From Chicken Soup for the Soul in Menopause

Chinny Chin Chin

I started menopause early, just after forty. I’m in that one-percent category. Okay, so I’m a statistic, every statistic. I’ve got it all, vasomotor instability, urogenital atrophy, skeletal twingeritus, soft tissue issues, and psychological sways. In other words, I have flashes so hot I have to ripmy clothes off in public. I haven’t slept in six years. I’m as dry as the Sahara Desert, and if I scratchmy rashes anymore, I’ll look like a boneless breast of chicken. Then there’s the need to pee—a lot. There’s muscle pain, back pain, and phantom pain. And just when you think it’s not that bad, wrinkles, mood disturbance, irritability, fatigue, decreased libido, and, oh, before I forget, memory loss.

Did I mention whiskers? I handled everything else with below-average decorum, but I needed cognitive therapy for the whiskers. They were the last straw. Actually, they are the last straw. They’re so stiff I can sweep the patio floor with my chin. And whiskers don’t exactly fit with my image of femininity.My son concurs and tells me I’m meta-morphosing into a man. I explained to him that whiskers are something that happens to old ladies, and that one day he too would age, but worse still, he’d grow boobs.

“Why don’t you just donate all those chin whiskers to science, Mom?” he asked. “Maybe they can transplant them onto a bald man or something.”

“How about you run off and play with that bully next door, like a good boy,” I barked.

“You can always ask Dad for shaving lessons!” he shouted, getting in the last word and narrowly dodging a bottle of airborne Nair.

There’s a hardy, brawny whisker on the lower right part of my chin—it was my first. I didn’t notice it until a friend pointed it out at a wedding. She went to pick it off me, but it uncoiled itself and strangled her. Bless her heart, and may she rest in peace.

Sadly, though, I’m actually starting to look like my wiry terrier Grace. The other day at the park, a Great Dane mistook me for her. It’ll take forever to get that urine stain off my cream silk pants.

This whole menopause thing is an outrage. No one adequately prepares us for menopause. If they do, it’s lies, all lies.When I exhibited the first milder symptoms,my doctor assured me that everything would be okay, and that in fact, I’d entered into the “climacteric” period of perimenopause, the stage just before actual menopause. Wow—talk about anticipation! Excited, I raced home to tell my husband. He got excited too, and for once, the crop of growth on my chin didn’t make him vomit. We tried and tried, but never reached that explosive peak the doctor promised.

She also said that the hormone levels in my body would fluctuate and cause changes similar to the changes associated with an adolescent. Well, that got my husband excited all over again thinking I would metamorphose into Britney Spears. I did, sort of, with the help of Blonde Bombshell #59 to cover the gray. But there was nothing I could do to perk up my boobs. Then there were the hot flashes. Combine those with whiskers, and it’s a recipe for prickly heat, I tell you.

You may think I’m obsessed with my looks, but I’m not. I just don’t want to look like a nanny goat. Woe is he who makes any mention of bearded ladies, porcupines, or gorillas within earshot of me.

There’s a saying out there, and that is: “Pull a whisker from a cat, get a claw mark on your back. Pull a whisker from a man, turn and run as fast as you can. Pull a whisker from your wife, pray to God there’s an afterlife.”

I know I can’t take my tweezers with me when I die, but I’m going to ask God anyhow.

Shae Cooke

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