The Sponge

There was an episode on Seinfeld where Elaine finds out that her preferred prophylactic — “The Sponge” — is being discontinued.  In a panic, she races around Manhattan buying contraceptive puffs until the store shelves are empty and her closets are full.

Me, I am not so particular when it comes to the health and beauty products.  Oh, who my kidding?  I am particular about a lot things.  Many, many things.  Most things.  Well, pretty much everything.  OK, everything.  Absolutely everything.

And of all the things I am particular about — which in case I didn’t mention, is everything — I am most particular about what I put into my body.

Always the Alvarado flax seed bread.  Never the soy crunch.  Never the sprouted barley.  Paper stick Q-tips?  Yes please.  Plastic stick?  No thanks.  Only the Reach spearmint woven dental floss.  Forget the Oral-B.  Forget the cinnamon.  Forget the waxed.

And for twenty-five years — twenty-five years — Tampax slender regular tampons.  With the cardboard applicator.  In the pink box.  Period.

They were always hard to find.  It’s a small target audience.  But, now?  They are nowhere.  Poof.  Vanished.  Disappeared.

I try all the CVSs, all the Walgreens, all the Safeways.  In Palo Alto and Menlo Park.  I check with stores off the beaten path, like the Target.  I check with stores off the high road, like the Walmart.  I check and check and check and check.

Failing to complete my mission through the normal channels, I calm myself with thoughts of  They have everything.  Absolutely everything.

Back home, I rush to the internet and start my search.  I feel great relief when I see the results.  Amazon to the rescue!  A three-box package!  Whew!  I expel the breath I didn’t realize I was holding.

Wait a minute.  The item is marked “currently unavailable”.  My heart starts to pound.  I will get my period any day.  I have checked my gym bag.  I have checked my brief case.  I have checked my travel kit.  I have checked my car.  Dash and trunk.  Alas, I have scrounged only three slender regulars to add to my tiny stash.

It’s OK, I tell myself, it’s fine.  They’ll be back in stock for the next time.  So, you’ll use something else this month.  You just have to get through one period.  Anyone can get through one period.

I want to place an order, but there is no Add to Cart button.  I look more closely.  I fill with dread.  I read “we don’t know when or if this item will be back in stock”.  They may not know, but I do.  I have seen this sentence during previous electronic shopping excursions.  It means the slender regulars are gone.  It means they are gone for good.

I learn that Customers Who Bought Tampax Slender Regulars Also Bought Annie’s Homegrown Cheddar Bunnies.  This is not helpful.  Who in their right mind would substitute snack crackers for a tampon?  Even the crackers are whole grain and organic, no one would do this.  Please!

I start rapid cycling through web stores.  No.  No.  No.  No.

Oh, I know!  I will order directly from the manufacturer.  Oh, no!  I will not.  Even Proctor & Gamble is out of stock.  What is going on here?  Was there a baby boom that produced an army of girls who are now depleting the nation’s inventory of teen size feminine hygiene products?

Suddenly, I am feeling strange.  In a way I never felt like before.  Not in my whole life.  I am not positive but I think that what I am feeling may be what is known as anxiety.  Normally, I just can’t panic.  It is not my nature.  If my vital signs were any lower, I would be dead.  Still, I think I may be in an actual tizzy.

But I am not done; no, I am far from defeated.  This fat lady has not yet begun to sing.  I am not ready to surrender because there is eBay.  Where the people go when they must find the unfindable.  When they will pay absolutely any price.

But where to look?  Under the Health & Beauty?  Or maybe by the Collectibles?

© 2013 Jaclyn Schrier. All rights reserved.

Get the Fork!

The New York Fall 2013 Fashion Week has ended and the critics are buzzing about the styles of the upcoming season.

Good news!  My “as is” wardrobe?  A perfect fit with the hottest trends.


My cocktail dresses?  My client attire?  My casual apparel?  My workout wear?  My socks and bras?  En vogue!

Since witnessing fashion’s demands back in college, my mode has always been to stick with an easy and relaxing feel.

See, one morning, my roommates are all getting ready for the day.  Suddenly, there are loud sounds of thrashing and agony.  Danielle screams, “Pam, get the fork!”

