Coffee will make you black

Umh Umh… I am currently reading a coming of age novel by April Sinclair titled Coffee Will Make you Black.

This book is a hilarious chronicle of a Black female teen slowly developing into a precocious adolescent in 1960’s Chicago.

Her character bears an uncanny resemblance to my coming of age only mine was in 1980’s Mississippi.

So far what stands out for me in the novel is when she gets her period!!!

That got me to thinking when I got mine.

She alone with her friends anticipates this event as it is seen as a step into unbridled womanhood.

Funny… her and her friends were enthusiastic. When she informs her mother, instead of a bonding ritual which she sort of expects, her stern mother tells her it is not anything to celebrate. Funny, this was my experience almost down to the smallest detail!

Picture the scene:

It was the last day of the school year in 1980. I was just a few days shy of turning nine years old!!!

Yes, you read correctly-Eight years old about to turn nine!!!

Lordy, Lordy. Wait it gets most interesting from here.

We were having a sports competition at my elementary school. And, my fourth grade math teacher needed someone to do the long jump. I tried and missed the mark of course.

I not quite sure who, but someone-another teacher I think-informed me that I was literally in the red. Lol!!!

What followed was probably some of the best “womanly” advice that I ever received.

I was in a total panic.

I was panicked you see because I have two older sisters who received their menstrual cycles in their teens.

Please keep in mind that my sisters and I were raised by a stern grandmother who was in turn raised in the Jim Crow South of the early 20th century. (I know what you are thinking).

This teacher comforted me and told me that this is a life changing event that happens to all women and that I just got mine earlier due to the fact that I reached puberty slightly ahead of time.

This did not make me feel better however.

My “wiser” older sister informed me that girls got their periods because they were fast. Now I just knew that I was going to get a beating. Although at 8, I didn’t even know what fast meant.

Needless to say, I dreaded telling my grandmother. Running away and living in the jungle to be raised by wolves seemed like a better prospect at that moment.

Like the desperate criminal that I was, I tried to keep my period a secret. Ha!!!

I vaguely knew about Kotex pads because my two sisters were already in the teenage stage by then and used these foreign objects every month.

I used my brother’s old socks.

The results looked like I had an erect PENIS!!!!!

I was lying on the floor and my grandmother was sweeping and asked me what in the world was between my legs.

Ooops!!! I couldn’t hide anymore. I was found out!

Can you believe it? She told a newly minted nine year old, that I could get pregnant now. End of Story. Eventually and begrudgingly, my “wise” older sister showed me the proper tampon etiquette.

And that dear reader was my introduction to womanhood.

Though I am not a psychiatrist, I do believe that this incident forever seared into my psyche my FEAR of motherhood. My grandmother made it seem so sinister and not the beautiful experience (well sometimes) that I know it can be!!!

Another trip down memory lane.

Until next time