Buying Tampons Ain’t Easy

Under pressure, Steve Jaeger quickly realizes that tampons and popcorn are not the same.

I have done it countless times. I have walked to the door, turned and called out, “I’m going to the store, anyone need anything?” Usually they call back: soda, candy, chips, or some other kind of empty value junk food they know I hate buying and can ill afford. “Well mom always gets it for us!” Most of the time I will come back with something on the list to show them I am not the world’s worst single father.

Though, this trip my daughter yelled out, “I need tampons!” I froze halfway out the door and asked her to please repeat because I thought she’d just asked me to buy her tampons. “Yes, I asked for tampons! What are you, deaf?” Well, yes, as it turns out. I am getting a bit hard of hearing as I progress in years and I also have a deep-seated aversion to anything I classify as “chick shit.”

I ask the princess why she can’t have her mother pick them up? “Because I need them now! God, what is wrong with you?” I explain to my little love who I used to bounce on my knee that tampons are not my department and if she had ever needed a new remote control or scorebook, I’m her man. Chick shit, though, I have managed to avoid through a couple of wives and daddy’s little girl’s life as a “woman” thus far. Her mother once asked me to pick her up some pantyhose while I was at the store. I told her I’d be happy to so long as she was willing to grab me a copy of Hustler and a new infielder’s glove next time she was out.

I couldn’t take that route with my daughter so I tried to plead ignorance. “Listen baby, I don’t know which ones to buy. Why don’t you get dressed and come with me?” She came storming out of her room with a small box and thrust it in my face. “Here! Is this so hard?” she hissed. She was holding a small black box that looked like a tiny version of a candied popcorn snack we used to buy when I was about her age called Screaming Yellow Zonkers. But this little box didn’t have no stinkin’ toffee popcorn. I pleaded with her, tried to explain my position on avoiding the feminine product aisle at all costs but she would have none of it.

“Just get me the stupid tampons or you’ll have a bigger problem on your hands!”


So there I am staring at an array of female sanitary products and wondering why in the hell anyone would need so much variety for what is basically a wad of cotton on a string. I am feeling a bit light headed, though ultimately I manage to find the little black boxes. But wait! There are little symbols on them and she didn’t tell me which one she wanted. I decide to be bold and make a command decision. I grab the super-duper extra protection tampons because who can’t use a bit of extra protection, right? I get home and hand them over like a little kid turning in his big science project.

“Here you go sweetie! Look what daddy got for you!”

“What? Super? What do you think I am? How could you buy me super?”

I told her that it’s all the same to me and I tried to explain to her about chick shit but apparently buying the wrong tampon is akin to using the C-word. If Oliver Hardy had done this to Mae Bush there would be a rain of pots and pans flying through the air but all my daughter had at hand was her scorn. Which was enough.

I slunk out of the room like a whipped cur. I tried to settle down on the couch to watch a little bit of baseball. The season was nearly over, and that’s usually enough to leave me feeling empty and depressed until spring, and now I had this to contend with as well.

I have sailed in to the uncharted waters of chick shit and I have sunk. This may have something to do with my failed marriages but I’ll have to contemplate that at a later time. I have a month to contemplate my failure and hope she will not wait until the last minute and call on me again. I now know those waters but they are dangerous, and I am without a compass.

Originally appeared at OpenSalon.

—Photo SCA Svenska Cellulosa Aktiebolaget/Flickr

About Steve Jaeger

Steve Jaeger grew up in suburban New York but has lived in the Washington, DC area since his teens. He is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY and worked as a chef for more than thirty years. He is an avid baseball fan, history buff and never misses Curb Your Enthusiasm. He lives in Arlington, VA with three children and a cat.


  1. steve jaeger says:

    I had no idea that they had posted this, if I had I might have said, lighten up girls, it’s supposed to be funny. My little princess is not a morning person, nor is she very good at dealing with cramps. That said, you all seem to be the ones who need the heating pads.

