My period came again.
There was a time, I think it was when I was about 9 or 10 that I couldn’t wait to get my period. “It means you’re a teenager,” my mom said. Being a teenager was my greatest ambition at the time. I had teenage cousins; they wore makeup and had their own telephone lines and read Tiger Beat. Nothing, to my mind, could be cooler.
My menses began when I was 11. In school with 3 hours left to go before it was time to go home. Thank goodness I was wearing a dark green skirt and I made it to the girls room without embarrassment. A nickel’s change from my lunch money purchased one of those mattresses with safety pins to hold it in place that used to pass for feminine protection in the mid 1970s and I was all set, but bursting to share the news.
I announced my teenager status when I got home. My mom then informed me that I wouldn’t actually be a teenager until I was 13. Talk about moving the goalpost. I was allowed to wear sheer L’eggs pantyhose from that time on though. When I called my cousin, Kim for our usual 2 hour yak about nothing, I told her, “I got it!” No further explanation was needed. She was peeved at me for months until she got hers.
I grew to dread the monthly visit from Aunt Flo. Cramps? Believe me, you don’t know from cramps. I’d take to my bed like Sarah Bernhardt for the first two days, certain I’d bleed to death if I assumed an upright position. By the time I was in college the only thing I dreaded worse than Aunt Flo’s visits was the possibility that Aunt Flo would be a no-show; what the Bad Boy used to call a “stork scare”.
Things moved along pretty much in the same fashion until married and settled, my better half and I decided to start a family. To be honest the stoppage of my period was the thing I enjoyed most about being pregnant. Free, free, free at last! Free to wear white shorts (admittedly the maternity variety) in the summer whenever I wanted to! Free to go to the beach and not weight my totebag down with an economy-size box of supersized tampons! Free to go on vacation without the obligatory 2 day in-bed hibernation!
After the imps arrived, the misery started again. I didn’t react well to “The Pill” and that little experiment only left me with a nasty acne scar on my left cheek. So it was back on the menstrual misery mill for me and I began to pin my hopes on an early (but not too early) menopause.
Hah! I’m now pushing 50, all my friends are “croning” and to my great annoyance flit around in snazzy white outfits whenever they want to. “Oh, but the night sweats!” they tell me, “the hot-flashes, mood swings, knowing you’ll never have a baby again.” Yadda-yadda. “Bring it on,” I said, “39 years of this messy humiliation and I’ve had it!” Every month so far has been a disappointment.
Today after I’d dressed and primped and made myself diva-licious for coffee with friends, I caught up with FOTI in the kitchen.
“I thought they fixed the heater.”
“They did. Michel was here. Nothing’s wrong with the heater.”
“It feels like a sauna in here! Aren’t you hot in that sweater.”
“Its not hot in here.”
“I’m checking the thermostat. It says 68. Are you sure Michel fixed it?”
“He fixed it.”
“I’m dying here, my head is about to explode!”
At this point I whipped off the cashmere pullover I was wearing and considered getting completely naked in the kitchen to cool down, but decided better of it as we were expecting guests any minute. Instead I walked to the freezer and put my forehead against the drawer of the ice unit. I stood there for about a minute or two until my head stopped pounding. Then I went outside on the patio in a sleeveless dress and noticed the steam rising around me. It was when I started to shiver and complain that I was freezing that it hit me like a thunderbolt:
“You know what? I think maybe I just had one of those hot-flashes…”
FOTI mumbled, “Maybe you did.”
Then he shimmered past me toward the back yard, because at 3 pm. on a Sunday afternoon in the dead of winter, a plant was in dire need of attention. Obviously he’s got his coping strategy for my menopause worked out in fine detail. Me, I’m just going to play this by ear.
* All images found at Google