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Menstruation Station: Khaki Shorts

Everyone with a period has been in a period-related conundrum. Standardized tests are particularly fertile ground for the period death of khaki shorts.

By F+, Featured

Illustration by Katie Wittenberg

Hey you out there, does this sound familiar? You’re in a class and realize that you left something at home, so you go over to your friend and whisper in their ear, “Do you have any,” you do a quick scan of the room, “tampons?” I, for one, am tired of feeling shame when I talk about my period in public; there is no need to keep it secret or apologize. So, in honor of the Menstruation Station, here is a little story from yours truly.

It was the seventh grade. I was waiting outside my science classroom after lunch, about to start the Indiana Statewide Testing for Educational Progress (ISTEP). Now for the sake of this story, I would like to be clear on one front: Nobody cares about your seventh grade ISTEP test. You are not going to end up being ridiculed for it by the time you’re in your mid-thirties. NOBODY CARES. Once again, for emphasis: NOBODY. CARES. Not a single person in existence has ever said “My seventh grade standardized testing determined the outcome of my entire life.”

Which is exactly why it was plain and straight ridiculous that once the test started, we couldn’t leave the room because, oh no cheating. Yes, Mr. whatever your name was, I somehow found all the answers to the test online, broke into the school under the cover of night, and scribbled my perfect test score onto the bathroom walls with washable ink. Then I trained the class pet to bring my test sheet to me in the bathroom and lastly, I bribed the janitor with Pokémon cards to wash the answers away, so you’d never know.

Sir, if you’re reading this, you really should have just let me go to the bathroom, because I was bleeding through my pants.

Of course, it was right when the break ended, right when the teacher was opening the door, that this was pointed out to me. I asked him if I could go real quick and he said no. “It’s an emergency,” I said. He did not understand the word emergency to mean “my pants are being ruined as we speak, not to mention my underwear or the potential for embarrassment into adulthood,” so I said it again, “But it’s an emergency.” Still no.

Word to the wise, when someone has a bathroom-related emergency, you should believe them. Just assume there’s a lot of blood somewhere, but not in a way that needs an ambulance. Now you have no excuse for not knowing.

Eventually, I ended up taking my seat, and I filled out those little bubbles while I gradually got more uncomfortable. Now, for the sake of those that don’t know, bleeding through is like sitting in a giant wad of freshly chewed gum. It is wet, it is sticky, and then it dries and your underwear sticks to your ass. There is no better way to describe it than it sucks, especially when you are new to puberty, and you think that you are the only person in the world who has ever bled through. I have a right to complain about it. In fact, every person has a right to complain about their period.

All in all, I learned a lot on that fateful day in the seventh grade:

  1. Pads do not work as well as tampons.
  2. If someone doesn’t understand that you are on your period, stop dropping vague hints and just say “I’m on my period.” It’s actually not as bad as you think.
  3. It is okay to mourn your pants, especially when you chose to wear khaki shorts on the day of your period.

Rest in peace, khaki shorts.

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