ornate line
Commuting Suicide: Volume XXXIII
Don't say it. Please don't say it. Not that. Anything else but that. Why did I make this call? Why did I offer? And then she said it. Those words I knew were coming, but dreaded so greatly.

"Can you pick me up a box of tampons?"

New York City has an incredible amount of limitations. We suck in enough dirt and smog that our voices bend to Harvey Fierstein-like tonality. There are no stars in the sky, just the radiating white light that illuminates the clouds hanging over Times Square. And our prices are high. Very high. Simple goods which cost mere pennies in the suburbs are doubled in price due only to their proximity to the Empire State Building. So when we get the chance to leave this town of cement and right angles, we like to take advantage of the discounts we might encounter.

I've been volunteering at 826NYC on Thursday afternoons which means I have to head out to Brooklyn once a week. And while Brooklyn would never be considered a "suburb," they do have a Target. And so, as I was leaving 826 yesterday, I decided to stop at Target to stock up on some "normal-priced" items. (Cat food, Red Vines, Lego Atlantis Typhoon Turbo Sub, etc...) As I made the trek down to Atlantic Avenue, I was struck with a moment of kindness. As these moments are exceptionally rare, I attempted to make the most of it/show off a bit.

So I called my girlfriend.

The offer was this, "I'm going to Target. Do you need anything?" Considering the last time I was this nice, Reagan was still in office and I shared one half of my double Popsicle with Brent Franklin on the playground of my elementary school, I wasn't sure how to proceed. She thought a moment and laughed.

"Actually..." she trailed off which meant one (and only one) thing. "Can you pick me up a box of tampons?"


This is why I'm rarely nice. You give them an inch, they take a PMS-induced angry mile. Now, don't get me wrong, I've purchased feminine products before. Once. It was late at night, we'd just flown back from San Francisco, she'd entered into a whole other realm of cranky, and I had the cover of darkness to my advantage. No one was in the 24-hour Food Emporium at 2am in the morning. I could get in and out with only the cashier knowing what I'd purchased. This was something entirely different. It was rush hour. I'd have to take the train back to Manhattan. Plus, she was very specific about which products she needed.

Before I agreed to this, I mentally made a list of demands. Seeing as I was the one jumping in front of the bullet, I wanted something in return. Dinner. A backrub. Maybe the 2nd season of Mad Men on Blu-Ray. But I didn't take one thing into account: you never mess around with a woman when she's menstruating. Ever. So I bit my tongue and headed into the store.

I'm not sure if you've ever been in a feminine product aisle, but all the products are packed in the exact same boxes with the exact same colors. There are terms used in ways no man has ever heard before. (Pearls, wings, high-flow, etc...) So when a man is sent into this aisle, we can't just grab what we came for and leave. We have to read. We have to research. We have to get the right product for fear she'll stick an ice pick through our face should we choose poorly.

I ran into the aisle and quickly ran out without grabbing the items.
  1. I hadn't mentally prepared myself for the task at hand.
  2. There was a woman in there who was studying the containers like she was admiring a Matisse.
I waited for the woman to leave, psyched myself up a bit, and went in. I knew the exact product she wanted, and thankfully found it quickly. However, there were different quantities available. Were I to get the package with too little, she could counter with the "Not only do you not understand my body, but you have no respect for me or women." Yet, were I to get too many, she may feel I think of her as a wounded deer with no way to stem the bleeding. I hurriedly scanned the boxes and grabbed the Goldilocksian middle quantity. I shoved the box underneath the pound of cat food and headed straight for the cashier.

Target cashiers, at least those in New York City, are not like the one played by Kristen Wiig on Saturday Night Live. Our cashiers don't give a shit. I could put a naked baby and a loaded rifle on the conveyor belt and they'd scan them and place them in the bag with the same amount of enthusiasm one would muster listening to a talk on highway off-ramps. With all the products in my bags, I headed to the subway.

