Humour: The Tampon Temper

My mother and youngest daughter in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
My mother and youngest daughter in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

I really admire those who find the funny in an otherwise frustrating or ‘bad’ situation.  That takes a lightness of heart!  I tend to see the funny after a little rant and rave, (must be the red-hair genes).  Nevertheless, here’s a hilariousness I’ll share. It happened while living in the dark of Saudi Arabia… enjoy!

A menstruating woman is a force to be reckoned with. My trip inside a Saudi Arabian supermarket demonstrates this perfectly.

Before arriving as an expatriate in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia in 2008, I was forewarned that tampons were then still hard to come by, as their use among unmarried muslin women is vehemently discouraged. However in my early shopping expeditions, while still in a stunned-like new-comer state, I clapped eyes on a couple of woebegone boxes of Tampax. (Somewhere between the cling foil wrap and dustbin liners aisles.)

Immensely relieved to have found not only tampons, but my then preferred Tampax brand, I quickly surmised the information I received was just a rumour. So rather put off by those particularly dirty and shamefully re-sealed cartons, (yes, they got checked at customs) I decided to buy them from another store, on another day.

Come the day I needed some: It’s well-known that many of us girls are not always the most rational darlings of serenity at that time of the month. And on this particular day I was demonstrating bad behaviour extraordinaire!

Compounded with a heavy cyclical day, I was on the hunt for tampons, with my two young daughters in tow, (and husband as designated driver, another subject entirely). Trying to do so all before prayer time, during which time the supermarket closes its doors and keeps current shoppers locked in! (I kid you not.)

Approaching the third supermarket in search of any box, (irrespective of condition or brand), as I was down to my very last self-imported tampon. In dire need to employ my last little ‘shame-saver’ I decided to first make a stop at the ladies’ lavatories.  Alas, the stench and appalling state of the toilets was just too much for my hot head and short-tempered state.

So against my better judgment I squeezed tight and hoped for the best. I penguin-legged it through the centre, firmly grasping my daughters’ hands, (time didn’t allow for any child lag).

Clothed in my obligatory black polyester ‘frock’ of an abaya, I was overheating and immensely regretful for having been a far too fussy shopper last time around. Up and down some more obscure aisle I waddled.

On my forth lap of the personal hygiene aisle I clapped eyes on an unsuspecting shelf packer. After some frustrating attempts of asking a non-english speaking male for tampons I just gave up in exasperation. Letting go of two damp little hands, I dug deep into my handbag  and brought out my lonesome tampon.

Almost hysterical at this stage, I waved it in front of the bewildered man’s face, saying, “I want THIS, THIS, THIS”.    (He didn’t stand a chance)  In total ignorance, and was that a glimmer of fear I detected?, he took it and slowly turned to amble to the other side of the aisle, biding his time in search of something that might resemble the requested product.

I held my breath, let it out, and tried to calm myself, now hopeful having been able to put the search into his hands, literally.  Then, triumphantly, he turned to me with his offering of similar shape and form…. A THERMOMETER!

Sisters of the western world, I turned on my heels and through an avalanche of frustrated tears and a good dose of self-pity, I hot-footed it out there, ranting to my daughters, “Mommy has just been denied a woman’s very basic right!”

9 thoughts on “Humour: The Tampon Temper

  1. Lynette, I just love this – so descriptive, I can just picture the scene. Easy to find Tampax in Knysna – just have to make sure that you get to the shops when the lights are on 🙂

    1. Oh how funny Elaine, you are quite right – different country, different 3rd world challenge! Thanks for you comment here, much appreciated!

  2. What a great read. You are a born story teller. I could picture you penguin-legged walking through the shop, gritting your teeth.

    My sister was an expat years ago, in Holland. Open arrival, she took her insulin vials and injections through customs and was told she is smuggling drugs into their country. She luckily brought medical documents to prove her condition, but what a fight. She found this ironic, as they are allowed to smoke Pot in the open, but try take your medicine through customs.

    1. Goodness Louise isn’t that a contradiction, you’re so right! Your support, encouragement and kind words are so enjoyed, thank you.

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