This morning I bicycled past the high school where Alex is a freshman. I wanted to ride in and see him in class. Deliver a message to remind him to sign up for “The Empty Bowl.” Then I remembered that he is in high school and would be appalled if he saw me in black spandex bike shorts walking the halls of his high school. I had many moments of being embarrassed as a teenager. No breath left inside me.

In eighth grade we had all been given a powder blue pamphlet. The title, written in razor thin script, was “Very Personally Yours.” Inside were stored secrets of a teenage girl. Where all her eggs were hidden. What happened on a certain day every month when the egg rolled along the fallopian tube and fell down onto the ripe uterus? What would happen to me if a school of those sperm fish swam up?

I never left that pamphlet lying around my house. The thought of my parents finding it was horrifying. I had never discussed how I felt with them. I kept that hidden just like I hid this pamphlet.

It was Father’s Day at Miss Fine’s School and my father came wearing a dark gray suit. He sat beside me at one of those desks with an oak top. The lights flicked off and a projector flipped on to a powder blue background with razor thin script, “Very Personally Yours,” written across the screen. I turtled down into my desk. My father cleared his throat. I could see the outline of his pant leg. The laces of my white gym sneakers glowed in the dark. I couldn’t look up, but I could hear, “When a girl gets to the age of 12 to 14, she will get her monthly period. One day she may find a little red spot in her panties.”

I never wanted to be blind or deaf, except at this moment. How could they show this movie on Father’s Day? I must have held my breath for 10 minutes, until the lights came on. But this was hardly a relief. I retied my white laces and walked out of the classroom. A man in a dark gray suit walked behind me.


Lucinda Ziesing is a visual artist, actress, producer, writer and community collaborator. She’s currently writing a screenplay based on the lives of her pioneering great-grandparents. In Kathrin Seitz’s writing circles she gets the pleasure of writing fast on her feet and by the seat of her pants.