In New York City, we try to avoid thinking about bombs and demented religious fanatics who like to steer planes into our buildings. It helps us sleep at night. It helps us get on the subway without wondering just what the man standing next to us actually has in that vibrating bag. But occasionally the NYPD like to remind us that everyone is a suspect by conducting random bag searches. In all my years of living in New York City, I've never been searched, but like all things, my number had come up.

If only it hadn't come up while I had the medium quantity multi-pack of Tampax in one of my shopping bags. The police officer escorted me to the fold-out table and asked to look in my bags. I placed my shoulder bag and the Target bags onto the table. He went through the shoulder bag quickly, and came upon the Target bags. I bit my lip waiting for the questioning. "Why is this guy walking around with Tampons? Where there's smoke there's fire, and this guy is hiding something. Take him downtown and question him!"

He studied the bag, moved things around carefully, and looked up at me. Suddenly, he dropped the air of authority they teach you to exude on your first day at the Police Academy. He looked me in the eyes and with the essence of I know what you just had to go through sympathy, he said, "You're a good boyfriend." He closed the bag and told me to go on my way.

In other words, terrorists don't buy tampons for their girlfriends.

In hindsight, I should have done all my horrible shopping in one giant exercise of craziness. I forgot to pick up the condoms, the porn, the hemorrhoid cream, and the herpes ointment. But I did come home to a grateful girlfriend who gently reminded me I'd neglected to pick up the Haagen-Dazs Dark Chocolate Ice Cream.
Share on Facebook StumbleUpon ToolbarStumble This    Submit to RedditReddit!


Pearls? I think you're thinking of a different kind of 'feminine product'

said Evangeline on January 29, 2010 11:58 PM.

Random bag searches? Is that legal?

said Miss Cellania on January 30, 2010 8:58 AM.

Evangeline, he got the Pearls thing right--it's a variety of Tampax...it's their name for a leakproof mechanism that is built into the device.

Miss C, I think when a city has experienced something like 9/11 firsthand, they give a little on the privacy thing the rest of us are accustomed to.

Echo, I laughed aloud...and yes, you are a good boyfriend.

In fact, I may put my own up to this same challenge one day soon...my own version of the Winter Olympics--can you make it out of the local Walmart w/tampons without running into someone we know?

Just remember...better tampons than diapers and formula!

said sarcastic one on January 31, 2010 1:08 AM.

Sarcastic One? Really?

said Johnny Wright on January 31, 2010 1:49 AM.

You've just survived what, in female circles, is called the 'Tampon test" which women mete out to gauge the loyalty of their boyfriends.

And you have passed. Have a cookie.

said heather.epp on January 31, 2010 3:59 AM.

For real? I've done this many times not only for girlfriend but for my sister as well and once even for a college friend no big deal at all.

said Ernesto on January 31, 2010 9:02 PM.

"Why is this guy walking around with Tampons? Where there's smoke there's fire, and this guy is hiding something. Take him downtown and question him!"

Just tell him it's for your mangina. NY cops have seen it all bro.

said E on January 31, 2010 10:16 PM.
pop culture
blog on the
maybe not.

rss feed Breakfast Links Feed

Recent Comments

What we can learn from Donna "Treasure Bombshell" Simpson?
Dear Treasure Bombshell If you don’t’ love yourself think of your daughter. W

What we can learn from Donna "Treasure Bombshell" Simpson?
Dear Treasure Bombshell If you don’t’ love yourself think of your daughter. W

Where the Streets have Sexual Names
Lets not leave out Climax, Saskatchewan :)

Where are they now? Serial Killers
another true fact on Jeffry Dahlmer, sick puppy he is ..one book at library sai

Where Are They Now - The Griswold Kids
dana hill passed away now

Where Are They Now - The Griswold Kids
dana hill passed away now

Comments Feed

Special Features

Archives by Writer

New to YesButNoButYes?