  2. Wirblewind says:

    Well, I never had any problems concerning tampons, but girls ! Remember- tell your brother, father, roommate or boyfriend what do you EXACTLY need, or you may be in a bit of trouble 😛

  3. Its a hard lesson learned. I can understand your aversion. As guys we simply aren’t just unaware of these things because we don’t have to use them but we are actively taught to display disgust over them. So it makes sense you would be in a state of confusion over them when this suddenly happens, and it also makes sense that its going to take more than the “suck it up” comments that are coming out. A quip about how he has to “man up” (and I’m honestly surprised someone hasn’t said that already) versus years of being raised to avoid feminine products like the plague?

    But on a side note that attitude from her was uncalled for. Yeah its a damn shame that you didn’t know any better but coming down on you like a ton of bricks ain’t helping anyone. If anything she ran the risk of pissing you off or scaring the hell out of you, neither of which would do either of you any good.

    • I don’t blame her for getting an attitude with her dad. She could probably sense that he was disgusted by the request, and this disgust was enough to piss her off. It would piss me off, especially if my dad fumbled around while mount Vesuvius was erupting from my vagina. If a girls needs sanitary products, she NEEDS sanitary products, and the dad was not helping by showing blatant revulsion at something he should have grown up about already in spite of what society has told him. I don’t care if you’ve grown up all your life being told to be repulsed by it. As a man, you should know sooner or later you’re going to be confronted by it, and so you need to grow up now or face the consequences. I am absolutely repulsed by fecal matter, but when my nephew’s diaper needed changing, I put that revulsion aside and changed his diaper. It was unpleasant, but he NEEDED his diaper changed. Granted, he can’t do it himself, but I seriously doubt the daughter would have wanted to go to the store with what I could only assume was a raging period given her attitude.

      • Sure he needs to get used to it but again, getting an attitude doesn’t help. I can understand her getting mad (just as I could understand a son getting mad at his mom over some sort of equivalent situation) and I didn’t mean to come as as she has no business getting angry. But if he’s showing repulsion then chances are getting pissed at him isn’t going to make him magically turn a 180 and become all sypathetic (if does then more power to him and any other dad though).

  4. It’s true…men don’t get it…. or even want to get it… A former friend of my husband’s got his super-slender petite wife “REGULAR” size tampons even though she explicitly said to get “SLENDER” or “LITE DAYS” size….he just ignored her fuming about for days afterwards, but I had to listen to it for weeks and weeks…

  5. uh…as a chick I’m not even fond of having to get “chick shit”…especially when it seems like I finally find one I like they change the packaging, discontinue it, or some other nonsense, so I spend way too much time standing there studying way too many choices of different types of cotton balls on string, in cardboard or plastic, and yada yada…to no end. On the other hand, my husband doesn’t even bat an eye if I ask & calls from the aisle to make sure he’s got the right one. Although I can say that when I was single it never phased me in the slightest to buy condoms – went through, bought one of each kind, then threw them into a small basket, individually pulled apart, for the guy to make his own choice. LMAO!

  6. This is extremely disappointing. Lets not teach our daughters that these things are embarassing. I can understand that it makes some people uncomfortable but try to deal with it and be mature! We can ogle women’s bodies in Hustler but god forbid we have to hear about a natural part of them?!

    And also, if that really is the way she is talking to you she either has some issues with respect, or maybe she is just as uncomfortable as you. Either way, I think an open conversation is needed.

  7. dumbest article I’ve read here. Which is saying something.

  8. When I was a kid there was a mom and pop grocery store near us. My mother would tell me “Get a loaf of bread and give this note to the person who’s working today”. The note, of course, was for pads or tampons, I don’t know which. It saved me from having to ask for them, since they were behind the counter (small store, as I said).

  9. What the heck is the big deal about picking up pads/Tampons For one’s wife/child/relative/friend? Do you think the sales clerk will think they are for you? Forbidden Feminine item = male taboo? Always seemed odd to me.

  10. Peter-Andrew: Nolan(c) says:

    “Just get me the stupid tampons or you’ll have a bigger problem on your hands!”

    Shows you how much this man is a failure as a father. If my daughter spoke to me like this she would have a choice. Get in the car and come with me and get her OWN tampons or go without. One of the BIG PROBLEMS with WOMEN today is that their fathers are a FAILURE like Steve and they allowed their daughters to speak to fathers like this. Meaning that they will speak to their husbands like this as well.

  11. Julie Gillis says:

    I take it this was a humor piece?
    It did make me laugh, but probably not in the way expected.

