On January 1, 1983 I went to the Rose Bowl game. For some reason my father had season tickets for UCLA football. I’m pretty sure it was just because a bunch of the guys went, because my father is basically an unassimilated Euro that has no interest in how American Football is played.
There were a few adult women in the group, but none close to me. After the first quarter of the game I went to the restroom. If you’ve never been to the Rose Bowl I assure you that the restrooms were antiquated in 1983. They are low ceilinged with not enough light or ventilation, the lines are long and everyone has to pee RightNow.
I went into the restroom and as I took down my pants I saw brown on my underwear. Brown, like the color of shit. I panicked and wiped my bottom about 12 times but saw that there was no reason for there to be feces on my underwear, plus it was a little far forward for that. I went ahead and peed and wiped and saw the same brown on the tissue.
Now I’m hyperventilating while sitting on the toilet on New Years day with a thousand drunk and hung-over women who are waiting to pee in a dark and musty bathroom. I’m a good student. I know what my anatomy is and there is no way that poop can make it’s way into my vagina. Those are not connected systems…. unless… maybe when I was playing soccer something tore loose and there’s a hole or a tear connecting them? Or maybe it’s from running long distances?
I cleaned my underwear as best as I knew how and went back to my seat. I watched the Bruins lose miserably and visited the restroom a few more times before the end of the game. Each time there was a little more brown, and each time I worried a little more than the last.
I sat watching the game and wondering what had happened to my body, and then I realized that it was obviously cancer. What else could it be?
My father brought us home from the game and I flew into the house. My mother was there with her friend and I begged her to have a private talk with me. I showed her my underwear and started crying and explaining that I was dying.
My mother and her wacky friend practically danced around the house telling me that I was a woman now. And welcome to the sisterhood, and all sorts of other hippy dippy remnants.
No one told me that your first period probably won’t be with red blood.
image via flickr creative commons