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This story does have sex in it. It is a story about sex and more to the point, about menopause. If a reader is young enough that menopause hasn’t impacted their life yet, this can be read as a cautionary tale. For readers who have known a woman who is in peri-menopause or menopause you can thank whatever Gods you believe in that the women you know haven’t had it this badly.
This story is fiction, based on what happened in the family next door to us. In this story my wife was Mrs. Clarke. I am a friend of Nick’s.
Menopause creeps up on the relationships it hits. It doesn’t hit all of a sudden like an earthquake and leave devastation behind. Everything isn’t perfect on Monday and on Tuesday the husband doesn’t get a phone call with his wife saying, “Menopause arrived today. Here’s what you can live with for the rest of your life.”
No, No. It creeps up on both of you. And, in case you weren’t already aware that all women are different, it amplifies some of the differences.
My wife showed signs of the arrival when she was fifty-seven. She and all my male friends told me how lucky we were that it took so long to arrive. The first symptoms were new mood swings. Note the word “new”. She already had mood swings. In her forties she had mood swings. She would be in the house doing whatever and singing along with the radio. An hour later she was depressed. Shortly after her fifty-seventh birthday the song stopped in the middle of the chorus and she was pissed off for hours!
I was in the habit of calling her on my lunch hour. Sometimes she would answer the phone and I’d speak to an angel. I learned not to trust the angel. Sometimes in the middle of the call the bitch would kill the angel and bite my head off! That was my first hint that menopause had arrived.
Oh, but it was too sneaky to be consistent. After a month or two of mood swings that threatened the lives of family and friends, they stopped! Three months of “the Angel is back!” She was fun to be with, didn’t bite, kick, scratch or carry weapons. I was getting happily laid, kissed and invited to play. I started thinking I was back with the woman I married. Then one day I came home from work and my recliner was gone. Foolishly, I asked what happened to it.
“That crappy thing made the whole house look like crap!” She said. She was in the kitchen holding a large knife when she said it. I went to the garage and stayed there until she called me for dinner. At dinner she showed me pictures of what she bought to replace the comfortable recliner. A man’s anatomy was not built to sit in that chair. When I didn’t express my happiness in just the right way and at the proper speed she had a mood swing. In her past mood swings would usually go up to a five on the emotional Richter Scale. That mood swing hit seven! At the time I thought it was a nine but later on she actually had a nine and I reevaluated the earlier event.
By the time she missed her third period in a row she was emotionally on a rollercoaster. Yes, it was wonderful to not be having periods. Yes, it was terrible because it was a sign that she was old. Yes, it meant we didn’t need to worry about getting pregnant. Yes, it was terrible because it meant she could no longer get pregnant. Those conflicting thoughts and feelings caused more mood swings! I know all this because she told me all about it. Often.
I suggested she see a doctor. She said what she was experiencing was normal and taking hormone therapy causes cancer. It was not a discussion. She did not go to the doctor.
After she missed the third period in a row she convinced herself that they were over. She was depressed and touchy. In an attempt to help her get past the depression, I wrapped my arms around her and kissed her. She shoved me away and said I was a pig! An insensitive pig!
I backed away and sat in the damned uncomfortable chair. The next day, Monday, I passed by her in the hall and she shot me a look that clearly said, “If you touch me I will cut off your arm!” Then, on Friday I came home from work and she said, “I’m not good enough for you any more, Huh? It’s been a week since you’ve even touched me.”
It had been four months since I’d been invited to the “Y” so I went and enjoyed my time there immensely. Amanda is a beautiful woman and when she’s “in the mood” sex is incredible! I’m pretty sure we’d tested and enjoyed over fifty different positions on a pretty regular basis and she enjoyed them all. Oral had been a favorite before we started having real sex and she loved it both ways, giving and getting. That night she gave, I gave, she even offered her back door and I accepted. Four months in the desert made both of us thirsty.
The very next day she had her period. I got a call at work telling me it was my fault! If I hadn’t “forced myself on her last night” she might not be having a period. That night I learned more about menopause. Someone medical had told women they weren’t actually in menopause when they had mood swings and ataşehir escort other things. They were in peri-menopause, a term that means “the storm before the storm that just may want you to die.” She also informed me that menopause only is there after a woman has missed her periods for a year.
