Hot flashes could be right up there on the list of the five worst things a woman can go through. I have been having them recently so I began to thinking and I know you’re going to ask, what would be the other four. OK, you didn’t ask but you can always sign off the site. Hello, if you’re still there, I’ll get back to the gruesome details later in the blob.
Starting from the bottom, number five is the first time you get stood up for a date. When I was a freshman in high school I was going out with a junior. Going out is probably not the best description for what we were doing because we never went anywhere. In fact, the only time we almost went somewhere was on the occasion of a Sadie Hawkins dance at the Y, when I asked him to go with me. I got all dressed up, put on my makeup, called all my friends to make sure they would be there, and then I waited and waited and waited for what seemed like an eternity. It was probably the longest hour I had ever suffered through. Then I decided that I must have screwed up the arrangements, so he probably thought we were going to meet at the Y. I walked the ten blocks convinced I would have a great surprise when I got there. But he wasn’t there. He never appeared. On Monday when we went back to school, he said hello but never acknowledged what was the most embarrassing episode in my young life, his failure to take me out. It was the end of a relationship that never began. When Jordan was in high school she would always say, this one is going out with so and so or so and so is going out with such and such. And I, remembering what “going out” meant for me, would always say; so where are they going? And she would say, “Ma get over it!”.
When I was fifteen years old I spent a good part of the summer in Asbury Park. That’s what we Jersey girls would describe as “down the shore”. I was supposed to be staying with my Grandmother but my friend Joyce Silbernagel, was working as a mothers helper (now called an au pair), and so I hung out with her and a number of young working kids who were either visiting or living in the area. Asbury Park was the place we all spent our days but Diel, N.J. was where we spent our evenings because that’s where the rich kids lived. They all lived in mansions and their parents were never home so we would party with lots of refreshments and without supervision. With this in mind, number four on my list is the first time you get sick drunk. We were partying in the basement of Tina Edell’s house. Her parents were not home and, we later found out, not married. Anyway, I was drinking gin and ginger ale. Don’t ask me why that particular combination, probably because it was there. I remember Davey VanNote taking me outside and I remember him walking me around in a circle while I threw up—any number of times. But then my memory dims until I awoke, in a place where I had never been. It was about 5am. Having slept on the floor of a girls boarding house, rather than my grandmothers hotel, I was in a terrible panic. I didn’t know where I was or how I got there but I knew my Grandmother would be out of her mind with worry. So I wandered over to my friend Vicki’s boarding house, waited til about 8, called Grandma and pretended that I had told her I was sleeping at Vicki’s. She had not called the police nor had she told any of her friends that I was missing, which was surprising. But I figured that she had probably gotten drunk or lucky so we never talked about it again and after three or four years (maybe it was 30 or 40 years), I got over the fear of being out of control and having a hangover.
You get engaged and are going to get married, so you start to plan the wedding of your dreams. Then you are slapped with a good dose of reality. The place you want for the ceremony is not available on the date you have chosen. The dress you want to buy just looks like crap when you try it on. The guest list is 300, none of them are your friends—they are all the friends of your parents and relatives you have never met. The food for the 150 people (who remain on the list after you cut it and can fit into the room) has to be kosher because 3 people won’t eat it otherwise—the price goes from $1000 to $10,000 – in 1960 dollars. And the meal is inevitably the same roast beef that all your friends had at their weddings in previous weeks—in fact it was probably left over from those weddings. You do not have a moment of pleasure on this the day you have most looked forward to in your whole life. Then, in my case, my cousin Steven got drunk and was thrown into a swimming pool, where he lost the keys to the car that contained all our luggage for the honeymoon, and Uncle Lou decided that our honeymoon would be more fun if he went with us. But that’s another blob. When you are a young bride, number three on the list of worst things is planning and going through a big Jewish wedding.
The act of birthing a baby—it does sound better when you hear it in “Gone With the Wind” is not an overall pleasant experience. I’m not saying this because I don’t love my kids or I regret having children. The simple fact is that getting six or more pounds of anything through a space of maybe five inches would not be on my list of preferable activities. And it’s not only the actual birth that tops my list of worst things. It’s the basically degrading overall hospital experience. A woman having a baby is an everyday occurrence. No matter how special you think you are there are always the levelers to remind you that it is not true. And the results are simply humiliating. For example, the when they take you to the delivery room you are spread eagle, unclothed, unprotected, and unfettered by any covering. There is usually no concern about modesty. It’s as if because you are pregnant and on your way to delivering the baby, you are in some kind of invisible limbo. When Seth was born they rushed me to delivery, naked and feet in stirrups and there were painters in the hallway who waved as I went by. The indignities one suffers in a hospital—when you neither incapacitated or sick, are mind boggling. If you are sick and incapacitated you still suffer but you just don’t know it. It’s a toss up about whether this is one or two.
You read all kinds of stories and see all kinds of statistics about the relationship between breast cancer and hormones. So what do you do? And to whom do you talk. The information is clouded at best. Some doctors say the statistics are premature about the link to heart disease and breast cancer. Some say natural hormones won’t hurt. Others say, hormones are hormones, don’t do it under any circumstances. Do you make a decision based on quality of life or is it longevity without catastrophic disease. I have no answers only facts. The fact is that night sweats, not remembering simple words/forgetting a sentence in the middle of a presentation, and hot flashes are only part of what is the worst. The real worst is the knowledge that this is not a passage into anything. You are passed passages and this is the way it’s going to be until you go to Florida. (see blog “Please don’t go to Florida”).
There are probably more than five for some of you. And they are going to be different but it's fun to try to limit them--without whining. We’re just sayin....