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Tampon Run

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AAAAHHHHH!!! So many kinds!!

"I'm coming down the stairs and I find a large box. I recognized this box because I had been forced to purchase it. And at the time, I bought the largest one I could possibly find so that I wouldn't have to go through that again any time soon. In fact, if they had a silo full of those suckers, I would have dragged that home behind the truck. Big pink silo: Always."

Alice just started her period and has run out of tampons. She is busy so she nonchalantly asks Bob, her boyfriend, to get them for her. Bob just stares in horror. Alice explains that she can't go, but she needs them as soon as possible so he would have to get them. Bob freaks out as he embarks on the most horrifying journey to the store that he will EVER have to face: the Tampon Run.

Can also apply to menstrual pads (or sanitary napkins).

Played for Laughs, this trope exemplifies just how much of a big deal men stereotypically make out of menstruation. For whatever reason, testosterone makes men think that this naturally occurring event is the most terrifying thing in the world. He may be seen talking to himself, shouting to nobody in particular upon finding out that "they come in sizes?!?!?!", and trying to hide it. Men might try to play it off by asking if they come in larger sizes. Bonus points if he sees another guy in the same boat or if the sales clerk calls for a price check effectively announcing to the whole store that Bob is buying tampons.

Compare to Wacky Cravings where it is also often exaggerated by the husbands or if the writers are guys and to All Periods Are PMS where the poor unfortunate guy is being sent on the errand because every 28 days his loving mate turns into an evil conniving bitch. Contrast No Periods, Period. Trojan Gauntlet will often involve many of the same embarrassing circumstances and might be the closest possible thing to this trope's Spear Counterpart.


    open/close all folders 

  • Averted in this commercial for Libra Tampons.
  • A Dr. Pepper commercial, set to "I Will Do Anything For Love" by Meat Loaf, had this among a montage of embarrassing things the guy would do for his girlfriend. For the curious: The "But I won't do that" part was sharing the soda with her.
  • Ubykotex lampshaded this in a recent commercial found here where men would rather watch her bike than buy her tampons.

    Anime & Manga 
  • A variant occurs in Wandering Son. Takatsuki is a middle school-aged closeted trans boy and is asked by his mother to buy pads. It's uncomfortable and embarrassing. It gets even worse when a teacher of his (who he potentially has a crush on) helps him grab the package.

  • Bill Engvall did a routine about getting pads for his daughter since his wife couldn't get them that day. Of course, Hilarity Ensued because Bill's eight-year-old son found them first and tried to be helpful by hollering the entire length of the aisle that'd found them.
    Bill's Son: Here's the little girl narrow pads, Daddy!
    Bill: Appreciate that, boy. Listen, son, I don't believe they heard you in SCOTLAND!
  • Jeff Dunham provides the page quote.

    Comic Books 
  • ThugBoy had to do this for Empowered.
  • Monroe from the same-named strip in MAD, in an early strip.

    Fan Works 

    Comic Strips 
  • In On the Fastrack, Wendy sent Art the first time their daughter needed them. This being a family comic, she didn't speak directly — and Art tried hard not to know what she meant.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In The Proposal with Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds, Bullock says a line something like "If you don't go along with this, everything you've been through, all those late-night Tampax runs, will have been for nothing."
  • This happens in the French movie L'Enquête Corse, in which one of the insurgents needs a tampon to make a fuse. So he goes in the pharmacy, blushes and stutters his way to ask the counter girl for a box of tampons, then she asks if he needs regular or super-absorbing. Of course, he's made even more nervous and finally lets out that it's for a slow-burning fuse, at which point she tells him which one to use. (This being the Theme Park Version of Corsica, where dropping non-fatal bombs for independence is a daily occurrence and can identify, by sound alone, where a bomb went off, how much and what kind of explosive was used.)
  • In Miss Congeniality 2, to lose the three FBI agents escorting her back to Quantico, Gracie faked a sudden period and ran off to the toilet with Sam. The three remaining agents were tasked with getting the tampons.
  • Mr. Mom: Jack runs into this while checking his list when out grocery shopping. He tries to covertly pick them off the shelve, then gets really embarrassed when the clerk gets on the loudspeaker to call for a price check...
  • In this unforgettable scene from Ten Inch Hero, Priestly (played by Jensen Ackles) has to do so in a kilt, mohawk, and eyeshadow. When confronted by other guys, he's a little embarrassed at first, but then recovers quite nicely and proceeds to turn the situation on them.
  • The scene in Jack & Sarah where Jack has to buy some sort of lactation-related product (either nipple pads or nipple shields) for his pregnant wife is similar in spirit.
  • Man of the House does this with dignity and with making it a plot point, as the romantic interest helps our hero out.