She has never been good at waiting. When she was in college she cursed the last three weeks of every semester. Semesters were too long! When she was pregnant she began urging a premature birth in the sixth month. I’ve seen her stand in front of the microwave urging it to cook faster! Now some book or some doctor tells her she has to wait a year before she gets somewhere she doesn’t want to go! We were both upset. I dared not tell her I was upset about something she wasn’t upset about.
At least once every three months I recommended she see a doctor. At least four days after each recommendation I was punished by her for saying she “was sick or worse, crazy.”
She was sixty when the year was up. Yes, the symptoms started when she was fifty-seven. Yes, it took her three years to quit having periods for a year. On the day the year was over I made reservations at a nice restaurant. I had been paying attention. I knew the year was up. We were in menopause. I almost died that night.
On our way to dinner she asked, “Why are we going out for dinner?”
“It’s been exactly one year since your last period. According to that book that means you’re in menopause.” I smiled. She burst into tears and demanded I take her home. I did. She went to bed and cried. I was banished to the couch.
I looked at the positive aspects of menopause. She didn’t. I saw four nights a month that were available for play. I saw the need for birth control as gone forever. I saw no need for carrying tampax in the glove box of my truck anymore. She cried and moped for four days and slept alone for four nights. When she decided to allow me back in our bed it was a Friday night.
I have always been an optimist. I believed I was being invited back to OUR bed and invited into HER as well. I was wrong. She came to bed in a long flannel nightgown and invited me to snuggle and get her warm. My head and feeble brain heard her say she wanted me to warm her up. I spooned with her and wrapped my loving arms around her for thirty-seven seconds before she pushed me away, threw off the covers and the flannel and dripped sweat as she panted and complained about her damned hot flashes!
For months every time I kissed her, wrapped my arms around her, sat next to her on the couch or in the car she had a hot flash. I tried to put a positive spin on hot flashes. “Honey, you’re not having hot flashes, you’re having power surges!” The look I got should have melted me where I stood. I apologized.
On her sixty-first birthday I got a present. I didn’t want it. I got it anyway. I invited our kids and their families to celebrate with us at a favorite restaurant. I checked before I invited them and Amanda said she would like a party. Each of the families gave her presents. I gave her a present. I remembered some years before when we had talked with our best friends, Mike and Alison, and Amanda said “when the kids are grown I’d like us to go on a romantic cruise”. I bought us tickets on a cruise. She acted surprised in the restaurant and I even got a kiss on the cheek in thanks.
On the way home in the truck she asked if the tickets could be sold back. She didn’t want to go. I pressed.
“Did I pick the wrong cruise? Would you rather go somewhere else?”
“No. I’d like to go to Mexico, I just don’t want to go with you.” I was crushed! The rest of the ride home was in silence. When I stopped the truck she got out and quickly went inside our house. I sat in the truck thinking for a long time.
I put the truck in Reverse and backed out of the driveway. I had trouble deciding which way to go, north or south. When I saw another vehicle coming I decided and went north. I drove for an hour aimlessly. I drove around a while longer and found a motel. The guy rented me a room and acted surprised I was alone and that I used a credit card to pay for the room.
I watched an old movie on the TV and eventually slept. When I got up it was daylight. I showered and slowly drove home. It was almost ten in the morning when I walked through the back door. I wondered what the greeting would be like.
Before the door even closed she started, “What the hell was that all about? You didn’t even come in the house! Where did you go? Hell of a way to celebrate my birthday! Thanks a lot!” There weren’t even pauses between statements and questions for me to respond. So, I didn’t.
I walked past her and into the bathroom. I stripped down and took a shower. When I shut off the water she came into the bathroom. “Well?” She asked.
“Well, where were you?”
“I was thinking.”
“You could think right here. Why didn’t you come in the house?”
“What was the last thing kadıköy escort bayan you said to me in the truck last night?” I asked, as I finished toweling myself dry.
“That I didn’t want to go to Mexico with you.”
