Designed to help prevent bunching and twisting

I can’t believe it.

I’m standing in the aisle in the cavernous white glare of SuperValu (masters of the can’t - come - in - and - spend - less - than - $100 - on - groceries supermarket), trying desperately to figure out some mysterious words on the shopping list, and failing miserably. The scrawled words on the shopping list are eloquent in their simplicity. Three words. They say: “Maxi: with wings”.

My first assumption is that Maxi is some kind of brand name that’s been used so often for so long by everyone that it has transcended its mere brandness. Sure - it’s become the generic, catch-all term, I think. I need a Maxi, like “I need a Kleenex” when you mean facial tissue, or “I need some Krazy Glue”, when you actually need a highly adhesive bonding agent.

I’m scanning one of two seemingly endless aisles of feminine hygiene products (what, are women normally dirty?), trying to find one with wings. A woman is standing nearby with this look of half embarrassment, half utter contempt scrunched up all over her face, like I’ve got my penis hanging out of my pants and at any second I’m going to face her and bellow, “Come here, woman, so I can ride you like a country-bred donkey in the hair nets and dandruff treatment aisle!”

Maxi. There’s Maxi with wings “long”. Maxi without wings “long”. Maxi that “now fits size 14!”. Maxi in soothingly blue packages. Maxi in environmentally responsible green packages. Maxi in the too-obvious feminine pink packages. Maxi “ultra petite”. Maxi “thick”. Maxi “thick, with new extensible wings”. Maxi “with new SureFresh coversheet” (whatever the hell that is). Every goddamn box has Maxi on it, and at least 75% have “wings”, too, by my estimate.

And they’re not cheap, either. I can’t help thinking about all the money a menstruating woman must spend every month, month in, and month out, on products dedicated to her personal hygiene. I start trying to calculate how much a woman must spend in her entire life on tampons, and pads, and “Maxi: with wings”, and new, unstained underwear, and aspirin for the cramps, and medicine for the bloating… and then I try to calculate how much money I’ve spent on “guy hygiene products”, and I’m struck by how little I actually spend on, well, hygiene products, with the exception of soap, shaving cream and razors, and shampoo. Which are all things women have to buy. So they don’t count.

I contemplate asking the scrunchy woman, whose still standing there gawking at me like I’ve got Disgusting - masturbatory - pervert - obsessed - with - the - words - “absorbancy” - and - “heavy flow” on a gigantic, glittery sign around my neck, which one to buy. They all seem the same, and they all seem like they, well, do the same thing. But the woman is obviously too embarrassed and contemptuous to give me a straight answer. Her embarrassment is starting to sink into me through some wacky humiliation-osmosis, like water gushing over the top of a broken dam… and after what seems to be hours, I hastily grab a package that looks like the one I’d buy if I was a woman (blue package, natch), and beat a hasty retreat to the hair dye aisle, my introduction to the unscented, ultra-dry world of woman’s sanitary napkins complete.

Next week: Neil goes bra shopping!

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