When I was in college, I frequently foisted my idea to re-purpose the dentist’s saliva ejector as a vaginal vacuum cleaner to speed up the menstrual process.
Unfortunately, no one ever took me seriously. Not the engineering majors. Nor the bio/pre-med majors. Not even the women’s studies minors.
After a solid semester of pitching my (possibly drug-inspired) idea and receiving negative feedback that ranged from a benign side glance to an hour-long lecture on the reproductive system that devolved into an anatomy lesson with the assistance of a T.A., I decided to give up on talking to people about it and, instead, to apply the principles of The Secret and just wish it to be true.
I was content to never to speak of this again, until, very recently, my in-laws introduced me to a show called Shark Tank.
I had heard of the show prior to that evening and understood its premise to be entrepreneurs pitching their businesses to a group of millionaires in the hopes of receiving advice and/or money – but I had never seen it with my own eyes. My father-in-law shushed me and pointed at the TV where, in all of their HD glory, two men in cheap suites, one pudgy and short, the other tall and skinny, pitched their barbecue sauce to a panel of men wearing diamond-encrusted watches and one overly-pearled woman.
As I watched, that old idea came back to me. Maybe because they were talking about barbecue sauce. Maybe because the show is called shark tank. Or maybe because I was bleeding profusely from my private part. After the show ended with one of the sharks purchasing the sauce, my mother-in-law turned to me and suggested that I try to get on the show with one of my many interesting ideas. And then it happened. Out of my mouth came out my entire pitch for a period suction machine, like a blood clot in the morning.
I saw their eyes open wide. My father-in-law’s eyebrows lifted well into his bald head. But I couldn’t stop myself.
Before I continue, I should note that my in-laws are not prudish or squeamish when it comes to this topic. They raised an only child, my partner, who began menstruating at the age of 9. And it was them who consoled me, when I bled all over their cloth couch one evening when my flow broke through my tampon like a New Orleans levee during Katrina. I was so mortified that they tried to make me feel better by sharing all of the times the women of the house bled on something and my father-in-law, who is never to be outdone, shared his embarrassing moments of bleeding through his pants when he suffered from explosive hemorrhoids.
Being part of a family that talks about everything is disorienting, especially when you were raised in a home that practiced deep silence. My mom’s you’re-a-woman-now talk consisted of not what was happening to my body, but how to properly hide and dispose of my feminine hygiene materials. “Your dad and your brother don’t need to see that,” she said.
So, for years, I sat in my room, doubled over in pain, quietly. And coming up with my own version of what was happening in my belly. The most enduring theory (and the one I would’ve passed down my imaginary daughter) was that every 28 days the dragon that lived inside my pelvis would awaken and journey through my Fallopian tube to chew on one of my ovaries with its razor sharp teeth. Although the dragon was starved, it knew not to eat it all because when the juice runs out, the dragon would die, exploding in a fire ball and giving me semi-permanent hot flashes. So, it had to sit there, with my ovary in its mouth, like a grape, squeezing ever so slightly, only allowing a little bit of juice at a time, until it was satisfied enough to spit it out and go back to sleep.
I know this is not the case now. As I understand it, my ovaries are small chickens that lay eggs on a waterbed filled with blood. Once the egg becomes rotten, my uterus becomes a conveyor belt and releases everything into my nicest pair of panties.
So, back to in-laws’ house and my pitch that went something like this:
Women are subjected to stuffing their vaginas with cotton on a string or catching their remnants on a wing and a prayer. This doesn’t seem right. Especially in this day and age. We are the society that landed on a moving comet. We are the people that invented the Roomba. We call a medical procedure shooting a laser in your eye and sending you home with sunglasses. Honestly, we can do better than a bloody cotton ball.
And the best part is that the technology exists. All we have to do is re-purpose the dentist’s saliva sucker and rename it something catchy. We can create a home kit for those that prefer privacy or it can be done as a service (45 minute Swedish Meatball Sauce or 90 minute Steam Cleaning with Aromatherapy) done to you at one of those medical spas that do colonics and spray tans. Between the manufacturing of the machine and the training of “certified suckers” this thing will create a million jobs, at least.
After a few moments of silence, they asked me what I was going to name this machine. To which I explained I hadn’t really settled on anything. So they took out a sheet of paper and we began brainstorming:
- Period. End of Story.
- iSuck (possible partnership with Apple)
- Never (in direct competition with Always)
- Cunt Dracula
- Clean Clam
- Clean Cyclone (possible partnership with Dyson)
- Toto-tally Clean (Spanglish version)
- Sin Reglas (Spanish version)
We were having such a good time that for that moment, I forgot I was bleeding or had cramps. I forgot that I had a rudimentary string hanging out of my body, like a fish with broken line hooked to its lip. I was laughing so hard, I forgot I was moody from the excess estrogen rushing through my body. I forgot it all until I felt a little moisture in my underwear and I immediately got up and darted toward the bathroom in an effort to beat gravity and to save my underwear from disgrace.
But inevitably, the dragon struck again.
One day dragon, one day…