Tripping With Dad – Part Three
‘Did you grab my lyrical shoes from the room, Dad?’
‘Shit! I forgot. Let’s run up and get them.’ He checked his watch. ‘We have about an hour, plenty of time.’
‘Fine.’ I rolled my eyes and tried to look annoyed, though I was aware of a sudden cramping in my stomach, so I was quite happy to be returning to the room for a minute. I started to escape from my costume before the elevator had even stopped on our floor. The dress for that particular dance would have flummoxed Houdini. After unzipping zips, unsnapping snaps and unsticking Velcro, I was free and bolted into the bathroom only to have my worst fear confirmed. I felt the blood drain from my face as a cold sweat beaded on my brow. I cradled my head in my hands and focused on breathing.
Though I’d had my period since I was twelve, I’d never used anything except for massive maxi-pads, the kind that gave me an extra two inches of height when I sat down. My costume was made from the clingiest material on earth. I knew I’d never get away with wearing what was essentially a diaper underneath. Everyone would see. It would disrupt my centre of gravity! The wings would be visible when I pirouetted! The wings!
Mom never told me a thing about tampons except that she didn’t use them. The only time I’d encountered one was when I was little and we were shopping in a department store. I was playing hide-and-seek under one of the racks of clothing I found a red, foreign object, which I picked up and brought to her in the dressing room for inspection. Due to her being legally blind, she put it very close to her face before screaming and chucking it back in my direction, hitting me square in the eye. Ever since then, they hadn’t seemed too appealing an option for me; too fiddly, too scary and I had no idea how to get it where it needed to go. I thought for a moment about pretending to vomit or perhaps throwing myself out of the window. We were on the fourth floor. I’d be maimed, but I’d survive…
‘Lee, what’s with you and bathrooms today?’ Dad’s voice interrupted my frantic plotting. ‘I’ve got your shoes. Let’s go!’
I pulled the door open a crack. ‘Dad, we have a very big problem.’ I whined at him in a way that could only signify an emergency. He shuffled nearer to the door with his eyes squinty and his mouth set in a serious line. ‘I need you to run down to the hotel gift shop and get me some tampons.’ His mouth dropped open as if he were going to speak, but then thought better of it. He nodded earnestly, as if accepting a mission on behalf of the President himself, before he disappeared from view and I heard the door shut.
I stayed put with my costume around my ankles until he returned. He made some pathetic attempt at a secret knock on the bathroom door, and I opened it just far enough for him to slip the box to me, like a drug deal.
‘How’s it going in there? You get it in yet?’ Dad’s voice was peppered with concern.
I died a little inside. ‘What?! No, Dad. I have no idea what I’m doing. Give me a minute!’ He did as he was told and didn’t bother me again until I emerged from the bathroom looking quite pleased with myself, if not walking a bit funny.
Dad checked his watch again. ‘We have just over 15 minutes until you need to be backstage. Let’s get a move on.’ I grabbed my dance shoes from him and reached up on my tiptoes to kiss his cheek.
‘Thanks,’ was all that needed to be said.
We managed to reach the lobby with plenty of time, and that’s where we separated. Dad grinned at me, his moustache stretching across his face. ‘I’ll see you on stage! Break a leg.’ He gave me the ‘thumbs up’ just before I was carried away on a tide of tiny dancers. As I reached the backstage door, I made a silent vow that tomorrow, things would be better.
previous: Tripping With Dad – Part Two
more by LEE ANNE HILL
photograph by Nik Lanus