PonyWhen I was a freshman at the University of Delaware back in the 80s, I figured the best way to meet people and make new friends was to join a club. The one that appealed to me the most was the Adventure Club – a group of students who did a lot of out-doorsy things like camping and hiking.

The very first trip of the year was an overnight camping excursion to Assateague Island, a national park that spans both Maryland and Virginia. It appealed to me because the trip involved a bunch of things I’d never done; camping, canoeing, and sleeping in a tent. Plus, the island is famous for its wild horses, and it would be cool to get a glimpse of them.

In preparation for the trip I had to find a sleeping bag, and purchase some food to take along for the weekend. I was super broke; my parents didn’t leave me with a whole lot of cash so I had to be a smart shopper. A guy from the club said he had a sleeping bag he could lend me. It was old, brown and ugly, but it would keep me warm. Check one.

After a trip to the supermarket I walked back to my dorm swinging a bag that contained a loaf of generic white bread, a jar of generic peanut butter, and a package of generic hot dogs. That was to be my food for the weekend. Mmmm-mmm good!

On the day of the trip our group piled into a few cars and headed south. We had to canoe out to Assateague, which I recall being lots of fun. The sun was shining, I was out and having a blast with a bunch of cool people. We hiked to our campsite on the island and set up our tents.

The group then dug a pit. They were going to cook crab; I wrinkled my nose as shellfish does not appeal to me. I looked for a good stick to cook my hot dogs on.

Everything was going well, despite the fact that my generic white bread got smushed and my hot dogs tasted like charred baloney. We were all telling stories, and laughing around the campfire. I went to use the porta-potty, and that is when my weekend took a horribly hideous turn.

I had my period – two full weeks early. This wasn’t supposed to happen, and therefore I had packed nothing. I didn’t have a tampon, or a pad. I didn’t even have a healthy supply of underwear. What the hell was I going to do?

I pulled every girl on the trip aside and asked them if they were packing any feminine products. Nobody was. Now I’m both humiliated and unprotected. How in the world could this be happening to me? Oh that’s right, I’m Tracy, after all.

Typical.

So what did I do? I took the spare roll of toilet paper from the porta-potty and kept my drawers padded as best as I could. There was nothing for the cramps, though, and I can get some monster cramps my friends.

The next day everyone went swimming along the beach, but not me. I just stood waist high in the water far away from everyone else. I couldn’t wait to get back to my dorm with my closet that overflowed with OB’s and Stayfree’s.

I remember being in agony during the long drive back to campus. I was riddled with cramps and was fairly certain that my Charmin maxi-pad was failing miserably. Thank goodness I sat on the sleeping bag on the way back – it would’ve been more than I could bear to have to explain a blood stain on the seat of my club-mate’s Chrysler.

I waddled back to my dorm, and after a shower and a fist full of Extra Strength Tylenol, I decided to wash the sleeping bag. I headed down to the laundry room and threw it in a machine. Once washed, I realized I didn’t have the money to dry it. So, I draped it over a pipe in the ceiling and went back up to my room.

The next morning, I went down to get the sleeping bag, roll it back up and return it to my fellow Adventure Clubber. That was when I got yet another shocker. Yep, you guessed it; the sleeping bag was gone.

I checked in every corner and crevice of the laundry room, but it was nowhere to be found. Someone had stolen it. What the hell was I supposed to do now?

I called the dude who had lent it to me and explained what happened. I offered to give him a few bucks, but he didn’t want a few bucks. He wanted fifty. Fifty bucks for that old sleeping bag? I told him that a) I didn’t have $50 and b) the bag wasn’t worth $50.

Evidently he wasn’t willing to forgive or forget, because a few days later I received a notice in my mailbox. He was suing me in student court.

Son of a bitch. Life sure was fine and dandy! I called my parents and cried my eyes out, telling them the whole story, and my dad agreed to send the boy a check. But, I got a long lecture. Yes, life sure was fine and dandy.

That was my last outing with the Adventure Club. When I gave the sleeping bag guy his check I pretty much told him to go screw himself, and wrote off the club in the process. I didn’t feel like seeing any of those people anyway; after all, I was the loser who had stuffed toilet paper in her panties all weekend.

To this day I hate camping. I’ll sleep in a tent every now and then, but I’ve never once been camping in a traditional sense since that weekend at Assateague. And I’ll tell you another thing…

I never go anywhere without a tampon.

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