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Thumbtacks won't help in this case...

"THE poor chap went all colours," laughed Patsy, referring to a teenage lad who works in her local shop.

Last Friday, she was, as we ladies like to say, 'caught short', so she headed down to the shop for some tampons.

"The only size available was a value pack that was twice the size of a shoe box," she explained.

She put the box on the counter and the two lads behind the till started nudging each other before one pushed the other forward to serve her.



This lad gave her his very best rictus smile and tried to feign a certain nonchalance as he picked up the tampons and scanned them but his nerves got the better of him and he dropped the box on the floor.

Eventually, he came up for air and managed to complete the transaction but, standing there holding a large box of tampons in his hand obviously became too much for him and he felt that he should say something, anything to break the tension.

He turned the box over in his hand, as if looking for instructions and then muttered "Um ... they've got very ... eh ... um ... expensive haven't they?"

This statement had the effect of making it look as if tampons were a necessary staple in his weekly shop. Therein followed a deep and torturous silence as he slowly realised he was sounding a bit strange.

The second lad, anxious to avoid the tampons at any cost, started fiddling with a jar of Bull's Eyes as if his life depended on it.



Seeing his discomfiture and keen to give him an out Patsy said: "The VAT adds on 23pc."

Relief flooded through the chap as he slapped his forehead and shouted: "Oh yes, of course, the VAT. I'd forgotten about that!"

Then, with a face like a beetroot, he shoved the box into a paper bag as if it were illicit hooch and helped Patsy out the door, lest she add a box of panty liners to her hoard as well.

I felt the lad's pain. About 30 years ago, while holidaying in the West of Ireland, I was also 'caught short' and went into a small grocery shop which was manned by an elderly gent.

Mortified, I whispered to him if he had any Tampax.

"WHAT?" he roared back at me. "Would you have a box of Tampax?" I asked again. "I think so," he replied and disappeared out the back, where I could hear boxes being pulled off shelves.

He eventually returned. "There ya go!" he said as a he slapped down a packet of thumbtacks on the counter.

I paid for them and exited stage left.