It took twenty years, but what a sense of accomplishment.

Background: Like most tour guides, I have with me almost all of the time a small utility bag, at the bottom of my backpack, with dozens of odds and ends that (might) come in useful when guiding or on the road with people. Some are quite obvious: medical supplies, tweezers, a contact lens case, and so on. Some not so obvious, and one of those things is a mini Ziploc bag with a few tampons and pads, because you never know if someone might forget to bring. Quite a few times I’ve gotten a few good natured laughs from my male friends over that, mostly to the tune of “Man, you have tampons? That’s so _____ (fill in the blank)!!”.

However — and I feel pretty strongly about this — I think guys should stop avoiding the subject and stop treating it like it is so disgusting. Face it: all women menstruate, and it’s one of the most natural things in the world, and just because we don’t have to go through it on a monthly basis doesn’t mean we should ignore it, pretend it isn’t there in a squeamish manner, or more importantly, not care about it and not try and help as much as we can. Even though it is about as feminine as is possible, guys should be a part of that incredible section of nature that is the reproductive system, and carrying tampons and pads ‘just in case’ is one of the ways we can.

Anyway, for the best part of 20 years, since I got out of the army and started working with and guiding (mostly) teens, one of the things I have carried with me at all times is female hygiene products.

Which brings me to my story. I was walking home through the park on Thursday, minding my own business, and ahead of me, coming towards me, I saw a teenage girl approach a middle-aged woman and (I was close enough to hear her question) ask her if she had a pad on her. The woman didn’t, but my opportunity had arrived, and I told them I had. A minute of digging in my backpack later, with the two confused women looking on (I assume wondering why I had them on me) I produced the Ziploc bag and gave it to her.

Such a great feeling! Twenty years worth of carrying them, and finally they are useful! (Which reminds me, I have to re-stock. Do they have a shelf life and expire?)

I’m sure my female friends and former students will like this, but it would be nice if it affected some of my male friends and former students as well. (Out of curiosity, does any guy out there also do this?)

Message time: Seriously, men. It’s not too much to ask. Carry tampons and pads, it barely weighs anything or takes up any space, it doesn’t make you any less masculine, and it’s one way you can show you care. Oh, and get over the awkwardness, it’s one of the most basic building blocks of nature: reproduction at work, so embrace it!