Menarche. Yes, that's right. It was on a January 15, when I was 14 years old, that I got my first period. Mind you, that was at least a couple years after I read Judy Blume's Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret, an abomination in that the protagonist, the aforementioned Margaret, is in a tizzy as all her friends get their period by age 12 or ma-a-aybe 13. And of course, Margaret won't be kept waiting until age 14 or later, no, ma'am. Because that would be an unconscionable cruelty to the character!
Among my best friends in high school (who, I am delighted to report, remain my closest friends to this day), one got her period at 16 and another at 15. My mom was 16 when she started the monthly joy. Another friend got her first period at age 9 or 10—and at that age, holy lord of gravy! What girl is ready to deal with tampons or pads in fourth or fifth grade? With classroom disruptions for "May I go to the bathroom now?" Yeesh. Of course, I hear earlier menarche is more and more common these days, what with more body fat and perhaps hormones in the food supply. It'd be great if that Judy Blume book had never existed so those of us in the 14-and-after group wouldn't have felt so...pre-womanly. (Ah, puberty.)
If you saw Talladega Nights at one of those popcorn-selling emporia, you should rent the DVD. When Ricky Bobby's in the hospital and his friends come to sit with him while he's unconscious, in a scene added for the DVD, Michael Clarke Duncan's character reads to him from Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret. A friend (the one with the age 9 or 10 period) and I nearly wept from laughing so hard. Yes, I've spoiled the joke for you now, but you'll still laugh if you remember the book from back in the day. I had to rewind and see it again...and I laughed again.