Thumbtacks

a little sanitary humor

There’s nothing worse than shopping for feminine products. OK. Maybe shopping for your coffin. But still, you don’t have to do that every month.

It’s even worse shopping in a small town grocery store where everybody knows you. I can imagine their thoughts as they spy me putting the box in my cart. “OMG! She menstruates! And I thought she was above all that. Gross!”

OK. Yes. I know I should not be ashamed of buying hygiene products. “Why should it be any different than toilet paper?” you reason. It’s true. Mea culpa! Mea culpa! What can I say? I was raised in a culture of shame. This isn’t about logic, people. My rational brain got left behind in the magazine section.

I pick the tampons off the shelf, deftly bury them amid the objects in my cart, and thank the Goddess the “ladies” section is in the second-to-last aisle so I’ve got plenty of cover. Off to checkout.

I carefully scope lines. First priority: female cashier. Second priority: woman shopper in front of me. OK. I can do this. I pick a line.

It’s always the wild card that always bites me in the ass. Inevitably, a guy steps up behind me. There we are … together … in line. As I arrange the contents of my cart on the conveyor belt, I can feel his eyes. I know … I just know … he’s thinking, “Eww! Super Tampax. Disgusting!”


I hate shopping for menstrual products so much that I frequently encounter another problem — running out. I’ll wake up at home one morning with two choices: either shove a humongous wad of toilet paper in my panties and hope it survives a trip to the store or … send my husband.

He’s a trooper, a prince among men. But, really, my tampon shopping issues pale in comparison to his.

Outside the produce section, where foods are easily recognized, he’s not the greatest shopper. There have been times when I have had to talk him through the grocery on a cell phone like air traffic control. “Walk to the back of the store. Turn left. Go to the second to last row. Turn left again. Walk one third of the way down the aisle. Face right. It should be in front of you on the middle shelf. No? Describe what you’re seeing.” Yeah. It’s like that.

Then there’s the whole issue of brands and sizes. I’ve given up here. When it comes to hygiene products, I might just as well ask him to buy me a bra. Frankly, I’m happy if he returns with something good enough to get me to the store to do my own shopping.

And then there is the part I feel really bad about. He has to do the checkout gauntlet with all the guys casting him pitying looks that say, “Dude, your weekend is so ruined.”

Imagine when he gets to checkout and finds he’s picked up an unpriced box. (Yeah. This really happened.) The teenage clerk is turning and turning the package, looking and looking for the sticker. The whole line is now staring at the at the box like it’s a Rubik’s Cube, willing him to solve the puzzle so they can get on with their day. The guys are offering sympathetic looks, “Dude, so sorry your woman makes you shop for her — you know — stuff.”

Finally, the clerk gives up and asks my husband, “Do you know how much these cost?” Of course he doesn’t, you ninny.

Taking matters into his own hands, the clerk calls out to a stock guy at the back. “Hey, Charlie! How much are the Tampax?” The whole store turns toward the voice.

Charlie, not quite catching it, yells back, “The thumbtacks?”

“No!” shouts the clerk even louder, “Not the thumbtacks! THE TAMPAX!”

My husband has never shopped for “products” again.

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