An Unholy Itch  |  Angela D’Ambrosio

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             “Why in the name that is holy did no one talk to me about this!” I said, talking to myself and crying on the inside, as I considered dropping to all fours so I could scoot across the carpet like a dog with worms. “Oh, yes, only girl, remember?”
             I never really thought growing up with only brothers was a disadvantage. Quite the opposite. I liked being the only girl. I didn’t have to compete for which girl was the smartest, was most athletic, had the most talent, or was the prettiest sister; I won all categories by default. It wasn’t until I was older that I realized what I had missed out on. I didn’t have that blood-bonded peer that I could talk to or ask difficult girl questions. I didn’t have that voice in the dark to use as a bedtime confessional.
             You would think my mother, growing up with five sisters, would see the opportunity with her only daughter to jump in and fill that void, but I think that, because she had sisters, she didn’t realize what they’d provided her and what blanks were being left void for me. In addition, my mother wasn’t the best communicator. I remember my first “girl talk” with her was during the summer I turned twelve. We were at some sort of ball game. My dad was a coach, so we were always at some game or tournament, and occasionally my dad would have me help with different tasks, like shagging balls and such. There was a break in the games, and my mother called me over to the bleachers.
             She whispered in my ear, “I think it’s time you get a bra.”
             Mortified that she would even suggest I had developing bumpies, I walked away without a word. A few days later, she came home with a white “trainer” that I promptly threw away.
             I was almost fourteen when a girl in my class told me, “You should probably wear a bra.” Then, I conceded.
             It was mostly the same story when I started my period. It happened on the school bus on the way home.
             Some lower-grade boy told me, “You stink.”
             I punched him in the arm and said, “I do not!”
             I was a bit of a late bloomer, so I had heard the girls talking about having their periods. I knew who had started, and I knew what those machines in the girls bathroom dispensed. (Mostly because curiosity got the best of me, and I had to sacrifice a dime to find out.) When I got home that day, I bashfully told my mother that I had started my period. What she told me then was perplexing, and to this day, I’m still not completely sure what she meant.
             “Welcome to the calendar of the month club!” she said.
             “I keep the Kotexes under the bathroom sink. Use them. Also, you need to make sure you take the garbage out of the bathroom because it will stink to high heavens.”
             She might have said more, but I don’t remember. I was suffering from shell shock from my womanhood injury. She was speaking another language, and I was worried this might escalate into the “sex talk” that I didn’t want, so I did what any smart teenage kid would do. I shut up and waited until I could ask one of the girls from school about it the next day. Nothing like public school education outside the classroom.


             Two decades later, and I’m striking a bold balance between awkwardness and irreverence.
             I was trying to look as casual as possible, while straddling the air vent at the pool, as I watched the kids take swim lessons. Hoping I wasn’t being noticed, and at the most, giving the impression that I was trying to cool myself in the confines of the sauna-like building.
             “I’m just hot. I am definitely not airing out my lady garden in public,” I began snickering to myself.
             I am thirty-five years old, and I have never had the yeast infection conversation with anyone. I do remember, however, overhearing a conversation that will never be scrubbed from my brain. I must have been seven, and my mother had taken me to a lunch date with her sisters. I am pretty sure the luncheon started with the usual pleasantries, but it didn’t take long until it was a full-fledged hen party. They began talking about yeast infections and cackling over the subject.
             I remember my Aunt Cindy saying something about yogurt fixing the problem: “Even a direct application does the trick.”
             Then, my Aunt Debbie (the naughty one) quipped, “Just don’t lick the spoon after.”
             The table of sisters erupted into tear-inducing laughter, and I was forever scarred with the image of yogurt ministration.
             I knew I was beyond the helpful benefits of yogurt (directly or indirectly). I couldn’t wait, and with perfect timing my husband was traveling, so I ended up at the doctor’s office with three kids in tow.
             I was in complete agony and borderline suicidal. In that kind of desperation, I didn’t care that I had to take my three kids to a doctor visit that involved stirrups. I had no choice, and the nursing staff was gracious enough to provide books and toys in the patient room to entertain the kids. Don’t get me wrong; there wasn’t a bird’s eye view for my young support group. The doctor did provide nightclub-type entertainment, however, when she shut the lights off and clicked on her blue light to see if my lady garden glowed. The kids, not paying attention to me, ooohed and aaahed with how the blue light made their shirts and teeth glow.
             The doctor remarked, “Oh, you poor dear!”
             Laying there in the dark, naked from the waist down as the doctor confirmed my misery, I couldn’t help but feel bitter. I doubt guys go through this type of humiliation for their version of yeast, unfairly named jock itch. It’s not like their version makes them extra active. And it’s not like I spontaneously want to bake bread with my affliction.
             Men and women have their own burdens to bear, but this is definitely a checkmark in the “winning” column for men in the battle of the sexes.

♥ End ♥

Angela D’Ambrosio grew up in a small mountain town of Idaho and graduated top of her class of seven. She was born in Boise, Idaho, in 1977, the second of four children and the only girl. She currently lives in Sun Valley, Idaho, where she raises three small kids and blogs about reading, writing, and the human condition. [Author photo by and © Rick D’Ambrosio; used with permission, all rights reserved.]

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Unknown said...

You are your Aunt Debbie. Having had both ovaries removed and biopsies all over the place "down there" as my sisters and I used to say, I am so glad there are honest, frank discussions. I mean, we have lady parts, right? Great post. Laughes and I may never look at yogurt again. LOL LOL

Kayla Said said...

Oh Gawd, I remember my first yeast infection. There is NOTHING worse... Except maybe a hemorrhoid. But you didn't hear me say that.

open your mind. said...

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Unknown said...

Thanks Elizabeth! Yes, I am a little of my Aunt Debbie. ;)

Unknown said...

LOL Kayla! The beauty and magic of being a woman. :P

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