    Buying tampons is easy peasy. Take the box. Write down the name/brand/size of the tampon. Go to store. If you need assistance, ask for help (I know, I know, real men don’t ask for directions).

    She needs them now, because she’s bleeding, dude. She’s your daughter.

    I’d also advise your daughter to always buy double the amount of period supplies each month so she doesn’t run out in a pinch. She’s young, she’ll learn these things. Hopefully, she’ll also learn to ask you politely instead of hissing at you. Cause that ain’t cool.

    Periods are just part of life. They happen. And if she’s having a period it’s a sure sign she isn’t pregnant? Isn’t that better than the alternative at her age? Whoohooo!!!!! Buy those tampons!!!!

    As for buying infielder’s glover, why would any woman not be willing to do that? If my husband asks me to go by a parts store and get a part, I happily do it. I don’t say, “Sorry, honey that’s “Dude Shit.”

    And if you are running out of Hustlers, get a subscription? Cheaper that way.

  12. A funny take on how ridiculous tampon commercials (or commercials for any feminine hygiene product for that matter) are:

    • Hope you enjoy this much loved classic ad series from the 80s.

      In the 90s our uk comedians would lovingly send up the ads.
      Men and women of a certain age in the uk, smile soon as they hear the 80s bighair, bigvoice ‘whoooooooooa bodyform’. So 80s-hellyeah-rawk – i loved it as a child, and i still love it. [as far as im concerned rock has to have the blues in it for it to be part of the rocknroll family tree. So that grunge stuff wasnt rock, it was just grunge guitar music]

      Man, the singer Stevie Lange could belt it out, and i had no idea she also rawwwked out the early 80s trio (a choc biscuit) classic ads too

  13. Being a man buying tampons just means you have a girlfriend or daughter. That’s not a bad thing. A Hustler magazine and pantyhose (something you need) are not on the same level. It’d be more akin to your wife asking you to go and buy her a dildo. But yeah, next time, have your daughter write down the type and size. There’s no way you can just know what to get.

    The embarrassment over tampons and pads has got to go. When I was a teen, my mom didn’t like having my male friends over because they might see my tampons in the bathroom drawer. What the heck?

    • Seriously. It’s ridiculous. If I can go out and buy condoms, why can’t a man go out and buy me feminine sanitary products. Good God. I have no sympathy here. Grow up.

  14. chick shit
    lol, prepare for incoming because you used that expression.
    If your daughter asks you to buy tampons again, tell her to write down the brand and type

  15. While I don’t question the authenticity of the author’s aversion to “chick shit,” I really don’t quite understand it. It’s a product that comes in a box from a shelf in a store. There are multiple brands, sizes, and styles. How is this overwhelming? I can’t imagine he’s so uptight and nervous about buying condoms or toothbrushes, which similarly come in multiple brands and varying sizes/styles.

    I’m also willing to bet he used to pick up diapers from the store when his daughter was a baby; I doubt the checkout clerk thought he was taking those diapers home for his own use anymore than a clerk would think it weird that he was purchasing these for his daughter today. Though, this also begs the question why one even cares what the checkout clerk thinks about one’s purchases.

    Not trying to minimize the author’s discomfort. I’m just having a hard time figuring out what the source of the anxiety is.

    • Same here. It’s a tampon, as he mentions, cotton on a string, not a radioactive device. I understand the discomfort when you’re 12 and you have to buy them for the first time, but for a grown men with kids, and therefore familiar with vaginas and menstruation, I don’t really see the point. And this is not “chick shit”, but female sanitary products. I’m not calling condoms “boy shit” and I don’t whine when I have to buy them with the excuse that I’m not the primary user and that I can’t rely on having a penis to know how to chose them.

    • There are multiple brands, sizes, and styles. How is this overwhelming?
      I could see how. eg. one brand’s ‘heavy flow’ tampon might not work as well as a ‘low flow’ of another brand. unless a man knows precisely the type of tampon the woman wants, he could easily buy the wrong kind.


  1. […] of a tampon would feel stranded without it. Now, this is where it’s different from the situation Steve Jaeger wrote about earlier this week. I, at least, had a mature, older woman to diffuse the situation. He, well, he just […]

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