By Monica Hesse
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, April 22, 2010; C03
Men: We are sorry.
Here we have been assuming that our lady-business skeeved you out, that you heard "menstruation" and you went "lalalalalalala."
We were wrong.
How else to explain "Code Red," the new iPhone period app that -- and this is really linguistically unfortunate -- also works on the iPad?
It keeps track of periods. It keeps track of them for men. It is, in fact, strong enough for a woman but made for the men who love them, or at least want to monitor their bodies the way that creep-o just might on "Law & Order: SVU" before Detective Benson punched him in the head. Just sayin'.
How it works: Type in the first day of your partner's cycle for a few months. Then sit back and wait for the helpful reminders to pop up on your Apple device. During PMS time, for example, a female symbol appears sporting devil horns. A frisky ovulation alert tells you when your chances for getting down are looking up.
A tour of recent technological creations shows that menstruation apps for men are a booming market. "PMSBuddy," for example, is proudly "saving relationships, one month at a time." "PMS Meter" features "hilarious sound effects." And the infamous "IAmAMan," which is nothing if not unapologetic, allows users to track the menstrual cycles of several women at once, for those special times when you are a big cheater.
At a deep cultural level, one might speculate that the proliferation of these apps all ties into some deep fear of womanhood -- an attempt by men to make sense of what they do not understand. One might offer the possibility that men would chart the life cycle of a fruit fly if they could do it on an iPad, that this is really all about gadgetry. One might also say this is gross.
MEDL Mobile, the company that distributes "Code Red," will not release sales figures, but says that the application has climbed as high as 35 on the Lifestyle division of the Apple app store -- a category that includes hundreds of applications. A spokesperson for the company says Apple cannot confirm this.
Again: Men, we had no idea.
Code Red ("A Survival Guide to Her Monthly Cycle. Period!") was conceptualized by a husband and wife team, Lisi and Kevin Harrison; he is originally from Fairfax and they now live in California. They had no prior app-creation experience, but "we love the iPhone," Kevin says. "We love the whole app culture."
Isn't Code Red kind of . . . funny?
"It's funny in a sense," Kevin says. "But also really helpful."
"I don't even think it's funny; I just thought it was necessary," Lisi says. "Kevin and I have been together for 15 years . . . and Kevin acts blindsided every month. It makes me want to scratch his eyes out."
Instead the Harrisons, both 40-ish, discussed Code Red with an acquaintance named Jon Rose. "Jon is an ex-professional surfer," Kevin says, "who is now an international humanitarian -- "
Wait, for developing "Code Red"? "No, for Waves for Water," an organization that brings clean drinking water to Third World countries.
Anyway, Rose knew a guy named Dave Swartz, who works for a company called MEDL, which helps average schmoes turn their ideas into Apple apps. MEDL has had about 30,000 submissions but has found only a few dozen to be worthy of development.
Wait, what apps were NOT worthy of development?
"We get a lot of [potty] jokes, which we're not interested in," Swartz says.
"We were sitting around in a meeting where we go over submissions," Swartz says, when he mentioned "Code Red." "About half the people there were young guys, and one said, 'I will pay $20 for that right now.' Actually, he said $19.99."
They decided to price the app at $1.99.