  • There's a joke where a new salesman for a store that sells everything manages to sell a fishing rod, a boat, and a car that was big enough to carry it to one person over the course of a single day. When his boss asks him how he managed to pull this off, the salesman replies: "He came in to buy some tampons for his wife. I told him 'Your weekend's shot, you may as well go fishing.'"

  • In the period-themed anthology Don't Cramp My Style, the one story contributed by a male author was "The Heroic Quest of Douglas McGawain", by David Lubar, in which — you guessed it — the title character buys tampons for his girlfriend. The female cashier is impressed, saying "it takes a real man to buy tampons for a lady".
  • In the John Ringo novel Paladin of Shadows, Ringo's ex-SEAL protagonist explains to one of the female hostages he is rescuing that tampons make great field-expedient bandages because of their absorbency, and condoms can be used as waterproofing for underwater detonators. He relates the story of a time when his squad ran low on these supplies and had to go and buy them at a drugstore.
  • There's a young adult novel about a couple who run away to live in the wilderness after both their families suffer tragedies. The girl is shocked to find three boxes of tampons among the supplies her boyfriend had packed for their sojourn, amazed that he could bring himself to (or would even think to!) buy such a thing.
  • In the Sweet Valley Twins book when Elizabeth gets her first period, the girls go to the store to buy pads, and end up horribly embarrassed when the clerk does a price check.
  • My Vampire Older Sister and Zombie Little Sister has a variation: Satori is asked to deliver tampons to his older sister Erika, who forgot to take them with her to school. He's embarrassed but does it for the opportunity to see Erika even more embarrassed.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Blossom did it to herself when she had to go buy tampons for the first time. She chickened out when she saw that a cute boy from school was the clerk.
  • Carly alludes to sending Spencer on one in "iDate a Bad Boy."
  • In American Restoration, Rick Dale sends his son on one when he finds himself restoring a Kotex vending machine.
  • On ER, Mark Greene's daughter Rachel starts her period unexpectedly while at Elizabeth Corday's apartment for Thanksgiving dinner. Elizabeth is reluctant to give her tampons given how young she is (ten and change) and tells Mark's father that one of them will have to stay with Rachel while the other goes down to the corner drug store to buy sanitary napkins. He quickly volunteers, but slips on the ice coming back, suffering a minor head wound and having to go to County (where Mark is working). He grumbles about the confusing variety while being stitched up.
    David: How many different kinds of sanitary napkins do they make? Thin, maxi, winged, non-winged, scented, unscented, I had to buy every kind they had. Didn't just have "regular".
  • Married... with Children. Peggy asks Bud to do this for her. He's horrified, naturally.
  • Implied in Seinfeld, when Jerry asks George "Is there any Tampax in your house?". When George reluctantly replies "Yes", Jerry declares, "You've got yourself a girlfriend".
  • In Season 2 of The Real World, one of the male housemates cringes when one of the women mentions not feeling well because of her period. She tells him to get over it as odds are he'll have to do this for his girlfriend or wife someday and proceeds to give him a lecture on the different types of products.
  • Referred to on an episode of NCIS, where despite the plethora of women's clothing, the lack of tampons or any other women's toiletries in a suspect's apartment makes Kate think that his relationship with his girlfriend wasn't that serious.note 
  • Mentioned on The Orville when Kelly admits that Ed (her ex-husband) was the kind of mellow guy that could always be relied upon to make a run for "bagels or tampons" without any fuss.
  • Young Sheldon: After Missy gets her first period in "A Docent, a Little Lady and a Bouncer Named Dalton", George has to buy tampons for her. Luckily, the female store clerk is willing to help him.

