me!" I never thought about you know…removing the applicator once it was in. And to think I now laugh that they give you instruction leaflets with Tampax. I should've read them THEN.

  • Reply Linda March 26, 2010 at 5:17 pm

    lol i think many girls have this story. i do too! embarassing is i didn't discover the tampon til after my first bf. ahhhh. growing up ๐Ÿ™‚ such a joyful experience.

    p.s. i think your spell checker highlightings got tranferred into this blog post…

  • Reply Sarah March 26, 2010 at 5:23 pm

    Sadly, I think a lot of girls know how you feel!

    I found out all about periods and body hair and sex from a friend's mother – mine completely ignored the fact I was going through puberty until…well, she still hasn't talked me through it yet. I'm now 26…I wonder if she knows I've had my period yet…

  • Reply Hipstercrite March 26, 2010 at 5:27 pm

    @Vegetable Assassin- I was kind of mad at my Mom for awhile, but I guess there are some things we just need to learn ourselves! I wish there were guidebooks!

    @Linda- Haha…yes, you're right about the spellchecker! I fixed it. Thanks so much!

    @Sarah- Hahaha….that sounds EXACTLY like my story!

  • Reply April March 26, 2010 at 5:41 pm

    Awe… this is hilarious and traumatizing all at the same time. Hilarious because, well, it's funny, but traumatizing because it brings me back to MY days as a maxi-pad wearing, clueless teen. My mom thought tampons were BAD. They could KILL you. Thankfully, I had a step-mom who used them. Thanks mom.

  • Reply April March 26, 2010 at 5:45 pm

    Oh, and in regards to puberty and sex… she bought us a book. Problem solved, discussion avoided, all is well (in her mind anyway). I spent years panicking every month thinking I was pregnant because my jeans were feeling tight (which according to the book, was one of the main "symptoms" of pregnancy. It neglected to mention that it was also a symptom of PMS). Thanks again, Mom.

  • Reply soft nonsense March 26, 2010 at 6:00 pm

    Hooray for being a dude. What we can't figure out ourselves we learn from the dirty jokes of our friends and the internet…

  • Reply Kate March 26, 2010 at 6:02 pm

    You know when you laugh so hard cos, damn, you remember and understand it all too well?

    Yeah, well, that.
    ๐Ÿ™‚

    Kate x

  • Reply Hipstercrite March 26, 2010 at 6:05 pm

    @April- What is it with Moms being afraid of tampons? P.S. I love your blogs!

    @Soft Nonesense- Periods SUCK ASS, but you guys have your fair share of crap too.

    @Kate- I remember it like it was yesterday….

  • Reply Heidi March 26, 2010 at 6:16 pm

    Yay!!! I'm a proud mom then!! I did tell my girls about the period, the tampons, and so on…

    When my first daughter got her period, I bought her a dolphin bracelet, to welcome her into the world of women, into the sisterhood you know? I was deeply moved by her coming of age. It was beautiful!

    Ya well, she thought I was a freak! I still hear about it today! Mom how could you!!! And when younger daughter started her period, she didn't want to have anything to do with me!!! Where did I go wrong????

  • Reply Mel March 26, 2010 at 6:47 pm

    You poor thing! I at least got a book with little cartoon of happy looking teenage girls talking about why they preferred pads/tampons.

    We don't really have applicator tampons in Australia, and I'm glad. It just seems like one more thing to worry about figuring out.

  • Reply Ash March 26, 2010 at 7:04 pm

    lmao… great story.

  • Reply Jennifer March 26, 2010 at 7:08 pm

    I'm quite certain that my coworkers think I have lost my flippin' mind. I haven't laughed this hard in a looooong time. Not laughing at you, but with you because I completely relate with how traumatizing that whole experience was.

  • Reply Apryl March 26, 2010 at 7:14 pm

    I completely get it! My mom NEVER used tampons and I too was stuck in pad-land until I was a cheerleader in high school. There was NO WAY I was doing all those jumps and splits with a pad! I had visions of jumping up and it flying out, sticking bloodily to some hot football players face!

  • Reply Mr. Condescending March 26, 2010 at 7:17 pm

    I once pulled a girls tampon out and threw it against a hotel wall and it stuck for a second!

    I don't chuckle much if I see someone buying tampons in a store, but I do if they are the jumbo kind!

    I kinda like the way those tampon pearl ones look on the box, if I was a girl I'd probably use those.

  • Reply Essence B. March 26, 2010 at 7:22 pm

    My mom didn't teach me how to use tampons either. And I happened to get my period once at a friend's house 2 hours away from home. Luckily, Joslyn is also afraid of sticking things in her vagina, so I was lucky there. Maybe one day I'll learn the beauty of the tampon. One day…

  • Reply Angie March 26, 2010 at 7:47 pm

    This is such a brave post! I remember feeling the same way!!!