Was Danielle having some kind of epileptic fit?  Did she need Pam to suppress her tongue?

I rush in to find Pam straddling Danielle who is lying face up on the bed.  Pam appears to be doing some kind of procedure on Danielle’s midsection.

Pam calls out to me, “Thank G-d you’re here.  We need help.”  I move closer, frantically praying that no blood has been spilled.

The unfolding drama amazes me.  The two girls are desperately pulling at Danielle’s skinny jeans.

Danielle is holding her breath and tugging at the right and left halves of the waist, struggling to clench them together.  Pam is securing Danielle’s body with her own weight, wrestling with the zipper using a fork tine inserted into the pull tab.  But it just won’t budge.  They need me to take charge of the waist.  This will free Danielle’s hands so she can raise her arms over her head to achieve the maximum stomach flatness.

So we do it.  We work together to get Danielle’s skinny jeans zipped and buttoned and we help her to her feet.  She will be standing all the livelong day.  She will be walking in slow motion.  She will be very late to all of her classes.

And me, I had seen what it takes and knew I would never become a slave to fashion.  I would always buy only comfortable clothing.  And I would always buy only clothing that I could put on and take off by myself, without assistance from a personal dresser or use of the kitchen cutlery.

© 2013 Jaclyn Schrier. All rights reserved.

Rock the Schoolhouse!

Hard to believe, Schoolhouse Rock is celebrating its 40th anniversary.  Instead of commercials, these short music videos were broadcast between the Saturday morning cartoons to give kids edu-bites about grammar, math, history, etc.

The songs were great.  When called to the blackboard for that most loathsome task of diagramming a sentence, my mind would play “Conjunction Junction, what’s your function?  Hooking up words and phrases and clauses”.  And certainly anyone from my generation can still sing, I mean, recite, The Preamble to the Constitution of the United States without hesitation.

Unfortunately, Schoolhouse Rock did not cover math topics beyond multiplication.  This lack of an “advanced” curriculum would leave a sizable gap in my education.

See, I went to one of those 70s experimental-type elementary schools.  Most of the day we spent sitting on the floor in a circle, writing and performing plays with socially-relevant themes.  For example, a takeoff on The Wizard of Oz where the land of Oz was a drug-induced hallucinatory state and the horrific things that happened there were sure to convince kids to stay far away from drugs.  Needless to say, very little time was spent on math or science.

So when I started 7th grade at the junior high school, I was in for a real shock.  This sitting in the midst of a 6 x 5 checkerboard of desks listening to teachers pontificate on and on from 8:02 am until 2:41 pm really sucked the life out of me.

Especially first period pre-Algebra.  Without the basic math skills, I didn’t understand a word.  Or rather a symbol.  Soon, I was failing.  Despite my mother’s geschreis and my tutor’s exercises, I got a D and would not move on to Algebra the next year.

Anyway, the fall comes and I am repeating pre-Algebra and feeling quite ashamed.  The year starts in the now-familiar boring and droning way, but one day something interesting happens.  My 8th grade math teacher — Holla, Ms. Krone! — brings her guitar to class and teaches us math songs that she had herself written!

My favorite was called Flip, partly because I really liked the upbeat sound, and partly because I finally learned to divide the fractions.  Listen:

Well, I didn’t become some kind of mathematical maven, but I did hold my own in the many math classes that followed at the high school, college, and graduate school.

More importantly, I came to appreciate the value of math in real life.  Yeah, no one is likely to hold a gun to your head and ask you to whip out the side-angle-side postulate and prove two triangles are congruent.  But, then again, you can’t really weigh the pros and cons of taking this mortgage or that one without applying a little numerical reasoning.

It pleases me to see contemporary secondary schools are still singing for the math.  In Silver Spring MD, Jake Scott, aka 2 Pi, raps quadratic with his students.  We could use this kind of engagement in every school.  Maybe it would help stem the STEM problem.

For the message rather than the melody, my pick for best Schoolhouse Rock video is Sufferin Till Suffrage…

Oh, what the heck, if we gotta rock the schoolhouse, you know we’re gonna rock the casbah…

If you are still sitting down, something is seriously NOT KOSHA!

© 2013 Jaclyn Schrier. All rights reserved.