Writing

Ladies, My Body Is On Fire!

Winter book club and the first hot flash.

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Finally made it to my monthly book club meeting this week. I receive the group email, I check out the book, and if I’m not even remotely interested, I don’t read it. Or show up. The last time was legit. The oil burner went out and I had to wait for the repairman, but usually, I just blow it off.

This time managed to almost get through the 247 pages of a neurosurgeon’s near death experience (Proof of Heaven). I also really wanted to go since it was the holiday meeting. The girls would be dressed fancier, the hors d’oeuvres of a higher caliber, and lots of wine. It’d be more like a gal’s soiree than a real literary discussion. Plus, it would be the opportune time for me to ask 10 forty and fiftysomething women my burning question.

The night before I awoke at two a.m., my body on fire. Who turned up the heat? I ripped off my flannel pajamas feeling as if I stayed too long on a beach in Miami in August. I rushed downstairs in my panties to view the thermostat. There it was at its steady 68 degrees. By the time I returned to my bedroom, I was freezing. I redressed and jumped under the comforter trying to keep the thought of what I thought I’d just experienced at bay.

The next morning I Googled menopause and a trillion hits came up. I mean there didn’t have to be a sign above my bed that read “Hot flash in Progress” to know what had happened. Many of the sites recommended a natural remedy: black cohosh tea. So, on the way to book club, I stopped at the local health food store. They didn’t have the tea but the manager led me to the heavy stuff in the next aisle. Black cohosh extract. The real deal. He asked if I was having estrogen overload, saying that his wife’s menopause was the only reason their house got renovated. He did all the projects he’d been avoiding while he was trying to avoid her. Great. Once a guy magnet, now a bitch.

I arrived at the book club and couldn’t wait for everyone to convene around the table so I could pop the question. I poured myself a glass of Pinot and added a few drops of cohosh. When we finally all sat down, someone asked why my wine looked so cloudy. I stared each woman directly in the eye and announced, “I have a question. I think I had my first hot flash last night and I was wondering if any of you have been through menopause.” The floodgates were open.

Elizabeth: “Honey, your scarf is your friend, your turtleneck is not.”

Peggy: “This is the first time I’ve worn long sleeved shirts in four years.”

Julie: “I had my first hot flash in front of my training class. I felt this flush crawling up through my body and then ‘Whoa,’ I had an orgasm afterward.”

Patty: “Barbara Bush wanted to drive her car into a tree during menopause and wrote about it.”

Me: “How long does this last”?

Susan: “Forever. You will be hot forever. My husband has been wearing a wool cap and a fleece in our house every winter for years. I won’t let him turn up the heat.”

They all concurred that it would be at least five years. I could feel my body temp gauge going off the chain. I yanked off my wool pullover sweater and sat there in my lace see-through cami and bra. No one blinked an eye. They all knew what it was like to have a blast furnace in your body.

The rest of the evening I slouched in my lingerie and drank my cohosh wine, depressed. I wondered why I ever came to the meeting. I could have just stayed with my usual M.O. and been a no-show. They would’ve understood.

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