I spent forty-five minutes yesterday learning everything there is to know about periods and the female reproductive system. This was not by choice, most decidedly not. No, this was a health “enrichment session” that I had to sign up for because it was the only one that fit my schedule. So, at 12:50 on a Friday, I found myself in a classroom, surrounded by 25 girls and exactly 0 other guys, listening to a doctor speaking about what to expect at one’s first OB/GYN session. It’s hard to describe the emotions I felt as I listened to this very nice lady speak. I was enlightened, educated, but primarily grateful. Listening to everything that women will have to undergo, whether it be a pap smear (guess what, they hurt!) or what happens if you decide to do squats while on your period, I really felt bad for the opposite sex. Yet as much as I grew from my experience, there’s no denying that it was among the least pleasant ways I have ever spent my time. But as I think about that statement, more and more examples of awkward and uncomfortable situations pop up in my mind. For your schadenfreude, I present to you the list of the most uncomfortable situations I’ve ever been a part of.
1. Back in middle school, when I was self-assured and confident, I decided to play on the basketball team. I was pudgy, slow, weak, and understood nothing about basketball. Thus, no one was surprised when I only played an average of two minutes per game. I think the coach would have never played me if he had his way, but he was required by the school to give me some time “on the court” so I wouldn’t feel excluded. That isn’t to say I didn’t feel humiliated. All of the jerseys had been given to the players who were actually talented, so I was forced to wear a woman’s jersey emblazoned with the numbers 00. I was not even good enough to get the 0. Worst of all, it was too small on me so I ripped it and had to fix it with blue duct tape. There I was, running around for a minute a game, missing passes and tripping whenever the opportunity arose, sporting a jersey that perfectly represented my status on the team.
2. When I moved schools for high school, it took me a little while to come out of my shell socially. Often during the time allotted for lunch, I would go up to the library, pull out a pair of headphones, and watch an episode of Grey’s Anatomy or something like that. No one noticed my absence and I was happy with my little set-up. Then, it backfired tremendously. One Friday, after finishing a particularly steamy episode of Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, I left the library for my Spanish class. This class was composed of students from all grades yet when I arrived, I was the only freshman. The other kids, surprised to see me, asked how I had gotten back so soon. Apparently, my entire grade had gone to take grade pictures at the Met and I’d completely forgotten. I wasn’t mocked for my oversight but I could tell that people were unsure as to whether or not I attended my school. The administration wouldn’t even photoshop my face into the picture.
3. I was a manipulator as a child and I specialized in getting people to do my dirty work for me. Yet as much as I loved reaping the rewards from various crimes I set up, I rarely got away scot-free. The best example of this can be found in the legendary 4th Grade Chocolate Milk Scheme. As lower schoolers (anything less than fifth grade), my friends and I were tempted on a daily basis by the succulent, dark, creamy chocolate milk that was provided for all students in middle school. We could not bear to wait another year before getting access to the tastiest of beverages and when the other 4th graders began to whine, I plotted instead. Gathering several of my closest friends, I explained the plan. One student would serve as a distraction, talking to the members of the kitchen staff as they replenished the always dwindling supply of chocolate milk, or as we had come to call it, Special C. While the innocent kitchen staff was distracted, two students would swoop in, stuffing chocolate milk into their coat pockets. Finally, another student would go to the handicapped stall in the bathroom directly adjoining the cafeteria and wait for our arrival. Instead of fleeing the scene, we would drink the chocolate milk in the bathroom, reveling as the rest of the students sat clueless, only feet away. My role was to wait in the bathroom and “oversee,” a word which I did not understand. When we were caught, it was not because of a fault in my perfect plan, but because one of my thieves had tripped and dropped the chocolate milk in the middle of the cafeteria. Immediately, the teachers swarmed, picking out my friends and interrogating them. In the bathroom, my friend and I waited, terrified by the commotion. When one of our friends finally ratted us out, I hid behind the door and allowed my friend to take the fall. Somehow, they never caught me and I suffered no consequences. On the other hand, my friends were all severely reproached by the principal and forced to apologize to the kitchen staff. Furious at my cowardice, they shunned me for weeks, leaving me friendless and most importantly, Special C-less. I was only nine or ten yet I knew that this would not be the last time I felt alone and awkward.
Yesterday, as I learned about the potentially painful parts of a gynecologist visit in a graphically detailed fashion, I flashed back to these moments. They were not welcome memories and it was rough. Speaking of which, you know what else is rough? Cervical cancer. Get vaccinated for HPV girls!