May 11, 2006

Some Feminine Mystique, a Dead Cat and an Exorcism

You know that shopping trip that was supposed to yield an entire new wardrobe?* I now have a new shirt. That’s a shirt. It looks amazing on me, flattering in all the right places, and does not go with anything else I own. GRR! I have decided that I need to make a list to take with me when clothes shopping; my closet looks like a cupboard that has plenty of pasta and spaghetti sauce but no parmesan to make the meal (and I think we all know how I feel about my cheese). This is because shopping trips are rarely planned, and I usually pick up items one at a time based on how they look, not what I can pair them with. I have a number of adorable skirts, tops, and accessories, none really complementing any other, to the end that I can’t wear any of them. My hope is that by keeping a list of my useless-yet-fabulous fashion items in my wallet, I can at least be on the lookout for something I can use to complete an outfit. Tonight: H&M.

I have been ruminating on something Jackie told me, ever since I hid a tampon up my sleeve for covert travel to the toidy, which is that women are ashamed of their periods. Now, you all know me pretty well, and I think anyone could attest that I have zero problem talking about the various functions of the body femme. I think the number one search hit on this site is “uterus”. It’s one of my very favorite subjects. But even as I celebrate my femininity (which I do, and you should too), I think maybe there is truth to the shame theory. I always hide my tampons. Not at my house, but whenever I carry them around, they always seem to be in a pocket or some other place of concealment; more of that spy training that is sure to some in handy when I get that movie deal. It’s really sad that women would be, even subconsciously, afraid to reveal the fact of their special week. It came as a shock because I thought I was pretty open about it—as with other women, while chatting in the ladies room—but not outside that environment. Weird. I thought it was just polite to hide your period products, but now I’m thinking it’s a character flaw of some kind. Am I a tampon coward?

I spent some time yesterday actively counteracting that behavior; more as a science project than anything else. I knew I’d be hitting the bathroom at my house, but I had no purse, and would probably leave my bag in the car—what a great opportunity to assert equality of the sexes! Or something. So, before I got off the bus, I took a tampon out of my bag and held it in my hand, waiting for the doors to deposit me at my car. I got one strange look, but the passengers remained mostly uninterested. And I think the one guy who stared at me was wondering where in hell I planned to change it. Conclusion: nobody gave a damn, but I still had to force myself to do it. Is it because I’m afraid of judgment? It’s not like I’m snorting lines off the seats or something—it’s just a tampon, and I know it’s just a tampon, but I had to actually tell myself that before I felt comfortable taking it out.

I wonder if I’d have the same issues with condoms. No, I’d whip those out with zero provocation, calling as much attention to the fact that I’m getting laid as I can. Possibly with an accompanying dance.**

A few unrelated addenda:

Willy. I picked up his ashes (is having your cat’s ashes weird? I vote yes) for my little sister when buying cat food for our sole remaining cat. I knew I wasn't the right person for this errand from the get-go; my feelings on dead animals are pretty well-documented. Trying to sound casual, I ask the clerk for the ashes of my sister's cat. I wait, and she returns with... a box. I don’t know what I expected, but this wasn’t it. It was the sort and size you would use to mail a bottle of wine. It was clean, white and efficient. I hated it. And it was small. I didn’t see how they could fit him in there; my brain didn’t comprehend that he was in little bitty pieces. The whole thing lacked ceremony; I ended up being snappish with the vet tech for her lack of… I have no idea. I asked for my cat, she handed me a box. I think my actual words words were "Oh, I... oh." I very much didn’t know what to make of it. But I spent the rest of the trip talking to Willy-in-the-Box. I ended up mainly apologizing to him for buying cat food that he wasn’t able to eat (and accidentally dropping it on his box on the passenger seat). I’m sorry I was entrusted with his afterlife, because I suck at it. I told him I understood now why he tried to drop a bookcase on me.

Here’s what happened when I got it / him home:

ME: I got the cat food.
MOM: I see.

ME: And, uh, Willy.
MOM: Oh, I wondered what that was.

ME: Yeah. It’s Willy. In a box.
MOM: Yup.

ME: That box is so small, though.
MOM: Well, he wasn’t too big.

(pause)

ME: Where’s his head?
MOM: Stop it.

ME: I’m sorry—I can’t really process it.
MOM: I know, but it’s sad, so stop talking about it.

[My cat, Lucy, has jumped up on the dining room table to see what’s up; she sniffs the box, rubs her head against it, then sits directly beside it with her head on her hands. I’ve never seen her do this.]

ME: Aw, shit.
MOM: That is… pitiful.

(reverent pause, in which we’re totally not crying)

ME: We should move it, though. We can’t let you-know-who see it.
MOM: She knew you were picking him up.

ME: Yeah, but does she need to see her dead cat in a big box of sad before breakfast?
MOM: Put him up in my closet.

But after that giant downer, I have a hopeful note:

I don’t think anyone will question my recent apprehension of elevators, particularly the one I employ every day to get the mail. So yesterday, when I held the elevator for one of the front desk clerks pulling a lady in a wheelchair, my blood pressure wobbled a bit. The lady asked me to hit B1, and I did. There was a small pause after the doors closed, then she said “You know, it’s only in an emergency situation where you realize how nice people really are.” And the man pushing her laughed and patted her hand. They reminded me of my grandparents, and this guy was a total stranger to her. I’m still recovering from the serious warm and fuzzies I got as they got left the elevator for the emergency room. I think that little moment effectively rebalanced my elevator karma, or as someone so deftly put it: “Get behind me, Satan!”

* Last rhetorical question, I promise. At least you know the answer this time.
** Unless I was with the person whom they were to be used on. In which case, I’d lose the dance. Best not to seem too eager.

1 comment:

Jessica said...

I only hide feminine products at work... and that's just because I work with kids and don't feel like explaining what a tampon is for.

Once when I handed my mom my compact from my purse, there was a WetNap in a packet stuck to the bottom of it. She handed it quickly to me, and I still to this day wonder if she thought it was a condom. You wouldn't be waving condoms around and dancing if you were with your mom. I think?

~~~~

When my older dog died, the younger dog kept sniffing around the house and looking for her outside. It really was pitiful. When she finally realized it was just her, I think she was happy to no longer have to share the reverence.