They chose to call it the Mooncup, not the Blood Mug, Silicone Scarlet, nor my son’s suggestion, the Holy Grail. They chose to honour that astronomical body we look up at in the night sky that turns tides, lengthens days and makes women moody worshippers of doom once a month.
My friend had been trying to get me to use one for ages. She'd even started a Mooncup forum to convert all her friends, including perfectly grotesque photos of her own quarter-full Mooncup, statistics, insults, and I was the only non-convert left in orbit.
I had plenty of reservations about using one. I wondered whether you popped it into the dishwasher next to the spatula encrusted with tartiflette. Whether it could be a turnoff for lovers. I imagined it must be bloody uncomfortable, not to mention weird. She told me it was easy to wash by hand and that I never made tartiflettes and that of course a stinking sanitary towel was way sexier and if I really was an eco-feminist then I should shut the hell up. I told her I wasn't an eco-feminist.
Next period came and still no Mooncup. I didn’t go for the tampon this time - that superb source of toxic shock with the white pendulum string that either gets peed on or docks inside your labia majora, or worse, the bum crack, leaving fibres in the walls with a pesticidal grin - I went for the sanitary towel, or ‘nappy’ as my 4-year-old daughter calls it (‘does that mean you're a baby Mum?’). Neat and easy, no big deal.
After a few hours, as is its habit, it whipped up a faint whiff of horse sweat. I was thus obliged to trip to the loo and rip it off my pants, curl it up into a dwarf tortilla and slot it into the helter-skelter of gore - the sanitary towel bin - open another fucker, and fold the midget wings under my buy-one-get-one-free pair of star pants. Bad fortune had it that one wing stuck to my finger, so like badly-pulled-out cellotape, it twisted and lost its stick. Out of the toilet and in respectable society it gently edged down my inner thigh as I tried to convince myself that I still had some remnants of dignity and could speak with conviction about car insurance.
“Fuck it,” I remember saying to myself when the blood came a-drip-dripping once more.
My aforementioned Mooncup friend had since moved in with us and she’d been leaving hers all over the place like a piece of propaganda. In a pan on the stove. In a little pouch in the bathroom. She’d talk about it with my 8-year-old son who soon became spellbound, following women to the bathroom at every opportunity and asking if it went ‘pop’ when you pulled it out. He'd already used it as a contraption to contact alien life and thought it worked majestically. He'd use a Mooncup if boys got periods, he said.
A few months later, there was a brand new Mooncup sitting on the kitchen table. Size A. Little space for my own epiphany, I took it to the bathroom, convinced I wouldn't be converted but that I'd try it, damn it, half-heartedly would do the trick.
My friend had already told me - both in the forum and in her Pink Panther onesie in the kitchen - how to position the vessel. You squeeze the front of the Mooncup like an old-fashioned carton of milk but with the spout inward, strike a golden-egg-laying pose, position squat, and then Bob’s your auntie, up it goes into the vaginal stratosphere.
In broad daylight, no moon, no mystery, no werewolf stalking the skyline, up the Mooncup went.
Luckily, I had a bit of time to walk about with it before picking up the kids. I couldn't help feeling I was tiptoeing around with a toilet plunger up my muff, so I turned my attention to the traffic on Radio 2, shoveled biscuits into the cat’s bowl, paired up socks, told myself I had been conditioned my whole life to mop up blood with towels or tampons and here was my chance to dare something different. Still...
I went back to the loo, egg-laying pose, repositioned it. It sat better. I could even touch my toes without feeling like I was giving birth to a silicone freak.
Driving the car, no problem. Walking down to school, easy. Doing up my daughter’s shoes, child's play. But before picking up my son, I needed to verify the leak-o-meter, so I nipped into the teachers’ toilet. When I came out, rather smug and dry, I saw my son standing there in his Peruvian hat, gloves and mountain coat, wide-eyed and ready to come back home.
“Have you got a Mooncup yet, Mum?” he asked.