Girl Problems.

November 21, 2012

They don’t really use tampons here in Paraguay. This means they don’t sell tampons either (except for the o.b. brand, which is just…ew.). So obviously I had to lug a lifetime’s supply in a suitcase with me when I came. Also, after learning the hard way too many frantic times, I have finally remembered to maintain an emergency stash in the secret pouch of my purse.

I have recently had to make several runs to the US Embassy in downtown to renew my passport. Naturally, the place is high vigilance with various stages of security “checkpoints”—one of which includes an area for bag searching.

Normally, the guards are fascinated by the pepper spray I have attached to my house keys that I keep for personal peace of mind. I can tell some aren’t quite sure what it is, while those who are more certain give surreptitious smirks of approval. On one occasion, a Paraguayan female officer even said to me in Spanish, “You go, girl! More women in this country should carry these around.” I found this to be simultaneously validating and unnerving.

Anyway. During yesterday’s visit, security was particularly thorough in their examination of my purse. Not a single brown leathery inch was to be missed. Not the pepper spray pocket (of course) and especially not the hidden stash of life-saving feminine secrets.

The officer proceeded to pull every single stick out, examined each one with agonizing scrutiny, and then inquired, “What are these?”

“Uhhhh…uhhhhh…uhhhhh…” I hemmed and hawed, wracking my brain for a polite, non-graphic way to describe my way around the object whose Spanish word was not in my vocabulary (it’s not like I’ve ever had to discuss it here). I finally managed to stammer out something along the lines of “It’s, uh, for, uhhh…girls?”

An extremely embarrassed lightbulb went off in the officer’s head and she immediately started cramming the tamps back into their camouflaged compartment. I pitied her flaming red cheeks as I recalled the time I unwittingly handed a stranger a tampon when they asked to borrow a pen. Some things are just meant to be uncomfortable.

At least she was a girl.

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