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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Have You Always Looked That Hot?

It was the dead of winter, and yet the woman standing in front of me in the grocery store check-out line had taken off her coat. Moments later, she removed the sweater she was wearing. Shortly after that she began using her crossed-off grocery list as a fan.

I watched a line of dark red pigmentation creep up from somewhere below her neckline and work its way into her fashionably short hair.

She turned around in an agitated, how-much-longer-do-I-have-to-stand-here kind of way, the red moving up her neck and onto her jaw. Our eyes locked.

“Is that a hot flash?” I asked.

A bead of sweat ran from her temple to midway down her cheek. “Yes,” she said.

That was at least 10 years ago, and I’ve thought of that woman many times since then.

And I thought of her again this morning, when I spontaneously combusted at the bus stop.

I was surprised, frankly, when I got onto the bus fully engulfed in flames and no one noticed. Of course, at that time of morning there are many things that go unnoticed, including, apparently, the need to wash one’s hair, even quarterly, by the looks of it.

But still.

I was on fire.

I opened my purse and dug around for my compact, held the tiny mirrored oval up and examined my face. Funny, I thought, you don’t look like you’re on fire.

I called my sister. Better get a second opinion.

I skittered straight into conversation, by-passing the social niceties. “I’m on fire.”

“You sure are,” she said, absent-mindedly. “I’ve always said so.”

“No, smartie; I mean I think I’m having a hot flash.”

One could almost hear her sitting up straighter. I am two years older than she is, and much of my life has served as a warning.

“Really? What’s it like?”

“It’s like no one else in the room has noticed that the joint’s on fire.”

“Wheeeee!” she said. “Do you feel cranky, too?”

“What?”

“I heard you get mood swings.”

“I’ll mood-swing you,” I said, mock-angry.

“You’re kidding, right?”

“Right,” I said.

The line went quiet as I looked at the back of the head three seats in front of me, the man who needed to think about what washing his hair would do to the environment.

“So what are you going to do?”

“I don’t know,” I said. “Go to work?”

“That’s probably wise,” she said, audibly nodding. “You’ll want to keep building that social security, old lady.”

“Why do you hate me?”

She sighs. “Why do you make me hurt you?”

“Fair enough,” I mock grumble. My sister: my friend, my nemesis, my secret weapon against the world, has once again put my life in perspective.

What do you do? You go on.

Even if you might be in flames whilst doing it.

78 comments:

The Jules said...

You should get a job with the fire service right away. No raging inferno would bother you and you'd save them a fortune in protective equipment.

"This isn't that hot. It was toastier on the bus this morning!"

Oilfield Trash said...

Your sister seems a lot like my brother.

ellen abbott said...

get yourself one of those japanese paper fans. it came in mighty handy for me.

Simply Suthern said...

Being the practical kinda guy I am I would think carrying around masrshmallows and hotdogs would be in order. You could make a few bucks on the way in.

Just trying to be helpful.

Pearl said...

Oh, you're all very helpful, aren't you?!! Like my sister, only better spellers...

:-)

Camille said...

Oh my yes Pealie - welcome to feeling hotter than a two dollar pistol - but not in a good way. Wait til they start hitting at 1:00, 3:00, and 5:00 am like clockwork and you lay there and wonder where you (previously) hid all the knives for Willie's safety. Two words: Estrogen therapy. Go ahead - you've quit smoking - live dangerously.

Pearl said...

Camillie, excellent advice -- and dire warnings!

Joshua said...

Given the women I work with here, and just for reasons such as this, I keep a fan handy. And a drawer full of chocolate.

It's kept me alive this long.

furiousBall said...

ice in your pants, works every time.

Pearl said...

Chocolates and ice. Taking notes...

Gary Baker said...

I'll just drop this off ...
http://tinyurl.com/kjgpgz
... then run for the hills.

Silliyak said...

Wait til the sweats start.

Pearl said...

Dammit, Gary! Get back here!!!

Silliyak, it just keeps getting better...

Bossy Betty said...

Time to start carrying one of those little fans!

Sausage Fingers said...

Oh shite, tell hubby to prepare for madness. The darling Mrs. Sausage was stricken with the "Flashes" last year and we live in FLORIDA.....
Finllay some good news for the snow bound crowd in MN. Start stripping asap (not in a club)
Good luck

Pearl said...

Bossy, good idea!

SF, wait. Stripping? But NOT in a club, right? Must make another note: no stripping in the clubs.

jabblog said...

Hot or cold - not much in between. On balance, I'd rather be cold and add layers which I can then take off when I'm hot and then put on again when I'm cold - repeat as necessary.
Good luck with this one, Pearl;-)

Pearl said...

jabblog, the second-floor porch , unheated as it is, has become my friend...

