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Thursday, March 8, 2012

Have You Always Been That Hot?

A re-post, as I had band practice last night.  :-)  

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, from the looks of things near the front of the bus, the need to wash one’s hair, even quarterly.

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 call my sister. Better get a second opinion.

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

“You sure are,” she says, absent-mindedly, the sound of papers moving. “I’ve always said so.”

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

One can 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 says. “Do you feel cranky, too?”


“I heard you get mood swings.”

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

“You’re kidding, right?”


The line goes quiet as I stare at the back of the head three seats in front of me.  I imagine what will happen to the environment should this man wash his hair.

“So what are you going to do?”

“I don’t know,” I say. “Go to work?”

“That’s probably wise,” she says, 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.


Susan in the Boonies said...

Gosh I love this post. Re-post or not, there you are, strumming my fate with your fingers, singing my life with your words. Killing me softly with your post.

Or maybe killing me hotly with your post.

NotesFromAbroad said...

and I loved it all over again.
Actually, with my wonky memory, it was all sorta new to me :)

Love ... me ... currently sitting in underwear while experiencing a hot flash.

Sausage Fingers said...

I feel you pain...the wife suffers from the same affliction and therefore so do I. I have found that copious amounts of tequila, lime, and triple sec mixed together then poured in a salt rimmed glass, then consumed in front of the the ocean help very much. You could also get one of those little battery operated fans that fit so delicately inside a purse but my medical opinion steers toward the liquid remedy.

Shelly said...

"I am two years older than she is, and much of my life has served as a warning."
I am the oldest in my family and indeed, my life has served as timely warnings time and time again for my siblings. I feel somehow I am owed something by them...

Anonymous said...

Been there and done that. Carry water with you at all times, not for dumping over yourself as you might expect, but to sip on. Drinking very cold water helps. Keep a small fan on your desk. Carry dry underwear and a change of clothing (just kidding). Deep breathing also helps as long as your cubicle mate is fore warned that you are not getting the hots for them.

esbboston said...

I know, I know, the second El Flamo Nick Cage movie is coming out, and you feel the need to be a super hero.

esbboston said...

Yea! Your page counter went over 200,000 ! You need to celebrate!

Leauxra said...

This hasn't happened to me yet, but I am prepared. I have a beautiful Spanish painted wooden fan that is with me at all times. I have a feeling, though, that if it happens at work, I will be comfortable in the refrigerator where I work for the first time.

fishducky said...

One of the VERY few advantages of getting old--I don't have those any more!!

Dr. Kathy McCoy said...

I can so empathize, Pearl! My first hot flash happened during a meeting of academic psychologists -- very staid gathering. Suddenly, I was on fire, sweat rolling down my face and hoping no one would notice. Not a chance. The chair of the meeting -- an outspoken and very "out" gay man -- announced "Oh, Kathy is having a hot flash, everyone! Relax, Kathy! Some people call them 'power surges'!"

C... said...

I was having a hot flash one day and this girl that was talking to me just kept getting closer and closer to me as she talked. She kept asking me if I was okay because I was sweating like a bank robber standing near a police station. It really just made me want to push her away and run out of the room. It has not happened again since. I normally just wake up drenched in sweat from night flashes though.

Suldog said...

I have serious sympathy for women with hot flashes. I've seen MY WIFE have them for quite a while now. She admirably suffers in silence, and I can only imagine how miserable and crabby I would be if I were subject to the same agonies. I've always tried to help in any way I can - buying every remedy I hear of, keeping temps lower than I would prefer in the house, etc. - but she is very much my hero for going through such stuff and not making my life any more unbearable because of it. I mean that, most sincerely.

Buttons said...

Thanks for making me laugh out loud. Boy it is hot in here. I love my nasty sister too:) B

Andrea SunnyDays said...

I've been waiting for this to happen to me, sometimes I think it already has. Since my uterus decided to follow my son out the door ten years ago leaving my body in this weird state of limbo, I've been on the M word watch. The doctor assures me I've 'probably' got time, though what the heck does he know, he's a man after all!

Raymond Alexander Kukkee said...

I've heard of hot flashes but never had one, --being male and all that. Well, never had one until I saw your pic. You do tend to raise the thermometer. ":)
You also have an excellent way of writing about life that keeps your readers coming back, re-posts or not! Well done!

