February 18, 2007
Discretion
I don't think I'll ever forget the first time I walked into a host's bathroom and saw personal hygiene wipes in plain view. They weren't tucked away, as they would have been in my house, on a linen closet shelf covered by a hand towel, and then further encased in a brown paper bag labeled "Ken's extra light bulbs," so that if by some awful turn of fate the bag was discovered, no one would suspect it housed personal wipes or, God forbid, think said wipes were mine. But in that house, the box was placed on the back of the toilet between bathroom common fare like tissues and the requisite pastel hand lotion. Just a part of the decorating scheme.

This may be my neurosis, but I grew up understanding that all things of this nature were private. And by of this nature, I'm clearly referring to all things meant to or ever having touched my body. I vividly recall attending childhood sleepovers at which I'd barricade myself in the bathroom to change, only coming out when I was sure my already-worn underwear was deep in my overnight bag, safe from sure exposure when I unzipped to locate my toothbrush. The advent of puberty only compounded the complexity of my cover-up efforts: now there were bras and feminine hygiene products to be dealt with. I have hidden tampons in more places than I care to acknowledge, all to prevent the world from knowing that I was a bona fide, menstruating woman taking appropriate steps toward tackling my biological affliction (as outlined in the tiny pamphlet named Your Period: Friend or Foe? or some such nonsensical thing that all women in my age demographic seemed to receive.)

But like my wipe-displaying hosts, at some point this shyness is replaced by general apathy, and you make fewer and fewer efforts to be discreet. Sometimes three or four bras hang in my bathroom, because my lingerie chest just seems so far away in the morning, and the hardwoods in the bedroom are much colder than the tile in the bathroom, so of course logically it is more practical just to keep them closer to where I dress. I regularly tell my boss that I have cramps. My male boss. (My reserved mother spontaneously weeps in her house six miles away, unaware of the reason . . .)

And I'm clearly not the only one: a friend told me recently that while talking to a co-worker she noticed a wrapped maxi pad peeping out of the neckline of the woman's shirt. Apparently my friend interrupted her co-worker's anticipated quick run to the restroom. The moment crescendoed to ridiculous heights when, upon noticing that the pad was slowly creeping up her neck, the woman nonchalantly pushed it back under the bra strap from whence it came.

You've gotta love seeing visions of your future, I think upon hearing this story. By the age of 80 I'll probably leave the bathroom door open when my roommate has visitors and change clothes in the hallway of my nursing home. I'll go to group exercise and coffee events braless, and won't even attempt to conceal them when my breasts slip out of my waistband.

I think it might be time to move my personal wipes from the back of the toilet into their brown paper bag.

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40 Comments:

Blogger thethinker said...

Now that they're wrapping tampons in plastic small enough to look like a piece of candy, I'm finding them much easier to hide.

Anonymous Gooseberried said...

My roommates and I just had a conversation yesterday about how much it sucks to shit while you're on your period. I think we're the open/apathetic type yeah?

Anonymous KB said...

hahaha! this is hysterical. I will fully admit that I have hidden tampons in my boot to get to the bathroom without carrying a purse. I haven't had one fall out..yet... :)

Blogger Eileen Dover said...

I always stick tampons between my boobs, and hours later forget that they were there.

Eventually at some point I head to the loo, to look down and see an entire box of Tampax lodged between my breasts.

(Thankfully there is enough room.)

But, I'm with you. When I travel, I deliberately pack all my undies in a ziplock bag, just in case anyone wants to search and rummage through my personal items.

Sure, have a look at my $800 digital camera, but please, for the love of G-d, leave my undies alone.

Blogger Alejandra said...

This is great. I used to be intensely private about these things, but I think that college (or at least, my group of friends in college) has a way of making you less modest. I think it reached a peak when one of my best male friends went to the bathroom and left the door open while he sat on the john.

"What are you doing?" I asked him.

"Pooping," he said. "But I'm going to be here for a while so I figured I'd leave the door open so that we can talk."

The odd part is that I actually sat and talked to him the whole time and didn't think twice about it again.

Anonymous Karly said...

That just brought back the memories of the time I was at a friends house and went to the bathroom. The toilet was right next to the bathtub and the shower curtain was open. So, how could I NOT notice the USED DOUCHE CONTAINTER THINGY laying in the tub? I about died. She also left the box sitting right on top of all the garbage in the garbage can. WTF? Thats just wrong.

Anonymous maliavale said...

The other really great part of leaving your bras hanging in the bathroom (from the doorknob, natch) is the shower steam-cleans them. Or so I like to think. Which thus prevents from having to Febreeze them left after nights out at the bar.

Blogger JoJo said...

Kris, as always, you hit the nail right on the head!

Blogger Tracy Lynn said...

I was only self conscious at the beginning, when forced to use what all of us used at the dawn of time- the panty belt and pad. Once I became wise in the way of the tampon, I was the mistress of my fate.

