It’s a beautiful Fall day. The Sun is shining and there’s a cool breeze. I’ve just stepped off a frigid subway, and I’m sitting in an air-conditioned Starbucks drinking a giant iced tea. And I’m hot. No, not hot. Sweating. No, not sweating. Dripping. I’m looking around, catching the eye of coffee-drinkers around me and fanning myself. “Heh heh. Boy, it’s hot in here, innit? Heh heh” I get various responses from complete dismissal to looks of horror at my red, sweaty face and state of undress. Several just pull their sweaters closer and shake their heads. Truly, I have turned into one of those menopausal cartoons of sleep-deprived, psychopathic women undressing in public and drowning in their own sweat. I suppose there is a kind of justice here. I spent my peri-menopausal years smugly watching contemporaries with bags of frozen peas on their heads, delighting in the fact I was sailing through this. No hot flashes. No dryness. Nothing. I was kicking. Menopause. Ass. And then somewhere between my last period and gleefully tossing out the condoms, I took a wrong turn. I must have shunned the road that leads to serenity, wisdom and “whee, we can have sex whenever we want!”, and taken the road leading to insomnia, hot flashes, and “if you never touch me again, I’m good with that”. Clearly, the roles have been reversed, and I am the one getting my ass kicked. Now, I have a very patient and understanding husband, but this was causing some friction. And not the good kind. Everyone knows that relationships take work and compromise. And above and beyond the simple acquiescences, where to go for dinner, what color to paint the living room, who knew that there would come a time when sex would be one of them. WTF? So, lemme get this straight. I can’t sleep. I’m hot all of the time, (and not the good kind), my lady bits are like sandpaper, I am not remotely interested in sex, and I live in a body that once belonged to the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. I ask you, in any of the hundreds of commercials for joint pain, erectile dysfunction, or AFib not caused by heart valve, have you seen the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man? No. No you have not. So, imagine my shock and dismay when I discover that I don’t see Christie Brinkley or Susan Lucci when I look in the mirror. Just me. Stay Puft Marshmallow Man with Karl Malden’s nose. I will have to accept that there is no one way to navigate the road as we get older. We can’t all be Christie Brinkley. But if we’re lucky, we have a very patient and understanding partner who thinks we’re still hot. The good kind.
Did you know that you can buy both an Inspirational Floral Wall Cross and the Lover’s Guide to Sexual Intimacy on the Publisher’s Clearing House website? True. Did you also know that Costco is not just the go-to-place for sacks of produce, giant boxes of cereal and gallons of barbecue sauce, but that you can get a mammogram, buy a house, and pick out a casket? Also true. Humans like variety. And they tend to have short attention spans. They’re likely to pass up a shop that sells nothing but exquisite socks for a giant warehouse that sells socks by the gross AND lawn furniture. The thing is, it’s not always easy to be everything to everybody. And quantity is not always the same thing as quality…..I am seriously contemplating scratching out that last sentence. It’s so trite and overused. But, I’ll leave it in. For now. It’s not untrue. Doesn’t everyone long to be the someone that everybody loves? We color our hair, we cover our freckles. We buy our affections, we bury our feelings. We go through life trying to be what we believe someone else wants us to be, instead of being who we are. We try to do everything perfectly, instead of finding the perfection in doing. I’m still not nuts about that quantity/quality nonsense, but Imma let it be. Go. Do. Be. I’ll wait.
Like all of us, I get a lot of junk email. G-d forbid I express even a fleeting interest in something. I will then get emails from that something and all of the related somethings for the rest of my life. Which, apparently, according to the more recent glut of emails, is not very long. All of a sudden, advertisements from clothing stores, makeup lines and home goods have been overtaken by missives about hormone replacement, impotence, walk-in bathtubs, burial plots and something called “Crepe Erase”. WTF? Apparently, Big Brother truly is watching me. No matter how old I get, I still feel like I’m 18. Ok, 30. Spoiler Alert. Not. And it really pisses me off that every ^*%@ing day my inbox cheerfully reminds me of that fact. And not just my personal email. The specter of death has infiltrated my work email as well. Now there’s a couple of ways I can look at this. I can shuffle along, complaining about my aches and pains, mumbling to myself, secure in the knowledge that the fact that I can’t remember the term for “welcome mat” is the first step towards dementia. Or I can continue to feel 18. Or 30. Travel, sing karaoke, get another tattoo. I can take care of myself so that I can embarrass the crap out of my nieces when I dance with a 25 year old waiter at their wedding. There is something to be said for being smart, being prepared. Taking care of our health, saving for retirement, wearing our big girl panties. But nowhere in the rule book of life does it say that you can’t wear them on your head.