The word ‘peri-menopausal’ jumps out at me a lot these days. All the doctors I have happened to meet in the last 2 years, usually family friends, or family, or friends, and half of them women – for a cold, or fever, stomach upset or palpitations, or just because they are there – ask me how old I am, and then say, ‘peri-menopausal’. And family or friends who are not doctors, and all women too, suggest gently, ‘peri-menopausal?’ And maybe only I can sense it, but everyone’s noses pucker up a little at the word, just a little, the way my nose puckers up when I am sniffing inside a tiny box I got out of the freezer, at something I no longer recognize, wondering what the hell it is, when I put that in, if I can actually do anything with it, apart from killing my family, if in fact, it is food anymore or has acquired a life of its own?

Usually the contents of the tiny box just go into the garbage because I don’t really fancy killing anyone at all, though I have been wanting to slap people a lot. Or at least people who annoy me. And I have been getting annoyed a lot. But I haven’t slapped anyone yet.

Or tipped myself into the garbage. Instead I have been skulking and sulking and sobbing, and whining, oh, lots of whining, and moping, not coping, and definitely not smiling. I have been thinking of those times when I smiled too much, smiled when I had reason not to, when I ought not to have, when I did not need to, when I should not have, or just because. And though I am not so good at misery, and it does not do as much for my cheekbones as a smile, I am determined to be grumpy .

‘Peri-menopausal’ is a good time to stop being nice. Even if you are not really nice, in the first place. No one can blame you.

It is also a good time to be lazy, to shop more, to stop feeling guilty or responsible, to take days off from reading the newspapers, to procrastinate and allow your tax penalties to pile up, to stop cooking or putting things in the freezer, or removing things from the freezer, or to be clever and just pass on the jobs you don’t want to do, to someone else.

We were watching ‘Manhattan Murder Mystery‘ the other day, a scene where Diane Keaton and Woody Allen get stuck in the elevator, and Woody Allen is going on and on about his claustrophobia, panicking, almost fainting, pushing his face and nose into the elevator wall. My claustrophobia has got worse, moved from locked doors and small rooms to flights to darkness, to being stuck in a car in traffic, to watching traffic from my window. Allen makes my phobia manageable, because he makes his own laughable.

Can anyone remember if he has done anything on ‘peri-menopausal’? The only person who can get me through this funk is Woody Allen.

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