Plus I kind of like to make other people uncomfortable. Yeah, I'm not very nice.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh dear. Giving birth destroyed whatever modesty or sense of propriety I ever possessed. Something about weekly OB/GYN visits and having a battalion of doctors yell "push! push!" at my privates.

I am going to be such an embarrassment as I get older.

Blogger Dave said...

I honestly have no idea what a personal hygiene wipe is. Is this something like a Brush Up?

Blogger JordanBaker said...

I'm disturbed both by the idea of a grown up with a job and all using a maxi pad during the day, and by the idea of smuggling said pads in her shirt.

At the same time, the Cottonelle wipes are right under the regular toilet paper in my bathroom.

Blogger FATSO said...

I still don't like to go #2 when my dear pal (LM) is nearby....so much for personal wipes. As of now, I will never go #2 again. Ever. I'l just explode when I am 60...or become a religious conservative.

Blogger Maya said...

Yes the personal wipe - a lovely thing if you're on the go (and thus forced away from what we refer to as H.T.A.- home toilet advantage). Sadly, my ocd requires that (can't believe I'm admitting this, it is late/early, isn't it?) I know must shower (quickly) after doing the doo. Don't work at home - or maybe it would be good for you? dunno.

I have tons of extra tampax/pads with me about 90 percent of the time. usually She strikes during the other 10. My god, do I hate insomnia - it leads to comments like these.

i was intrigued by the word "shyness" in conjunction with displaying personal hygeine objects.
i am not shy but i do believe in discretion. on the other hand i suppose personal hygeine wipes are not that personal compared to displaying hemorrhoid cream.

Blogger Kelly said...

Kris, we share similar lines of thought. Things of that nature are kept well hidden! in drawrers, under things, and stuffed to the back!

If ever we are entertaining, I give the medicine cabinet a quick scan to make sure there isn't anything embarassing in there. You never know who will look behind the mirrow.

And, having said that, maybe they use the wipes to clean the counters??

Anonymous Jorge said...

It's amazing what we try to hide from people.

I remember having numerous discussions with many older women about how in their day, it was not a woman's place to display any biological functions other than glowing radiantly.

Real ladies don't fart.
Real ladies don't belch.

But then the men-can-eat-quiche-revolution arrived, and the balance had to be maintained.

It's like leaving out wipes or whatever are like the extras on a DVD. A behind-the-scenes peak into the way the movie of that person's life is made.

Except, we all are living the same movie.

Blogger Sizzle said...

i haven't heard of these so called wipes. are they like handy wipes for your unmentionables? hmmm. just another thing for us to buy. no thanks!

the pad coming out of the shirt? that's as bad as my coworker putting her teeth in when i walked into her office! couldn't she just carry her purse or something?

Blogger Lovely Lelaina said...

I used to be extremely self-conscious about stuff like that until college dorm life. I had to share a bathroom with about 30 girls. There's just no way in hell you can hide oh say, #2 , or Nairing your upper lip when at least 2 other girls are in there at all times.

Blogger Brookelina said...

I like to bring up the topic of menstruation when I'm in a roomful of men. It's the surest way to get one of them to go to the kitchen and get me a beer.

Blogger Bill said...

Not entirely sure what a personal hygiene wipe might be, and thinking it might be yet another aspect of femininity I was ignorant of, I searched the Internet.

One link was to a U.S. consumer report type of thing that had stats showing it was an industry that would continue to grow through 2009. (Invest now!)

Far more interesting, and informative in an unsettling way, was this from one company's site:

Why settle for dry toilet paper when you can get a fresher clean?
Flushable personal hygiene wipes are perfect for the whole family.
They have a unique gentle cleaning formula that soothes as it cleans.
You may never go back to your regular roll again!

- Large wipe for thorough cleansing and coverage
- The only wipe with witch hazel, a natural skin soother
- Alcohol-free & Hypoallergenic
- Enriched with Vitamin E & aloe to soften skin
- Flushable
- Clean, fresh scent


Witch hazel for your bum? Good grief. But it gives me an idea for a new product for the home reno crowd: a bum hose for the bathroom. Kind of a variation on the bidet.

Blogger themikestand said...

Hee, excellent Kris.

As much as I'm pained to admit it, I find myself thinking that it's okay to just slip on those brown loafers to take out the garbage, even though I'm wearing (passable) track pants. (Dad? If you're up there and listening, I'm looking at you.)

On other days, I'm satisfied to be wearing socks, let alone a pair that match each other or the clothes I'm wearing.

One can hope these days are kept to a minimum.

Blogger Maethane Boy said...

I had a similar experience when I went for a visit to my parent’s house over the summer – they had “Wet-one” is toilet paper-ish sitting right on top of the toilet (is this the same thing?). I was horrified yet intrigued; like I found a vibrator or something… Then I started to wonder if this product would improve my “not so freshness” after making a solid offering to the Latrinian (so to euphemize). After a particularly difficult ceremony (*er.. em ahem*) while I was there I couldn’t resist the temptation, especially since aloe was touted to be a part of the equation. It wasn’t the magic bullet I was looking for (to wipe our Klingons) – but still better than dry paper… Even after all of this, I still haven’t been able to bring myself to buy this product and hide it in my own brown paper-bag.

