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 Texas : Features : Columns : "The Girl Detective's Theory of Everything"
The Pause That Regresses
by Elizabeth Bussey Sowdal

Elizabeth Bussey Sowdal
Andropause. Male menopause. HA! Thatís all I can say. HA! I was interested to read an article recently addressing the issue of male menopause, or andropause. I was gratified, satisfied and gleeful and not in a very nice way, if you must know. Hereís why.

I enjoyed a very early menopause. By the time I was 34 I was having symptoms. These symptoms were well controlled by birth control pills. I took them for two years with very good results and then could no longer take them because I was over 35 and a smoker. You might think that if my symptoms were unpleasant enough and if the birth control pills were effective enough I would have stopped smoking. You will be pleased to learn that I was stronger than that. I stalwartly continued smoking and switched to over the counter estrogen.

Anyway, the long and the short of it is that I had completely survived menopause and was over all the unpleasantness by the time I hit forty. I have the thin, crinkly skin to prove it, but my disposition is about back to normal, so thatís a relief. My equilibrium firmly re-established, I am in a good position to help my dear husband deal with his own burgeoning hormonal issues. At least, I am in theory.

In practice, it is another matter. At work I consider myself to be a very empathetic person. At home I have issues. It is not very empathetic to chortle gleefully when the person you adore complains about some middle-age acne. It is hard to be believably sympathetic sounding when you are laughing maniacally. It is not very therapeutic to say, "itís only going to get worse!" I should be sympathetic I know. Having been through it myself, I should be able to help my husband through the struggle as he mourns the loss of his youth and begins the decline into agedness. Should be. Might be, if I was a nicer person.

Instead, the whole thing strikes me as being a kind of poetic justice. It strikes me as being kind of hilarious. How many indignities did I suffer at the hands of this very man whilst going through my own hormonal demise? How many times did I not fling cutlery and glasses and bottles of dish soap at him when he sauntered into the kitchen whistling (!) when I was feeling bleakest and say something wrenchingly, cavalierly inconsiderate such as, "Hi hon! How was your day?" How many dishtowels did I chew to shreds in an attempt not to scream out loud when I heard him in the next room whispering to the children, "I wouldnít go in there just now."? How many times was I left home alone to stew in my own evaporating juices while he took the kids out for a drive? How often have I heard him tell me that Iím still just as pretty to him. To. Him. So, what does that mean? Iím not just as pretty to everybody? Are you saying that these zits are not pretty? Are you saying that I am a shriveled up, wrinkly old shadow of my former self and that you can barely stand to be around me? Cuz you hate me? Is that what youíre saying? HUH!?!?!

My husband may be finding the occasional spot on his face, may be feeling a little tired and blue, but that seems to be as far as it is going for him. And I guess I am glad. While I might kind of like the idea of him having to suffer a little as I suffered, I am glad that I do not have to tiptoe around his moods very often. I am glad that we donít have the horrible circular conversations I subjected him to, "Do you think Iím looking fatter? So, are you saying I look good fat? So, you think I am fat and old and unattractive, but you love me anyway? What? So, even though I am old and fat and ugly and have whiskers on my chin and zits and my teeth are getting wobbly you still love me because you feel sorry for me? Is that what youíre saying by walking in here and saying, Ďhelloí like that, like you didnít have a care in the world?"

Oh dear. I had kind of forgotten what it was like. I may not be sorry for him, but I wonder if I should be sorry for me. Maybe his andropause is not a punishment for him, but a punishment for me. I wonder if there is something I can do to help.
© Elizabeth Bussey Sowdal
"The Girl Detective's Theory of Everything" - August 1, 2005 Column
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