Family Stories

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! Go check it out, leave comments!)


4 thoughts on “Family Stories

  1. The adult in me laughs at a lot of these types of commercials – they are often quite clever. But the parent in me is horrified that I can’t even watch the news while my kids are in the room without them learning the “Viva Viagra” song.

  2. ROFL…my mom used to make a pretty simple casserole (beef, cream of mushroom, tater tots, cheese and fried onions), but we didn’t know what to call it at first. “Tater tot casserole” became “tater TIT casserole” in short order. I don’t know who started it, but it was hilarious to us until either my brother or sister said it in church and my mother’s friends were horrified. Thereafter it was known as “tuna surprise” (what’s the surprise? There’s no tuna!).

    The “tater tit” part was something that we’d heard on TV. My mother never stopped griping about commercials after that!

  3. Those “INTENSE” commercials are some of the cuter ones. The Cialis “when the moment is right” commercials are also good, but the Viagra and the Enzyte commercials bother me and even disturb me. Sex and sexual humor has its place. Even I like to joke about it sometimes. When I was younger, my internet friends and I used to joke about duct-taping our favorite story characters. I was the only woman in high school who enjoyed watching the male cheerleaders. Once after sex ed, I asked my mom, “Do you want to renew your virginity?”

    Sex and its humor have their place, but what bothers me most about the get-better-sex commercials is that our culture is too obsessed with sex to the point that it is unhealthy for our society. Our culture has substituted sex for love, and we have forgotten that love is a purely spiritual connection that can exist without sex. Our society no longer understands the difference. Instead, people have become objects rather than actual individuals. People now define themselves according to their bodies and their physical inclinations. I think sex tends to confuse everyone more so than ever. I wish more people would view love as emotional and spiritual – NOT physical.

    Now, that is what I like to call “free love.”

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