Discussions about tampons have changed drastically over the years

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It was a million years ago and my cousin was new to driving and even more new to women.

He and his girlfriend were still in that learning phase, but they took me on a trip to the coast and various local attractions.

On the way home, his girlfriend said she had to stop at a pharmacy. My cousin asked why, but she hesitated. Had he been older, he might have let it pass, but he foolishly pressed her for an answer to the point that she finally turned to him and said emphatically, “Dabs.”

My cousin went white as a sheet for a few seconds before turning beet red, much like the lighting at a rock concert can change color in no time. He didn’t answer, staring straight ahead and watching the world as if he wished he could slip into the station wagon’s ashtray and close the lid.

I’m not sure what a tampon was. To me, it looked like something you used to spear a fish. “Saint Toledo, he’s a big Earl, you’ll have to hit him with two or three stamps to get him in.”

But I knew it was one of those words you didn’t say out loud. My father, who for puritanism would make Cotton Mather look like Lady Gaga, would walk out of the room rather than watch a Tampax ad.

As a little boy, I tried to gather all the information I could from these advertisements, in order to see what bothered my father so much. They usually showed a woman walking along a beach in soft focus, but that didn’t tell me much. There were also a lot of camping scenes. The women had long hair in the wind and there was a lot of talk about “freedom”.

Beach, freedom, wind, camping. It didn’t fit. Maybe a tampon was some kind of weather vane.

Those memories came flooding back last week when the press began reporting that there was an incipient “tampon shortage.” Well, why not, everything else is missing.

And in this modern world, the buffer is just another part of the jargon. You can count on the actresses to say the word “tampon” six to eight times a night. And that’s just when they get to the hotel.

I notice on the news however that they first eliminate the T-word and then refer to “feminine hygiene products”. I also notice that there are no “male hygiene products”, perhaps because there is no male hygiene.

But it’s going to be a pretty weird recession that they all say we’re ready for. I always thought a recession happened when no one had money to buy anything. Instead, today we all have money, but there is nothing to buy.

I tried to buy a car for six months without success. Every once in a while I get an email from the factory letting me know that they are still thinking of me, but with no specific news on the progress of the assembly line.

The way we’re going, we’ll have to start buying whatever they have at the store, even if you’re a 62-year-old male.

“Hello Sam, what’s wrong with you?”

“Box of tampons.”

“I take it.”

But no, these things always seem to hit women harder. Tampons, infant formula – in the wake of draconian abortion laws, women say it’s all getting a little too much. After all, there doesn’t seem to be a nationwide shortage of golf clubs or Rogaine. Gone are the women walking on the beach with a soft focus – today’s ads all seem to be for online sportsbooks and generic Viagra.

On the other hand, it seems that buffers are now a leading economic indicator. Maybe that’s progress.

Tim Rowland is a columnist for the Herald-Mail.

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