  • Reply Johana Hill March 26, 2010 at 7:49 pm

    You know what? I've never tried a tampon in my life. EVER. Those lil things scare me. No amount of coaxing will get me to shove something like that in my vagina. Nuh huh…So I stick to maxi pads! ๐Ÿ™

  • Reply Wilde.Dash March 26, 2010 at 7:55 pm

    Hilarious. You know what's almost worse? Having your mom coaching you on how to use tampons in the locker room at a public pool from the other side of the bathroom stall when you've only got two minutes before swim class and are in hysterics because what she's saying sounds completely insane. Then, you know, have the same incident repeated 30 minutes later after you left it half hanging out the first time…

    Yeah, that happened. Fun day, let me tell you.

    "Jesus christ, you know how many holes are down there, right? Just push it up there already! This shouldn't be that complicated!"

    in love and squalor,

    wilde.dash

  • Reply Hannah Miet March 26, 2010 at 8:01 pm

    Adolescence blows. There should be an option to skip it. If there were a Nintendo cheat for adolescence, i would not be above using it.

    I still remember the name of the girl in my middle school who was known for walking around in blood stained jeans.

    I can't believe you wore a pad in the pool. I thought they'd, like, disintegrate or something. Or detach and float. The horror.

    I thought that getting my period would speed up the time it took before I got laid. So at 9, I tried to put in a tampon, as if this would somehow increase my chances.

    What a perverted idiot I was. I would have gladly corrupted you if you were further downstate.

    This post was wonderful, by the way.

  • Reply Angeliska March 26, 2010 at 8:08 pm

    Thank you for this story, darlin' – it's so refreshing to find blogs with funny, well-written and honest content! I've been enjoying yours for awhile, and I'm proud to be in the pasty-ladies sisterhood with you!

    My mom died when I was seven, and so I scoured Judy Blume novels for info about what was going to happen when I hit that stage. Those books were pretty outdated, so I really thought I was gonna have to wear a weird belt or safety pin pads to my unders. Oh the horror! How awesome it was when it actually happened, in the 1st week of middle school- We had to wear nasty green windshorts in gym. Doing sit-ups with a BOY holding my feet, while totally wearing totally bloody shorts? So rad. Oh, inadequate blood diapers of our adolescence! I figured out that tampon situation, pronto after that. Whew!

  • Reply Benny Paul March 26, 2010 at 8:16 pm

    Man… Whenever somebody gets super gross about this kind of stuff, I feel super relieved.
    I don't think I could ever trust anyone who doesn't have a gross story.
    I feel like men are more likely to talk about penises than women are likely to talk about vaginas, but there's a huge difference. Tons of us only talk about other guys' dicks. Women seem to be way more comfortable talking about their own organs.

  • Reply Marissa March 26, 2010 at 8:35 pm

    haha i loveddd this. I use to wear pads in the pool too. soooo embarassing.

  • Reply Cassie March 26, 2010 at 8:48 pm

    yeah, my mom never told me how to use a tampon either…or shave my legs or pluck my bushy-ass eyebrows now that i think of it. i had an awkward adolescence, but is there any other kind really? and i agree, Seventeen is the official magazine of tampons.

  • Reply Hipstercrite March 26, 2010 at 9:18 pm

    @Heidi- You should be proud! You're an excellent mother!

    @Mel- I agree with you on the applicator thing. Way too complicated.

    @Jennifer- AWESOME!

    @Apryl- That was probably the best visual I had all day

    @Mr.C- The pearl ones look super fancy on the box, but the only difference is that it's a plastic applicator instead of a cardboard one.

    @Essence B- Just jump into the tampon pool. Seriously, it will change your life!

    @Johana- I admire your dedication to the maxi pad. I still use them sometimes. Hoewever, as I mentioned to Essence B above, tampons will change your life. They make everything so much easier!

    @Wilde- Your comment wins as the best comment ever left by anyone.

    @Hannah- 9!?!?

    @Angenliska- Wow. I think your story wins.

    @Benny- Yeah, we typically don't talk about other's vaginas. I'm with you on the gross stories…

    @Cassie- That sounds EXACTLY like me

    Everyone, thanks for sharing your wonderful stories. It made me feel all the closer to you! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • Reply Juliette March 26, 2010 at 9:53 pm

    Oh geez, if this doesn't make girls reading this cringe, I don't know what will.

    I was so scared when I had to use a tampon for the first time. I was over at a friend's house and she was having a pool party, so it forced me to learn real quick.
    I was so scared it would get stuck inside and never come out…

    -Juliette from WhereForArtThouRomeo

    P.S. My friend showed me a funny video parodying tampon commercials the other day: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lpypeLL1dAs

  • Reply Heidi March 26, 2010 at 10:02 pm

    I have to agree… Wilde had me peeing my pants… that is just too funny!

