First of all, since this blog was born at Thanksgiving three years ago, let me take a moment to acknowledge the one that just passed. As usual, it was lovely and stuffed with grace, and we again avoided any near-death experiences, even despite the fact that my Mother-in-Law sat next to my precious baby boy at the Thanksgiving table and FED HIM BUTTER WITH A SPOON.
Basically all the boy ate for Thanksgiving dinner was butter and sweet potatoes. But he managed to live through the torture to his tiny little arteries, and continues to be one of the most perfect things I’ve ever encountered.
Now on to the continuing story of my own IMperfections:
***WARNING: TMI BEGINS HERE.***
OK, so we’ve discussed the beginnings of my lifestyle fabrications. Let’s move on to early adolescence, shall we? While early adolescence for most people is probably rife with falsehoods and pretense, I chose a particularly challenging pretense to try to uphold—or rather, it was chosen for me.
The Adolescent Deception: I am so cool I’m exempt from bodily functions.
Again, this deception was more the result of opportunity than cunning. When I was around the age of 14, my younger cousin (whom I’ll call Joey for identity-concealing reasons that will become clear later), who was roughly half my age, commented (in that wonderful forthright and openly curious way that cool kids have, because he was a very cool kid) that he’d never heard me fart.
Before I go on, let me just say in my own defense that I was 14 years old, people—at that age, you’re not mature enough to deal with certain bodily functions in that practical, all-part-of-being-human way that adults (well, most of them, anyway) do, so you usually go in one direction or the other: you look for any and every opportunity to flaunt your functions in everyone’s face and laugh about it, or you deny their existence altogether.
I’m sure you can guess which direction I chose.
It wasn’t really deliberate—it’s just that I was so mortified by the idea of discussing anything that came out of my ass with a 6-year-old, I responded only with stunned and idiotic silence, thus unintentionally encouraging him to draw his own conclusion: the Insta-Princess simply did not ever pass gas.
It could be true, right?
So I decided to roll with that. And it worked, for awhile, until Joey started sharing with other people the fact that his cousin Insta-Princess did not ever pass gas, at which point I was outed by an adult family friend, who insisted that of course I did—everyone did, or else we’d all get very sick!
But still—it was her word against the solid evidence of my silence and odorlessness (at least in Joey’s presence), so I still managed to hold on to my ultra-cool, body-functionless persona until the following summer . . .
As we all know, girls around the age of 15 are just beginning to have one particular very special bodily function that only applies to the female population, and I was no exception. And tho’ I wasn’t all Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret about the situation (crying and thanking God when IT finally arrived), I was certainly OK with the situation, considering that the alternative was to be a teenage girl who DID NOT have IT yet, and never mind the medical freakiness that could have gone along with that—the REAL trauma would have been trying to fake my way through sleepover conversations about it with other girls! I mean, my divorced-parents deception aside, I’m not known for being a good liar, so I can just see my 15-year-old self trying to get by on what scant info I’d gleaned from my two older sisters, which consisted primarily of three key facts:
1. Nothing related to menstruation should ever, EVER be discussed, alluded to, or even hinted at within 300 feet of anyone who has a penis.
2. Teeny tiny 1970s track shorts and gigantic 1970s maxi pads are not a good combination (though both were probably invented by people with penises).
3. When you have cramps, you’re allowed to cry about any damn thing you want.
But I digress. The point is that although I accepted my feminine fate, I certainly counted it among the bodily functions that should be kept secret from (most of) the masses.
Remember Joey? Ever-so-smart and inquisitive little boy cousin? Well. Joey had an older sister. An older sister who, though still younger than I am, was close enough in age to me to be somewhat more aware of Things Private and Girly.
Which is why I don’t buy for a second that that beeyotch (let’s call her Jezebel, shall we?) didn’t know exactly what she was doing on that fateful summer evening when, as we all relaxed in our grandparents’ family room with Grams AND GRAMPS (please refer to Fact #1 above so that you can truly appreciate the magnitude of this next bit), she slyly left the room and returned a moment later, breathless with excitement as she reported to EVERYONE that there was “something BLOODY in the bathroom trash!”
Now before you even ask, OF COURSE I DID. Of course I wrapped it, sufficiently I thought, in toilet paper before depositing it into the trash.
Apparently my mummification of the damn thing didn’t take.
And poor Grams. Her mind was quick, so it only took a second for her to surmise what exactly was going on. It took a lot longer, however, for her to get to her feet to try to remedy the situation, by which time Joey had launched himself off the sofa and flown halfway to the loo as if powered by jet fuel. She called fiercely after him to come back, using her best threat, reserved only for truly spectacular offenses: “I’LL SLAP YOU TO SLEEP!”
So bless her. She tried. Which is more than I was doing, frozen as I was in adolescent horror and disbelief (which, as we all know, is far more intense and deadly than regular horror and disbelief) at the scene that was unfolding before me as a result of Jezebel’s betrayal.
But, alas, her efforts were in vain. Next thing we knew, Joey came strolling back into the room (in which sat, as you may recall, MY GRANDFATHER), holding my used tampon—WHICH HE HAD FULLY UNWRAPPED—between his bare fingers like a cigar, and casually declared, “It doesn’t SMELL like blood—it smells like mascara.”
Go ahead. Throw up a little if you want. I’ll wait.
Honestly, I don’t even remember what happened after that. I think I passed out from sheer mortification.
At any rate, when I came to (with a fresh and burning hatred for Jezebel that lasted well into my 20s), I gave up on keeping my normal bodily functions a secret. I mean, what could possibly be worse than my grandfather (my GRANDFATHER, people!) knowing I had a period? Hell, I might as well go ahead and start audibly farting at job interviews and having diarrhea in white pants on first dates! It was all lost now.
So I gave up on that deception, and moved on to more deliberate deceits, which I shall have to tell you about later, because Season 1 of Mad Men beckons . . . .