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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

What They Don't Teach You in Fourth Grade

I'm sure you remember the secret Big Day in elementary school when the boys and girls were sequestered from each other in order to watch The Filmstrip. I think for us kids at Los Alamitos Elementary, a new school nestled in the growing suburbs of San Jose, this momentous event took place in either the fourth or fifth grade.

I never got to see the boys' filmstrip, although I would have liked to, so I can only comment on the one I saw. One would think we were being initiated into the Freemasons or the junior sect of the Knights Templar, but alas, it was only that we were being formally introduced to Puberty.

With the lights turned out, my friends and I seated on the carpet taking turns scratching each other's backs, we were breathlessly entranced as we finally gained this top secret knowledge. I recall images of daisies, product shots of a variety of Kotex goods, and joyful girls excited about the prospect of Becoming A Woman.

Yeah, right. By the time I was done with all that educational propaganda and reading Are You There God, It's Me, Margaret a thousand times, waiting for The Period to finally arrive was an even more exciting prospect than being kissed by James Sarge. (Where is he now?)


What they forget to tell you in The Filmstrip is that on some days you're ready to decapitate loved ones at any given moment, that you will cry at the drop of a hat for the most bizarre reasons, that the only things you will want to eat are big chunks of steak (and candy), and that having your period can be really annoying and a huge pain in the ass.

I have decided NOT to go out dancing tonight.


For your educational pleasure and a good laugh, here is the Disney version (I am not making this up) of Becoming a Woman, with its epic title: The Story of Menstruation. Had I seen this movie and thought that I could have produced a baby that looked like it was born with makeup and fake eyelashes, I would have been trying to get pregnant since I was thirteen.

I guess I'm glad things worked out differently and we saw The Filmstrip instead.

It's awesome that someone on Rotten Tomatoes actually took the time to review this classic forgotten piece of Disney animation:

The narrator also gives the girls some peachy advice: "Try not to throw yourself off schedule by getting overtired, emotionally upset, or by catching cold!" There is also motherly advice to avoid constipation and depression, and to always look beautiful. "It's smart to keep looking smart!"

Wow. Them's words to live by.


PS. Thank you for listening. But please don't tell me to eat yams, drink herbal tea or get mental help. I'll grow out of this phase soon.

Screen capture borrowed from onemansblog.


msHedgehog April 16, 2008 at 2:27 PM  

Yams, herbal tea - they don't make ANY difference. We are what we are ...

FogBay April 16, 2008 at 2:36 PM  

Looking at the image at the top of your post I thought it was going to be about golf. But as I started to read... um, not so much.

Wow, your film strip was a lot longer and more complicated than the boys' film strip. Let me just say, and I think I speak for all males, thank you Jesus!

I hope you feel better soon.

tangobaby April 16, 2008 at 3:29 PM  

Hi Ms. Hedgehog,

Or, as Popeye the Sailor would say, "I yam what I yam." Was he talking about his PMS?

Hi FogBay,

Golf, indeed. You are a clever one. I took me a moment to figure out what on earth you could possibly be talking about.

The Disney movie there was taken out of commission so that is not the famous filmstrip of my youth. We had the 70s flowery version, which unfortunately is unobtainable on youtube. Presumably these filmstrips have all disintegrated.

I am assuming (not having seen it) that the boy's filmstrip deals more with the principles of hydraulics/fluid mechanics. ;-)

I feel fine actually (right now). But this was a fun excuse to post this crazy Disney film and to make at least one person feel sorry for me, so I have accomplished my goal for today.

Thank you!

Debbi April 16, 2008 at 5:15 PM  

Wow.... I love how they tell you to stay even tempered and... mild was it? I don't want to watch it again to find out....
Gotta love disney.
I remember that Filmstrip when I was in school. Thing was, I already knew all about it when they finally decided we were old enough to see it.... so it just amused me greatly to sit there and hear about the wonders of menstruation.... ha! wonders indeed.....

tangobaby April 16, 2008 at 5:26 PM  

Hi Debbi,

I was pretty clueless so to me The Filmstrip was a huge deal. At least you could sit back and relax.

I think this is the part you were referring to: "Once you stop feeling sorry for yourself and take those days in your stride, you'll find it's easier to keep smiling and stay even-tempered."


But what if I LIKE feeling sorry for myself? Smiling and even-tempered, LOL!

Relyn Lawson April 16, 2008 at 6:36 PM  

I laughed and laughed at this post. I remember The Filmstrip and the chipper, chirpy nurse who demonstrated with water, red food coloring, and an absolutely enormous Kotex. ICK!