    And ladies, I'm sorry .. I just don't get the pad in the pool thing?? Really?? Yak!!

  • Reply Kait March 26, 2010 at 10:39 pm

    So I didn't (really) know how to use a tampon until I had sex. !! I just remembered the woman in "Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret" frowning upon them.

    Also, re: the 1980s guy thing was possibly the greatest thing I have read in a long, long time. Tell me you've seen work of art that is Peter Gabriel's "in Your Eyes." It switches back and forth between being nonsensical to translating the lyrics completely literally in the video and it is PURE GOLD

  • Reply LambAround March 27, 2010 at 2:40 pm

    This is my all-time favorite blog post of any blog, ever! You should seriously submit this to teen magazines to try to get published. No wonder you have so many followers! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Lambโ€™s Most Recent Post: The Chalkboard Door is for Holiday Decorating!

  • Reply LambAround March 27, 2010 at 2:41 pm

    P.S.
    The "stop reading this" to your mom, which links to a post that will mortify your dad, made my day!

  • Reply Polly Syllabick March 27, 2010 at 3:28 pm

    in addition to adult awesomeness, you and i share an eerie amount of childhood superstuntedness

    ps: i LOLed. a lot. at this

  • Reply Kayla March 27, 2010 at 10:33 pm

    This post pretty much exactly describes my childhood too! My mom ditched before I hit puberty. I remember first getting my period, I knew what it was but I had NOTHING. I emailed my dad's girlfriend at the time and she drove HALF AN HOUR from her house to mine to give me pads.

    I wore pads from 7th grade to 9th grade. Horrible. I tried for about a year to get tampons in and they just wouldn't. I remember the day that I FINALLY got one in I was the happiest girl in the world. Now I never go back to pads or even pantiliners ever! Tampons are just so much better.

    Thank you for this post, you are not the only one!

  • Reply cjschlottman March 28, 2010 at 12:18 am

    You have done it again – made me laugh 'til I almost peed in my drawers! As a child of the 60's my prudish mother was my biggest handicap. I learned about sex and bras and tampons and all that from my friends' big sisters and their cool moms. I don't think it ever occurred to my mother that I might actually turn into a woman one day. I bought tampons with my allowance and hid them from her. Every month she presented me with a brow bag containing a box of Kotex and a sanitary BELT to hold them in place. That is not a typo. No sticky backs or wings in the dark days of my youth. You are so good to write about this stuff – and you do it so well. Kudos.

  • Reply T!nK March 28, 2010 at 4:23 am

    LoLz. This is a story EVERY young girl should read.

  • Reply Jojo March 28, 2010 at 4:38 pm

    I feel like Im reading the story of my life here :/ but I will do just talk to my very own about everything that I had to learn on my own. ๐Ÿ™‚ Good story! Thasnks for sharing

  • Reply Katie March 30, 2010 at 10:37 pm

    This is quite possibly the best thing I've ever read.

  • Reply Rachel March 31, 2010 at 1:31 am

    At least you didn't have the trauma of your mother showing you how to put a tampon in. Like literally showing you. And telling you the only way to go about it is to do it lying on your back. Yes. That's right. Lying on your back like your giving birth. Watching your mother show you how to put a tampon in. Fuckthatnoise.

  • Reply Adgirl March 31, 2010 at 10:39 am

    Love this post. my first period happened when I was on holiday with my whole family. I woke up to find the bed in the cottage covered in blood. My Grandma had to discreetly wash them. Shame!

  • Reply Enn March 31, 2010 at 8:30 pm

    Um, is my mom your mom, because I had a VERY similar experience and the first time I had to use a tampon was when my dad took me on my first check dive in the Keys. MY DAD. We're at the hotel and I get my period like 10 minutes before the boat is leaving. ?!?!?

    Oh, mom. She later tells me that she is afraid of me getting TSS. TSS?! Who the hell gets TSS? Really.

  • Reply Kristen March 31, 2010 at 9:34 pm

    Oh this is too funny! I literally laughed out loud at my desk while reading this… mainly because I did the same thing only I had to go through a 2 hour volleyball practice with a large cotton ball of a tampon falling out of my crotch.

    I remember the traumatizing days of the PADS… getting out of your seat in Junior High after the rest of the class in case you left something on the seat- How embarassing!!

  • Reply Mortified on TV November 8, 2011 at 8:24 pm

    […] I had no idea what a tampon was until I was 16 and stranded without a Maxi pad at work. A co-worker gave me a tampon and not knowing how to use it, […]

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