Biology Requires No Translation

, , , , | Learning | June 19, 2018

(It is several years ago in high school, on a small class trip from the USA to the Mediterranean. We have just arrived at the Vatican and are enjoying the tour when I notice a tiny spot on my best friend’s jeans; she has started her period, and is not prepared. At this point in her life she is incredibly shy. I discreetly point this out to her, and her face goes pale. We immediately excuse ourselves to the bathroom where she enters the stall to try and salvage what she can while I start to ask other patrons if they have spare pads or tampons. They each shake their head if they speak English, or ignore me with a sad shake of their head if they don’t. Desperate, I head out the door, and find a little Italian cleaning lady with her cart. I clearly look as though I have something to ask, so she looks at me, and I take a shot.)

Me: “Excuse me. Do you have a pad, or tampon?”

Lady: “…?”

Me: “For, um… for a period?”

Lady: *gives me an apologetic look, but still clearly has no idea what I’m asking*

(Not being as shy as my friend, I throw caution to the wind, put on the most desperate expression I can manage and point to my crotch. The lady’s eyes go big, and for a moment I’m horrified that I have offended her. She starts nodding vigorously, and laughs.)

Lady: “Si, yes!”

(Relieved, I returned to my friend with a pad, who thanked me profusely. She was mortified but amused by what I did, and she tied her jacket around her waist until we could get back to the bus and use her Tide pen. Today, I still say to her, “Remember when I broke the language barrier to save your jeans by pointing at my crotch? You’re welcome.”)

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