One of the blessings of my first year of widowhood is that I, evidently, was also going through menopause. Who knew? Seems some symptoms are the same. Crying, bitchiness, night sweats, emotional upheaval and fits of hissy unlike any thrown previously. I am rather thankful as I chat with my girlfriends that I am not experiencing this gift of nature all on its own. I had an excuse. My husband dropped dead in front of me. I got a free pass on menopausal malfeasance. You’d think I would have recognized the difference between grief and menopause, but really, no. Let’s review.
I was having night sweats well before the passing of The Norwegian. Those are hard to miss. The first one is disturbing. After that, they’re like babies, waking you up midway through the night with their screaming. The first time I sat upright and reviewed: Did I pee myself? Did I wet the bed? Had I finally drank so much that I slept through having to use the rest room? Upon examination I realized that my neck under my hairline was wet and I was indeed wet all the way down to my heels. Even on a good day, when I was younger, that much pee? Not me. Changed my cami and panties and soldiered on.
These continued for about a year. The yearly gynecological happy hour, legs askew and splayed, revealed peri-menopausal possibilities but I was waiting for the Big Show. You know, the show we’ve always heard about. The time grandpa had to move out of the house for awhile. The time everyone had to steer clear of sweet Aunt Lucy. Or the time that lady down the street hacked her husband to death when he cheerily asked, What’s for dinner? Asshole.
Murder did cross my mind in the past year–widowhood or menopause? You decide. Spending hours with the mortician and his witty banter. “So, you lost your husband on vacation huh?” Little chicken, never one to squelch an opinion said, aloud, “I’m gonna punch him in the face.” His disapproving pinched scowl when we said we wouldn’t need a casket upgrade as The Norwegian was being cremated and this would be a one night show. Again, little chicken with the punching. When people told me he was in a better place or that he was happy in heaven. I guarantee you, if The Norwegian is in heaven, he is not happily peering down at us all angel wings and philly cream cheese. He is pissed off and searching for the hole so he can do a James Bond and repel right out of there. And of course, my best friends, the IRS and the mortgage bankers have brought murderous thoughts into my head. That’s normal, right?
There is a level below murder. I think it’s where most women live most of the time. You’re in a business meeting and some babe is sharing her opinion for the fiftieth time and you think, “I’d like to kick your chair out from under you just to see you tumble and shut up.” Or the twenty-five-year-old who works for you asks how long you’re going to micro manage her and you say, “Actually I’m finished right now because you’re fired.” Or the bartender gives you blue cheese stuffed olives instead of jumbos with pimento and you stab his hand with the pick from your last drink. You know, like you do.
Night sweats continue even now. I don’t usually think menopause. Instead I chalk it up to things like; how the hell am I going to get one kid through law school, another through undergrad, write a book, keep my day job, color my own hair, keep myself in pearls and ever vacation in Europe again? And will the Amour De Ma Vie bags be a hot item or will I have a house full of bags collecting dust the way old ladies collect cats. And the cats, how will I feed the cats? And, did I put wine in the fridge? There are some legit reasons for night sweats at my house.
Now bitchiness is tricky. I think most women would have a problem identifying this one. As we all know, bitchiness can sneak up on a girl and have nothing whatsoever to do with menopause. Like when that chick you hate is laughing with her girlfriends and you want to just smack her. Laugh it up girlfriend. She’s too skinny. I hope she chokes on that carrot stick. I wish she’d tuck the back of that dress in her underpants and walk out of the bathroom like that. And, the very best, when that stick thin, wealthy show off at your daughter’s dance studio finds out her husband has been embezzling for the lifestyle she’s been cramming down everyone’s throat and the feds take everything out of the house with the news choppers flying overhead and you smile. Is that everyday bitchy or is that menopause bitchy? You be the judge.
I can’t seem to tell. What I do know is that this morning, after a six month absence, my long lost monthly friend made an appearance. I had convinced myself that she had retired in the Caribbean, exhausted after all that bloating, crying and messiness but no, she’s come out of retirement. And, at that moment, realizing my reprieve was not permanent, I cursed the bitch. I am thankful for the past six months and my seeming ease into this transition. Upon her unexpected return, I did think briefly about sticking a fork in her eye. Go figure.