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You're Not Going to that Party. Period


I got my first period in my pediatric allergist’s office.

The year was 1991, I was an extremely late bloomer at age 15, and I spied those first few speckles of blood while peeing before receiving my weekly after-school inoculations against ragweed, feathers and tomatoes. (I’ve since outgrown all three sensitivities, but have since developed new allergies in their place—to Sulfa drugs, tequila and admitting I’m wrong in the midst of an argument.) Although many of my firsts in life have involved dorky Jewish men, never did I think Dr. Marvin Weisbluth, allergist, would be part of one of my main experiences of girlhood. But I was flooded with relief, nonetheless: I was the last of my friends to men-stroo-ate and longed to be part of Club O.B. (It is, after all, the way you should be.)

Slinking back into the waiting room, I whispered to my mother, “I just got my period.” She beamed, then attempted to stifle it, asking (rhetorically, I’m sure), “Can I tell your grandmother?” A few days later, in the parking lot of a suburban K-Mart, Grandma lightly slapped me across the face. “To bring the blood back to your cheeks,” she explained.

My mind wandered back to my rosy-cheeked foray into womanhood when I recently read about something called Red Tent parties. They’re like Sweet 16s, but for your uterus. (Overheard: “Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday Dear Menses, Happy Birthday to you.”) That’s right: Parents are now throwing bashes to celebrate their daughters’ first periods.

What, exactly, happens at a Red Tent Party? Do you drink virgin Bloody Marys? Play 'Pin the tampon on the Playtex' model? Fill a giant glass jar with 1,319 Motrin and give a prize to the girl who comes closest to guessing the correct amount?

It’s not that I think our first periods are something to keep secretive or feel shame over. But we’re not reserving roller rinks for our sons’ inaugural nocturnal emissions, are we? What about privately celebrating with a special mom-and-daughter day, like a hike or a movie? And what ever happened to a good old-fashioned slap across the face?

That said, if I were to throw a Period Party, I have a few fun activities in mind:

First Period Scavenger Hunt: Items include a speculum, chocolate-covered pretzels, an unopened tube of Clearasil and a prescription for Sarafem.

Soundtrack: Sunday Bloody Sunday and anything by Simply Red or The Cramps.

Uterus Piñata: Designed to explode with pantyliners when busted open. (Thanks to OffbeatMama.com for the idea).

CRAMP BINGO: Same as traditional BINGO, but the letters across and down the cards read C-R-A-M-P.

Aunt Flow Darts: Festoon a life-sized drawing of a woman with balloons for her breasts, uterus and ovaries. Dispense miniature arrows and have at her.

Ob-gyn stripper.

Oh, and as guests leave, don’t forget to hand them each a T-shirt that reads, “I Had the Time of My Month at Leslie’s Red Tent Party!”

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