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

I think I got my first hot flash the other day. Hold me, I'm so scared.

Big Fat Gini said...

Oh God. Is this what I'm in for? Really?

Maybe I'll get a hot guy to bite me and turn me into a vampire. Then I'll never age and never have a hot flash. And instead I'll just remain a 31 year old woman with an unquenchable thirst for blood forever.

Okay...time to put down the vampire novels.

Pearl said...

Green Girl, if you asked anyone "is it hot in here?" and everyone said, "no, not really"...

BFG, Yes. Really. :-) On both parts. :-)

Sweet Cheeks said...

I'm trying to prepare for what's coming. At the age of 44, I've only been on fire a few times. Thank goodness those episodes only last a few minutes-right?
=]

BLissed-Out Grandma said...

I did estrogen therapy for a long time. Which just meant the hot flashes came later. I still get 'em sometimes. To minimize them avoid caffiene (which unfortunately means chocolate, too), alcohol, and spicy food. In any case, Dress in layers and eat soy products.

Deborah said...

I know BL-granny is correct, but alcohol and caffeine? I'd rather flash like a cop on the side of the road.

I'm with that other commenter - get you some yams girl! We need our estrogen.

Eva Gallant said...

I found that if I cut out caffeine, I had almost no hot flashes. I refused hormone therapy, and got by. Good Luck!

Ugich Konitari said...

At 61, its now been 4 years since I got, what i consider my freedom. For 10 long years I waited for hot flashes, and none happened. Instead , i would occasionally get cold flashes, shivering and teeth chattering , when the rest of the folks were fanning themselves. The reason it turned out, had nothing to do with what I thought it did. But I am just glad I didnt have to shiver and audibly chatter in a bus (which was usually so crowded, you'd be chattering the teeth right inside someone's ears)....You are so much better off.

The Vegetable Assassin said...

Man, the joys of being a lady. I deal with cramps my whole life and trying not to spawn smaller versions of me and now I have to worry that the next phase in my life will be about being on fire and stripping in public? Good God. I protest. You should too, Pearl. PROTEST! Cutting coffee though... wow. HELL.

Pearl said...

Sure, Sweet Cheeks. :-) Only a couple minutes!!!

BLG, caffeine? Cut out -- I'm sorry, what?! Aww, rats. First cigs. Now caffeine? Waaaaah!

Deborah -- yams, huh. :-\ Is there a yam cake?

Eva, shoot. Like my grandma used to say, one person telling you you might be sick isn't anything. Two people telling you you're sick? Maybe you should go lay down... (Looking hard at cutting caffeine...)

Ugich, while the winter is here, it's rather nice to feel warm. :-)

Pearl said...

Veggie Gal, wrong, iddin it? I'm thinking of writing a strongly worded letter...

Mandy's Kidding said...

It sounds as though my sister and I have a similar relationship. She is five years older than I am and she has been going through "peri-menopause" for about ... OMG ... four years or so. I'm screwed. Did you have any "peri-menopause" before full-on menopause? Or is this that?

I'm so confused by the whole thing.

jenny_o said...

Just to offer some hope to some of you ladies - not every woman has a difficult time or even has hot flashes (I call mine warm flashes). If you can, ask your mother how her menopause was. That's often a good indicator of how yours will be.

Kara said...

Okay. I'm going to be nicer to my older sister when she calls to gripe about her hot flashes. Promise. ;)

Stacy Q said...

Love that you're your sister's warning... that's classic.

I still hear about my mom's hot flashes, she still wakes up at night and has to go towel off. I'm right on the cusp myself, and am totally doomed.

becca said...

gotta love sisters

jLow said...

CRIKEY! What age does this spontaneous combustion start??? I think this would DEFINITELY justify that margarita machine I've been eyeballin' . . .

Belle said...

I've been extremely lucky (I don't mean to brag), I am sixty and have had two hot flashes in my life. I would say to go to an acupuncturist or a natueropath. They can do wonderful things.

Pearl said...

Mandy, this is that. :-) I have all the benefits of both worlds. I’ve always been lucky!!

Jenny o, I would definitely say mine are actually on the “warm” end. Unfortunately, my mother had “surgery”, as she says, in her early 40s and never dealt with any of this…

Kara, I suggest you do. :-) Sometimes, we’re all we’ve got!

Stacy Q, I know a woman who has to actually change her sheets. I’ve not had anything like that and hope I don’t. Ack. Like I need more housework!!

Becca, the little bugger’s been a finger in my ribs all her life!

jLow, absolutely. There’s always good reason for a margarita machine. I’ve been told it can start anywhere between the ages of 35 and 55, and I’m right there in the middle.

Belle, you’re 60? :-) You look great! And yes – you are lucky!!

