I am a single dad of daughters - which is amusing in and of itself because I grew up with five brothers and have never had to be particularly informed about female issues. So last week my girls and I are on our annual pilgrimage to San Diego for one last escape from the Arizona heat before Scottsdale schools go back in session on August 11th (which is another entire issue!).
As we do on every San Diego journey, we make the obligatory gas and bathroom stop in Yuma - which only exists for bathroom and gas stops for weary travelers midway between San Diego and Phoenix. Shortly after we got back underway complete with DVD players, lap tops and iPods wired, docked and charging, I received a text message from my girls' mother.
"Do not look at Haley"
So, of course I turn and look at her sitting next to me in the front seat. OK, she looks alright so far, thumbs busily texting on her device.
"She can not know you are reading this"
Well I'm holding the Blackberry on the top of the steering wheel with one eye on the screen and the other watching out for California's finest Highway Patrol Officers - hey, I watched CHiPs back in the '70's, too, you know.
"She is having her first period right now"
What?!? My little girl is becoming a women right before my eyes sitting next to me - on my leather upholstery!
"Do NOT look at her!"
Well, she looks the same to the untrained eye, thumbs still pecking at her tiny keyboard.
Through out the next three hours past El Centro and El Cajon, her mom and I exchange text messages plotting out a plan of action, and her mom texts her reassurance that it will all turn out OK while I watch out for Ponch and Jon to bust me for texting while driving. For some unexplainable reason, Haley could not know that I know that she was having her own little personal puberty crisis - but what do I know, I'm just the dad.
The plan was for me to make a quick visit to the drug store as soon as we reached our beach cottage - and call her mother to have her talk me into the correct product solution. I've been a single man for a lot of years in my life - both before and after my marriage. So I am well versed in getting into and out of a store as quickly as possible. And one strategy is to avoid the irrelevant - for instance, before I got my loyal Golden Retriever, there was absolutely no reason to ever traffic the pet food aisle - and such was the case for the feminine hygiene aisle and me.
So there I am, making my way to that mysterious aisle I've managed to avoid for a life time. And to my horror - my trusty communication device is showing no bars. FYI - there is no cell phone reception inside the Pacific Beach Ralphs. I will have to fly solo on this trip. Not to worry - I'm a grown up, I can take care of my own child, right? My first impression? I had no idea that so many different shades of pink existed in the universe! You have your white pinks, your warm pinks, your cool pinks...and I really have to admire so many different versions of swoopy curves separating the different shades of pink on all the pretty packages. There must be a law somewhere that to market a feminine hygiene product, it must be pink with swoops.
As I stand there overwhelmed by choices, I notice carts are gathering at each end of the aisle. Their drivers hesitate to approach my station. OK, so I did just complete a 6-hour drive through the hottest climate in North America but as I showered at five this morning, I couldn't really smell THAT bad already - I guess. Back to the task at hand. Pads, liners, mini, maxie, medium, mini-medium, maxie-medium, maxie-mini, mini-maxie - OK, this is getting confusing. The final straw - with or without WINGS? What do women do with these things anyway?
Now as visitors to this site are certainly aware, the product selection on this hallowed aisle extends from the floor to well out of reach of the average 5'4" American woman. With so many choices, certainly there must be something to clue in the uninitiated that it is a product specifically for pubescent girls. So I stoop to read all the little boxes all the way down on the bottom row - where's the Miley Cyrus endorsement when you really need her?
Then I hear it. The carts are rolling in mass. Like a heard of African wildebeests waiting to cross the crocodile infested river, once one cart made a break for it, the rest charged with wild abandon and we're not talking VISA Mastercard either. From my point of view on the floor I saw 40-pound bags of ice, charcoal bricketts, cases of soda, every bulky beach item ever put under a shopping cart was flying my way directed by kamikaze cart pilots who intuitively sensed that I was at that moment my most vulnerable. I had invaded their inner sanctum of the pink aisle and they were going to do something about it.
Certainly in this mass of rushing femininity, there would be a generous mom who would take pity on a pitiful papa. I search for a kind face. But no one will even look me in the eye. Swoopy pink packages fly off the shelves crashing into speeding carts (where's Ponch and Jon when you really need them?). And no one even slows down. After the heard makes it to the other side, safe from the crocs, I make my decision: I'm taking one of everything that looks reasonable close to what I think my daughter needs. We'll take wings and no wings.
"Are you a coach? Or a chaperon?", Skyy, the pierced lip, multi-colored-hair check out clerk asks. "I mean you must be here with ALOT of girls. That will be 136 dollars and 45 cents - would you like to apply for a Ralphs card today and save 13 dollars on your order?" Wow, I never knew periods were so expensive.
Back at the cottage, I had to sneak in and hide all the products under the bathroom sink. Fortunately, the cabinet door was just able to close by carefully arranging all the boxes and packages just so. On my cue, her mom called and instructed her to look under the sink.
We all survived Haley's entry into womanhood and enjoyed our week of sun, sand and swoopy pink. Now if I can just get her to not hide her underwear, I can finish the dank, sandy laundry and chalk up another adventure successfully completed by Scottsdale Dad and his girls.
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