over sunday lunch - pork with cheese on, which should be the national dish of molvania - enid told the man of her early experiences of menstruation. (no wonder he prefers working to eating out with her.)
there was a special lesson at school when enid was 10. her mummy had been sent a letter about it, and had agreed enid should go. enid didn’t know this till later - all enid knew was that the afternoon’s lessons were cancelled, and there was a special lesson in its place. In the special lesson, the teacher told them how babies were made - which was quite interesting, because enid and her friends had decided it was when a man and a woman mixed their wee in a toilet bowl, which was wrong. at the very end of the special lesson, the teacher told them about periods. enid felt quite sick. was it really true that every month, until she was an old lady, she would bleed from her front bottom? did every grown-up lady in the world really bleed from her front bottom every month, and if so, why hadn’t they cured it yet?
usually enid walked home from school alone, because she was a big girl, and this was the 70s, before paedophiles were invented, but on this day, enid’s mummy met her at the gates. enid was very cross, and demanded, “did you know this already?”
her mummy nodded, yes.
“why didn’t you tell me!” enid couldn’t stand it that her mummy had known what was in store for her, and hadn’t prepared her. why did girls have to do all this to make babies, when boys didn’t? especially as she didn’t even want any babies? it just wasn’t fair.
enid’s own periods started two years later, when she was twelve. It was just before her holidays in the south of france, and she had to sit on the beach wearing too many clothes and getting hot, while her younger brother eric pestered her about why she wasn’t swimming. she and eric loved swimming. the year before they’d bought themselves snorkels and masks with their pocket money, and they’d spent hours in the water, chasing the little silver fish and pretending to be divers, pearl fishermen and mermaids.
this year, enid cried to her mummy, who was embarrassed and muttered that there was an internal thing that enid could have done so she could swim next year. enid was so happy. there was a cure, after all. they’d take her to a hospital and stop these period things, and she’d be able to swim again, like eric.
a couple of months before the next year’s holiday was near, enid worked out that her period would again been in the middle of the fortnight in france. shyly, she approached her mother, and asked if she could have the operation now.
“what operation?” asked her mother.
“the internal one, so I don’t get periods any more.”
enid’s mother explained, rather crossly, that she’d meant something that was “worn internally”, which enid now realised meant “inserted in your vagina”, but her mother had been too embarrassed to say that plainly, and so enid had misunderstood her.
the story has a happy ending. enid did manage to learn to use tampax in time, and she did go swimming with eric. she still has periods, though.