When I was in fifth grade, I was the second-tallest girl in my class. I stood at a staggering five foot three inches, and I was taller than most of the boys – even my twin brother. My physical development is the very definition of peaking early. The only thing that’s changed since then is my weight and bra size (THANK GOD!). If you look at the growth chart penciled on my parents’ pantry door, you’ll notice that I grew a LOT in a short amount of time – about five inches in six months. In hindsight, someone should have seen the most embarrassing day of my life coming. MOM I’m looking at you.

I was hugely into the fashions and trends of the time. I was heavily influenced by 80’s pop singers, with Debbie Gibson at the top of my list. I had a favorite outfit of stonewashed jeans (with perfectly placed knee holes), a black and white striped shirt, and keds with no socks. It looked a lot like this, actually:

I felt like I was the coolest girl in school in this outfit. I probably wore it once a week.

The most embarrassing day of my life started innocently enough. I rode my scooter to school (SHUT IT), and of course, I was rocking my favorite outfit. Halfway through our handwriting lesson, my stomach really started to hurt, but I ignored it as my teacher totally looked down on students going to the nurse (she was one of those teachers). I practiced my penmanship and started feeling a little sweaty from the ache in my stomach. When the class put away our wide-ruled notebooks and dove into our desks for our math books, I pushed back in my chair to peer into my desk…and slid around in it. Perplexed, I looked at the chair between my legs, and gasped.

I had totally gotten my first period, and it had soaked through my practically white stonewashed jeans.

I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t get up to tell the teacher – the whole class would see my pants. Then I had a flash of inspiration. I carefully tied my jean jacket around my waist, and then I buttoned it up in the front. I then fished into my sack lunch for my napkin and wiped up the seat. I tried to do all this as covertly as possible. The second the teacher turned us loose to work on our own, I ran to her and whispered in her ear, “IthinkIgotmyperiodIneedtogotothenurseRIGHTNOW!” Her eyes widened and she looked at me and said, “Already? Wow, early bloomer!” I was mortified.

I arrived at the nurse’s office hoping for compassion. She took pity on me, even shushing a sixth grade boy who snickered when he heard the nurse repeat the “ailment” written on my hall pass. The nurse realized I needed to go home and change, so she called my house. No answer. She then called my emergency contact. No answer. I started to panic, and begged the nurse to just let me go home and change, since I only lived two blocks away. Then she reached my emergency emergency contact – a neighbor and friend of my mom’s, and the mother of a girl in my class. I was too relieved to care.

She arrived to get me about ten minutes after she was called – ten minutes that felt like ten hours. I climbed into the back of her station wagon, and noticed there was newspaper all over the back. I went to move them and she said, “oh, just go ahead and sit on them!” Like I was an unhousebroken puppy! Then she said, “Oh my goodness! Your period! At ten years old! You’re way too young! I’ve never heard of a girl getting her period at your age! WOW! That’s…almost freaky!” I wanted to die.

When we got to my driveway, I ran into the house ahead of her and sprinted up the stairs to my room. I couldn’t imagine going back to school – everyone would want to know where I’d gone, why I’d changed clothes. Everyone would probably think I’d peed my pants. I couldn’t have that! Plus, my stomach was REALLY hurting. Then my mom’s friend burst into my room, shouting, “WHERE DOES YOUR MOM KEEP HER MAXI PADS?! I’LL SHOW YOU HOW TO USE THEM!” She pulled me into the bathroom…and then I threw up.

I didn’t have to go back to school that day.

I tried to get out of school the next day, but my parents wouldn’t have it. When I walked onto the playground, I noticed that the daughter of my mom’s friend was surrounded in a circle of other girls from my class. If I’d known the F word then, I’m sure I would have thought it to myself. Instead, I took a deep breath and marched up to the pack of girls (I had a lot of guts back then). Just like in a movie, the conversation stopped dead the second I pulled up to the circle. One of the other girls started talking about something else, but I knew they knew. None of them would look me in the eye. For the rest of the school year, my arrival to any group was met with awkward silence, and my departure was celebrated with giggled whispers. I put on a tough face during school, but I cried a lot at night.

That was the last time I ever wore my favorite outfit.

When I was in high school, I was at a sleepover playing Truth or Dare, and I was dared to tell my most embarrassing moment. I told this one and one of the girls at the party said, “oh yeah, I remember that. The whole class talked about you for MONTHS! At first we made fun of you…but then we were kind of in awe.” If only I’d known that then.

What’s your most embarrassing moment?