lisamedway

“Swampman”

In Comedy & Commentary on July 5, 2017 at 10:36 pm

The Biggest Lie I ever told was preceded by a falsehood, that expanded into a fib, then ballooned into full-tilt FRAUD. FYI: “Perfect Lie?”- Oxymoron.

It happened at my first interview for my first job writing for a t.v. show.

Lie number one flew-out-of-my mouth when the director asked me if I could come-up with an idea for a game show. They had a Host and title: Face the Music. The first pilot tanked. They needed a concept. The host had a contract.

Could you do it? I said, “Sure! Sounds like fun!” – I lied.

You’ve got “Face” and “Music.” We could show pictures of famous people from infancy til death, and play songs that match their lives, awards and scandals. Contestants will guess the song titles and recognize the celebrity. That’s entertainment!

Like Name That Tune with 8X10 glossies and a 5-piece band. I had just invented my motto: “Say Yes Now, Learn How, Later.”

The host was Ron Ely, famous for playing TARZAN in the 60s. He was handsome, fit and friendly. Six-foot-five with two, twinkling sapphires where mortal humans have eyeballs. Ron was like your fun, young bachelor uncle. We became instant pals.

The re-vamped pilot sold and we had a show! Best of all, I had a job! What a lucky break! I was 28 with a 1, 3 and 5 year old and sinking in the quicksand of a scary divorce from the father of my children, a 5-foot-6-&-3/4-inch Jewish Orthodontist. This gig was a gift.

I was earning $500 a week – the biggest payday I’d ever had in my life. 10% went to my agent and 85% went to the babysitter. I didn’t care. I had a job! In television!

One day Ron found me crying in a corner. I’d just gotten off another stressful phone call with my attorney. Ron got me to spill-the-beans about my divorce drama.

I was brand-new to the biz, but my gut told me that The Office is never the place to share details – especially gory ones – about your personal life. But he was terrific, kind and supportive. I told him everything. He was wonderful. I adored him. We dove-into pre-production, and Ron flew to Fiji.

Phil, Kevin, Greg, Gil and I shared one big office. I snagged the desk tucked-away in the back, near the window.

“The Boys” and I bonded, instantly. I wanted them to like me, but more important – to respect me. I needed to be one of the guys.

Blame it on shame – nerves, or panic – I didn’t want them to know about my divorce. It was a soap opera. And this was a game show. When they spotted the framed photo of my children, they knew I was a Mom. It was the moment of Truth – and I lied.

“What does your husband do?” Silence. All I could hear was my pulse and it was racing. They waited… and waited…and waited…

“My… husband? Well, he’s….. dead.” Wow! Those acting classes in New York had paid-off. It didn’t feel like lying – it was like improv!

“Yeah. It was terrible. A heart attack. He was only 38. I still can’t believe he’s gone.” I told my mouth: SHUT. UP. STOP. TALKING! Zip it! Zzzzzzzztttttt!

Why’d I say that? And why did the words feel like a rich chocolate truffle melting in my mouth? My colleagues could not have been kinder or more bamboozled.

My brain had done a triple somersault and I landed on my feet: a perfect “10!” It was the first day! We just met. We had to work together in the same office.

If I told them about the divorce, maybe they would have been judge-y, or squirmy. Men stick together like Velcro. I couldn’t risk being an outsider. I didn’t want to be Jeannie C. Reilly in The Harper Valley P.T.A. I didn’t want to wear a virtual scarlet “D” on my chest every day. We were a team. I was taking one for the team!

“Widowed. At 28. With 3 kids. Can you believe it?” And to my shock and awe – they did! They were sympathetic and darling and I was a bona fide, certifiable liar.

“I’m all right. The children are good. It’s hard, but I’ve got fantastic friends. And this job. THANK GOD for Face the Music and all of you.” My stock doubled then split. In their eyes, I was like a Jewish Jackie Kennedy.