“Well, I thought about that. When I bought the tickets I bought them for two, assuming that since we’ve been married for thirty-three years it would be us going on the trip. But… since you don’t want to go with me, take whoever you want. When you get back you won’t live here anymore.”
“What?! Are you nuts?”
“No. You want a vacation without me. What am I supposed to think? Who are you planning to sleep with on the cruise?”
“No one. I know that if we go together it will be romantic and you’ll get ideas about sex and I don’t want sex. It’s not that I don’t want sex with you. It’s that I don’t want sex! With anyone.” Lights went on in my head. Bells rang. I heard Strother Martin say, “What we have here is a failure to communicate.”
“So, our sex life is over? I’m sixty two years old and my sex life is over because you decide?” She followed me into our bedroom and I dressed. I sat on our bed and put my shoes on.
She sat next to me. “I love you. It just doesn’t include sex any more. We had lots of sex over the years, that should have been enough for any man.”
“It wasn’t. And, you knew it. You didn’t even have a conversation with me about it. You just slammed the door without an explanation. I want to go to Mexico, just not with you.”
“That’s not what I meant!”
“It is what you said. Then you compound it by saying that our sex life is over. Wait! Does that mean just intercourse or everything?”
“Everything? No. I like it when we snuggle and sit close together. I like it when you kiss me hello and good-bye.”
“What about when I touch your breasts or touch you down there?”
“I don’t like it. When you do it I know you want sex.”
“You plan to wear flannel to bed every night?”
“When it’s cold.”
“And throw it off when you have a power surge?”
“Ok, now I understand. So you know, I’m not planning to go anywhere for the rest of the weekend. I have things to do. I might go shopping for an hour or so, but I’ll be back and sleep here in the house tonight.” I paused then asked, “Is there any chance you’ll change your mind?”
She shook her head and got up off the bed. I got off the bed and went out to the garage. A plan was coming together in my head. Our house had housed and helped us raise three kids to adulthood. While they were in college we kept their bedrooms as their bedrooms. The last one, Kelly, got married two years ago. I went back inside the house and went to the bedroom farthest from the master bedroom. It was also the closest bedroom to the kitchen and laundry room. I looked at the furniture. The queen-sized bed was in good shape. Two nice dressers and a big closet. I took down the pictures and the things Shelly had left on the bulletin board. I boxed them and marked the box Shelly.
I went to the kitchen and got a diet Coke. Amanda, my wife, was there making a list. She asked, “Anything you want from the market?”
“Which market are you going to?”
“Nope. We still have four twelve packs of diet Coke in the garage. Other than food for dinners, I’m fine.”
“I’ll take care of dinners.” She made a semi-exasperated noise and went out the back door. I watched her back her car out and head for the market. While she was gone I packed boxes full of all the things Shelly had left at home and stashed them against a wall of the garage. The dressers were empty and so was the closet. I called Shelly and thanked her for coming to the birthday party. She had been called during the night by Amanda asking if she knew where I had gone. She asked why I left Momma at home alone last night. I told her that her mother had dropped a bomb into our relationship on the way home last night and I had spent the night thinking about it. Then I asked her to come over and get all her things that we had been storing for her. I told her I had boxed them and they were in the garage with her name on the boxes.
She asked if the others had to come get their things as well or if it was just her. I thanked her for giving me the idea and I told her I’d call the others and have them come get their things too. Then I ended the call. I drove to a store and got more boxes and tape. Before Amanda got home from the market I had made real progress getting all three rooms cleaned out of kids stuff. I called both other kids and asked that they come and get their things from the garage. The youngest daughter, Kelly, said she didn’t have room for it. I said, “Not a problem. Right now it’s your stuff. It’s in my garage. Next weekend I’m cleaning out the garage. Any boxes with your stuff that are still in the garage will go in the trash. It will be obvious that you left it here for six years while you went to college and got married. You don’t escort maltepe want it or need it.” She wanted to argue. I repeated what I said and then hung up. I called my son. He said, “Dad what’s going on?”
“Spring cleaning in July. I’m cleaning. We’ve had three unused bedrooms in this house for years. We’ve stored all your stuff. Enough. You want it, come get it. Next weekend it becomes trash, if it’s still here.”