Blogger Jessica said...

Did we have the same childhood? Hmmmm..... I lost a lot of that modesty in college. I blame it on the time my freshman roomie and I decided to decorate our room with tampons. We were attempting (successfully) to make her boyfriend uncomfortable and less clingy. :)

Blogger Rees26 said...

I usually slip tampons up the sleeve of my shirt (only works if wearing long sleeves) while sneaking to the restroom. :)

Blogger Cheryl said...

I too started out very discreet and have been less so. But somethings are still sacred to me, so I do appreciate doors and drawers.

Blogger whiskeymarie said...

I too have witnessed the same thing at several homes of people I now feel a little dirty to know. While I am hardly a bastion of modesty, shame or discretion (generally), I do think that letting the world know you need a little extra "help" getting clean from old #2 is best kept under wraps. I rarely want to know about things scat related (not NEVER, just when it's funny) with people I don't know that well. All things butthole related need to be kept out of view, o.k?
If this keeps up, next time I have a party I'm leaving a vibrator and a tub of tapioca on the back of my toilet. Let them figure it out.

Blogger deborah said...

Call me crazy. No really. I go to the line in the grocery store WITH the male check-out, when purchasing the tampons and pads. It makes life much more interesting; and to kick it up a notch, I throw in a little attitude with the whole ring up. "NO, that price is wrong! Can you have someone check that please?" You have no idea the amount of tampons at a reduced price from men.

And for even more silly fun, my 2 daughters and I all get our periods together. Fun for hubby. He just nods his head and stears clear.

Anonymous sandra said...

You just made me recall the day when, just a few days after starting a new job, I glanced down at my jacket on the way to get coffee with two girls from the office, and saw my underwear sticking out of my jacket pocket. Because I'm classy like that, I'd put them in there after a (bad decision) sleepover with an ex. Go team.

Blogger playfulinnc said...

I keep my wipes in my office drawer. I also have an office where I can close the door and change, so that's a plus.

Wipes are good. Smelly is bad.

Blogger Marisa said...

I had something funny to say, but I forgot it while I was reading everyone else's funny sayings.
Oh well!

Blogger Bones said...

This is the second time I've stumbled on to your blog. I enjoyed it last time, too.

And thanks for helping me to continue to believe that girls don't poop. Thinking so makes everyone's lives so much better.

Blogger PaintingChef said...

I'm kind of in between. There are personal hygiene wipes sitting on the back of our toilet but they are in the master bathroom. The half bath out in the hallway keeps them appropriately tucked away.

As for hiding tampons? My trick has always been to stick it up my sleeve. Of course summertime can make that one kind of a bitch.

And packing my unmentionables? I have a cute little satiny bag and it does the trick just fine.

Blogger John said...

i never... not once... ever... pooped while in school. too personal for someone to accidentally walk in on. imagine my horror in college when i lived in a fraternity that didn't even have doors on the stalls.

that said, i've never been a guy who cared abut picking up tampons or pads for a girlfriend.

but buying toilet paper... for some reason i still blush.

Blogger Chiada said...

OHHHHHH!!! That is so hilarious! Yes, I must be near your age group, because I recall being called into the gym in 5th grade with all the other 5th and 6th grade girls so the school nurse could educate us on impending horrible "girl stuff" and we could watch a video and get handouts. The horror!

Then I went through the phase of hiding used undies in my slumber party bag, and hiding personal hygiene products. I also had to beg my mom to buy the products for me as I was too embarrased to have a male checker slide the product across the scanner.

I think age makes most people relax a bit in that arena. My hubby and I now have the wipes on the floor near the commode, but we put them away when guests come over, at least!

Blogger Maya said...

I love that you have 35 comments about poop. POOOOP! The great equalizer, no?

Blogger Heather said...

My husband bought tampons for me this month. 1st time, in the 9 years I've known him, a "In the name of cramps, I can't go to the drugstore myself!" request has been granted.

This small act will forever be remembered!

Blogger Wendy said...

Loved this post. Even though I'm dying inside - we do actually have wipes in our bathroom! Yikes. I never thought about it this way and I want to call everyone who has ever been here and explain. They're for the kids! But no one will believe me and I can never see those people again. Oh, how I'll miss them.

Blogger DraMa said...

I have now realized I'm not a freak..

Shitting during red-week sucks, Febreezing my bras, stuffing tampons up my sleeve to walk to the bathroom (when I had a job and all)...

I feel the kindrid spirits all around and no longer feel like a loser. Thanks!

Blogger Serena said...

Wow...truer words have not been spoken. Hilarious and brilliant. : )

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