It was a warm April day in 1997, I was eight years old. The exact date doesn’t matter, because life became muddled after that. I remember trudging along carefree, as all 8-year-olds do, wondering if there would be any Legendary Berry Mondo’s left in the fridge when I got home.
Suddenly, it hit me. The sharp pain a child gets in his stomach when the Domino’s pizza from hot lunch Friday just doesn’t sit well.
I was always suspicious that the food our lunch lady served had surpassed its expiration date. I kicked it into high gear and sprinted through the four-way stop near my house, because the humiliation a kid endures from crapping his pants on the way home is enough to make him ignore all the rules of real-life Frogger.
I also knew that having my period would make me a man; it was the first step to becoming an adult.
I blew through the front door of my house and headed straight to the bathroom. The pain in my stomach had begun to subside, but I knew better than to leave it to chance. Besides, it could be therapeutic for me; nothing like a post-school dump to help take the weight off from the rigors of the third grade.
As soon as I took my VIP seat in the bathroom, I knew immediately this was not going to be your typical shit ‘n split. After ten minutes of intense struggle and two pulled lower abdominal muscles, it finally dawned on me: this was no shit. The revelation was a turning point in my life, a milestone if you will. I was about to embark on THE journey all people look forward to.
I was about to have my first period.
A slight panic shot down my spine when I realized the situation. I had heard about this ticket to adulthood before, but it was never really explained to me. All I knew is that at some point there would be some sort of crimson wave, and then I'd have to track down a cotton pony to take a ride on. This all sounded confusing, even a little scary, but I was prepared for my time of the month.
I also knew that having my period would make me a man; it was the first step to becoming an adult. Excitement coursed through my feeble body as I thought about all the things I could do as a graduate of adolescence, and the knowledge that would be instantly bestowed upon me as I crossed the threshold. I could sit at the big table after dinner and listen to everyone talk about politics; how crazy would it be to actually understand how the political system works? Books without pictures would no longer seem pointless. I could ride my bike without being chastised by my mom for not wearing a helmet. Maybe I could even help my dad with the taxes and begin writing my memoirs; surely people will want to hear my story.
My mind started racing. Should I open the door and shout for my mom? Surely she would want to be present for this landmark moment. Everyone would look at me differently from that day forward, but I had prepared for that. I was finally a big boy. A MAN. Dad's going to be so proud.
I wondered why I had never heard about my older brother getting his period. Then it dawned on me: I'm the first! I beat him to it! Finally, I beat that fucker at something! Everyone at school will be so impressed with me. It'll turn into a circus. The girls will run home wondering when they'll get their first period. “Mommy! Mommy! Will already had his period, when will I have mine?” Imagine how emasculating this will make all the guys at school feel.
I ended up sitting there with anticipation for so long that my mom knocked on the door and asked if I needed help wiping. I hadn’t needed help with that in years.
At that moment, I realized the pain in my stomach was gone. The feelings of excitement started to subside. My big day was fucking shot. A feeling of disappointment washed over me, the same way I thought a crimson wave would have only moments ago. I calmly collected myself and rose off my porcelain throne defeated. My days of boyhood would not be over this afternoon.
It wasn’t until months later that I found out only girls can have periods. It was a fact that made me stop in my tracks and wonder if I should pester other 5th graders about. But there was no way I was going to grow up being known as the kid who knew nothing about girls, even though girls are stupid. Oddly enough, I also learned what constipation was not long after that. I wondered how many times girls had shoved a tampon up their butt when they were constipated.