The Talk still takes place in fourth grade, but no filmstrip. I have never been present - thank God for the school nurse. Every year my class full of girls returns giggling, red-faced and slightly mortified. Every single year, at least two girls ask to speak to me privately and promptly confide that they are pretty sure they just "shhh.... started!!" Every year!! And, this is 30 to 45 minutes after getting back to class. Have you ever heard such?? Aunt Flo visits via suggestion. YIKES!!

Red Shoes April 16, 2008 at 6:51 PM  

I actually don't remember the film strip--all recollection of it has been obliterated by my 8th grade sex ed class. St Francis of Assisi School. Boys and girls together. The teacher was an ex-nun. And she told us that an orgasm is something "the women usually get to have, but the men always do, the jerks."

Who says Catholic school is no fun?

TB, we're in sync already? Look at us go. Separated at birth, I think.

tangobaby April 16, 2008 at 7:38 PM  

Hi Relyn,

Wow, you had a School Nurse? Now I really feel gypped. We didn't get a demo or nuthin'. *pouts*

I have to say that my track record for cracking you up lately has been very high. I am giving myself a pat on the back.


Hi Red Shoes,

I did not know you went to Catholic school! No wonder you have such an aura about you. I will have to hear more about the nuns.

I dusted off a bag of Sour Cream and Onion Ruffles and a box of Junior Mints today for lunch. And the other day I yelled at The Boy.

What did you do that was bad?

I love you. See you Friday.

Psyche April 17, 2008 at 8:09 AM  

Velvety material? Velvety in what sense, exactly? Still, the Disney version is surprisingly scientific. Though the baby is really creepy.

We never had any kind of talk at all, as far as I recall. I think we dis reproduction in biology, but that was it. And much later we did stds and safe sex in Social Studies. But otherwise they left it our parents to deal with. Fortunately mine were sensible and got to me young - I don't actually recall a time when I *didn't* know how it all worked. Anyone else have The Body Book?

I went to public school, of course (that's 'private school' for my American cousins), which is always a law unto itself. Probably things are done differently in state schools.

Anonymous April 17, 2008 at 8:36 AM  

About that "maturing hormone"...

How do you make it STOP!!!!

Red Shoes April 17, 2008 at 9:15 AM  

I had to have greasy Chinese food for lunch. HAD TO. Thank gads for Mission Hunan...their spring rolls and veggie chow mein saved me...

tangobaby April 17, 2008 at 10:49 AM  

Hi Psyche,

I am also puzzled by the "velvety" material. I am more puzzled by the omission of how the scary baby with the eyelashes came to be in the first place. But then again, that is whole other story. It just seems like they skipped over a portion, doesn't it?

Hi Johanna,

When the maturing hormones stop, I guess that is when you get to watch the second filmstrip. I really don't want to see that one.

Hi Red Shoes,

Yeah, greasy Chinese food works too! You'll have to show me your Mission PMS hideout. Yum!

P April 17, 2008 at 9:59 PM  

Wait - my baby's not going to be born with false eyelashes? WTF! Take it back!

tangobaby April 18, 2008 at 7:05 AM  

Dear P,

Ah, the Magic of Disney.

Your baby will be fine without the Shu Uemura lashes, nonetheless.

Just be sure NOT to give the baby the 2008 Crayola crayon set so it doesn't instantly become vapid. ("Mom! My Famous and Awesome crayons are broken!!")


Anonymous April 18, 2008 at 9:01 AM  

You certainly know how to stir the pot and get great responses, tangobaby!

I laughed out loud when I saw fogbay's comment about golf. If only...

I would love to know who the narrator was, she sounded a little like Barbara Stanwyck.

I was impressed with the nutritional advice Disney gave: drink plenty of water, eat plenty of fruit, include cereal, eggs, and leafy vegetables. Fifty years of research on anti-oxidants, omega-3 oils, and essential fatty acids have not improved the advice one bit.

tangobaby April 18, 2008 at 4:50 PM  

Dear dutchbaby,

Now you've had me on a fruitless search to find the mystery narrator. In my gut I have to say it's not Barbara Stanwyck (and she was such a huge star by 1946 that I'm sure if it was her, which would be unlikely, she would have received some acknowledgement). But the interwebs have failed me.

I think she sounds like the narrator or one of the good fairies in Sleeping Beauty.

I'm sure the nutritional (and all other advice) was supplied by Kotex because apparently this was a subtle product placement tool (students received Kotex literature after they watched the movie). Starting loyal consumers in elementary school--who'd a thunk it?