Yesterday at Dischem I was paying for some randoms when the lady behind the counter reached below and then, without blinking an eye, placed a smallish box of tampons on the counter.
We both kinda stared at each other awkwardly for a few seconds before she loudly asked; “Do you mind?”
I did mind, I thought as my emotions swung from embarrassment to anger. Embarrassed because she assumed I would have a lady friend waiting outside in the car for me and angered because I thought maybe she was taking the piss; this 105 kg guy who just splurged on supplements, muscle gel and caffeine shampoo for his thinning hairline. Yeah. Surely the little bitch needs a tampon to help stem the stench of toxic masculinity oozing from him.
A box of tampons is as far removed from me as day is from night.
Now. Most people don’t really know me, but if you did, you would pretty quickly figure out that I’m soft as clay in the right hands and not the outright bastard I project.
So, I reigned in my bombastic self and politely asked, what for, Sweatheart. And why the heavy flow ones?
She explained in great detail. A social upliftment program reaching out to girls and women who have to use anything from plastic bags rolled up with tissue paper to old socks clumped together because a simple thing like a tampon is a luxury. I only had to add the R8 to my bill and drop off the little box in the container at the front of the store or, if I was too ashamed, she would do it for me.
Of course, I was ashamed. For one, I have never bought tampons. And, most importantly, because I realized that there are people out there who would think walking into a Dischem to pick out something you need so desperately a thing of great status. Something a stigma clings to amongst men. Something we somehow think woman and girls have control over.
I will be honest. I was red in the face when I walked down the aisle and past all the other shoppers with 5 of those boxes and I felt slightly relieved when it flopped into the container and I could get the fuck out of there.
I hope whoever gets one of my boxes of charity tampons knows that I felt as awkward and ashamed to buy them for you as you must have felt to ask for them. Please. You don’t need to. You just keep on womaning. I, on the other hand, am working on myself.
Sidney Gilroy is an actor, writer and social commentator. His debut romance novel, “Klikbek” will be available online and in all good bookstores from 20 August 2019.