“What are you doing?”
“I think it’s pretty clear what I’m doing,” my Aunt Clara replied.
She was right.
Clearly, she was using lipstick to color the end of a tampon red.
Aunt Clara said, “Coraline, I think you want to ask why I am doing this.”
She was right.
I asked, “Why are you using lipstick to color the end of a tampon red?”
“Watch the end of the show tonight, and you’ll see why,” Aunt Clara answered.
She then taped the red-tipped tampon on her thigh under her skirt.
Aunt Clara is a punk rocker, and she was preparing for a show.
Her all-woman band is called The Blazing Molotov Cockgirls, and they are locally and regionally known and have no ambition to become nationally and internationally known.
Aunt Clara, aka Clara Molotov, and her bandmates Mara Molotov, Patty Molotov, and Puella Molotov have lives to lead outside music, and as long as they can play most weekends at bars in and around Athens, Ohio, such as the Union, the site of tonight’s show, they have no desire to become rich and famous and lead rock star lives.
Aunt Clara once explained, “The dumbest thing I’ve ever heard is ‘Live fast, die young.’ I’ve got stuff to do and a long lifetime is not long enough to do it, much less a short lifetime.”
The Blazing Molotov Cockgirls, as a group, also reject any kind of lifestyle that would slow down their creativity.
“Too many stars — and especially superstars — put out an album every two or three years,” Aunt Clara explained to me once. “Not that the Blazing Molotov Cockgirls ever could be superstars or even stars, but if we were, I hope that we would continue to put out as much music as we want and as we can. I can’t imagine writing just one good song every two or three or four months. And I hope that we would never sign a contract that told us what and how much music we could release.”
So, far, their record is four 12-track albums put out in one year on Bandcamp.com.
The Blazing Molotov Cockgirls are very much a Do It Yourself punk band.
They knew each other from Athens High School and like punk fans everywhere, they heard the Ramones, learned to play three chords, and started a band.
Aunt Clara once told me, “The first time we practiced, we wrote a song. We were so excited that we wanted to perform it immediately, so we went to the Union, and the band playing that night let us use their instruments. Halfway through the song, we realized that we had forgotten to write the end of the song, and so the end was a train wreck, but we still got applause from the audience — lots of creative people were in that audience.”
In my opinion, although I wasn’t there, the Blazing Molotov Cockgirls performed well that night — just being on stage for the first time is a triumph. Later this night, I got to see the purpose of the red-tipped tampon at the end of a good performance.
The Amazing Molotov Cockgirls finished with an angry song about the patriarchy, toxic masculinity, and misogyny, and then Aunt Clara reached under her skirt, grabbed the red-tipped tampon, held it out so the audience could see it, and yelled, “ARE YOU AFRAID OF WOMEN? YOU SHOULD BE!”
Then she threw the tampon into the middle of a group of men.
That was Saturday night.
Monday was school at Athens High School, and during lunchtime some of us girls met in one of the girls’ bathrooms and discussed a major controversy.
“Did you hear about Susan and Mr. Rome?” Beverly asked.
Beverly is someone I would want to be in my band if — when — I start a band.
“No,” I said. “What happened?”
“Susan’s period started in Mr. Rome’s English class, and she asked to go to the bathroom. He said no, and she told him that her period had started, and he still wouldn’t let her go. He even told her to hold it in and go after class was over. Can you believe it?”
“Hold it in!” I said. “He’s an adult. Doesn’t he know that periods don’t work that way?”
“He’s an adult, yes,” Beverly said. “But he’s a guy, and some guys don’t know much about periods — or about women.”
“Susan bled through her pants — just a little and she cleaned it up quickly — and she had to go to the school nurse, who called her mom. Can you imagine the embarrassment?”
Actually, I could. When I was fourteen, I bled through my pants. Fortunately, a kind woman pulled me aside and quietly said to me, “Pardon me, but you have a stain on your pants. Do you need a pad or tampon?”
I already had what I needed, thanks to my mom’s insistence on my keeping emergency supplies in my purse and in my school backpack. And fortunately, I was wearing a hoodie that I could tie around my waist.
The consensus in the girls’ restroom was this: Somebody ought to do something.
I also formed a consensus of one: I was the person who ought to do something. Mr. Rome was my English teacher, and I had a class with him coming up.
I asked if anyone had tape, an item I was lacking.
I then affixed some strips of tape to my thigh under my skirt.
The other girls watched me, and they wondered what I might be going to do.
I told them, “If you’re in English class with me, you’ll see. If you aren’t in English class with me, you’ll hear about it.”
In the middle of English class, I raised my hand and asked, “Mr. Rome, may I go to the bathroom, please?”
“No, you may not,” he said. “Stay here and learn something. Your education is important.”
“I agree that my education is important, but my period has started, and I need to go to the bathroom.”
“Stay here until the end of class,” Mr. Rome said. “Just hold it in.”
“Periods don’t work that way, Mr. Rome,” I said. “If I stay here, I will bleed through my skirt and onto my seat.”
“No, you may NOT go to the bathroom,” Mr. Rome said.
“OK, Mr. Rome,” I said.
I took a tampon and a wet wipe out of my purse, and I went to the wastepaper basket in a corner of the classroom.
With Mr. Rome and the students, including boys, watching me, I unwrapped the tampon, threw away the wrapper, and spread my legs.
I reached under my skirt and used the strips of tape to securely affix the tampon to my thigh under my skirt.
I used the wet wipe to clean my hands, and I threw away the tampon applicator and the used wet wipe.
Then I went to my school desk and sat down.
Mr. Rome and some of the boys in class were very red in the face.
Another girl in class raised her hand and asked, “Mr. Rome, may I go to the bathroom, please?”
“Of course,” Mr. Rome said.
Some girls abused the privilege for a while, and then they settled down and behaved correctly.
In that year’s school yearbook, I was named “School Legend.”
Copyright 2021 by Bruce D. Bruce