The show was coming together. I loved going to work. My divorce was a Shit Show but THIS show was pure JOY. We were the happiest writing staff in syndication.

Ron came back from vacation and popped-by to meet the writers. “Hi, Gang! I’m Ron!” He stood in the door to our office like a Greek god wearing a pink IZOD shirt, with the collar up: tall and tan; those killer dimples dancing at the corners of his Pepsodent smile.

Before he left, the Love Fest turned into a lynching. Ron called to me across the room, “Lis? You okay? That wacky husband of yours behaving himself?”

Panicked, all I could do was sweat like a pig and give him two twitching thumbs up. The guys couldn’t believe Ron’s insensitivity. Did he know my husband was dead? Did he die while Ron was in Fiji?

I was so busted, with pit stains down to my waist. “Guys, Ron’s a sweetheart. Really. Don’t be mad at Ron. He didn’t know. In fact… The thing is…. I’m not a widow. I lied… Sorry!!!”

If I’d said I was in the middle of a nasty divorce, they would have hated my guts. I had to replace my widow lie with The Megalodon Lie of my Life.

“Don’t hate me, please?” I was babbling. I had no clue what I was saying. Words tumbled-out of my mouth faster than I could dream-up another lie or tally-up the number of lies I’d already told. All I knew was that I needed to invent the LIE of the CENTURY. A tsunami of a lie that would obliterate the lie collection I’d concocted up until this moment.

The She-Devil (eerily resembling my mother) on my shoulder snickered because she knew I’d burn for all eternity in a front row seat in Hell for my heinous lies. On my other shoulder, my Guardian Angel (so beautiful, a young Ginger Rogers) told the She-Devil to shut-the-fuck-up.

She reminded me that I am a creative organism. Fiction is my fortune. This was no lie, I wasn’t under oath. I was practicing self-care. I had children to feed and a lawyer to pay. Besides, this was Hollywood. Everybody lies in Hollywood.

I was merely harvesting the juicy fruits of my fertile imagination; using my nimble mind for GOOD, not EVIL. I adore my Guardian Angel and named her “Angela.” Go back to hell, She-Devil you bitch. Butt-out. SHOO! I’ve already got enough problems to sink a Carnival Cruise ship.

I gathered myself, stood-up straight and looked-off, out the window, in the distance, at the sound stage where they were taping “Pink Lady & Jeff” – a variety show starring Jeff Altman and a Japanese singing duo called “Pink Lady.” Their best line was, “Jeff? Maybe we hot to the go tub?”

I couldn’t dare make eye contact with my sweet colleagues to unload this dump truck of a whopper on them. I would have fallen to the floor in a puddle of remorse.

“I lied because, well… Pretty stupid, right? “Widow?” Insane. Super-Dumb.” THINK! Spit it out! SAY something! We need to get to work!

“The reason I made-up that lame widow story is because…. Because… Because… he’s not dead… He’s alive… Fact is….he’s…. Famous!”

“He’s…… a professional wrestler!” WHAT?! Where did that come from? Now, the guys were excited and impressed. How the hell did I whip that whopper out of my ass?

“I need to keep his identity a secret because it’s bad for his “brand” if his fans know that “Darryl” – (lie) – has a wife and kids. He needs to play the part of a badass wrestler.” They nodded and agreed. They forgot all about the widow and bought the wrestler.

O My God! I lied like I do it all the time; like it’s an accent; how I navigate the world. I was selling it, and they were buying it, and I couldn’t stop.

“He’s on the road a lot. The kids and I miss him so much when he’s on the road.”

Sidebar: This must be the same technique Trump and Conway use – V.D.S. – Verbal Diarrhea Syndrome. Don’t think, just talk. Don’t listen to the sound of your own voice, and don’t take a breath. Keep running your mouth like it’s a blender you never turn off.

The guys begged me to tell them my wrestler husband’s name. Without skipping a beat I said, “Swampman Mulligan.” He’s a 6-foot-6-inch 350 pound Cajun from Louisiana. Born on the bayou!

