Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Go get a coffee and come sit by me. We’re going to talk about my period!


Now I don’t want to frighten the gentlemen. I know you can get all like little girls, squeely and nose wrinkly, when it comes to period talk. But I want you to know you are among friends. You’re safe here. There is nothing to fear or be grossed out about. It’s just a bleeding crotch. That is all.

I was quite young when I got my first period. December 1, 1977, to be exact. My mom had tried at some point to talk to me about menstruation, but I think I just looked bored and let my eyes roll into the back of my head, feigning choking. So she gave me a book, “A Doctor Talks to Five to Eight Year Olds”.

It explained things with diagrams and whatnot. But I don’t think I really got it, even then. So the day I discovered a war zone in my 1976 Montreal Olympic patterned panties, I was confused and a little scared.

It was dinner time, I remember, and I went to the kitchen where the family was still eating:

Me: Mom… come here.
Mom: No.
Me: Mom, I have to ask you something
Mom: No. You can ask me here.
Me. Mom, please….
Mom: What is it? Just ask me. I’m eating my dinner.

And on this went until finally I got her out of the room to tell her I was probably dying of Crotch Cancer.

She asked me if I didn’t remember that we’d talked about this happening. I must have, but thought it wouldn’t happen til I was 16, like in teen novels and such.

She set me up with a super awesome mattress hooked on to a medieval style plastic belt thing that crackled every time I took a step. It was the crotchal version of a halo brace.


I begged mom “Please…don’t…tell….dad!!!”

She promised she wouldn’t but I’m pretty sure she told him within about a nano second 

I was pretty young, eleven, to get my period (although girls are getting younger and younger. Hormones in the water, they say). They would tell you in health class that getting your period meant you were a grownup. All 11 year old girls wanted to be thought of as grown up, so we focused on the “I’m so mature” part as opposed to the “once a month your crotch will be an awful, shameful place” part. All those informational videos and pamphlets had to make it seem like it was a good thing. Judy Bloom made it sound like it was a dangerous elite club you could join but only after you got your "dot".

Feminine protection, then, has been a part of my life for a long time. Thirty-four years of this business. So, after decades of having to manage the monthly misery, women tend to become very particular when it comes to brands of hygienic products. Me, I hate the wings.

The reason I hate the wings is this (men, you might want to skip this part):
By the time you’ve worn said pad with wings for a while, the wings are weighted down so much with all that blue fluid you produce, that the crotch of your panties is hanging a full 2 feet below where your crotchal area is and as far as I know, the vagina is not very good with aiming, so you’re more likely to get blue menstrual fluid on your white pants while horseback riding. Plus the adhesive on the wings always loosens and turns around and the tape gets stuck to my bits

And why is it that pads are so huge these days? Who really needs pads to be “Long”.  Are we menstruating out of our navels?  And if you need a pad that big, you’re probably hemorrhaging and should go immediately to a hospital.

And the quilting business? It does not make a hint of a difference. Just makes it look like you’re wearing  a cushy white  football field in your gotch with all those demarcations. 

What, are we not supposed to colour outside the lines? Stop trying to police my menstruation! It has to be free!

Brian calls my period my “Lady time”.

I call it “Riding the Red Dragon”

At some point in the 70’s, makers of feminine hygiene started to tell us that by using their products, our period did not mean a halt to all normal activities. We could run and jump, go to gym class, go horseback riding, go on dates, even go swimming while Aunt Flo was in town.

I resent this.

I want to stay in and not do anything. I will use any excuse and my period was always a good fall back. I want to sit in my basement in sweat pants and eat chocolate non-stop.

For a week.

 My period says it’s ok to do that. I don’t need some corporate MAN telling me I can be out in the world doing stuff while I’m menstruating. I’m a mess, dammit.


I am running out of excuses. For my period is, well, starting to call it a day. 

Walking into the sunset goes my reproductive capability.

I’m sort of happy about it (no pregnancy scares, white pants ALL the time, safely admit my love of miniatures), but not happy about all the other stuff that comes with it (weight gain, wild mood swings, aggressive facial hair growth. None of this is good). But I imagine I’m not the first or only person navigating this transition. I’m especially sad because I have recently discovered that there is a brand of tampons in Europe called “Ellen”, just when I could use the money from a lucrative endorsement deal.

This brings to mind all sorts of opportunities for Prince Charles inspired jokes that would make my mother say “tsk tsk”.

I’m going to go make a flat of brownies. And wait.


  1. LMFAO So glad I dont live in your head. Don't worry it will all be over soon and the can join the life of menopause (best damn thing that ever happened) I'm sure you'll find something hilarious to blog about on that topic too

  2. My friend Ron always said he didn't trust anyone who could bleed for 5 days and NOT DIE!

    Joni (no relation)

  3. I think, rather, your friend Ron should feel FEAR! We women are super human. For al he knows we can also live for years on a single drop of food and water, like great bleeding cockroaches. He might try to cut us with a knife? We laugh! He might try to shoot us with his gun. What is a gun to those who bleed without dying. He might try to negotiate with us. We will cry and scream that he JUST DOES NOT GET IT AND WHY DOESN'T HE PAY MORE ATTENTION TO OUR NEEDS AND IT'S ALL HIS FAULT.
    Ron cannot win. Ever.

  4. Ann Marie Cotton Hayek7 June 2011 at 14:49

    You made me laugh so hard, I just about choked on a chicken finger!

    Keep writing Ellen; I love your blog!

  5. Amanda C. Owens7 June 2011 at 18:40

    Yeah, when I get my period I can wear lycra, and ride horses, and do cartwheels on the beach wearing nothing more than dental floss! Nope. I have stage 4 Endometriosis, which means I can go through a box of super heavy ultra mega absorbent overnite pads every 2 days, while staying curled into a very tight ball, cursing Eve, clutching a heating pad to my tummy and telling the gnomes with jackhammers to GET OUT OF MY UTERUS!

  6. Oh Amanda you poor mouse. You poor bloody panties filled with carnage mouse.
    The good news is that apparently the more wacked out your periods are, the more wacked out your menopause process will be. Something to look forward to.

  7. I skipped my first one last month. Yay menopause!

  8. Amanda C. Owens9 June 2011 at 22:11

    Yeah well, I'm being put on a regimen that tricks your body into thinking it's going into menopause, which is SUPPOSED to get rid of endo. Fun times ahead!