From Chicken Soup for the Soul in Menopause

Fuzzy Logic

If your ship doesn’t come in, swim out to meet it.

Jonathan Winters

I was well prepared for menopause. I started reading up on the subject in my early forties. When it finally arrived sometime in my early fifties, I knew all about hot flashes, night sweats, and mood swings, which turned out to be annoying, but manageable, symptoms for me. More troublesome were issues of weight gain, aching joints, and a bladder that no longer held great quantities of liquids for hours at a time.

The worst symptom of all, however, was what I call fuzzy logic—that lapse between what the brain thinks is possible and what the body is able to do. I should have known better than to think my overweight menopausal body was in any condition to tear the roof off our garage the day I decided to do something nice for my husband.

Being a hopeless romantic, I delight in finding special ways to show my husband how much I love him, even after thirty-two years of marriage. I tuck love notes in his lunchbox, cook his favorite meals for no special reason, and plan an occasional romantic weekend rendezvous. This time, however, what he needed most was help with the garage roof since he had been especially busy with his electrical business. He planned to spend the weekend tearing off the old roof and putting on a new one. It would be a full weekend with no rest.

On Thursday evening, I spotted an odd-looking rake in the garage. “What’s that thing?” I asked my husband.

“That’s a rake for taking the old shingles off the roof.”


Nothing more was said about the roof that evening, but I began plotting.Wouldn’t he be surprised and pleased if the roof was ready to lay new shingles when he came home on Friday? I schemed to myself. I had the day off, and I was physically fit—well, at least I was at one time. This is where my fuzzy logic kicked in: How hard could it be to take shingles off a roof?

As soon as my husband left for work Friday morning, I slipped into my old Levis, slathered on sunscreen, donned a pair of leather gloves and a sunhat, grabbed a bottle of water, and slipped the cell phone into my pocket. Upon retrieving the shingle-rake from the garage, I looked for a ladder, but all I could find was a rickety old stepladder that had weathered too many seasons unprotected from the elements. It would have to do. Still determined to do this nice deed for my husband, I set the ladder near the back of the garage and started my ascent. It didn’t reach all the way to the eaves, so standing on the very top rung, I hoisted myself onto the roof with great amounts of effort. I knew I would have to stay on the roof until I was finished because I wasn’t going to try tackling that step again. Better leave the water alone.

I attacked the shingles with the all the gusto of my youth—for about an hour. Then my efforts slowed considerably. This was backbreaking work, and I wasn’t as fit as I liked to think, but I was determined to finish the job. Even catching the seat of my pants on a nail and ripping a large hole in them didn’t stop me. There weren’t any neighbors close by, so I just plodded away in my open-air britches. Between hot flashes and the warmth of the sun, my resolve to leave the water alone evaporated in the rising heat. Surely my bladder could hold for a couple of hours.

Four hours later, when I pulled the last shingle loose, I was ready to collapse. I was also in dire need of using “the facilities.” I gathered my things and inched toward the ladder.

The one thing I hadn’t considered was getting back on that rickety ladder. I sat on the edge of the roof in a small state of panic. The ladder wasn’t stable, and it was too far for me to reach the top rung without making the ladder sway. If I fell, I was going to have more than just a hole in my pants after landing on all those nails in the discarded roofing littering the ground below. I could only imagine what the emergency medical personnel would say upon finding a fifty-two-year-old woman with the seat of her pants ripped out lying in a pile of roofing material. That is, if I was even in any condition to call 911 after falling.

As I sat on the edge of the roof weighing my options, I didn’t know if my need to use “the facilities” could overrule my fears of heights and falling. If not, I wondered how long it would take my husband to recover from his fit of laughter when he came home to find me stuck on the roof with a mysterious wet spot on the plywood. Of course, I could have called someone for help—if my menopausal brain had not forgotten that the battery in my cell phone was dead.

After nearly an hour of praying for enough courage to attempt a dismount, the call of nature was too strong to ignore any longer. I rolled onto my stomach and inched backward off the roof in the direction of the ladder, simply hoping not to break any bones when the ladder tumbled. Thankfully, it didn’t. But every muscle in my aching body reminded me that this venture was not one of my better ideas. After a hot shower and a couple of Tylenol, I returned the shingle-rake to the exact spot my husband left it and vowed not to say anything about my dilemma on the roof.

My husband was surprised and delighted when he came home to find the roof ready for new shingles. “How did you get up there?” he asked. “All of the tall ladders were on my work truck.”

I pointed to the old stepladder.

He looked at the ladder and then at me. “I’m amazed you didn’t fall. I’ve been meaning to throw that one away.”

I didn’t tell him that I was amazed as well. Sound logic would have made me think twice about ever climbing it. But since when do menopausal women have to be logical, especially concerning matters of love?

Caroleah Johnson

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