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Flow Knows

I guess I was asking for it when I chose to wear a white skirt to work. Body racked with cramps, I had mistakenly answered my cell phone when a manager from the news station where I work called to say they needed me.

It still surprises me that I write news for a living. After years of becoming too attached to the people in the stories we cover, crying over every dead child, I had to distance myself. Now, I care about the daily news about as much as a ten year old with ADD.

When I was young I had delusions of grandeur. I would save the world! (cue trumpeting national anthem here) I would tell the public what they needed to know! I would bust the chops of political mucky mucks that lie to us! Mostly I end up writing about power outages and car accidents that snarl traffic. Be that as it may, I had to get my pre-menstrual ass to work.

When I get PMS as it's so lyrically referred to, usually by ignorant men asking 'why are you crying about your hair, is it PMS?' I get the whole enchilada. Along with the cystic acne, I suffer through torrential diarrhea, sore boobs, my back throbs, I cry at red lights and telephone commercials then tell The Surge I want a divorce.

The humidity that day was nearly unbearable. The last thing I needed in my delicate condition was chafing thighs in hard denim, so I threw on the only skirt not in the dirty clothes hamper. Bypassing makeup because it would just melt off my greasy mug anyway, I caught the subway uptown.

My least favorite homeless man (or he who appears to be homeless but actually lives in a mansion in the Hamptons courtesy of the panhandling) made his usual terrifying harassment for change, then I was emerging, sweaty and gasping for air, from the stinky underground. I detoured past the man selling roasted peanuts for my morning whiff of his goodies then flashed my ID badge in a desperate bid to get into the cool confines of the high rise where I work. I limped over to my desk and sat my crampy ass down.

After writing anchor scripts for the five o'clock newscast I spent the next three hours until lunch surfing the internet. I consider it my personal duty to google the names of every person I ever met in an effort to uncover a dark secret, an arrest for drunk driving is always an exciting find. Throughout the day I made regular visits to the bathroom to make sure I hadn't started my period. It was a bit early so I wasn't really expecting it for a few days. Although I was so bloated I looked like I was expecting a newborn at any moment, my stomach reared to life as lunch hour rolled around. I figured I'd walk the few blocks to grab a salad at my favorite Greek restaurant.

I ordered the usual and sat down to enjoy my meal with a book. That's when I felt it. A single drop of liquid raced into the crack of my bum. Chalking it up to humidity-induced sweat, I kept reading. I felt it again. A second menacing drip streaked between my thighs and into my bum. Fucking hell. I looked around the tiny restaurant. I was seated at my own table. The nearest diners had their backs to me. Across the aisle a couple was trying to shovel in mouthfuls of falafel between their toddler's shrieks for food and attention.

The coast seemed clear so I casually lowered my hand into my lap, snaked an arm under the table and pulled my skirt up. Ever so slowly, a nonchalant expression plastered across my face, I stuck a finger into the source of the dripping and then took a peek. Son of a bitch. Blood! I was stuck at this table, four blocks from work, bleeding like a stuck pig and I was wearing a white skirt. Did I mention I don't wear underwear?
"Is there a problem miss?" The Greek man who prepared my salad materialized at my elbow and I realized the family across the way was staring.
"No, no... Everything's fantastic, really."
"You no like salad?" His brow furrowed in concern.
"The salad's great, really. I just.. um, realized I forgot to do something." Like bring a tampon!
The small Greek man beamed and scurried back behind the counter.
I felt more drops slipping down to my bum. If they haven't already, the drips would meet up with their friend drips and be throwing a drip party on the seat of my flimsy, cotton skirt. And I had thought it so ethereal and floaty when I'd made the purchase!

I considered running to the nearest bodega for tampons. But I had yet to pay for my meal and these tiny Manhattan restaurants, crammed together like sardines, never have public restrooms. It would take longer to locate a bathroom then to walk back to work. Finding a public restroom in Manhattan is harder than catching a cab at rush hour. It ain't happening without a struggle.

Bastard! Out of sheer desperation I did the only thing I could think of while stuck at the table leaking. I grabbed some napkins off my table and rolled them jointlike into a fat wad. A handmade tampon. Heart racing, I glanced around to make sure nobody was watching the panicked girl with the big zits. Satisfied I may be able to grope myself undetected, I reached under my skirt and jammed the napkin joint straight up.

I wiggled around to see if my makeshift tampon would fall out. Seemed secure enough. If I could haul my leaky ass back to work I could get my hands on the spare tampon I keep handy for just such situations.

Slowly, I rose to my feet then swiveled around to wipe crumbs from by backside. The crumb check was a ruse, of course, really I checked for blood seepage. Once I assured myself that my ass was clear, at least for the moment, I slowly shuffled to the cash register. I felt the rough napkins chafing my delicate naughty bits. I should have worn the damn jeans. It takes hours for blood to leak through denim, and even then you can barely see it congealing there in the crotch! A white skirt! What in Christ was I thinking? The PMS must've inhibited all rational thought process. Although I could feel the napkins shifting when I walked they seemed to be secure enough to survive the short walk back.

