I’m Sorry, but This is a Curse Not a Blessing

Transman’s last post mentioned the horrors of puberty and the way girls in his sixth-grade class worshiped at the altar of Judy Blume, trading her books and waiting for periods, boobs, and boyfriends. Transman wanted none of that and yet somehow got two out of the three way before the girls in his class.

A badge of pride to young girls on the verge of womanhood; a lumpy pad of shame to Transman. Why are they called napkins? Who's using them at the dinner table? Image: tranquilheart.hubpages.com

Transman came of age in the 1970s in the Deep South. Old people told him very seriously that babies were either found under cabbage leaves or brought by storks. Transman vowed never to touch cabbage and to shoot any stork he saw heading his way; of course, he has since changed his tune; kids–at least, his kids–are pretty cool. Long story short: No one explained any of the facts of life to Transman. He lived in ignorance similar to what Loretta Lynn described in A Coal Miner’s Daughter.

"I'm just trying to help you navigate puberty, Transman. Why do you spurn my efforts?" Judy Blume image: tulipan-verlag.

Seriously, he had no idea what was going on the first time Aunt Flo made a visit. Transman had been playing catch with his next door neighbor, Robbie, when he went inside to get a drink of water and to pee. Imagine Transman’s horror when he saw that first brownish stain in his skivvies. “What the f$%k?!” Transman said to himself as he pulled up his pants and went to the living room to call his mother at work.

He dialed the phone with a shaky hand and explained the terrible thing he had just seen.

“You have your period,” his mother said bluntly. “Your sister might have some pads in the vanity. You just stick them in your underwear.”

What the hell kind of foreign language are you speaking, lady? Transman thought. What are you talking about periods and pads for? I’m not writing an essay; I’m bleeding to death or something.

Transman hung up the phone and stared out the window at the palm tree in the front yard. If his mother was correct and he had his period, then he was doomed. If he was correct and he really was bleeding to death, he was doomed. Either way, Transman felt like shit.

"I shall keep womanhood at bay!" Image: exquisitelyboredinnacogdoches.blogspot.com

There was a banging on the door. Transman had forgotten about his friend.

“You comin’ back out?” Robbie yelled.

Transman opened the door and said, “I don’t feel so good. I think I’m gonna watch TV for a while.”

Robbie tucked the football under his arm, said, “Cool. It’s almost time for Ultraman anyway,” and started into the house.

“I really don’t feel good,” Transman said, standing in Robbie’s way. “I kind of want to be alone.”

Robbie’s brow furrowed.

“Oh,” he said and stepped back outside. “Okay.”

Neither boy spoke about it, but the dynamic between them changed that day. Transman had days every month where he felt like crap–like a badger and a wolverine were clawing at each other from opposite sides of his spinal column–and he didn’t want to play war or build forts or jump ramps with his bike. Transman started hanging out on the sidelines more and more.

When it came to her son and bras, Transman's mom was "The Misunderstanding Mother." Image: ebay.com

As if that wasn’t bad enough, Transman’s boobs appeared shortly after his period starting coming around uninvited once a month. Transman had spent most of his childhood shirtless. In second or third grade, his parents started encouraging him to wear shirts all day, not just at school or to go into 7-11 with his brothers. By fourth grade, his mother was demanding he wear a shirt “all damn day”–even if it was the same T-shirt every single day.

Transman tried to ignore the tingling feeling in his chest and the tenderness. He wore sweatshirts and jackets to hide the little lumps that were forming on his chest, but on picture day in the sixth grade, his mother made him wear one of those god-awful shiny polyester shirts that were so popular in the 70s. Transman put it on and his mother took one look at him and said the most awful thing she could have said, “You need a bra!”

"Oooh, and they're so perky!" Transman took solace in the fact his grandma was too shy to say the words "boobies" and "nipples" out loud. Image: romances.com

The womenfolk of Transman’s family rejoiced in this news and made a communal shopping trip to Beall’s Department Store to buy Transman some bras. His grandmother was both proud and petrified as she took him to the lingerie department. Transman stared at the floor while his grandmother, mother, and a saleslady looked through bras and held them up to Transman. He silently prayed that no one, especially not his nemesis, Paul Wheeler, would see him.

“You want a little padding, so your nipples don’t show,” his grandmother whispered, mouthing the word “nipples.”

Transman went to school the next day  wearing a bra. Because boys have a mental sensor installed for this sort of thing, every boy in school found reasons to walk behind Transman and snap his bra strap.