GYPSYWOMAN said...

hormonal issues aside, miss pearl, i so love your fabulous chatter here - brilliant! and then, there are all your fabulous FAM stories, such as this one, of your relationship with your sister - beautifully done - thanks for sharing with all of us!!!

gypsy

SeaD said...

I like to refer to my flashes of hotness as my own tropical vacations. I'm looking for a cabana boy to bring drinks with little umbrellas every time I heat up.

Pearl said...

gypsywoman, I love the chatter as well. :-)

SeaD, ooh. :-) I like that. Maybe that's the way to look at it...

Pat Tillett said...

I see this sudden stripping of clothes all the time with my wife. Just another reason, I'M SO HAPPY TO BE A MAN!!!

Pearl said...

Oh, Pat, LOL!!! I think we got ourselves another post there!

Sioux said...

Now you're officially one "Red-Hot" woman! Enjoy!

Hutch said...

Wearing sleeveless shirts here in upstate NY - carrying a "ladies hankie" because the kleenex fell apart in the sweat stream - sleeping au naturale with a window open while the concubine wraps in flannel, wool blankets and hot packs. Such great fun. Screaming, "My God I am burning up" while in church and having to go stand outside is always good - especially during confession or a healing service. I just heard that acupuncture helps - and I think stabbing someone sounds like a good idea.

Douglas said...

And just in time for summer!

Faye says "Welcome" to what she is almost through with. She alternates between hot and cold. I tell her that her thermostat is out of kilter.

HumorSmith said...

As a guy.....how do I relate? Hair loss? Nope. ED? Nope. Eczema? Nope. Well hell Pearl, I'll just say I have no idea what you're going through, but I am sorry it's happening. And aren't you way too young for this?

Gigi said...

Oh dear God - I know that this is lurking right around the corner for me! And what's this I hear about giving up chocolate and alcohol??? What do you think is going to get me through it all?!

Ponita in Real Life said...

I had minor hot flashes (which were an inconvenience but I could live with them) for a couple of years and then WHAMMO! The night sweats started and the hot flashes escalated to solar flare status rapidly. My sleep was majorly interrupted and I would turn beet red, be dripping sweat and many of my patients at work would notice (and mention it, for some reason). I had to put my reading glasses on a string so they wouldn't slide off my face and into god-only-knows-what. Nothing says "old lady" (at 52????) like a string on your glasses. *sigh* I solved it all by doing a bunch of research online and opting for Progesterone only (NO estrogen at all) taken at bedtime. Has to be a certain kind of progesterone (bio-identical - called "Prometrium" - the synthetic stuff is a no-no). Has worked like a charm!!! It's expensive but I wouldn't be without it! If you want more info, just email me.

mapstew said...

Oh yes! We have them in Ch├ęz Map too!
(Mrs. Map is also prone to them!) :¬)

xxx

Katie said...

So not looking forward to the hot flashes of menopause, but would gratefully trade that (at least today) for the yucky irritable bowel I ten d to get with pms every month. Nothing says I love you like having to spend have the day for a week solid on the potty.

Ugh! Female issues...I doth hate them...and I WILL bring an ax to Heaven to chop Eve's head off when I meet her. No problems with that right? God can sew it back on rather handily I imagine.

Pearl said...

Sioux, ha! That’s a good way to look at it!!

Hutch, oh that was so funny! I sent a card to my friend Mary two days ago: Why did the menopausal woman cross the road? To kill the chicken. :-)

Douglas, you mean there’s going to be more?! :-)

HumorSmith, you’re a lovely man, aren’t you? I’m well into my 40s, right in the thick of it…

Gigi, I know – No chocolate? No caffeine or alcohol?! !@#$!! It’s way too late to start the harder stuff, isn’t it?!

Ponita – and I’ll e-mail you – we’re very close in age. Going to contact you…

Map, so it’s worldwide, is it. Dammit!!

Oh, Katie. There’s no trading. There’s just adding on… :-)

Susan in the Boonies said...

I can't believe you can still remember running in to me like that, and here it's been 10 years.

The Retired One said...

Welcome to my world. Let the games begin. LOL
Hey, those hot flashes will come in real handy in Mpls. in the winter. SEE? There is a reason you live there year round, after all!

Jan said...

That makes me happy I never had a sister. My brothers would have been mock sympathetic.

Rawknrobyn.blogspot.com said...

Too bad you can't bottle a hot flash to take in small doses throughout the Minnesota winters. Or can you? If anyone can work that one, it's you, Pearl.
xoRobyn

River said...

