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A hot flash of discovery

Connie Schultz

Connie Schultz

A new study shows that a twominute hot flash burns more calories than 10 minutes of jogging.

Not really. I made that up. But I’ve been reading so many facts, rumors and downright dirty lies about menopause lately that I thought I’d throw that one out there and see how long it takes to catch fire, so to speak.

So, you might ask, whatever possessed me to write about menopause in the editorial section of a newspaper?

Well, I thought it would be fun for women to sit opposite their menfolk and watch their faces do that twitching thing they do whenever the conversation turns to you-know-what.

But I also wanted to point out just how much fun it is to be a woman of a certain age — after all those years of uncertainty, you understand.

How nice to discover that some problems do come with an expiration date. I still remember the first time a snowstorm closed the neighborhood schools and I didn’t panic over emergency child care. I can’t tell you the last time I showed up in a room full of strangers and worried about fitting in. And as much as I hate getting my picture taken, I know that in a few years, I’ll look at the photos of me now and realize I didn’t look so bad after all. Wish I could bottle up that certainty and give it to every young woman I know.

Even the harder stuff — the physical changes of age and the misperceptions that come with them — has been easier to take than I once feared. There is comfort in numbers. I am a baby boomer, and there are more than 38 million women like me in America. As a generation, we’re used to getting our way through the sheer force of our numbers, if nothing else. It’s a good habit to have now that we’re evolving into the largest population of post-reproductive women in our country. It’s up to us to carve out what comes next.

Recently, I was at a dinner party in Cincinnati with a room full of women about my age, when the discussion turned to the negative stereotypes about menopause.

“My life is not over,” one of them said as the rest of us nodded. “Why would anyone want me to think I’m all used up?”

“I’ve never had more opinions,” another said, “or the energy to express them.” I do believe I erupted into applause over that one. Then we all laughed after the quietest woman in the room held up one finger for silence and said, “Yeah! And we still like sex, too!”

Talk about nasty rumors — all those books and websites that insist the sex drive of menopausal women shrivels up like kiwis in a fruit dryer.

Let’s pause — shall we? — and consider the possibility of spontaneous sex without the paralyzing fear of an unplanned pregnancy. Who wants that, right? I mean besides every heterosexual woman I know. Sometimes I can’t help but think that rumor about our worn-out sex drive was started by old men looking for an excuse to wear cargo pants and act as if their first generation of children was just a practice round.

Now, I know what’s coming next. Authors of menopause books and blogs — and the publicists who hawk them — will fill up my voice mail and e-mail accounts with sales pitches masquerading as lectures of earnest concern.

“Connie, blah-blah-blah,
lots of women suff er from all kinds of symptoms of menopause, blahblah

and I oughta know because I’m blah-blah-blah

Tell me about it. Better yet, please don’t. I’m already this close to strapping a fan the size of helicopter blades around my neck, OK?

I know there are decent books out there written by authors with the best of intentions. Unfortunately, they will continue to share shelf space with book titles like this: “No, It’s Not Hot in Here: A Husband’s Guide to Menopause.”

Because even when it’s your hot flash, it’s all about him?

Change is coming, my sistahs. Change is coming.

Connie Schultz is a Pulitzer
Prize-winning columnist for The
Plain Dealer in Cleveland and an
essayist for Parade magazine.

©2010 Creators

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