WHEN MY NECK got kind of crampy on the long flight home today, I reached into my backpack for the naproxen I bought yesterday — scratch that — for the FEMINAX I bought yesterday, and I have to say, my first impulse was to be embarrassed, what with FEMINAX FEMINAX FEMINAX written like a hundred times across the back of the blister pack. I reached in for naproxen. That’s what I take when my joints ache. So when I pulled out FEMINAX it caught me by surprise, even though FEMINAX is just another name for naproxen.
And I was instantly embarrassed, just for a few seconds. A reflex. I was afraid to be womanly. I thought that was so interesting, how a brand name could do that. Then I thought, NO ONE IS EVEN LOOKING AT THIS BLISTER PACK RIGHT NOW EXCEPT FOR ME. They’re all either watching movies or asleep. I could be pulling quaaludes out of my backpack right now and they wouldn’t know it. And even if they WERE looking in this direction, there’s no way they’d be able to read these tiny words.
Yet the words loomed large in my field of vision and in my mind. FEMINAX FEMINAX. J’accuse. J’accuse. Then the reflex passed and I felt actually quite comforted by the pill’s promise of feminine relief — so smooth, so lozenge-like. I popped two pills and slid the blister pack discreetly back into the backpack pocket.
It reminded me of the time I was blasting Carly Simon through the rolled-down window of my Geo Prizm in 1997. Approaching a group of guys in the parking lot of a supermarket, my first impulse was to turn the volume down so they wouldn’t judge me for my girly music. Then I was like, fuck that, I’m really enjoying this song. I ain’t turning Carly Simon down for nobody. She felt so good in my ears, and I didn’t care if the whole world knew.