“Ok. If I drive over now can I borrow your truck to haul my stuff over here?”
“You come over and load the truck. I’ll drive and when we get it unloaded I’ll buy you the beverage of your choice.”
“I’ll be over in under an hour.”
Amanda got home before Scott arrived. I helped her carry bags into the house. I helped put things away and while we were doing that her cell phone rang. I kept moving. Amanda sat on a patio chair and talked until long after the groceries were put away. As she came in the house Scott walked in the front door. She stopped and said, “Scott! What brings you by?”
“Dad asked me to come get some stuff from the garage.” He looked at me and said, “You’re right. We left that stuff here way too long.” I smiled and headed for the back door. Amanda asked, “What stuff are you talking about?”
Scott answered, “All the stuff that we left in our old bedrooms.” He said it as we walked past Amanda and out the back door.
She said, “All your stuff is in your room.”
“No, it isn’t. I packed it all in boxes and put them in the garage.” I said.
“There have been three storage rooms in this house for years. There may be uses for those rooms but they certainly aren’t children’s rooms anymore. No children live here.”
Tears filled her eyes and she rushed back into the house.
Scott had loaded a number of the boxes while I had spoken to Amanda. I grabbed a box and loaded it in the truck. Back in the garage he asked, “What’s going on?”
“I’m not quite sure, yet. I’m going to trust you with what I think. I think your mother doesn’t want to be married to me anymore. I’m going to give you a quote from our ride home from her birthday party. She asked if we could sell the cruise tickets back. I asked, “”Did I pick the wrong cruise? Would you rather go somewhere else?” She said,
“No. I’d like to go to Mexico, I just don’t want to go with you.”
I picked up another box. Scott dropped his. He picked it back up and asked, “What else did she say?”
“Nothing. She dropped the bomb and when we got home she got out of the truck and went inside. I had to think so I backed out and went away for the night.
The last box went into the truck. I got in and started it up. Scott walked to his car and I followed him home. He was talking the whole way. I assumed he was on his cell. I wondered if he was talking to his wife or mine.
It was his. She met us in their driveway. Beth helped us unload the truck and invited me inside for a sandwich and a beverage. When she was ready she started the conversation with a question, “Is there any way you could have misinterpreted what she said?”
“Yes. In fact I did, but this morning when she clarified what she meant it was as bad, if not worse. Just leave it that she doesn’t want to be married to me. She wants me to be someone else or she wants someone else, but not me. It was not a discussion. It never has been a discussion. I asked her if there was a chance she would change her mind and she said, “No.”
Scott asked, “Are you leaving her?”
“My parents bought that house. I brought it into our marriage. If someone is leaving it’s Amanda. Leaving or not, some changes are necessary. Cleaning out the old bedrooms is one of those changes.” I thanked them for their shoulders and told them I loved them, then I drove home.
Shelly and her husband were in the garage when I got home. Shelly was crying. I walked into the garage and asked, “Shelly, why are you crying?”
“I feel like you’re throwing me out!” Her husband, Matt, shot me a quick look that said he didn’t understand either.
I said, “You left of your own free will years ago. When was the last time you lived in that room?”
“That’s not the point! It was my room and now it’s not. Nothing is left in there that’s mine except the furniture.”
“Thanks for reminding me. If you want any of the furniture get it soon. I’ll be painting soon and it’s easier to paint an empty room.”
Shelly said, “Painting! Why would you paint my room?”
“How about because it’s pink? How about because we don’t have a little girl living in there anymore? You like pink walls? There’s still a full gallon of the pink paint under the workbench. I’ll give it to you. You moved out. No little girls live here any more.”
Matt put up his hands and said, “We don’t need a pink room.”
Shelly burst into new tears and said, “I want the paint! When we have a girl I want her to have a pink room like mine!”
Matt took the gallon. They got everything in their two cars and left. I didn’t see Amanda once while they were there.
As I opened the back door I saw Amanda walk into the hallway carrying the portable phone. I followed. When she saw me she said, “Gotta go” and hung up.
I said, “If I ask please would you help me? Please.”
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