From Chicken Soup for the Soul in Menopause

A to Z

Today is your day!

Your mountain is waiting.

So . . . get on your way.

Theodor Seuss Geisel (Dr. Seuss)

“That’s it! You are now officially an outside dog!” I hollered, pushing my daughter’s birthday poodle out the door. The pup had had yet another “accident,” this time on my grandmother’s quilt. I began sobbing hysterically as I tried to wash puppy poop from the quilt.

Looking up through a rainstorm of tears, I viewed the distorted faces of my daughter, son, and husband staring at me in disbelief. “And don’t you dare let her back in!” I reprimanded. “I’m mad! You all insisted on getting this new puppy and nobody will feed or potty train her. Now I’m late to class!” I began my routine search for my keys and glasses and, five minutes later, found that my glasses were on my head.

“Honey, are these your keys?” my husband meekly asked. “Somehow they got in the refrigerator.”

Thank God it was Friday! After my last class, I headed for a mountain retreat in Ruidoso, New Mexico. When I arrived at the cabin, Patsy, my teaching buddy, greeted me. Patsy and I were using this January weekend to plan our semester pen-pal program between her second-grade class and my college methods class. Thirty minutes into our planning session, Patsy doffed her clothing and made a beeline for the front door. “Patsy!” I cried out, “Are you crazy?”

“I’m flashing!” Patsy yelled from the front porch.

I had been spared from the dreaded hot flashes thus far and had no idea they came on so abruptly. After Patsy returned and put on her housecoat, I laughed hysterically.

“Darn, you made me wet my pants!” I exclaimed. “Thank God I didn’t sneeze. Then I’d need a diaper change!” We poured ourselves a couple of glasses of red wine and continued laughing and moaning about the stumbling blocks and pitfalls of menopause. Soon we began to create midlife limericks. After writing down a dozen silly limericks, it was decided at 2:00 AM that I would write a midlife alphabet book. Maybe humor was the medicine that would help me and my friends through this turbulent passage.

Three months later, my dream became reality. My limericks were in a book, complete with a clever colored cover and thirteen pen-and-ink cartoon illustrations. It was an immediate hit with my family and friends. I printed 100 copies at Office Max and decided I would perform a few at the Poetry Olio during the International Reading Association Conference in Indianapolis.

On the day of my trip, I packed my suitcase, slipping in twenty copies of my midlife book. Catching a plane in Albuquerque, I flew to Indianapolis, practicing my limericks the entire flight.

At the Olio, I was introduced by the host and was given five minutes to woo the audience. Drumming up my courage, I said, “Wave your hand if you’re a midlife girl!” Over half the hands in the crowd of about 300 teachers went flying into the air. “Great!” I exclaimed, “Then you may relate to the limericks in my new book, A to ProZac: An Alphabet Book for Midlife Girls.”

The crowd began to clap and laugh before I even recited the first poem. “I’ll begin with B.” I continued, “B is for Bladder:

I once had a bladder, you bet
It ran like a fine-tuned Corvette
Now pee leaks down my thigh
When I laugh or I cry
When I sneeze it streams like a jet.”

The crowd roared and my confidence soared. “Thank you, thank you very much!” I bellowed. “D is for . . .”

I paused to let the audience respond. “Depressed!” someone shouted, followed by much laughter. Then “diet!” someone else called out. “Yes!” I responded, “D is for Diet:

I once could lose weight on a diet
But now my body won’t buy it
The less fat I eats
The more pounds I keeps
So now I eat ice cream
And FRY IT!”

The audience broke out in laughter and wildly applauded.

“Thank you!” I then prompted, “What is your guess for M?”

“Menopause!” about a hundred women shouted at once.

“That’s a good guess,” I agreed. “Think of something we all have during menopause.”

“Misery!” someone shouted, followed by lots of laughter. “Memory loss!” called out a few more voices.

“My M is for Mammogram,” I said, and with exaggerated motions I recited:

“I once had two breasts firm and fat
Till thrown in that mammogram vat
That maiming machine
Pressed them real lean
Now my breasts are a double A Flat!”

Gut-wrenching laughter, “amens,” and applause filled the entire room as I took my bow. “More, more!” they roared.

“Time’s up!” chimed in the Olio host. “For the X-rated limericks, buy Karen’s book!” I took my final bow, held up my book, and strutted offstage. But before I could collect my book bag and head to the “After Olio” celebration, I was stampeded by a herd of teachers. “Where can we buy your book?” ten of them shouted at once.

“Well, I have twenty with me.” I replied. Then I looked up and realized that about 100 women were lined up for copies. “But I’ll gladly take orders!” I quickly added.

Things were moving smoothly until I was autographing my next-to-the-last book. Two teachers were literally playing tug-of-war with the last A to ProZac. I looked at the one who appeared to be around twenty-five and questioned, “Sweetie, why would you need this book?”

“I need it for my mother,” she uttered, eyes glassing over with tears. “She really could use a laugh. I want to give it to her this Sunday, for Mother’s Day.”

I looked at the midlife teacher competing for the book, and she now had tears in her eyes, too. Handing the book to the younger teacher, she said, “I know Mother’s Day will be filled with love and much laughter for your mom.”

“Thanks so much,” I said to the older teacher. “Give me your name and address, and I will send you an autographed copy, on the house, as soon as I get back to New Mexico.”

I took book orders from the remaining teachers and then headed to join the “After Olio” celebration with my favorite children’s poets. I couldn’t wait to revel in my success and perhaps even perform a few of the book’s saucier midlife limericks!

Karen Alexander

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