Technically, yes, I have done this before. Every other day of my life.
But last night, I was supposed to actually do aqua boot camp.
When I arrived at the rec center, some of the women informed me that they’d been told the instructor didn’t show up, so there would be aqua zumba again. Fine. I’d left work before the work was done (which is what I do every day these days) specifically to make it to aqua boot camp, but after the week this country’s had, I don’t think I had the grounds to feel too sorry for myself.
So I decided to stay for aqua zumba.
Before I changed into my swimsuit, a woman came up to me and asked if I had a pad. I said no, but offered a tampon. She accepted gleefully. I was happy to have been able to help. She then asked if I wanted money for it.
This is where we are in 2016, people. Tampons–that notorious “luxury item”–are such a hot commodity that you will pay a stranger for something that costs only…well, okay, they don’t cost as little as they probably should, but they are fairly cheap per single item.
I turned down her offer, of course, and got undressed.
After I had pulled on my bathing suit and irreparably snagged my tights in the process, an older woman walked into the locker room and asked if anyone had a tampon.
I gave her one, and she was also extremely grateful.
“You’d think at 51 I’d know better,” she said, admonishing herself for her lack of preparation.
Again, I was just glad to have been able to help.
I rinsed off and we waited around until they finally let us into the pool area, only to be told aqua zumba was in fact not going to happen.
The women–some of them middle-aged but most of them above that–went nuts.
“No way! We’re having zumba. That’s what they told us at the front desk.”
The lifeguards were unimpressed. “Then go talk to them, because the pool is closed.”
“You go talk to them. Or we’ll throw you into the pool!”
After about 5 minutes of this back-and-forth, I headed back to the locker room. Maybe the situation would eventually get sorted out, but in the meantime, the clock was ticking, and now that I have 10-15 fewer hours of free time per week than I used to with the old job, my time feels more precious.
I changed back into my clothes and left, a half hour after I’d left work. That half hour was, essentially, wasted time I would never get back.
At the same time, it wasn’t completely useless.
Men will probably never understand what it feels like to need a tampon and not have it. I can’t think of any equivalent required by males to get through their month living semi-normally that puts them in the vulnerable spot we are in every 4 weeks. It’s simply something they don’t have to face.
Women all know what I’m talking about. Womanhood is not a secret society, but it might as well be, both for how foreign it seems to those outside of it and for how connected those who are a part of it can feel to one another.
So, I don’t believe everything happens for a reason–except for the reason we apply to it after the fact. But the only thing I accomplished by going to the rec center was handing out 2 tampons, and I still feel like I did something important.