Clean and Elegant

Clean and Elegant

Monday, 17 December 2012

The Boatman and the Maxi Pad

I haven’t worn a Maxi Pad in over a decade.  Almost a decade and a half.  I hate Maxi Pads.  They make you feel like you’re wearing a diaper.  You walk around positive that the whole world can see the little bulge between your crotch, and the sweat that seeps out on either side of your underwear, and that they can smell the smell that comes from… 

When I was 12 years old, I competed in a provincial swim meet in Brantford, Ontario.  The morning before we left, I looked at the brown streaky patterns on my underwear and figured I had more extensive skid marks than usual.  I used to get so nervous before swim meets.  I wouldn’t be able to fall asleep at night and when I finally did, I’d dream that I was late for my race, and I’d lost my goggles and when I finally dove in after everyone else I’d forget what stroke I was supposed to be doing and I’d put my feet on the bottom and get disqualified.  Once, not in a dream, right before my race, I was standing behind the blocks and I puked gobs of orange juice into my hand.  I walked to the garbage, flung the orange gobs off of my hands, and then squatted down at the side of the pool to rinse them off in the water. The whistle blew and I stood on the blocks. I can't remember if I came in first or second, but I did win some sort of medal.
The morning before provincials, I figured that my nerves were just coming out the other end.   I threw out my underwear, got dressed, walked to the swimming pool that was down the street from me, and hopped on the bus to Brantford.  We stopped at the Tim Horton's/Wendy's rest station along the 401, Then I went to the bathroom and I discovered that the streaks had multiplied, and transformed into a brighter shade of red and they were coming from a different hole than I’d originally thought. 

For a loonie, I bought my first Maxi Pad in the restroom pad dispenser.  It was two inches thick and eight inches long.  All the way to Brantford, I looked out the window and thought of all the women in the world who had to wear Maxi Pads.  I did not feel happy to join the club.
At the hotel room before the swim meet started, the chaperone did her best to explain the logistics of a tampon, using her thumb and index finger as a hole and getting her daughter to insert through in two easy steps. 

I did not understand how there could be so much room up there.  For the tampon, and for other things.  In the bathroom, I made about a dozen attempts.  I limped out into the hotel room with my feet far apart. It felt like there was a knife up my crotch.  There was no way I could do breaststroke kick.  All my races seemed like a long shot.

Everyone knows that you can’t wear a Maxi Pad underneath a bathing suit.  And certainly, you can’t go into the water with one.  Of course I didn’t do that.  Instead I paced around the pool deck with a towel around my waist, praying that a massacre wouldn’t start dripping past my groins.  I jumped into the warm-up pool frequently, since my chaperone had said that for some reason periods didn’t flow while you were in the water.  While waiting behind the blocks for races, I would hope that the official wouldn’t take too long to blow the whistle, and that once we were on the blocks, he wouldn’t take too long to fire the gun.
It took me about eight months to figure out how to use a tampon without feel like I was stabbing my own uterus.  Although you’re not supposed to let tampons clog yourself overnight, once I figured them out, I renounced Maxi Pads right away.

A decade later, I began to bask in the wonders of the diva cup. It’s a silicon cup that you stick up there and it will catch your blood almost all day.  Minimal pollution for the world, less cost for you. And it’s interesting because you get a glimpse of your fertility all at once, before you dump and flush it down the toilet. The set-up is pretty good, but the other night towards the end of my monthly happy bleeding time, I complained to the Boatman that I was tired of sticking my fingers up myself to insert a blood capturing contraption.  He innocently suggested that I use one of the Maxi Pads that a house guest from the summer had left under the bathroom sink.
“No, no, no, no, no!” I proclaimed.

“How bad can it be?” asked the Boatman.  And he procured a Maxi Pad from the package.  After unwrapping it and removing the paper strip on the back, he stuck the pad into his boxers.
"It's not so bad," he said.  "I kind of like it." And then he went to bed. 

A couple of days later, I heard the Boatman laughing in our basement laundry room. 
“What is it?” I asked.  He came upstairs, bringing with him the Maxi Pad that he’d absentmindedly thrown in the washer, and then into the dryer with his boxers. 

 Here are the exquisite photos.

Boatman and Maxi Pad.

Forearm and Maxi Pad.


  1. You pretty much just described my entire history with feminine products, down to the swim meet and up to the diva cup. I laughed, I cried.

  2. Praise all that is holy and good for the Diva Cup.

  3. bahahaha. i LOVE LOVE my diva cup. also- i agree, maxi pads feel like diapers. why women wear them (and tampons) i have no idea.