Picture, if you will, the following scene.
A ladies’ toilet. Your typical set of public facilities, furnished with four cubicles, some sinks, and an unpredictable hand dryer which either takes thirty minutes to dry your hands or blasts with such heat and force that it removes your skin as it does so.
Needing the lavatory, I entered the only vacant cubicle – the last on my left. I locked the cubicle door behind me and set about my business.
From my rear jeans pocket, I extracted a tampon. I would fairly swiftly come to regret this action.
Before sitting down on the toilet, I elected to unwrap said tampon. Now, we’ve all been there, haven’t we. Go to the toilet to change your sanitary protection and end up sounding to the other occupants of the cubicles like you’ve sat down and started ploughing your way through a family bag of Kettle Chips. Tampon manufacturers like to claim that their products are ‘discreet’. Oh yeah, they’re totally discreet. About as discreet as RuPaul taking up residence in a Trappist monastery, I’d say.
For some reason, I was struggling with this particular tampon’s wrapping. Despite pulling rigorously and enthusiastically from both ends of the luminescent wrapper (because who doesn’t want a tampon that could also double up as a glow stick?), it was refusing to shift.
Not wanting to be thwarted by a piece of inanimate green and white plastic, I summoned up every last iota of my strength, and pulled.
With a sudden snapping noise, the end of the wrapping positively EXPLODED. Out, in one direction, shot the applicator, ricocheting off the wall and falling neatly into the toilet bowl.
Out, in the other direction, shot the tampon.
Under the toilet partition.
Into the occupied cubicle next to me.
I HAD JUST FORCIBLY EJECTED AN UNWRAPPED TAMPON INTO ANOTHER PERSON’S TOILET CUBICLE.
WHILE THEY WERE IN IT.
My eyes glued to the line of the trajectory of the rogue tampon, I quickly considered my options. Pretty much every one of them ended in one thought.
To get the hell out of there as quickly as I possibly could.
I mean, chances were that the lady in the next cubicle hadn’t even noticed my tampon, right? She was probably dealing with her own sanitary protection dilemmas. Really, I could walk out of there with my head held high and never give the incident a second thought.
It was at this point, to my utter horror, that I noticed a hand.
A smooth, pink, well-groomed and perfectly manicured hand.
Extended underneath the cubicle partition.
In the middle of the hand’s palm was an object.
A white object.
It was a tampon.
She was returning my tampon.
Which had clearly suddenly landed at her feet, mid piss.
For a split second, I froze. Could I just ignore it and pretend it had nothing to do with me?
I reached down.
Our hands, briefly, touched.
I took the tampon.
We said not a fucking word.
The lady withdrew her hand.
She left the cubicle. Presumably to wash her hands in bleach for the next two thousand years.
I stayed in the cubicle. For about an hour, until I could be absolutely certain, beyond all possible doubt, that the lady in question would not only have left the toilets, but also the premises, the town, and ideally the entire country, thus negating any possible risk that I could in any way run into her and have her confront me with an: “And you must be the woman who likes to hurl your unwrapped sanitary protection at total strangers.”
WHAT EVEN IS MY LIFE?