So, I go in for my second spec script writing class tomorrow and have to bring in ideas for scripts of current television shows. I’ve known for years now that almost all current television shows are a direct reflection of real stories that the writers have or their friends have or some combination of the above. It might be clear already, but rarely do I share personal stories unless I think they’re really funny and don’t actually reveal anything about me as a human. Here’s a story that I think is much like that. For some people, they might be embarrassed by this story, but I can’t really do anything to change it, and also it’s such a crazy thing that would seem to only happen in the movies.
I was relatively young when I got my first period. (ARE YOU HOOKED YET?) It was in fifth grade, which also happened to be the year that we were able to take the test and finally become altar servers. Yes, I went to Catholic school and I think almost everyone, barring maybe four kids, was signing up to be a server. Mostly you got to wear cool robes and also if you happened to be scheduled to serve a school mass during the week, you’d get out of your first and second hour classes. I was all in. It’s also I guess a little important that I took this pretty seriously. We learned the proper way to carry the cross down the aisle of the church and the correct way to tie the rope around our albs (see, I do know what I’m talking about).
Eventually, I passed the test and was put on the schedule a few times and I was getting pretty confident and pretty thankful to be serving the lord in that way. But, one day, it was a 10:30 mass at my church, the service that every family in the church pretty much went to–oh, and by the way, the church I grew up in was a huge congregation. I’m pretty sure the physical church sat about 750 people and on 10:30 Sunday masses, the church was generally about 2/3 full. Everything was going as planned. I was holding the prayer book well, I was sitting and listening to the readings and homily without yawning once, then it was time to walk to the back of the church to get the gifts that were to be presented to the priest for communion. I walked back with wonderful ease in my pristine white alb, or so I thought, and gathered the brave souls who would make that march with me to the front of the church. I smiled, I looked one with the lord, and I marched my entire body through the church. I took the few steps up the staircase to the altar so as to further put myself on display. I went and returned the cross to its stand and it is then, and only then, a fellow altar server pulled me to the side and said, “Um, Maria, you have a little something on the back of your alb.”
Yes, you are correct, I had gotten my period and the lord wanted the church to know. I ran into the sacristy (see, another word I remember) and looked in the full length mirror that was there for you to look into as you tied your rope and dealt with your inevitable Catholic guilt. Yep, there it was, quite possibly the largest period stain anyone has seen outside of their copy of the American Girl Doll book, “The Care and Keeping of You”. I had marched with pride and surely the boys in my grade who were undoubtedly there and who also had just learned the facts of life earlier that year were snickering and also were horribly uncomfortable and also hadn’t hit puberty so they weren’t really processing anything correctly at that point. I waited in the sacristy until the mass was over and waited and waited some more until I had heard the church mostly empty, at which point, I ran out to my mom and immediately started weeping. She kept reassuring me that not that many people had noticed (lie) and that it was all part of learning how to deal with your period (maybe true, but also, this example was not in my aforementioned American Girl book) and that it had happened to tons of people before (jury is still out on that one). I was eleven, my god, everything was earth shattering and obviously my earth was shattered by this. I immediately got real good at dealing with my time of the month and also I didn’t have to worry about breaking the news to my friends who hadn’t quite hit puberty that I had already crossed that bloodied battlefield.
Honestly, thank god, I had this experience as a fifth grader, for if had been later in life, I may have never recovered. The boys would have been a little more vocal with their ridicule, and the girls probably would have made fun of me for not knowing how to deal with our worst enemy.
I take it back, though, I don’t thank god for this experience, because quite honestly, he couldn’t have chosen a more terrible time and place for this to happen. At least I got back at him by ruining an alb, though.