This week, she met a pharmacist that she dug and he gave her a free bottle of lube...for her mom. This reminded me of another flashback from my past: completely inappropriate gifts from guys you're attracted to.
I was in college and I was studying abroad during the summer. I was living in an Eastern European country with very few of the comforts of home (remember this is the early 90s, McDonald's hadn't even arrived yet). I had been warned to pack essentials like toilet paper and toothpaste and most importantly, tampons. My roommate had ignored that part of the list and came ill-prepared. On day one, Aunt Flow came to visit and she was freaking out. I told her she could use some of my supplies until we found a drugstore and then she could get some of her own.
Every day we looked around for a place to purchase tampons. Then we looked for sanitary napkins (the horror, but they would have to do). Finally we just hoped to find some clean rags she could stuff in her pants. Flow came and went for her and she ran through my entire supply. I was up shit creek.
In the meantime, I had a met a cute boy and I was busy flirting awkwardly with him rather than focusing on the pressing need that was coming in 14 short days. Every time he took me out I'd ask him to find a "special" type of store. I started with asking for a pharmacy. They did not have what I needed. I asked for a grocery store. Not even close. I asked for a "woman's store." He did not know what the fuck I was talking about. Every time we went out I would run into any random store I saw that I had not been in already.
Finally, it was almost d-day and the panic was setting in. Obviously this boy could feel it. Finally, he sat me down and said in his thick Eastern European accent, "Jen, tell me what you are looking for. I can help you find it."
I was too embarrassed to tell him what I needed. I refused.
"Jen, it is upsetting you and I want to help you. Is it a special souvenir you would like?" A souvenir?? Not even close.
The night before Aunt Flow was scheduled to make her appearance I broke down and told him what I needed. It only took an English to Russian dictionary, a little bit of charades and finally a hand drawn picture of various Kotex/O.B./Tampax boxes. "Do you know where I can find these?" I asked hopefully.
"Yes," he replied. "but it will be expensive. You can only get them on the black market."
"I don't care. I'll pay. I have dollars. How much to get them tonight?"
"I do not know. Maybe twenty?" he said.
"Fine. Whatever. Just get them, please." We arranged for him to go and see what he could find on the "black market" (I actually thought it was an actual market and asked if I could go and do some shopping) and then meet later that night at a party.
I got to the party before him. I was hanging with my new cool European friends when he walked in with a plastic bag. "I have a gift for you," he said.
"Great. Thanks. I owe ya," I said and I tried to swipe the bag from him before everyone could see what he had.
"No, Jen," he said pulling the bag out of my reach. "In this country, gifts are very special. You must be presented just right or else the gift is spoiled."
"I don't want a gift. I will pay you for them," I hissed.
"No. I insist. I have not bought you anything to remember me by," he said. "I want to give you this as a gift." Remember you by?? Are you kidding me?? They're tampons. I'm not going to save one to remember you by.
Now everyone was gathering around to see what amazing gift my new cute friend was going to give me to remember him by. I was dying inside.
He made a huge production of pulling out a giant box of Tampax. "Ooooh," a few said.
"I present this gift of Tampax to you. It is my pleasure to give you this gift. I got you the big box. I did not know how many you would need. You are a big girl, I thought you might have a big menses."
He's right. I never forgot him. His gift was one of the most memorable I've ever received.