“Aaaaaa-ngela, c-come d-down here!" There stood my mother and father, both pretty liquored up and smirking to each other. In front of my entire family, including some friends of my older brother, my mother proclaimed in a slurred voice, "Hhhh-hey everybody, our Aaaaa-gela is now a wooooo-man! Waaa-hoo!"
She then proceeded to pull out a box of Kotex and a belt (back in the day before self-adhesive pads, we had to use a belt to hold the pads in place). She waved them in the air while doing some drunken form of a taunting hula dance, and then tossed them in my general direction. My mother was almost glowing, but not from pride; rather from the orange sunset that was seeping through the nicotine-stained curtains and shone around her body. She contributed no instructions or comforting maternal words of wisdom, not that I really wanted any in front of everyone; I was embarrassed enough already.
I went through pads like water, changing them constantly and still leaking. This went on for a couple of long, messy years. It was frustrating as hell! I thought maybe I was bleeding an abnormal amount and that there was something wrong with me. I lost count how many pairs of underwear I had to secretly pound, scrub and wash myself before I put them in the general laundry collection. It was my oldest sister that one day happened to see one of my pads in the waste basket; I must not have hid it as well as I normally tried to.
“Hey Ugly! Is that YOUR pad in the garbage? Why is there blood all over the bottom side? Are you an idiot? The cotton side goes UP, plastic side DOWN! BAH-HA-HA!”
Oh my god! I had been wearing them upside down for the past 3 damn years! I FELT TOTALLY STUPID! My ‘loving’ sister thought it was hilarious and burst out of the room to go and find my other older sister to quickly pass on the joke, to which I was the giant BUTT. I not only felt obtuse but was completely humiliated. It’s amazing how I got through those years. With a family like mine, who needed enemies! If it was any consolation, at least after that day I had much cleaner underwear!