To paraphrase an 80s glam rock band: I didn’t know what I had until I didn’t. For over two months now, I have been on a quest for a name-brand product that has seemingly disappeared from the market. I have relied on this product my entire adult life never fearing that it would go the way of Elaine Benes’ sponges. But after a search that has extended across two New England states, reality has set in.

What is this mystery product that is in such demand, you ask? Well, it’s kind of like Elaine’s sponges except it’s used for an altogether different reason. The monthly kind of reason. If you are a woman reading this post, you know exactly what I mean. If you are a man and you are still reading this post, then Kudos! I bet you’ve stared down hordes of pimply faced teenagers at your local grocery store on your wife/girlfriend/daughter’s behalf.

You may think I’m exaggerating, but I’m not. And I’m far from being the only one lamenting the loss of her preferred cotton plug. reports that the dearth of O.B. tampons has created a black market for them. I’m not kidding. As they said, it’s “for reals.” Johnson & Johnson, O.B.’s maker and distributor has given no explanation for the shortage. Their website simply promises that O.B. tampons are increasingly in-stock at more stores nationwide. Only not in the six stores I checked over the weekend.

I reached my breaking point after dodging traffic on foot at a busy Boston intersection just so I could dart into a CVS pharmacy while my family circled the block in our borrowed car. Shortly thereafter, O.B.’s information center received the following missive:

Dear O.B. –

For over twenty years, you have been not just by my side but in my insides once a month for three or more days (definitely more since I’ve had kids). We ought to be better communicators given the intimate nature of our relationship. I’m not ready to break up with you but I have to say I’ve been really irritated by your unexpected absence. Where have you gone? What’s happened to you? When I stopped finding you on the shelves of my grocery and drug stores, I went online and read you were having “manufacturing difficulties.” Seeing how you’ve absorbed my troubles so handily over the years, I was willing to cut you some slack. I emptied all my purses and handbags of my just-in-case-I’m-surprised stashes and made do. But it’s been two months and I have had enough. I’ve been to CVS, Kinney Drugs, Price Chopper and Hannafords in two states and found just empty shelves staring back at me. Your competitors have nothing on you; it’s just not the same. Please tell me when you will be coming back. I can’t stand this much longer. I need you.

In desperation and loyalty,

Who would have thought that a tampon could inspire passion?