Saturday, October 2, 2010

Moonlight and Menopause Part II

About 20 years ago when Charlie was a newborn, I was walking the baby around the living room after a very late night feeding/cuddle session when I happened to notice my across-the-street-neighbor out on her stoop in her nightie, watering her plants. 

Her name was Kathy and she was in her early fifties at the time.
I remembered wondering what the heck would make a woman water her plants at three in the morning as if it were three in the afternoon. 

Now I know. 

Last night I found myself out on the front steps watering my tub of annuals ( from a giant salad bowl, no less) at three in the morning.  And I was in my pajamas.  I suddenly realizedwhy poor Kathy was out there while the rest of 85th Street soundly slept. 

You guessed it.

Menopause.  The Big M.  The big poke in the eye with a sharp stick delivered by a self-hating mother nature with a nasty sense of humor and facial hair that resists over-the-counter-removal systems.  Ain’t  it all swell?

A while back I explored the subject of sleeplessness as a symptom (“well, duh!” says the woman with circles under her eyes bigger than the rings of Saturn) but there is so much more. 

There are two other major components: rage and melancholy. 

These components contain subtexts, as well.  For example “rage” encompasses many levels ranging from minor irritation to genuine homicidal impulses where the notion of a cell in Danbury Prison is as appealing as a stay at a top shelf resort complete with handsome cabana boys who bring fruity drinks.  “Melancholy” can range anywhere from feeling a little blue on a Monday morning to sobbing loudly when a Harry Chapin song is played in an elevator.
The responses to these conditions vary as well.  Here too, a wide range is the norm.  Reactions  to the different levels of rage can include  muttering, banging cooking implements  about whether or not one is anywhere near the kitchen, grabbing things out of the hands of others and doing it yourself—goddamit,  to full scale shouting while rotating one’s arms like a windmill. 

Melancholy is more stereotypical—brooding , sulking, whining and, of course, tears—often unpredictable.  Both rage and melancholy can manifest in periods of intense activity—closets may get cleaned out or Mount Everest may get scaled depending on socio-economic factors.  Or, one may languish about in one’s “house outfits” allowing  dishes and laundry to pile up until one can no longer be found amidst the debris.  It’s a crapshoot.
Both rage and melancholy include eating. 

There is the need for salt.  It must be ingested in as harmful a form as possible, preferably from a snack bag of bright orange cheesey things with names like “Heart Cloggies” or “Krispy Killers.”  Greater than the need for salt, however, is the need for chocolate.  Dark, milk, with nuts or without, it speaks a universal language to the menopausal female.  Men are aware of this and should be smart enough to carry some around with them to throw over their heads as they are fleeing but rarely think ahead and often pay the price. 

You may occasionally see groups of women huddled together and hear a humming sound emanating from the pack.  They are eating chocolate.  Do not disturb them.
Romantic comedies also are antidotal.  There is something about a very predictable movie that takes place in a recognizable city where true love is discovered, lost and then publically declared in front of a cheering crowd that can often diffuse a menopausal snit. 

This is tricky since it can go both ways.  The menopausal woman, upon being reminded that she is not Jessica Alba may go to the dark side, unleashing more rage or melancholy.  Chocolate (or, possibly popcorn) may then be administered. 
It’s damn tricky but I am glad that I am able to help clarify these points for you.  Of course, no one is the same and may exhibit different responses to the menopausal condition but we will cover that at a later date. 

Seth is attempting to make toast right now and is being too slow about it so, if you’ll excuse me, I think I will just grab that butter knife and……

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