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Joy of Menopause
by Jeanne Hardy

Excerpted from Crone Chronicles: A Journal of Conscious Aging

I marched into the only clothing store in town--they specialize in junior apparel--looking for a bra.

The situation was urgent. My second-to-last, off-white, worn thin unit had popped that morning sending my chest plummeting earthward.

The helpful store owner led me to the bra section at a raised (you might say, "uplifted") corner of the shop. She selected something lacy from the rack and said, deadpan, "These are on sale."

I looked at the thing much as Attila the Hun might have looked at a spitwad and said, firmly, "No. I want something industrial strength."

Menopause is fun. I bought a couple of "Big Gal (sic) Full Figure Bras." My figure is indeed full, thank you, and I had fun filling it.

At the grocery store, I zipped by the sanitary pads and tampons and "feminine" deodorizers--as well as the birth control stuff. Walking by those things saved me at least 35 bucks--not that I ever bought "feminine" deodorizers in the first place. I noted briefly there are still no penis-sweeteners to go with the gateway-to-the-planet sprays.

Have you noticed the cost of "sanitary napkins" these days? Do they still call them that? Why? Is blood unsanitary? Have you ever heard them calling bandages on war injuries "sanitary napkins"? War seems to me less sanitary--by a long shot--than a natural reproduction-related bleeding cycle.

If I were still having periods, I'd be using the all-cotton, washable ones sold at health food stores--but those were not available back then. And now? Menopause is pad-free fun.

A short while later on Main Street I encountered a young man who is well liked by the local women--for his honest charm. Because he is more aware than some of the prophylactic-brained guys his age, he is happy to chat with a grandmother. I could think, "What a hunk," while inquiring about his family, and he could think, "Cookies and milk" talking with me. I inwardly celebrated the fact that a nice young man was seeing me as a whole person and not just a waist-to-knees object that talks.

I no longer own any recipe books--they didn't make the cut when I re-prioritized my life. I dress for comfort and sass. I really don't give a rip what other people think of me. I don't plaster brown gunk all over my face as I did at thirty--nor do I squeeze my full figure into iron maiden girdles. Remember girdles? Menopause is fun.

Last January it snowed three and a half feet where I live. Each time I paid 20 dollars to have my long dirt front road plowed it would snow again. Then, in early February it rained hard for three days. I would have to be Stephen King to adequately describe the condition of my front road that fourth morning. I had to go to town on business regardless.

Son Jeff, who has a he-man, four-wheel-drive pickup, drove over in case I needed to be towed out. He almost got stuck. As soon as he cleared out of the way I rared back, stuck out my jaw, glared straight ahead and applied the pedal to the metal. My grandma-style four-door sedan shimmied up that hill through a foot of slush, grabbing onto a pebble here, a bit of grit there--and made it to the top. Jeff caught up with me there and said, "Now that was a piece of driving!" I slapped the steering wheel with both hands and said, "YES!!" Menopause is a lot of fun!

I look at my face in the mirror and wonder who this evolving creature is, this lined and life-hued emerging village elder. She is no longer knocked off-center by the slings and arrows of life. She has made enough mistakes to have developed some compassion for the mistakes of others. If something seems wrong, she says so. No big deal. I think I like her come-hither look.

Menopause is fun.

Jeanne Hardy, 54, has been a professional writer for over twenty years--in creative, technical and advertising writing, journalism and teaching writing. She publishes three small periodicals and lives in a log cabin six miles from Twisp, Washington.

Excerpted from Crone Chronicles: A Journal of Conscious Aging.


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