What I learned when a woman bled on me in a club
Yep, you read that correctly – a random stranger bled on me in a club. You’re probably thinking something like ‘what the actual f*ck?’ or even ‘I hope you gave her what for. I’d be pissed if someone bled on me.’ All legitimate reactions, to be fair. But it’s one of those funny things. You think you’ll be angry, embarrassed… maybe disgusted. But then it happens, and you’re not. Compassion kicks in. In fact, I’m kinda glad she bled on me. Allow me to explain.
It was summer 2012. I went to a small club in East London with a mixed group of friends. Some of them I knew well, some I hadn’t met before.
I was debuting my vintage Levi’s mom jeans. I can’t fit into them now, but on that night, I was getting a lot of compliments for them. And as you can probably tell from my tone, I was really feeling myself – I admit it. I had no idea that in about 30 minutes I was going to get humbled in spectacular fashion.
One of the men in the group was bantering with a woman by the bar. She was a little older than us, very petite and wearing black American Apparel disco pants – the shiny ones. They were horsing around and for some reason, to her and my surprise, he picked her up, spun her around and put her on my lap. I have no idea why, but she quickly got up, and we both told him off.
A crimson, oval-shaped patch that wasn’t there before
I didn’t spot it immediately, but after about five minutes I looked down and saw it: a crimson, oval-shaped patch that wasn’t there before. It was about four inches long, still wet and right in the middle of my thigh.
I had two choices: discreetly excuse myself, sneak to the bathroom and wash it off, or tell my friend what had just happened. The shock-horror on my face kinda made the decision for me.
“What’s wrong with you?” she asked. I pointed down.
“Whaaaaaaat? Is that what I think it is??”
I nodded. Then two of our guys came over and heard the story. “What? Fam, I woulda kicked off. What you gonna do?”
I just ran to the toilet, grabbed as much toilet paper as I could, and scrubbed my jeans. Hard.
I mean, I’d never been in a situation like that before – how exactly do you handle it in a composed manner
I went back to my friends and we discussed the incident. I felt under a lot of pressure to find and confront her, but I didn’t. She didn’t ask to be dropped on my lap and, to be honest, I was embarrassed. I mean, I’d never been in a situation like that before – how exactly do you handle it in a composed manner?
Then I spotted the woman in question, dancing by the bar. I wasn’t sure what to do. I was almost afraid… Maybe she was deranged, recklessly spraying menstrual blood over innocent bystanders like me. What would she be capable of if I approached her? Would she splatter me?
I went over.
“Excuse me, can I ask you a personal question?”
She looked a little nervous but intrigued.
“Are you on your period?”
She blinked, taken aback. “Yes…”
“When that guy put you on my lap, you bled on me.” I showed her the remains of the stain. The colour drained from her face. She looked absolutely mortified. “Oh my god, I’m so sorry! I’m so, so sorry!”
“Don’t worry,” I said. “I’m not telling you to make you feel bad… I know it was an accident. I’m just telling you because I thought you might have started your period earlier than expected and didn’t realise. But honestly – don’t worry about it. Shit happens!” She was obviously terribly sorry and really appreciated the reassurance.
When I returned to my friends, I told them how the conversation went. They couldn’t believe I let her off so easily.
“Yeah,” I said. “But we’ve all had accidents before.” And that’s when I understood why they, particularly the menfolk, reacted more angrily than me, the ‘victim’ in this situation. Fair enough, they were just being protective of me. But they’d never had an ‘accident’ and didn’t get that sometimes, you can’t change your tampon or pad at exactly the right moment – because you’re in the middle of a meeting, or on a long commute, or someone throws you on a stranger’s lap. You can only really sympathise if you’ve been in a similar situation, and I have. More than once.
I suffered from exceptionally heavy periods for most of my adult life and had experienced embarrassing accidents. Like when I only realised I’d bled through when I saw the shocked look on my 50-year-old-male boss’s face. Or when I stained my clothes so quickly and aggressively, I had to ask a colleague to bring my gym kit to the toilet so I could wear my running leggings for the rest of the day.
I knew how shameful it can feel – like you’re not handling yourself as a woman
I knew how shameful it can feel – like you’re not handling yourself as a woman. When in fact, you’re just a regular human who mis-times things once in a while, period flow can be unpredictable, and most femcare products don’t really accommodate that.
That’s why I say I’m glad that she bled on me. Call me a big softie, but she needed someone in that situation who could deal with it in an empathetic, sisterly fashion. And it was important for me to see that sometimes, through no fault of our own, accidents happen – even in your fanciest pants.