FaceOnFire: A Girl's Guide to Perimenopause

{August 8, 2011}   Hormone-bitchy

One day you’re just breezing along, shrugging off people’s annoying behavior, and another day you rip a sales clerk a new one. Hormones, or inborn bitchiness? You decide.

Let me begin by saying I’m proud of the newly cultivated self-restraint I’ve demonstrated over the past several months, as evidenced by my refraining from telling the imperious Italian professor you met in my last post exactly what I thought of him and his self-important master’s program.

But a few weeks later, my patience was depleted at Macy’s as I waited to pay for a $15 necklace, a normally speedy transaction that turned into  a 20-minute ordeal. The necklace, all seven tangly strands of it, was an attempt to deaden the pain of having bled through and completely ruining my favorite navy blue pantsuit (see previous blog post for the full story – it’s not for the faint of heart). Unlike all of my BFFs, I was born without a shopping gene, so for me, looking for a new suit feels a lot like getting a tooth pulled. A necklace, on the other hand, is a piece of cake. Unless, that is, your cashier is a sullen, bitter, middle-aged woman in charcoal polyester pants. For you armchair psychologists out there who may be crying ‘Projection!’, let me be clear that I have never worn – nor would I ever be caught dead in – charcoal polyester pants.

But back to our story. She was behind the fine jewelry counter helping two older British ladies as I approached. She looked up at me and said nothing, so I waited, thinking she’d be finished with the two women soon enough. I stood and watched her fuss over the two ladies, oozing charm and charisma. It’s possible my laser-stare caused a few hairs to stand on her neck, at which point she looked at me and said, “I’ll be with you in a few minutes.”

Once the English matriarchs left, the clerk started leisurely organizing staplers, pens and other department store bric-a-brac around her cash register, absently punching a few buttons on the machine and of course never once acknowledging my presence or making any attempt at Sales Clerk Cheery Chit-chat. To say that my patience was wearing thin at this point is a gross understatement. When she finally decided the time was right to ring up my sale, she scanned the price tag, literally tossed the necklace into a tiny plastic bag, and uttered, “Will this be on your Macy’s charge?”  All in less than one minute.

Oh, what hell she hath unleashed. For the first time since I was three, I raised my voice in public. It went something like this: “IT TOOK ME 10 MINUTES TO UNTANGLE THAT NECKLACE, THEN I WAITED – PATIENTLY, I MIGHT ADD – ANOTHER 10 MINUTES FOR YOU TO DECIDE TO RING ME UP, AND YOU JUST THROW IT IN A PLASTIC BAG?? THE LEAST YOU COULD DO IS WRAP THAT THING IN TISSUE PAPER!!!” This accompanied, of course, by my world-famous Stink-Eye Special.

In a nanosecond, she  went from Tammy Turtle into warp-speed mode, grabbing frantically for wrapping materials underneath the counter. A tiny tornado of tissue paper, boxes, ribbon and cotton flew over the counter, and in five seconds flat, my necklace was triple-tissue-wrapped and immobilized in a cotton-lined, taped box.

The moral of the story, girlfriends, is that as fraught with annoyance as perimenopause can be, you – yes, you – can harness those hormonal mood swings to inspire others to be the best that they can be.

If you’re wondering about the necklace, let’s just say I wore it once and decided it looked exactly like a $15 necklace should look – tacky. So today I’m headed back to a different Macy’s to return it – and to coax my self-restraint out of hibernation.


et cetera