That being said, I did not willingly touch a box of tampons in public until I was out of college. I bought condoms before I bought tampons. The first time I bought tampons I made sure I had a full cart of things in which to hide them. I sort of delicately covered the box with some romaine lettuce leaves, and made damn sure that I was in a line with a female cashier at least 40 years older than me. I built a little fortress around it on the conveyor belt with cereal boxes and a milk jug. “Paper bags! I want PAPER BAGS!” I remember demanding before she could even ask.
In middle school and high school, I could not even handle it. I wouldn’t go down that aisle, or touch the box, or even say the word outloud. I’d whisper to my mom, “I need some things,” and then I’d wander around and sweatily flip through a magazine making sure there was no one else I knew in the store, or I’d just go sit in the car while she waited in line and purchased them.
One time I was at Sam’s Club with my dad and he thought it would be funny to throw a giant box of tampons at me to see if I would catch it and therefore inadvertently hold it in my hands. But I saw what the box was as it was flying in the air toward me, and I locked my arms at my sides and closed my eyes tightly and let the thing hit me square in the chest. I always wondered what that must have looked like to other shoppers.
Not that long ago I popped into Duane Read to get some chapstick or something, but I had time to kill so I wandered around and then remembered I needed like 8 other things. By the time I’d grabbed the box of tampons I was past the point of needing a basket, but there was no going back. I could make it to the cash register. But then I saw a seltzer. And I was so thirsty. So I went to try to grab one, but as I reached for it, I dislodged the keystone of all the stuff delicately arranged in my arms, and I dropped the tampons. As they fell, some long-forgotten soccer instinct kicked in, and I reached out my foot to try to catch them. But the timing of the drop and the extension of my foot was so perfect that instead I punted the box of tampons high into the air, very narrowly missing the person standing in front of me. So I guess I will still have to wonder what it looks like to watch someone get hit with a flying box of tampons.