The napkin tampon trek was a smashing success! For the first five minutes. I was so busy congratulating myself on my McGuyver tampon making skills that I unwisely tried to cross a street on an orange light. Fatal mistake. I was halfway across when the light changed to green. Unless I wanted to get creamed by a rush hour onslaught of deadly cabbies and New Yorkers anxious to get home, I was forced to jog to the other side for safety. Mid-jog, I felt the napkins begin to make their exit. Motherfucker! I'm in labor with napkins and they're going to come hurtling out at any moment! I stopped a block from work, thighs squeezed tightly together, uncertain of my next move.

This is when those horrible keigel exercises Cosmo magazine always touts as a way to increase sexual pleasure actually came in handy. I somehow managed to muscle the napkin up a little further. The Surge would be pleased with this new development in my vaginal dexterity. One block to go! I took small steps. Smiling at the odd looks aimed my way, I pretended I was just out for an evening stroll and my knees just happened to be glued together. I arrived at work sweaty from the humidity and from clenching my lower half together so hard.

Safe! I made it. My tampon was inside my bag just a short elevator ride away. The elevator doors whooshed open and I hobbled inside.

"Hold the door!" I made no move to hold the door for the voice, praying to God it closed before I saw whoever was calling for me to wait. My news manager jogged into view and leaped into the elevator as the doors were sliding shut. Fuck.

"Whew! Made it." There was an awkward pause as we both considered the fact that I made no move to hold the elevator door for him.
"Hi Steve." I say.
"Coming back from lunch?" I attempted to make stilted small talk. Then I felt it.

The napkin is born!

In revolt of my numerous efforts to hide it, the napkin wad had finally succeeded in its struggle for sunlight. Oh Christ. Thank god for chubby thighs. Glorious top-heavy legs! Keep our bloody prisoner in place! Just a few more minutes!

Beads of what I was hoping was sweat rolled down my legs. I clinched with muscles I didn't even know I had until the elevator finally dinged and the doors yawned open. Steve stepped out of the elevator and when I didn't follow him onto the floor where we both work he turned questioningly toward me.

The napkin tampon chose this moment to jump ship. I tried to catch it between my knees, but it was too quick for me. It plopped to the floor of the elevator with a resounding thud. I stared at the wad of napkins in horror then dragged my eyes up in time to see Steve looking at me strangely as the elevator slid shut.

Now I don't know what Steve thinks he saw, if anything, and I really can't ask either. Hey Steve, remember that day in the elevator? When that bloody wad of napkins dropped between my ankles? Doesn't really work, does it?

Maybe he saw nothing and the strange look was because I didn't get out of the elevator. Maybe he saw it but thought it was something else and my bringing it up would be foolish. Maybe he thinks it was someone elses' garbage. Maybe he knows that I shoved a wad of tampkins up my skirt then the whole bloody mess fell on the floor. I'm doomed to forever analyzing everything he says to me, wondering if he knows.

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    Monica Bielanko - Back In The Day - Flow Knows

Reader Comments (10)

Now that is just great! HA HA! I could totally relate to every bit of that. Thanks for sharing Monica. Enjoyed reading very much. :)
September 7, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterFiabug
Oh, God, Girl. How terrifying. Not too long ago at a happy hour, a co-worker pointed out a blossoming red stain on my light blue and white striped dress...This was after I had been dancing to "Baby Got Back" in front of the rest of my office...usually people laugh when I'm done...this time people avoided my eyes, some of the men trembling in horror...
September 8, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterSicksadworld
This is the 2nd post that I've read from you that I can absolutely relate to! hilarious!
September 20, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterNichole
I am crying -- that is the best post ever. EVER.
December 3, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterLovebug

ok, so i just said that the zit post was the best post and i have to say that this might be utterly and hysterically (in retrospect i'm sure) terrible that i could barely keep reading. truly left me laughing so loud my colleagues wonder what the hell is wrong with me....bravo.

November 19, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterpeach

holy balls that was funny. and horrifying. and .... horrifying.

November 19, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterkiki

how poetic. i just got done reading and commenting and started my period. I AM NOT EVEN JOKING.

November 19, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterkiki

so funny, i feel your pain! on the first day of my period i cannot dress myself ...odd combinations of clothes, looking like an out-of-work-childrens-tv-presenter was my worst one! i always realise when i get to work and collegues give me The Look.

November 20, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterria

And then there was the time my friend Annie was dancing madly at a black-light lit disco club (think St. Elmo's Fire days...), and her sweaty pantiliner detached itself and floated down the to dance floor. Let me tell you, it positively glowed in the dark of the pulsating black-light.
She tried casually kicking it away, only to have it partially stick to her shoe.
She became a fabulous dancer, gyrating and nearly contorting to free herself from it.

And you wonder why , to this day, we all put a single pantiliner in her birthday card each year. Because she gave us THAT story, and we love her.

November 20, 2009 | Unregistered Commentermeara

very well written...

March 22, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterfahrenheit

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