Oh the hot flashes! I remember them well. Still get an occasional one, even now at 58. They began for me at 38 and weren't too bad at first. I was in a physically active job, and the heat and sweat just seemed like I'd been working too hard and fast. I managed to keep the heat to a minimum by eating much less chocolate. When I was about 50 the flashes became much hotter and happened more often. Roughly every hour or so I'd be flinging off layers of clothing, then putting it all back on again 5 minutes later. I was already taking HRT because of an early hysterectomy, but had started to wean myself off it, taking it only every two or three days instead of everyday. When the flinging off of clothes stage began, I went back to taking the HRT every day for a year. Things calmed down after that. The night sweats were uncomfortable and I got mighty tired of having to remake the bed every single morning. It's all mostly behind me now.

unfinishedperson.com said...

This post is smoking hot.

And I'm with Humor Smith, you're how old? No way. I wouldn't think you were a day over 35.

randine said...

I'm actually looking forward to menopause, because I work with a bunch of menopausal females who control the thermostat and keep it under lock and key, and keep the office about the temperature of a meat locker. I look at them sitting there fanning themselves and feel nothing but jealousy, as I sit and shiver.
Just a few more years maybe.
Hopefully.

Copyboy said...

I've had hot nervous flashes of sweat! Though that was 8th grade at the dinner dances.

lgsquirrel said...

Could there be a green sustainable (and renewable) energy idea waiting to be discovered here?

On My Soapbox said...

Since I'm always cold, I'm wondering if hot flashes will actually make me hot, or just a normal human temperature. Anyway, your sister will probably give you crap because:
It's not her who's having hot flashes.
She's scared that she's next.
She's your sister, and it's her job to give you crap.

Leenie said...

My, Oh my! You stirred up the ant hill that time Pearl. Hit a nerve. Kicked the beehive. Wow! Been there. Done it all. Got the sweaty tee shirt. Best wishes on going through adolescence backwards.

WrathofDawn said...

Meh. I'm too warm from time to time, but have so far dodged the bullet of the beet red flush/rivers of sweat type of hot flash.

Dress in layers (us northerners are good at that) and remember that the temperature you feel is not the real temperature of the room and in a minute or two, you'll be able to feel the real temperature again. Which beats the hell out of really being in 95 degree temps when you can't get away from it.

I'm just glad we get hot flashes and not pain flashes.

Brian Miller said...

i feel like i am missing out on something you know...

Cheeseboy said...

These hot flashes sound interesting. Can't wait for my first one. I'm going to wash my hair for the occasion.

f8hasit said...

Can your job relocate you to somewhere in the upper northern hemisphere, say the Alaskan tundra, until the episodes of hot flashes pass? Perhaps the cold air would help.

Although your spontaneous combustion may make it hard for those ice truckers to get where they are going. You're hotness will have melted all the roadways.
:-)

Kate Mohler said...

I'm sure I won't be far behind you, Pearl. Light the way with those hot-mama flames!

Mamma has spoken said...

Damn those hot flashes. I know they serve some kind of purpose but for the life of me I can't figure out what!

IndigoWrath said...

Hey Pearl. You may have to start carrying a car door around. Then, if it gets too hot, you can open a window. I'm just saying. Indigo

IndigoWrath said...

It's also amusing that we call them hot FLUSHES, not flashes. Us Brits, eh?

GreatGranny said...

When you get past the 'Flash' age, you'll be able to laugh at the funny moments when others thought it wasn't funny, a story behind this comment. Love your blog.
A hint, when you're in bed and 'Flash', gently drag your nails over your tummy and you'll get rid of it and feel chilly. (Worked for me.)
Thanks for visiting Kassey and her Mom.

John McElveen said...

So sorry Pearl...not for you--but for those around you who don't know whether to speak to you or hold up a Cross!!! Just kidding...my wife went through a very EASY case--if you can call any of it easy!

The Stripping Part--I'm gonna suggest to her!

Hugs---I think?, maybe? OK--Maybe not!

J

Far Side of Fifty said...

On your way to being a real woman..one that can function on one maybe two hours of sleep because between the flashes and the night sweats and then the chills that make you have to pee and change nightgowns all night long...so welcome to real womanhood! The only real positive thing is that it jump starts your metabolism..other than that menopause sucks...for about six years:(

Kristy said...

I hate being hot, I'll be a flaming bitch when I get hot flashes!

Shelly - Tropical Mum said...

Visiting you from Best Posts of the Week.

No caffeine? Really? That is just unfair. It sounds like you have a fun relationship with your sister.

I've enjoyed this post. Thanks for giving me a wee chuckle.

Sailor said...

Beautiful Writing!

Clipped Wings said...

You're one popular Pearl, young lady...like walking the length of the Miami airport trying to find the bottom of this comment list. My hot flashes were so mild, I barely noticed them, so no help from me on this one. Loved reading this post. You're one very talented writer.

Mrs. Tuna said...

Think how those of us who live in Arizona feel, in August, wearing panty hose........Sizzle