    Music Videos 

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Terri Runnels once sent D'Lo Brown on a tampon run - which of course resulted in a price check for extra humiliation. This was part of a Vince Russo crafted storyline in which Terri got pregnant, supposedly with Val Venis. He then revealed that he'd had a vasectomy and dumped her, so she formed an alliance with D'Lo and Mark Henry. D'Lo accidentally knocked Terri off the ring apron causing her to have a miscarriage. D'Lo promised to do anything to make it up to Terri, so she started forcing him to do various humiliating jobs. It later turned out that she was never pregnant in the first place, and was just screwing with D'Lo. This angle ended up being inducted into WrestleCrap, for the record.

    Urban Legends 
  • An embarrassed customer on a tampon run brings a box of Tampax tampons to the checkout counter. There is no price on the box, so the checkout clerk shouts out, "PRICE CHECK ON TAMPAX!" Another clerk mis-hears this as "thumbtacks" and replies, "YOU MEAN THE KIND YOU PUSH IN WITH YOUR FINGER, OR THE KIND YOU POUND IN WITH A HAMMER?" This so embarrasses the customer that he runs out of the store without his purchase.

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 
  • In the Web Original setting Paradise, humans are randomly, permanently Changed into Funny Animals (with some experiencing a gender-change at the same time), though this Change is Invisible to Normals who will continue to see the person as his or her old human self (and gender). Many newly male-to-female gender-Changed find themselves effectively doing Tampon Runs for themselves (before the masquerade breaks down, at least): while still apparently male, they must shop for feminine accessories and hygiene products.
  • From Not Always Right: Why Cashiers Should Rule the World. How the cashier handles the poor guy's heckler: she pretends that she's the buyer's affected girlfriend, gives the buyer her employee discount, and closes the register in the heckler's face under pretense of going to the bathroom.
  • In Jenni Smith's "The Jade Box," Gender Bender victim Stuart (now Amy) has her first period and must visit the drugstore for pads (she draws the line at tampons). The saleslady calls for a price check.

    Western Animation 
  • Baymax! has the titular character go on one of these in the third episode to help a girl get over her first period. However, Baymax isn't the one embarrased (as he's a health-care robot whose role is to get medical supplies for Sofia, the one embarrassed over it all). He meets up with both female and male customers who bring up their own suggestions in an open manner, and he ends up buying everything without complaint.
  • The Ghost and Molly McGee: Season 2's "A Period Piece" has a B-plot involving Pete and Scratch going shopping for period products because Libby just got her first one at Molly's sleepover, and his wife Sharon is out of her own products. While in a bit of a rush to help his daughter's friend, he's initially calm about the whole thing... until he realizes his wife's preferences might not match Libby's, causing him to start overthinking and ultimately empty the whole aisle into his shopping cart.
  • King of the Hill:
    • Hank is forced to do this for Connie, the next-door-neighbor girl because she gets her first period when her parents and his wife are away and she's staying at their house. Being Hank, he creates an organized detailed binder with everything a man needs to know about shopping for products in the "feminine aisle". When Connie's parents get home, he gives it to Kahn Sr. to help him deal with his daughter's new monthly cycle.
    • Alluded to/ subverted in another episode when Hank is about to go to the store and is aghast that Peggy included her "feminine items" on the list... which turns out to be diet soda.
  • South Park: Stan's sister makes them go get her some tampons while they try to watch "Russell Crowe Fighting 'Round the World" in order to see the trailer for the new Terrence & Philip movie. When they return home after failing to accomplish the mission, a torrent of blood gushes forth from the door.

    Real Life 
  • As many men can tell you, this is quite common in Real Life. Interestingly, it actually applies to girls as well, because a) there's usually a year or so in the beginning where other people knowing that you have a bodily function that literally half the rest of the planet also has is really embarrassing which makes buying your own pads/tampons torture until you get over yourself and realize that no-one cares, and b) the many different products/brands/sizes etc. are confusing even if you're a girl, until you've become familiar enough with the whole thing that you just find one or a few products you feel comfortable with and stick with them forever.
  • Very awkward for FTM Transgender people in Real Life, especially if passing is required before testosterone therapy and/or surgery, or if hormones and surgery are unavailable options.



Baymax helps Sofia through her first period.

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Main / FirstPeriodPanic

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