R. Jacob said...

Well that explains you not wearing your jacket while waiting at the bus stop!
Seriously, my sympathy is extended to you. We have male menopause, no hot flashes thank goodness.

Simply Suthern said...

So no one stood around you trying to warm their hands?

I feel for you, but I just cant reach you.

I used to work with a guy that was 9 years older. He let me know what was going to happen as I aged.

At 40 I was going to need glasses. Sure nuff.

At 45 stuff starts hurting and not working as well, Sure nuff

Then 8 yrs ago he passed. I aint real sure what to think of that.

Z said...

I'm so glad that's something that passes by the women in my family. I've never had one and soon will be too old to start.

Anonymous said...

I think I'm turned on.

Sioux said...

And they go on for a loooong time!

jenny_o said...

Some people suffer more than others. Here's hoping you're one of the "others".

Symdaddy said...

I really should start reading Peg's posts so that I know exactly what I'm commenting on.


I'm a comment junkie!!!

(Not a very good either. Had to try twice before I got it right)

Anonymous said...

Having been through that for the last few years with Wendy, I know exactly whereof you speak. And yes, you are on fire and not in any old good way. My compassion to you.

Gigi said...

I have not yet been afflicted but when I do succumb, be warned. I'm sending you an email and expecting lots and lots of sympathy!

The Elephant's Child said...

Glorious repost. My hot flushes have twice lead security guards in shops to ask if they can check my bags. Obviously they are taught that a heavily perspiring red woman is a thief. They may need to revisit that training. They were not told that an overheated woman may also be channelling the psycho bitch from hell. (No security guards were harmed in the events leading to this comment.)

W.C.Camp said...

I guess you might want to carry one of those portable fire extinguishers? No - on second thought just carry a bag of ice with you at all times ... then at least you can have a drink when all else fails!! W.C.C.

Stephanie said...

This made me smile. You have a great writing voice! I'm glad that I found your blog.

David Macaulay said...

doesn't sound too much like fun - a way of keeping warm in a cold climate, perhaps.

Katie Gates said...

Oh God, girl, welcome to my world. I started flashing in '96 (at the tender age of not yet 40), and while the flashes have become less intense over the last few years, I still get them regularly. Early on, I found them analogous to earthquakes: when they start, you don't know how long they will last or how intense they will be. Gradually, though, I figured it out. It's a thermostat issue, and if you can AHEAD of the flash, it won't be so intense. I dress in layers, and the minute I feel a flash starting, I start to take things off. If I am successful in reducing the temperature OUTSIDE my body, the temp inside doesn't get so high. ...Now I need to figure out how to control earthquakes.

River said...

My hot flashes didn't have me red and sweating, just sunburn pink and very uncomfortable. I'd be peeling off layers, then ten minutes later putting them all back on again, only to repeat the process in a half hour...I found by accident that I suffered much less if I gave up coffee and chocolate. Twelve years on, I still get the occasional one.

IndigoWrath said...

Hey Pearl! Ah, the oddities of our languages; in the UK, we call them "hot flushes". Yours sound less lavatorial. Indigo x

Dawn @Lighten Up! said...

"What do you do? You go on."
I needed that sentence today, friend, more than you'll ever know.

CarrieBoo said...

You could possibly be the funniest woman on the planet! :D I really hope that guy doesn't wash his hair. And strangely enough, being three years older than my sister and having acted as a constant warning throughout her life... you explained that dynamic perfectly!

Dawn @Lighten Up! said...

It was so nice, sseeing you in the line at the grocery store that day...

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

I've got an industrial sized icemaker on order for when my hot flashes start coming on regularly.

darlin said...

Another brilliant piece of writing Pearl. I hope, hope, hope that I miss out on the hot phase. Being "hot" once in a lifetime is quite enough for me, even though that ended somewhere in my 30's. (sigh) This age is funny in it's own way, there are some good photos still left in me, just take it from the "right angle" with the "right lighting". I think that I'll call this phase of my life my "Photographers hate me stage of life". Ya, that works. I can hear it now:

"How old are you?"

"I'm at the Photographers hate me stage of my life. No more questions please." ;-)

Tammy said...

How I loved that audible nod! Great post.

Sharon Greenthal said...

There is a sisterhood of the hot flashers, and we all nod knowingly at each other from across crowded rooms...I would have offered you a bottle of water and said "I understand."