Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Time of Life.

I sat Hubby down with a stiff drink.
“I’ve got something to tell you”, I said, holding in my hand what looked exactly like, a pregnancy test.
If ashen is descriptive of a complexion devoid of colour, then it does not accurately describe Hubby’s waxen skin tone.
“Alice. What. The. Hell. Is. That?” his voice was staccato, and bizarrely soundless, as if he had lost the ability to speak coherently.
“This, my love, is a menopause test. It is in fact a complete antithesis to my previous pregnancy tests which were indications of my fruitful, fertilized loins. This, however faint a line” and I demonstrated to him the line in question which was spitefully presenting itself in the positive, plastic square window, where only a few years ago, it had told us that we were once again about to be parents, “is proof positive that I am officially getting old”.
His relief was palpable; he was immediately cheery and downed his drink in one.
“Is that all?” and he laughed uproariously, “Oh, ah, ha-ha, ha-ha”. I was not amused.
“’Is that all’ you ask? Is that all you have to say to me? All these decades there has been a monthly, if at times inconvenient, reminder of my fertile femininity and now it is apparently on the wane. No fanfare, no thanks for the good times. Not so much as a, by your leave”.
“But that’s a good thing isn’t it?”, asked Hubby, pouring himself another, seemingly celebratory, drink, “You can do as you wish now and not worry”.
“Worry about what?” I asked.
“Well, for a start you can go swimming whenever you feel like it”.
“I’m not Sharron Davies for God’s sake. I’m not in the pool at the crack of dawn on a daily basis, only to be stymied once a month by my…”.
“Ok, Alice, I get the picture, you don’t need to spell it out in black and white”.
“Aren’t you at all concerned?” I asked him, most indignant that a significant milestone in my life as a woman was being trifled with.
“Concerned about what?”
“Well, it’s not meant to be plain sailing you know? I could become moody”. Hubby at this juncture, raised his eyebrows rather suggestively and most irritatingly.
“Ha, ha, very funny. I am not a moody woman. But the menopause is meant to make you collide with an emotional wall. Tears regularly, you know that sort of thing, because the finality that I can no longer bear children can apparently, drive me insane”.
“Alice, face it. The kids have been driving you insane for a long time. In fact I would go so far as to say that you have not been able to bear children for years already.”
It was hopeless talking to him about it. Hubby obviously couldn’t empathise, but I thought at the very least he’d be a little more sympathetic. I dealt him a trump card.
“It’s meant to make me go off sex”.
“In that case you should have done that test years ago. You’ve obviously been menopausal for a lot longer that you give your womb credit for.” I stormed upstairs as moodily as I could muster, just to prove a point that if living with me had been challenging before, then he didn’t know what was going to hit him. I threw myself on my bed and rang Mags.
“Merry Christmas!”, she carolled down the phone.
“Bah, humbug”, I replied.
“What the hell is wrong with you, oh domestic Christmas goddess? If you aren’t Christmassy Alice, what hope in hell have we mere mortals?”
“I am officially old”. And I explained the positive menopause test. I could hear the water running from her kitchen taps.
“I’m just washing my hands”, she explained, “I was in the middle of making sodding sausage rolls. Right”, she added, obviously having made herself comfortable, “Tell me more”.
“There is nothing more to tell”.
“Well then, why did you do the test in the first place?”
“Things weren’t as regular if you get my drift”.
“For God’s sake Alice, we are grown and now it seems, officially old women, do you still need to talk about this euphemistically?”.
“Not really I suppose, but perhaps it goes with the territory. Perhaps I will begin to speak like an old lady now and find things ‘rude’ and keep a budgie and start taking a keen interest in my herbaceous borders.” Bloody hell, I’d just remembered that I’d just bought a Perry Como CD. The writing had been on the wall.
“Alice if it is really, genuinely true and not a duff test, try and remember the good bits of being old. About wearing a purple and a clashing red hat and not giving a hoot and making a noise to make up for the sobriety of your youth. Old age is not a time to sit back and wither and wane. It is a time to rage, rage against the dying of the night”.
“Very poetic. Jenny Joseph and Dylan Tomas in the same breath”.
“You know what I mean; old age is a state of mind”.
“Like osteoporosis and facial hair?”
“Exactly. Come on Alice. It’s Christmas Eve. You have five gorgeous children, a delicious husband, a dad, an uncle, a brother, sister in law, niece and nephew depending on you to provide them tomorrow with all their hearts desires. Not to mention that in a few hours time my family, as well as scores of others will be walking through your front door expecting the annual Family Band eat, drink and be merry Christmas Eve party. Now turn the wireless up and get on with it”.
So, if you’ll excuse me, I’ll do just that. Merry Christmas xxxxx

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