Premenopausal women throughout the country are forced to pay black-market prices --or become petty criminals-- after the unannounced disappearance of o.b. tampons from store shelves.
Drugstore shelves have been mysteriously empty of o.b. nonapplicator tampons since late fall, leaving the feminine hygiene product's devotees puzzled, peeved, and slightly drippy.
"This is f--king bullsh-t," said a woman who wishes to remain anonymous. (It is my sister-in-law.) "I'm crampy, my hands are swollen, my feet hurt, and I have to use a tampon with a f--king cardboard applicator? What the f--k?!
Johnson and Johnson, the manufacturers of o.b., announced that there was a 'supply interruption' that should be cleared up soon.
A message on Johnson and Johnson's special website for the product, vagcork.web, reads as follows:
"To our valued customers, o.b. tampons are now shipping. There may be a delay of a few days or weeks to reach your area. So, until then, use a rag, or ball up some toilet paper, or --here's a novel thought-- stop bleeding. You all are being hysterical about this. Stop whining: You'll get your precious o.b. tampons soon enough. In the meantime, why don't you clean up around here a little? It's a f--king pigsty. What do you do all f--king day, anyway? You can't even start the dishwasher, for f--k's sake? Go make me a f--king sandwich."
The shortage has created a cottage industry, with o.b. tampons selling on eBay at a $50.00 per box markup.
The shortage has also sparked a crime spree.
"I have to admit," said Nicole Rosania, an o.b. user since 1999. "I saw a box of them in a girlfriend's medicine cabinet, and I swiped a few."
Debbie Taye, editor in chief of the popular feminist magazine TITS 'N TATS, says many women who use nonapplicator tampons do so for environmental reasons, so it was not simply a matter of changing brands.
"It has been a big deal because it's one of the only nonapplicator tampons you can buy," she explained. "People who choose to use this are a little bit politicized around it. They feel very strongly about these tampons."
(Rather than using a cardboard applicator, as most tampons employ, o.b. tampons have a small reservoir filled with compressed CO2 gas and gunpowder. The string normally used for removal is a fuse, which the user lights. The gunpowder ignites, forcefully injecting the tampon. After a few weeks, the tampon biodegrades, meaning they never have to be removed.)
Johnson and Johnson says that stores will be well-stocked with o.b. tampons by Easter.