From Chicken Soup for the Soul in Menopause

Pass the Peas, Please

“Pass the peas, honey,” my husband said. “Dinner is great, by the way.”

Noticeably suppressing a giggle, I picked up the bowl and handed it to him. “Did I say something amusing?” he asked. I smiled in return.

“Oh no, I was just thinking . . . well, er . . . I’m just pleased you like the meal.” I popped a forkful of peas into my mouth, savoring both the taste and the recent memory.

The evening before I was at one of the “ladies only” gatherings at the ranch where I boarded my horse. We started having potlucks with a few of us who just happened to be in that range of womanhood I like to call the “power years,” somewhere between forty-five and sixty-five. We were all at the pre-, present, or postmenopausal phases of our lives and “power surges” (aka hot flashes) were familiar, albeit unwelcome, visitors.

Relaxed and satiated after a great dinner and some good wine, we were ready for dessert on the back deck. It usually included chocolate in some form, and one of us brought all the fixings to make s’mores on the open barbecue. The aroma of melting chocolate and marshmallow was pure heaven, and we salivated while cooking our individual creations to the perfect degree of gooeyness.

I was licking my fingers after my first s’more and contemplating another when Liz suddenly sprang from her chair howling, “Oh God, I’m burning up!”

I gasped and jumped up, thinking she had caught her clothes on fire. Upon closer inspection, I could see what she was dealing with. Bright splotchy red patches from her hairline down her neck and onto her chest revealed a doozy of a hot flash.

“They’re driving me crazy, I can’t stand this!” Liz moaned. I could feel a lump in my throat as I remembered the discomfort of similar times. Diane jumped up and started fanning Liz with a paper plate; Jan handed her a glass of water. I ran to the freezer to get an ice pack and, finding none, I grabbed the next best thing—a bag of frozen peas. I ran back to Liz and slapped the bag of peas on the back of her neck. Not knowing that it was peas on her neck, Liz sighed, “That feels so-o-o good. Do you have another?” I ran back and found a bag of frozen corn and brought that out to place on her chest. When Liz and the other women realized what I had actually done, they erupted into gales of laughter. That brought on a mini hot flash for Di, so I ran back and brought out whatever frozen vegetables I could find and passed them around.

Through tears of laughter, Jill gasped, “You’ve thawed out most of my frozen veggies on your hot bodies. Now what am I going to do with them?”

Some little evil part of me responded with, “Hey, let’s each take a bag home and feed them to our husbands tomorrow. They’ll never know the difference. It’ll be our little secret.” They all agreed. The next evening I made a special dinner of pot roast, potatoes, carrots, salad, and, you guessed it, beautiful “flash-cooked” green peas, my husband’s favorite. Bon appétit!

I wonder what Liz served her husband? She was making humorous hints about keeping some frozen Hershey bars on hand for the next big flash and trying that instead of veggies because she likes chocolate better. Come to think of it, so might her husband. Hmmmmm.

Linda Leary

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