I will never forget the first time I saw a tampon commercial on TV with my great-grandmother (affectionately known as “Gaga”) in the room.
Wouldn’t you know? I had no difficulty finding that commercial on YouTube!
Now, back in 1993, I was in the eighth grade at a private school in Houston. It was just after the first of the year. She had come to Houston and we were watching TV in the spare bedroom at Nana’s house (Nana was my grandmother, Gaga’s daughter). This commercial came on and the look of utter shock and revulsion that crossed Gaga’s face made me blush crimson (for comparison, I didn’t blush again until a girl flirted with me about three months ago). Right about the time that commercial was ending, my Aunt Jennifer, Uncle Kenny and two cousins came bounding through the door. The first person to notice outside the room was Nana; she asked what was wrong, and Gaga just speechlessly pointed at the TV.
Now, you would have had to know Gaga to understand just how serious that was. The woman wasn’t a gossip, but she was never rendered speechless, either. She was the kindest and wisest woman I ever knew. She always had some witty thing to say when someone did something embarrassing (farting at the dinner table would get a scowl from mom, but it always got a retort from Gaga). When this commercial came on, though, she was completely flummoxed.
Nana just snickered quietly and turned to face Aunt Jennifer. It’s probably best to describe that entire side of the family as a whole, because we’re all the same. We are borderline rednecks. I can’t say we’re actual rednecks, because according to Jeff Foxworthy it is defined by “a glorious lack of sophistication”. My family is actually pretty well sophisticated – well-educated, well-spoken, well-mannered…well, at least when we’re in public. When it’s just family there’s no such thing as sophistication. We know each and every one of each other’s secrets. Certain items bring on immediate jokes, laughter and jibes because of the stories associated with them. Remember my comment about fart jokes at the dinner table? My family is famous for them.
Okay, so back to the original story…Nana turns to face an exuberant Aunt Jennifer, who stops cold at the look of horror on Gaga’s face. She asks what’s wrong, and Gaga is still dumbstruck, so Nana just says, “we just watched a tampon commercial.”
Aunt Jennifer’s face went from confused to surprised to “ding!” to hysterical laughter in the space of about eight seconds (hey, we’re Texans!). I and the other kids are all still afraid to speak. Gaga was still struggling to form words, and Nana was trying not to laugh, but it wasn’t working so she turned around and covered her mouth while she giggled. Finally, all of us start laughing, too, but Gaga was still flabbergasted at the thought of a tampon commercial on television. It took her a little while, but she finally got back to her old self. We had our barbecue and croquet game, and we laughed until we cried about everything under the sun.
Finally, as everyone was getting ready to leave, the tampon jokes started. I knew it would happen at some point. I won’t tell you everything that was said, but eventually the remark was made (I think by my mother) that, “oh, they’re a fact of life! We’re all family. We all have to deal with our monthly visitor.” So Gaga says, “yet another reason I am enjoying my old age!”
I cannot imagine what her reaction could be if she were alive to see this commercial, newly minted, on TV.
If she were still alive, she wouldn’t be for very long!
(I’ve been published on advocate.com! Go check it out, leave comments!)