Last night I had a hot flash. I'm rethinking this whole cremation thing.
When a girl reaches puberty, it's called "becoming a woman." When she reaches menopause, does that mean she is no longer one? And if not, is she suddenly a man?
I have always believed that to be a woman is to conspire in the absurd. You spend your youth worrying every month that an event which is both inconvenient and unpleasant will fail to occur, and when it finally stops forever you are convinced that your personal end-of-the-world is near.
I reached puberty at 11. A year later, my mother, in a hit-and-run incident, left a pamphlet on my bed while I was in school called "As One Girl To Another" from the Kotex company, thereby discharging :) her responsibility to make such essential facts available to me.
It was a user’s guide to menstruation, which was never mentioned directly but referred to as “that time of month,” “falling off the roof,” or alternately, "the curse." The book tactfully overlooked the whole idea of blood, so those who read the book before the fact must have felt blindsided when "Aunt Flo" came to visit.
Since I read the book after the fact, I believed that I was bleeding to death from a wound I couldn't show anyone.
The book contained old-fashioned illustrations of all the things girls were not supposed to do at that time of month. Washing hair was forbidden as were tub baths because girls were "more prone to colds" then. Swimming was perilous and also running. A girl must not walk in the rain. Mud puddles could be fatal. She was not supposed to do anything physical at all, and I knew girls who literally took to their beds for a few days every month, maybe because with so many restrictions it was too boring to stay awake.
I was not one of them. I washed my hair defiantly every day, sloshed merrily in mud puddles whenever I encountered one and was generally a pubescent scofflaw. I didn’t die of this.
I will never see 35 again except on other people, but a man in a very bad tie leered at me in the supermarket today. His head did that revolving Linda Blair thing. He stalked me through the bananas and cucumbers and actually licked his chops as he watched me select heirloom tomatoes. He brandished a pair of cantaloupes at me.
"Did you see that?" I asked Flip, who was pushing our shopping cart.
"You've still got it," he said.
"I used to attract a better class of pervert."
"They check you out, too."
He raised one eyebrow and smirked. "Did you notice his tie?"
Of course I did. I'm not blind, legally or illegally. It looked like the aftermath of a dogfight. Puked up Lobster Thermador.
When we got home, I examined my chin in the mirror. No sprouting man-hairs yet. I guess I'm safe for now but maybe I should buy a dress, just in case. Plastic surgery is out, though. I'd rather look old than deformed.