The Tennis Whites that Weren't

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We'd done the full rounds that day. Swam in the late morning and hit tennis balls on the high school courts all afternoon. Exhausted, we ventured back to my house, where my mom ordered pizza. We sprawled on the carpeted floor while we waited for food. Like boys often do, they wrestled with each other. I leaned against the couch and stretched my legs in front of me. When my mom left to pick up the pizza, I headed for the bathroom for a pre-pizza pee. I wasn't prepared for the mass quantity of red that I found in my underwear. Panicked, I looked at the outside crotch of my white tennis shorts. Sure enough, they were covered. A giant, blood-soaked splotch had spread from side to side and front to back. How had I not noticed? How long had it been there? Had the boys seen it? If they had, why hadn't they said something? Worse yet, what if I went back and they did say something about it?

I was paralyzed with embarrassment. My face was probably as red as the stain on my shorts. I stayed in the bathroom far too long, but I was unable to decide what to do next. Should I yell to them that I was sick and they had to leave? Should I go back, say something and just joke about it? Were they talking about me while I hid in the bathroom? Finally, as time wore on, I realized that hiding in the bathroom for the rest of my life wasn't an option. I snuck to my bedroom, changed into a pair of sweatpants, urged my feet to move forward and braced myself to return to the living room. When I got there, they glanced up then went right back to wrestling. They didn't laugh at me. They didn't point. They said nothing about it at all. To this day, they never have. It was a horrifying moment. And I'm certain they knew exactly what was going on. But I lived through it. And I'm thankful to have had great male friends who knew what to do even when I didn’t.

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