Around lunchtime, with his back blistered from constant “thwaps” of elastic, it dawned on Transman that no one would ever see him as a boy again. He was angry that his mother had made him wear the damn bra. He was angry that the universe had made him blossom into womanhood before everyone in the whole goddamn school.

Poor Eddie Foster had no idea this was going on in Transman’s head when he made the fateful mistake of doing like all the other boys had done that day and hooked a finger under Transman’s bra strap.

Transman spun around and punched Eddie. He pushed Eddie up against the beige concrete wall of the cafeteria and hissed, “Don’t ever touch me again.”

As is the code among boys, no one ratted on Transman for hitting Eddie, since to do that would have acknowledged a boy getting beaten by a girl. Transman knew this to be the truth, but he told himself Eddie kept his mouth shut because Transman was such a badass.

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19 responses to “I’m Sorry, but This is a Curse Not a Blessing

  • clownonfire

    Shared this on Twitter. Because of the badass comment. No other reasons. None. Leave me alone.

  • lovetimesinfinity

    Periods are so lame. I never understood why my friends all wanted theirs to start, and had a similar reaction to yours when mine finally did. (“Nooo how am I supposed to have fun now?!?”)

    • transparentguy

      Yeah, I think most girls realized what a crap deal it was after the novelty of the “I am Woman, Hear me Roar” feeling of the first couple cycles left and was replaced by the cramps, bloating, general blah feeling surrounding the whole thing.

      • lovetimesinfinity

        You know, now that I think of it though, imagine how traumatizing a first period would be for most girls without that “I am Woman” feeling. It at least balances the downsides a little…just a little?

  • sweetmother

    ok, favorite line…”Why do they call them napkins? NO ONE USES THEM AT THE DINNER TABLE!!!!!” oh. my. god. hilarious. loved it. so funny and sad and real. very, very good. that is all. – mother

  • WSW

    I took a true badass to reject Judy Blume in the 70s. In my class there were only two girls who hated that book and refused to read beyond page two, and I was one. Why? It was a STUPID book, no matter what your gender I.D. That other girl who boycotted Judy Blume? Also a badass and still my pal forty years later. Glad to have you aboard.

  • cristycarringtonlewis

    Whoooooooaaaaa! Not so sure about this developing Judy Blume rebellion going on here. I LOVED Judy Blume and read all her books. They weren’t stupid; they were ground-breaking. You two are just stomping on my pre-pubescent heart.

    Now I get Transman not like her books (though you would have appreciated Then Again, Maybe I Won’t), but Wendie? You have hit me where it hurts. We’re gonna have to have a serious discussion about this – and I got another scoop for you, but that’s for later.

    Transman, you may have to be barred from complaining about periods and boobs as you will soon have neither – so NOT fair. Actually, boobs aren’t bad, but menstruation is really overrated for women like me who aren’t having kids. At least you got two awesome boys out of it. Again, hilarious. Love that your grandmother whispered “nipples.” Made me think of St. Elmo’s fire and the character who whispered anything she found distasteful. Also loved that you punched that kid. You may have had tits, but you clearly always had balls, too.

    • transparentguy

      I have every right to bitch about boobs and periods when I shouldn’t have received them in the first place. I shall complain incessantly.

      Judy Blume can take my ribbing. She’s a sassy, strong gal, and she knows Transman’s only putting things into historical context.

  • Eggkins

    Your description of your first menses was almost identical to mine (including calling my mother and her saying basically the same thing yours did). Except I was wearing a mini dress with matching hot pants and go go boots. At 12 I already looked like I was 18 y/o.

    • transparentguy

      “At 12 I already looked like I was 18 y/o.” That seemed to be the creator’s extra practical joke on me, too. I got so much unwanted attention from creepy older guys and meanwhile, I was so freaked out by all the things they found attractive. Surreal.

  • If we had been childhood pen pals | theadventuresoftransman

    [...] School sucks. I can’t wait to never have to go again. [...]

  • tarnishedsophia

    We are very much alike in this regard, Transman. I got my period when I was 10, and had B cup breasts before I was 13…and like yourself, I didn’t want any of it. (Although unlike you, I knew exactly what was going on. I was an avid reader of encyclopedias and science books, even at that young age.)

    One thing I’ve always been tremendously thankful for is that after the first year of having a period, 99% of my symptoms disappeared. I’m 29 now, and have not experienced anything but the bleeding and some abdominal bloating/pudginess since I was 11. Apparently this is abnormal…but then again, I have Gender Dysphoria, so what’s NOT abnormal about me? :P

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