Oh, I know a lot of men are made uncomfortable by this monthly miracle. But not me. No, I embrace it. Embrace it the way some men embrace the weekend! Why, I anticipate it the way a child anticipates Christmas...for I have a good attitude towards MENSTRUATION!
-- Dave Foley
'I'm breaking out," David complained, examining his scalp in the mirror. "Are you feeling emotional?" I didn't believe him the first time he told me, but after years of experience, I am now convinced that David's smooth, shaved head is a divining rod for menstruating women.
I learned of my partner's "early-warning system" the day after our second date, when I called to tell him I had had a great time.
"Me too!" he said. Then the conversation turned awkward. "This may sound weird," he added, "but are you by any chance about to get your period?"
Uh, yeah, weird is a good word for it, I thought. We'd only kissed once -- where did this guy get off? My urge to keep my private parts just that was overwhelmed by my curiosity regarding how I'd let on that I was premenstrual.
"Yes, I am about to get my period," I snapped. "Why are you asking me that?"
"Well, you see, if I'm around a woman who is menstruating, the top of my head breaks out. I think it has something to do with female hormones," said David.
"Ha! You're trying to tell me that your head informed you of my impending monthly?"
"Yes." I strained to detect a hint of humor in his voice, waited a few seconds for him to tell me how he really knew, but nothing.
I have no idea how it is that David's body reacts in such a strong and obvious way to chemical changes in my body (or any woman's), but I have come to rely on his head's accuracy. It's to the point where I stopped keeping track of my period altogether. A few blemishes on his melon means I have about a week before my hormones begin to boil. And God help the poor pimply one when that happens.
I'd like to take a moment to congratulate any men who are still reading (even if morbid fascination is your motivating factor). David is the only man I've ever known who is sympathetic rather than dismissive when it comes to "the curse." I grew up in a household of women.
When his last daughter came of age, my father had to deal with not one but five unstable women every month. We were all hormonal at the same time, which is at least two weeks out of every four. For reasons not yet discovered by science (an industry dominated by men), cohabiting women end up with synchronized periods -- those with submissive hormones naturally adjust their bodies to the "alpha" female, or she who could cause the biggest breakout on David's head.
By the time I "flowered" at 15, my father knew the difference between the words "Ultra" and "Long" and the significance of the word "Unscented." He was regularly asked to stop by the commissary to pick up feminine products that were as individual and different as his wife and daughters. I couldn't tell you what kind of tampons I have under the bathroom sink today without checking, which is why I respect Dad's disciplined memory, dedicated to keeping his family from snapping his head off.
Every conceivable symptom that contributes to PMS was covered in our household. Heather's cramps were so bad she'd often have to stay home from school. Mom's lethargy was contagious. Jane became extra bitchy. Jenny, who was always a little psycho to begin with, was frighteningly unpredictable. And I was an emotional wreck.
I can't speak for my sisters, but I have noticed that with time, I have come to better understand my body's needs and wants. I now respond to my familiar symptoms with the speed and precision of an emergency medical technician. Even though I don't keep a calendar, I am always prepared, due to David's prophetic head. Unlike many women, whose bodies are regulated by some kind of birth control medication, mine is as consistent as a politician's version of the truth.
"How many do you have?" I asked David, my eyes meeting his in the mirror's reflection.
"Yeah. It's going to be a bad one." Despite his history of female friends, a sister, and six prior relationships, David had never before encountered a woman with PMS as extreme as mine. He should be sainted for how he handles me during my tender time of the month.
As my body prepares to lose blood, my mood alternates 60 times per hour between angry, ecstatic, miserable, amused, angry, and really, really angry. Have I mentioned I don't handle pain very well? At the first sign of a cramp, I'm practically sobbing in the cup of tea David has most likely brought to me, along with a hopeful dose of Pamprin.
My complaints about the tiny bump on my chin earn me two rolling eyes from David as he points emphatically to his seven signs of my fecundity. I crave meat and demand a quick trip to Adams Avenue Grill, home of my favorite burger in town.
The entire way there, I bitch about the drivers on the road and fret over how I look, even though an hour before I'd said I didn't feel like taking a shower or fixing my hair and moped about how I didn't want to bother with the task of grooming anymore. David, ever wise in times of trouble, refrains from bringing this up.
When we arrive home, I want to cry. But I have no good reason to cry, so I sift through the few tearjerkers we own until my eyes find my favorite movie of all time -- The Color Purple. David runs downstairs to make popcorn and fetch me a glass of 20-year-old Fonseca Tawny Port.