A word of warning to my dear, loyal readers who keep coming back here (presumably because of some sort of court-ordered mandate that I don’t really understand): this entire post is about my lady bits.
I’m utterly serious. It is not even remotely about travel. If you come back tomorrow, there might be a post about how we visited Shakespeare’s grave. Or I might just rant about cake and vaginas. It’s hard to say, really.
An Open Letter to the Sarlac Pit that Is My Genitalia (admittedly, this title is a bit wordy, but who needs brevity when we’re talking about reproductive organs?)
Hi, everyone! How’s it going down there? (Or in there, if we’re talking about my ovaries. Or wherever the hell you may be, because I still am not too clear on that, if we’re talking about the clitoris).
I realize that the title of this post might not jibe well with many of you, but consider the alternatives:
Enough With the Clit-Chat
Are You There, Vagina? It’s Me, Geraldine.
Off to Nether-Nether-land
What to Menstruate When You’re Menstruating
The C#nt of Monte Cristo (because it’s clearly taking revenge on … something.)
The House at Pooh Corner (“I think you should delete that one.” – my husband)
Considering all that, what I went with is tame, no?
Anyway, I figured it’s time we had a talk. After all, we’ve been together now for 35 years – more than the combined ages of everyone in One Direction – yet we rarely speak, aside from an occasional “Oh, Jesus, what the hell?” from me, and those weird sounds you make during yoga. You know to what I am referring. I usually have to cough to cover up the noise.
Here’s the thing: after three and a half decades together, I sort of figured I would understand you by now. But at least three times during any given month, you do something that freaks me out and has me doing incognito searches on Google that generally follow the following format:
“Is ________ normal?”
And while the internet assures me that for the most part, the answer is yes, and that there is even a fringe section of humanity that is super into it, I remain unconvinced. There are a few topics that I feel we should discuss. I’ve separated them into easy-to-navigate-headings below, taking into account the fact that you are my reproductive organs and (as my teen years so painfully attested) entirely devoid of higher cognitive functions.
I’m not gonna lie: I sort of thought the horrific deluge of blood would slow down after high school. Remember those days? When you guys, in cahoots with my hormones, took over body like a horde of pirates?
And then you steered me straight into crazy island, where I remained for a decade?
Those were strange, confusing times. I’m pretty sure you guys were just messing with me, having my period show up whenever the hell you felt like it and lasting for weeks on end, like a farewell tour for a band that never died, because presumably the afterlife doesn’t have heroin or sex with groupies.
I kept thinking that those days were behind us, but after more than twenty years of menstruating, you still seem to not understand “regularity”. Some days I’ll expect a light little flow (because I’ve had my period for just kill me now number of days), so I’ll wear a pantyliner, and be met with a deluge that makes me want to build an arc and start rounding up animals two-by-two.
Other times I’ll wear a maxi pad designed to double as a flotation device in the event of a water landing, and you will mock me with nary a trickle …
… until I change into a pantyliner, at which point the aforementioned deluge will recommence.
According to the internet, I can expect my period to start “tapering off” in my mid-thirties, something which, after years of reenacting the prom queen scene from Carrie, I’m sort of starting to look forward to.
But this doesn’t seem to be happening. You’ve decided that I still need to uncover a slasher film in my underwear every few weeks to remind me that I’m not pregnant, even though at this point, a simple text message would suffice.
I know this is your fault. Stop pretending it’s not. (Ditto for those random chest hairs that pop up every month or so that need to be plucked immediately or I will play with them. And by “random chest hairs” I mean that it looks like I’m a burlesque dancer doing a caveman-themed set.)
I have spent the last twenty years being told “I will grow out of it.” In that time, the only things I have grown out of are my favorite jeans, and the long held belief that I would one day get a chance to make out with Jeff Goldblum. But if pressed on either of those points I’ll confess: I’m secretly hanging on to both.
(YES YOU ARE, JEFF.)
But back to the acne (which, incidentally, I occasionally get on my back, too). Biologically speaking, this makes no sense. I have a prescription for BIFOCALS. I’ve been known to eat licorice all-sorts, which no one under the age of 90 voluntarily does. Do I really need to have my face freak out at random intervals like it did when I was 16? Does this serve any purpose whatsoever besides to let me know that my period is coming? Because I already have an app on my phone, and a subtle desire to “eat all the food, ever” that tells me that.
When I was 19 or so, my aunt affectionately explained to me that my cramps were just a result of my uterus contracting in order to shed its inner lining. I vividly remember her wringing out her hands to describe the process. I got it. This bullshit has to happen.
What I did not realize, because it makes absolutely zero sense from an evolutionary standpoint, and even less from a non-evolutionary standpoint (best I could come up with: “God hates you”), is that I would also get a pain in the middle of my cycle, which the Germans have a word for, BECAUSE THEY HAVE A WORD FOR EVERYTHING.
The word is “mittelschmertz”, which means, rather cleverly, “middle pain”. Why I need my body to cramp in pain in order to alert me to the fact that it’s not menstruating is beyond me. I know I’m not menstruating because I can shower without reenacting that scene from Psycho. I do not need a kick in my gut from the inside to tell me that.
Random Discharge Whenever the Hell You Feel Like It
I swear to god, if any other part of the human body expectorated like this, we’d have gone extinct as a species thousands of years ago. Because horrifying, mucus-y secretions coming out of literally anywhere else would get us cast out of our cozy little hunter-gatherer societies before we could say “Ooohrak” (in this scenario, I’m assuming language had yet to really develop) for fear of contagion. Fortunately for humanity, you’ve decided to have things glob out of a place that is basically a grab-bag for secretions, so that everyone has gotten pretty used to it (and we aren’t left in the woods to die alone. Hooray.) Instead, we drive to Costco and buy pantyliners in bulk, and if anyone questions it, we tell them it’s for work.
Full disclosure: I do not have children, and some part of that is because I’ve heard rumors of where they come out (and that’s in a best case scenario. Another option is to burst open like a pinata into which someone shoved an M-80. I assume. I’ve never been good at biology). But plenty of my friends have kids, and they have told me stories which often involve the term “prolapsed” followed by any number of vital body parts.
And forgive me, but that seems like utter bullshit. Your organs see the baby making its escape so they all decide to make a break for it, too? Not cool. I realize that you aren’t the architect of the Winchester Mansion that is the female body, but I feel like you should account for it.
(Also, word to all the mothers out there, whether you came into motherhood by the above means or otherwise.)
And yet, even though I’ve listed my complaints in excruciating, gif-enhanced detail, complete with sub-headings, that’s not entirely the point of this missive. Because in spite of all the (figurative crap) that you put me through, I literally wouldn’t be who I am without you. That even on days when you make my yoga pants smell like chicken noodle soup, I realize how lucky I am to have everything where its supposed to be and in proper working order (mostly). There are women who are struggling with all of that; hell, some are just fighting for the right to be recognized as women. And female genital mutilation remains a rampant problem in large parts of the world (Nigeria, one of the places in the world where FGM is most prevalent, just agreed to ban it in July. Three months ago.)
So I guess what I’m saying is that I am, ultimately, really happy that you’re around, safe, healthy, and whole. Because even though there are days when I’m fairly certain that you are part of a marketing ploy to sell the vaginal equivalent of breath mints, I’m grateful for you.
Plus, we have a lot of fun together.
After 35 years, I figured it was time I say thanks.
P.S. – Thank you for all the concerned emails. I actually know where the clitoris is.