The Ghosts Of Tampons Past

Tampons, like painful memories and the websites on which one was once paid to instantaneously chronicle in vivid detail said memories, can haunt. Herewith, Moe Tkacik passionately appeals for longer tampon strings by writing extra-long sentences. (Warning: it happened, again.)

I suppose most human fear concerns the possibility of loss. As I have in my life experienced an inordinate amount of cell phone loss and photo ID loss, sports competition loss and what seems indicative of an umbrella affliction of high frequency short-term memory loss, my fears have clustered around the kinds of losses I won't be able to immediately perceive, humiliating losses that will in all likelihood only be confirmed via the grim confirmation of another person. Specifically, I refer to the interconnected losses of long-term memory and tampons.

The experience of losing and finding my first tampon having been seared so indelibly upon the latter form of memory via the all-vanquishing stench, I have in the two intervening years labored earnestly to avoid to the fetid slum of circumstances likely to fertilize a sequel, only to be haunted by the creeping sensation that I permanently reside there, that the only deliverance would involve forswearing tampons entirely, which would seem less impossible had I been slightly less hopeless in the field of remembering to bring maxi pads to parties; see above.

Which is all to say, dear reader, that it happened again, only this time slightly differently; the full weight of the initial tampon's pungence took several weeks' further marination to materialize, at which point professional assistance* was required to execute a formal separation of the two of us. So unnerved by this slight dispute in the timing and details of the two occurrences — in addition to a rumor of its scent, which according to various message boards has been known to linger for up to 10 days after the offending entity has been exhumed, but who can be sure — I was convinced that it had happened again-again, again. So I ordered a speculum off the internet.

• • •

Some years ago I was a member of the studio audience of an episode of the Tyra Banks Show called "What's Up Down There." I remember the name perhaps because it seemed to inadvertently underscore the seeming impossibility of actually ever really knowing what in fact, is really up "down there" when one seemingly needed years of gymnastics training to even get a sideways glance of what was down, down there.

Sadly, Tyra said little to enlighten; we were admonished, mainly, to never douche. "The vagina," she quoting her mother as having told her in her youth, "is a self-cleaning oven."

Even in those halcyon days this seemed to me a deeply flawed metaphor. The vagina may be clean in the eyes of its Creator, but for 3-7 days a month — barring the proverbial "bun in the oven" — it is rather unclean from the perspective of just about anyone else, generally including its owner. Ovens are able clean themselves as a direct consequence of the primary purpose for which they were designed, cooking things, whereas vaginas in all their intricacies perform a much wider and more discordant array of functions. But perhaps most crucially for my purposes in this essay, if you leave an oven on inadvertently, before the tell-tale odors fill the room as their wafts activate the smoke detectors, you can simply know by looking at the fucking oven. The same can hardly be said of knowing what's up down there. Neither is digital exploration any help at all, a slightly unnerving revelation if one fondly associates one's virgin encounter with a digit (or come to think of it, probably two) with a healthy degree of sensation.

• • •

What I was not expecting when I started researching the purchase of a speculum on the internet — besides the abundance of models and almost-suspicious affordability — was that the vast majority, especially the more impressively sturdy-looking models, would be sold under the brand name Kink Industries — a Southern California-based wholesaler of dungeon gear, "fucking machines" and various other accessories to sexual fetishes of which I somehow spent the previous 31 years oblivious — and most frequently purchased together on Amazon with something called "Huge Inflatable Dildo." But of course they are.

Having thus exposed myself, in so many ways already but now additionally to the numerous harrowing Amazon customer reviews attesting to the existence of the pastime of "speculum play," I felt considerably less undignified about my own decidedly un-recreational desire to purchase one, slightly more confident that such a purchase could yield if the occasion called for it, and determined to find a vendor whose previous customers exhibited no pattern of also purchasing bondage gear. This was not to be exceedingly difficult if I was willing to purchase the plastic kind in quantities of ten, and I was willing.

Having at present depleted that supply by two — my first attempt at self-examination having been foiled by the unfortunate decision to lubricate the initial insertion with white anti-itch cream in lieu of lubricant — which had the effect of making it initially appear as if a tampon had actually detonated inside me — I can't really tell you much more than Tyra Banks's mother about "what's up down there." All I can say is that I don't believe there are any further foreign bodies lurking in the down there orifice of my own, but next time I find one I am going to keep a certain gaping "up-here" orifice fucking shut so that no one will be able to convince me "but that is SO AMAZING you HAVE to write about it…" whenever I get a little bit drunk in the company of oversharing females.

*This only cost me $783:

The Ghosts Of Tampons Past

Earlier: Ten Days In The Life Of A Tampon
Jezebel Crashes The Tyra Show's Vaginas Episode

Related: Collins Speculum