FaceOnFire: A Girl's Guide to Perimenopause











What’s the worst thing that can happen during a master’s program interview with a grouchy Italian professor and his elegant Swiss-German program director ? Hint: It’s not a piece of spinach caught between your two front teeth. It’s not trembling or appearing nervous, either. And no, it’s not a long tail of toilet paper stuck to the bottom of your shoe.

Girlfriends, grab yourselves a chair and a glass of wine and let me regale you with the heartwarming tale of the Little Super-Absorbent Tampon That Couldn’t. If you haven’t already figured out where this tragic tale is headed, let’s start with a question: Do you like surprises?

I once did, but that was before perimenopause. Once you hit this stage of Hormones Gone Wild, the monthly visitor decides to do her part by surprising you with arbitrary, special-guest appearances that usually coincide with Big Moments in Life, like vacation, getting laid (yes, at this age, that is a Big Moment), major work events, the first day with a new male personal trainer, or  as happended today, an unexpected intake interview with representatives from a Swiss university’s executive master’s program.

Although I thought I’d just be auditing a class, I still dressed to impress. The look: Not too “American,” yet feminine. The ensemble: My favorite navy blue pantsuit from Zara, a see-through (but very elegant) cream-colored Ellen Tracy tank with a flesh-toned cami underneath, and  my foolproof Banana Republic three-rope moonstone necklace. And because a little bit o’ naughty always makes a girl feel confident, my favorite pair of black Honeydew cheeky undies with cream colored lace. Rumor has it that Posh (a.k.a. Mrs. David Beckham) has a walk-in-closet-ful of these pricey but oh-so-saucy underpinnings. And of course, I availed myself of a super-duper-absorbent tampon with a panty shield for back-up.

I arrived 20 minutes early at the L.A. university where I was to meet the Swiss-German program director who had graciously arranged for me to audit one of the master’s program classes that takes place each summer in Los Angeles.  She encouraged me to mingle with the other students during the break. She also introduced me to my “partner,” an American woman already in the program who was assigned to be my mentor/guide through the morning.

Cutting to the chase, my so-called mentor was about as helpful as a Madrid train station ticket agent (more on that in a later post), and the other 24 students about as warm and welcoming as the Gestapo.

After an hour of listening to an American professor wax rhapsodic about the oh-so-bland management function that is human resources, I was ready to find Swiss-German-Program-Director-Lady and take my leave.

Once outside the auditorium, I noticed an odd sensation in the crotch of my Zara pants, not unlike wearing a still-damp bikini bottom under your shorts. I dismissed it as a little bit of perspiration from sitting for so long in a foam chair covered with what looked like wool upholstery. After all, I was wearing a super-absorbent tampon, and I figured if that failed, my trusty little panty shield would save the day (and my pants).

Swiss-German-Program-Director-Lady led me to the office of Angry-and-Bitter-Italian-Professor-Man for what I thought would be a quick meet-and-greet, but ended up being a “casual” interview. Swiss Gal offered me a red (this is an important detail) upholstered chair in front of  Angry Italian Man’s desk.

I’ll spare you the tedium of this “Surprise!” intake interview except to state that Angry Italian Man seemed to harbor a hatred for American Master’s degree programs in communication. Go figure.

Finally I said my goodbyes and gave my gracious thanks for the privilege of being completely ignored by a contingency of master’s students comprising obese Danes who looked like bikers, a skinny (and probably constipated) British man, and of course that delightful New Yorker who put her all into being my mentor for the morning. Last but not least, I thanked Angry-and-Bitter-Italian-Professor-Man for the soul-lifting opportunity to gaze upon his sneering countenance.

Girlfriends, let’s just say that once all those trivial distractions vanished behind the swoosh of gently closing elevator doors, I came to the realization that something was bloody amiss in my pricey, black HoneyDew undies.

A Laurel-and-Hardy-esque pantomime ensued as I tried desperately to find a floor with a ladies bathroom, madly pushing buttons, hopping out of the elevator and back in, and all this while hoping none of the EuroBrats could notice me in the ultra-modern, see-through elevator. I had Carrie-esque visions of 25 European master’s students pelting the glass elevator with tampons, panty shields and maxi-pads, laughing derisively as I crumpled to the floor of the elevator, hysterically sobbing from the humiliation, my Zara suit pants gushing buckets of blood. By now I had calmly accepted the fact that I most probably had left an enormous, indelible bloodstain on the beautiful beige wool upholstery of the classroom seat, and a slightly more discreet version on the tomato-red chair in Professor Assholio’s borrowed office.

I’ll spare you the details of the cleanup job after I finally managed to find a ladies room. Suffice it to say I was in there for 20 minutes, and all efforts to wish a replacement pair of pants into existence failed miserably. While I’m glad I opted for the dark navy pantsuit instead of the khaki dress I’d originally planned on wearing, my HoneyDews are crimson toast.

So what would Posh do? Something tells me she’d shrug, crawl into her SmartCar-sized, electric-pink Hermès bag, and text her personal assistant to cruise by Bloomingdales and bring her a new batch of HoneyDew cheeky undies, preferably in red. That girl’s got moxie.

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I’m baaaaaack…..

Lots has happened since my futile attempt to take up an exercise program for Lent. Let’s just say that somewhere toward the end of the winding, DMV-like line in Purgatory is where I’ll be someday, thanks to no willpower and yet another Lenten promise biting the dust.

So when things get sedentary, the sedentary hire a personal trainer.

Yes, I am in my third week of personal training with Robert, who can see through my fake grimaces during crunches, and who is known to sneak up behind me while I’m sweating like a racehorse on the elliptical and increase the resistance by 25 percent. Robert, I know that’s what I pay you to do, but some mornings I HATE YOU.

But my intention was to make this an upbeat kind of a post, and so it is my pleasure to present you with my top 10 songs worth getting out of your desk chair for. I have added these to my MP3 playlist, and strongly encourage you to do the same if you need something besides a meeting with your boss to pull that soon-to-be tight ass out of the comfort of your plushy chair:

10. Judy is a Punk  – The Ramones

9. Fulaninha (Manga Bo Remix) –  Luisa Maita

8. Can’t Get You out of My Head – Kylie Minogue

7. Ray of Light – Madonna

6. Corona – Minutemen

5. I’m not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How to Dance with You – Black Kids

4. Fell in Love With a Girl – The White Stripes

3. Finally – CeCe Peniston

2. Transmission – Joy Division

1. Ecuador (Alternate Mix) – Forrest

So dance, dance, dance your ass into those new bikini bottoms, ladies! If nothing else, it’s good, clean, draconian-personal-trainer-free fun.



et cetera