Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Girl, You'll Be a Woman Soon

"Girl, You'll be a woman soon.
Please, come take my hand."

Okay Neil, I'm trying not to listen to the actual lyrics of this song, because they kind of creep me out a little bit. But with your soulful voice, I can ignore the shades of pedophilia that seem to be lurking around in there.

When I hear a girl is going to be a woman soon, I think of the hypothetical middle schooler who gets her period and her terrified, "so-not-ready-for-this" mother and the hormonal confusion and unpredictable manic-depression-like atmosphere that lies ahead for them both. I am, of course, speaking hypothetically, because if I weren't, the middle schooler in question might hypothetically kill me in my sleep. There's a lot of estrogen in my house right now. And in the words of Forrest Gump, "That's all I have to say about that."

But it does harken me back to my days of middle school and becoming a Woman.

Seventh grade. Shirts with Peter Pan collars and a thin ribbon tied in a bow around that prissy collar. Monogrammed sweaters. Knickers. Penny loafers. The introduction of Izod polos. The band Asia singing about things being in The Heat of the Moment. My friend Liz's mom, driving us around in her wood-panelled Jeep Wagoneer, with said Asia cassette playing in the tape deck, six or seven pre-teen girls piled in at one time, with no seat belts to be found, sitting on each other's laps or flying around in the back. Nancy Reagan Just Saying No. When women were expected to ride horseback in white pants during their periods. Ahh. The early Eighties. It almost makes me nostalgic.

We pre-women saw the highly informative "Growing Up and Liking It" films the year before in school. The very name sounded like it should be said with a German accent and shades of coersion. "Achtung! You vill grow UP, and you vill LIKE IT, ja?!" I remember the films showed us how to use fancy belts with our feminine arsenal, and we were past the belt age, so there was a question of credibility. Once you've lost credibility with sixth graders, they move on to mocking you. Nothing was gleaned from "Growing Up and Liking It," other than relief that technology had produced adhesive pads and tampons and that wool circle skirts had gone out of style. Because who was going to fit those bulky belts and clips under skintight jeans, Def Leppard-style?

I remember in seventh grade, after the Big Event, I took brown lunch bags to school with huge maxi pads in them and stuffed them in my locker. I refused to put anything feminine in a purse, because boys might rifle through your purse or your backpack, but they didn't care much about your lunch. And you could always tell who was having their period because those girls would leave during the middle of class to use the bathroom so they could get some privacy while they freshened up. There was a code, and we were all in the process of cracking it.

The code changed the older we got. It was like becoming fluent in a language. We moved past the awkward secrecy of having a period and relied more on the buddy system. If your friend said "Check Me" and turned around or walked a pace or two ahead of you, it was your duty to look closely, yet subtly, at her rear to make sure she hadn't leaked during school. We would speak of Aunt Flo, Mother Nature, Swimming in the River, etc. One of my high school friends had an incredibly heavy period, so we all stocked our car glove boxes with Super tampons, something none of the rest of us used at the time. Whenever we would drive around 'the square' in our hometown on Friday or Saturday nights, we took her Supers out of the glove boxes and waved them out of the car windows while yelling "RALLY!!!" It was our bonding ritual. (A shout-out to my Fremont girls - RALLY!) To this day, when a woman talks about her period with another woman, there is an understanding that they are now friends.

Neil sings "Girl, you'll be a woman soon. Soon, you'll need a man." But, shockingly, I disagree with Neil. Sure, men are great. But when she becomes a woman, she's going to need her sisters to ignore her maxi pad brown bag lunches, to check her for any disastrous leakage, and to stock her brand of tampons 'just in case.' She will also need a Tylenol, and a glass of wine, and maybe some heavy dessert. So when that time of the month comes around to say "Hello, Again," steer clear of the men. Girl, you'll need your women more.


pollyanns said...

Julie, you amaze me! Well said, babe, well said... great seeing you. Thanks for taking time out to have lunch and chat... always a pleasure.
Love ya -

Anita said...

If Ellie does not kill you, I will be amazed. Just picturing her rolling her eyes. There are days, like this past weekend with 6 women here, that i think Ross will run away screaming. I think the beer helps, or at least slows down his pace.

Do you think knickers will make a comeback?

Anonymous said...

Rally Baby, RALLY!!! How can we ever forget those days? They were some good times. Jenny Penny

Julie said...

I laughed so hard about the belts! I remember that movie and thinking...what the hell is that? No one uses that.

Jenj said...

I always favored the phrase "ridin' the cotton pony" myself :)

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