Sunday, November 15, 2009

Not long ago a friend and I got on the topic of the how and when we "became young ladies".  Funny how for us woman this is something we have no problem sharing with friends.  Funnier yet might be how, when and where it did happened.  So, since it crossed my mind, and only God knows why, I may as well tell you my experience.

In the Summer of 1967 and at the ripe young age of 12, I became a "young lady".  Seconds before that, according to my mother, I was just a young girl.  I'd attended the 6th grade assembly at my elementary, only because mom had signed a paper in agreement. Heck! you don't think she wanted to explain the birds and the bees to me, do you?

From my recollection there were both girls and boys in the cafeteria that day and oh, how embarrassing it was.  I don't recall a whole lot except that when the lights went down there were giggles and snickering from both genders.  We sat and watched a little film with little drawings because we were little kids on our way to becoming young ladies and gentlemen.  Afterward, we walked out making every effort not to look each other in the eye which was not too difficult considering we walked back to class in single file.

As Summer rolled right up to my doorstep, so did my first period.  I recall entering the bathroom a child, yet, the hush in my mother's voice explained what had happened and with what I needed to do, I realized I was now a young lady.

Mom was always quiet and shy and this day proved to be no different.  When I called, she walked into the hallway and up to the bathroom.  I told her of my findings as quietly as humanly possible; she nearly fainted.  I wasn't afraid in the least bit for what was happening to me but mom on the other hand, must have been sitting in fear since the day she signed that dreadful note sent home suggesting I see the "little film".  I watched her as she walked to her room holding on to the wall so as not to fall.  When she returned she came prepared with the necessary supplies and either she took the time to apply the whitest foundation I've ever seen or the woman was near to passing out.  She was shaking so much she had a difficult time showing me how to wear that awful belt we wore in those days so she left me in the bathroom to tend to the awful deed of  figuring it out on my own.  I opened the bathroom door slowly and looked both ways down the hall.  Once sure there was no one around, I made a bee line to my room and stayed in there until the next morning.

As the days went by and the reality of womanhood set in I realized why everything was said in hush hush tones.  This was merely a quick training in how you must express yourself when you felt as if the A train itself was passing through your ovaries.  We mustn't scream.  We mustn't let anyone know we're no longer naive little girls, we're "young ladies" and young ladies go through cramps and mood swings and cravings and break outs and pure hell.   Sometimes we want to kill someone just because they look at us, but it's ok, it's part of being a young lady.  So, I came to terms with what life had dealt me, knowing soon enough all the other girls in my neighborhood would become equally insane during their time of month too. 

I remember wanting to lock myself in the house some days and it was during one of those that mom asked me to take the trash out.  Hesitantly I loaded up the bags and headed for the back gate.  My biggest fear was that I might run into one of my neighbor girlfriends and of course they'd know with one look that I was no longer a child.

Sure enough, I open the back gate to the alley where my best friend Sheron, who could smell me out across miles of desert, comes running over to ask me to go swimming.  Our conversation went something like this:
Sheron: Hey whatcha doin'?
Marie:  Taking out the trash
Sheron: Wanna come over and go swimming
Marie:  My mom won't let me
Sheron: Why not?
Marie: She just won't
Sheron: But Why?
Marie: Because
Sheron: Ask her
Marie: She won't let me
Sheron:  I'll ask her
Marie:  No
Sheron: Why?
Marie: Because she wont' let me
Sheron: What if I help you do chores
Marie: She won't let me

And on and on it went.  Sheron was a determined child.  I, wasn't smart enough to say "I don't want to, now leave me alone".  But, even if I had, Sheron did not like losing.  She was an only child and used to getting her way.

Of course, I was dying to go swimming but 1.) My mom had told me you can't swim when you're on your period and 2.) I didn't have the guts to tell Sheron I'd started my period.  I didn't want anyone to know.  It was possibly the most embarrassing thing that had every happened to me and telling Sheron was like telling everyone. Besides wasn't it obvious enough?  Couldn't she just tell by looking at me?  I was a young lady now; not a child.

I remember my mom asking me to go with her to the store one day.  We drive into the Thrifty parking lot and she says "here's some money, go in and buy some Kotex".  WHAT!? I felt like she was asking me to kill the president right then and there.  My jaw dropped and I cried "Mom, I can't".  She said "yes you can, what's so hard about that?"  I was thinking I'm too young, I have no experience at this, people will be staring at me, they'll know!  I fought and fought to not have to go into the store that day but she was convinced it was time for me to learn.   OMG!  From the time I walked in until I got back in the car, it felt as if I was under a spotlight.  All eyes were on me buying feminine products.  They knew! Everyone knew and I'm sure they went home and talked about it at the dinner table.  What was my mother trying to do to me?

Eventually I told Sheron and she was understandable mad at me for not telling her that day.  She was actually envious of me....poor girl, what did she know.  At that age we were in such a hurry to grow up and Sheron couldn't wait for her turn.  I wonder....does she feel the same way now?


Castles Crowns and Cottages said...

Good morning! I remember Sheron! Very faintly, but I do remember her. You always paint the picture clearly for me and you take me back....I hope you do a post on the family get-togethers during the holidays. You will most definitely have me either laughing or crying, thinking of our beloved parents. Thanks for coming by the fireside!! Bisous, Anita

Rattus Scribus said...

Dear Marie,
I was torn between wanting to laugh and realizing what a traumatic event this was for you. The exchange with Sheron was hilarious. But then there's having to be shown how to put the "thing" on. And being forced start buying your own Kotex at the store when your trying to hide what's happening to you. That would be friggin embarrassing. It reminds me of a scene in Woody Allen's "Bananas," where he goes to a NY magazine store and is embarrassed to buy a porn mag so he tries to slip it in with respectable mags, but the store owner blows it.

Allen: Let's see, I'll take Commentary and the Saturday Review...and let's see Newsweek. And I'll just grab one of these (porn).

Store owner yelling: Hey Ralph, how much is a copy of Orgasm?


Orgasm. This man wants to buy a copy. How much is it?
What a coming of age story. Most men don't have a clue about what women go through just growing. I'll be the first to admit it that I know nothing about what it would be like trying to keep my head while a "train...was passing through your ovaries."

With much respect,

Grandma Yellow Hair said...

Just found you tonight and glad I did. Wow you sure brought back a lot of memories that I had packed away somewhere. I so was like you wanting to hide in bed until it all passed. And the cramps oh my they could be really horrible.
But we survived. lol

Bunny said...

Age 14 and my mother swore there was something wrong with me. On a Friday night she told me if I didn't start by Monday morning, she was gonna call the doctor and make an appointment for me. I started Sunday. I wasn't gonna let someone look at my I wished it so. Now if only I could wish it so for menopause....uugghh!!!