On the internet, to quote the words of Robert Frost, “way leads on to way”, which is how I came to find (or rediscover – I had seen the hurdy-gurdy one before years ago) those last few excruciatingly beautiful videos. But I found other stuff. I couldn’t help but conclude that the popular culture (nay, even the medical community) thinks of the average post-menopausal woman as a worn-out old horse.
Maybe when the ovaries close up shop, it’s all over, or it’s supposed to be. Unless you’re Carol Burnett or Mary Tyler Moore (both married to dishy, much-younger men) and can afford to pull the skin of your face back and tie it behind your head, you’re on the reject pile along with moldy old VHS tapes (or Beta!) and giant hand-cranked cell phones from the early 1990s.
It’s those diagrams. Men don’t have those diagrams. And EVERYTHING they list is negative, uncomfortable, miserable, and adds to a woman’s unattractiveness. Caved-in breasts, straggly hair, weak heart, shrivelled vagina, etc. etc. Expecting a man to find this attractive is asking too much. Might as well send him to a museum to make love to the fossils.
Is it really this way? I don’t know, even though I’ve been in this land-of-obsolescence for longer than I care to admit. After a rocky period at the end of my fertility, my cycle reset by taking birth control pills (YES, BIRTH CONTROL PILLS, THE ROOT OF ALL EVIL LIKE ALL HORMONES), I don’t remember it being all that bad. (We don't take hormones - EVER - because hormones kill us and besides, we're just supposed to grit our teeth and take whatever Mother Nature dishes out, for the ten or so years of that vaguely-defined span known as "perimenopause".)
My body isn’t the same, but when WAS it? This is when the only-moderately-attractive woman gets her revenge. There isn’t as far to fall, see. My appearance has waxed and waned throughout my life. In every case, I look back on photos from years ago and think, you know, I really looked a lot better than I thought.
I had a dream last night that some university professor made us all go for a makeover (I’m leaving out chunks I don’t remember), so I had to go get my chin waxed. I have never had even one hair sprout there, in fact, almost all my leg hair has disappeared and I never have to shave under my arms (in direct contradiction to that “body hair coarsens and increases” bullshit). And I had something done to my, well, thing on my neck or whatever, the Grandma thing that I guess I should mind, but don’t particularly. I don’t know what they were doing with it: trying to dissolve it with acid?
This salon or whatever it was had a big glassed-in cage with birds in it, mostly miniature cockatoos. I don’t know what they were doing there. It was as disjointed as all my dreams, meandering around in the maze of my subconscious. My bare legs were a blaze of color and seemed to have been tattooed, though I had no memory of it.
As I said. . . my body hair has nearly disappeared, my breasts haven’t fallen down to my knees yet (in fact, they fell about as far as they were going to fall right after I weaned my second child). My hair is probably better than it has ever been, coarser, which is just what I needed for my thin, fine, limp locks. For the first time in my life, I have a hair style. So all this unspeakable horror can work to your advantage.
It’s not that I never get depressed, but I got depressed all the rest of my life too, so it kind of blends together. Now I get depressed or morose or just pensive about mortality. Mainly I get pensive because so many of my friends have died prematurely, and oh how I miss them. I’ll never see them again.
How should I feel about this stage of my life? Dismayed, I guess, that all my worth as a female has (supposedly) passed the expiry date. God, the diagrams leave no doubt, do they? Cross-sections of breasts, each atom of a woman’s body with labels on it, all dire and depressing. We are meat. I don’t remember seeing any such thing relating to a male body, except perhaps a cross-section of a testicle, the only part that really matters. The rest of a man’s body never changes anyway.
Are these diagrams meant to cheer us up, to educate us, or what? Or just make us want to go out and commit suicide because we’re so useless? Nowhere is there stated that this is a highly individual process, and that some aspects of life (like sex and orgasm: no kidding!) may actually improve after menopause. Just to mention such a possibility is so “ick” that no one ever does it. A grandmother wanting, needing, LIKING sex? Jesus! Excuse me while I go someplace and spit up.
When I breast-fed my kids I felt sort of like a
Jersey cow, smelling like sour milk all the time while my
baby threw up what looked like cottage cheese. I wasn’t disgusted by it because
I adore my children without reservation, then and now, but it did give me
pause: men never experience anything this blatantly corporeal, except maybe ejaculation (and
it’s over pretty fast). Women are pods growing the creatures that will inherit
the earth.. Spawn. Frog jelly. When the frog jelly is no longer forthcoming,
oops, it’s time to hit the road to hopelessness.