"The whole gang is going swimming..." the old ads proclaimed, over a black-and-white "before" sketch of poor Janie, in her pleated skirt and saddle shoes, gazing moodily out the window, stuck at home once again because it's one of those days.
Of course, even the tampon ads promised Janie deliverance from a life of periodic fun-lessness, but how many of us have ever felt so confident, as the ads would have it, that we would frolic on the beach in a snow-white one-piece, like Janie there in the "after" picture?
My own Aunt Flo has had a habit of stowing aboard on every vacation, demonstrating a special affinity for camping trips (bleeding + no change of clothes + no shower = unhappy camper me) and, of course, romantic liaisons of all sorts.
So while I personally probably won't be seeking a 'scrip, I've been watching the advent of the new "few periods" (Seasonale) or "no periods" (Lybrel) birth control pills with some interest. If I spent a lot of time lying around in the nude looking tiny and perfect like my friend Rachel, who only vacations in spots where people speak French and wear no pants ("I'll take BCP packs back-to-back to suppress it every once in a while," she says, "Especially if I'm going to the beach.
Who wants to be lying around completely naked but for a little string hanging out of you? ") you better believe I'd be suppressing that old bitch like nobody's business. She's tagged along on nearly every date I've ever had. Stay home already, Bitchy. Take up crocheting or something.
The new pills, which are pretty much the old pills minus the one week of blanks and plus a good deal of rhetoric about freedom and autonomy, are catching on, and, I'm assuming, will continue to do so until we are able to look back upon the bad old days of monthly no-fun days with a mixture of astonishment and scorn.
The speculative fiction writer Connie Willis did a witty treatment of this in her stor "Even The Queen," wherein the narrator finds herself having to support her daughter's flirtation with the "Cyclist" movement against her own mother's disapproval, although she herself finds the idea of bleeding every month when you don't have to somewhat self-indulgent and unattractively primitive.
As it turns out, having a regular period is not so much "primitive" as it is modern, as our ancestors (and modern hunter-gatherer women to this day) were pregnant too often and (especially) breast-fed too long to have periods with anywhere near our level of tedious frequency (about 150 periods per lifetime, as against our somewhat staggering 450).
Not that our ancestors had a great deal of opportunity for elegant dinners out or cozy weekends away at that cunning B&B out on the coast, but if they had, they wouldn't have had to waste large chunks of scarce leisure time rummaging frantically for a tampon in restaurant bathrooms or surreptitiously rinsing out gory panties in hotel-room sinks. We do have to. Or do we?
Click on the following link to go to the Resource Directory on Health and Body through Divorce.