He’s a big teddy bear; wears a straw cowboy hat with an alligator band and wide alligator belt with a huge silver buckle: a rattlesnake. Have you been to Bogalusa?”

Somebody came up with the genius idea that the next time ‘Swampman’ was in L.A. we’d ALL go see him wrestle at The Olympic Auditorium. They couldn’t wait to meet him.

Two weeks later we were in the studio about to tape the first show and Ron came over to chat. “Lis? That jerk dentist stop giving you a hard time? When will the divorce be final? Are the kids all right?”

Goddammit, Ron! Go be a goddamn game show host! STOP spilling my beans! I caved and confessed to all of them about the preposterous ‘Swampman Mulligan” invention.

I’m sure they thought I was nuts. Clearly unhinged. Were those children in the photo on my desk  really mine? Or was that the picture that came with the frame?

O well…it was fun while it lasted. I thought I’d never work, again. Jobs come and go, but your reputation lasts forever. When you’re a LIAR.

It was time for me to face the music. I wore my shame like a scarlet letter – “L” for “Lisa,” “L” for LIAR!!!!

The guys thought it was hilarious and loved to tease me. One day I walked into work and they were blasting Creedence Clearwater’s “Born on The Bayou.” They restored my faith in straight men. Don’t get me wrong: I never want to marry one, again – but they’re a lot of fun at work.

I still wonder if they ever forgave me. I thought they did – but I’ll never know. They could have been lying.

 

 

 

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“The Bold, Bad, Beautiful & Boring”

In Uncategorized on June 6, 2017 at 11:01 pm

 

I’m not proud of what I’ve done. Okay, I’m ashamed. And yes, I feel a little dirty. But it’s over. I’m done. I gave it up and I stand before your tonight to admit that for over 29 years I was addicted to THE BOLD & THE BEAUTIFUL. In case you don’t know, it’s a half-hour soap opera on CBS that debuted in 1987. Maybe I started watching it because it was on before THE GUIDING LIGHT – a soap that my grandma, my sister and I watched. It was my grandma’s “Story.”

It didn’t matter what she was doing or where she was – Grammy would look at the clock and say, “Oy! I gotta go! My Story’s on!” She, my sister and I lived in three different cities and had conference calls about what was happening on GUIDING LIGHT. My mother thought we were nuts – but she was addicted to MATLOCK & MANNIX & MIAMI VICE (she was in love with Don Johnson). She’s always been judge-y.

THE BOLD AND THE BEAUTIFUL. From the same people who created THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS. But I never watched that. THE BOLD AND THE BEAUTIFUL. Maybe it was the alliteration? Maybe it was the promise that the characters would be bold and beautiful? Maybe because it takes place in L.A. I’ve been to every exterior shot on the show.

It was a curiosity that turned into a guilty pleasure and morphed into a habit. 12:30 – a perfect timeslot for Lunchtime T.V. It wasn’t a noisy, embarrassing game show, or gruesome breaking news or cringe-y porn – just a little, harmless, soft-core porn-bon bon of afternoon delight.

I’m not the only one who was lured into a decades-long addiction. Millions of stupid people still watch the show – it’s a sensation all-over the world. Only one out of a handful of soaps that’s still on the air. THE GUIDING LIGHT was extinguished 8 years ago. “The BOLD & THE BEAUTIFUL” must be doing something right, right?

Wrong! It’s horrible. It makes no sense. In my defense – there were years that I didn’t watch it (at least when it aired) – because I was at work. But once VCRs were invented – I taped it. Yes I did! I’d watch it after the kids went to bed, filled with self-loathing. Filled. To. The. Brim. With self-hate.

The story-lines are ridiculous; the writing is terrible – It has to be because it’s translated into like 40 different languages. The dialogue has to be super-simple so when the actors open their mouths – when they’re not making-out, it can be dubbed.

It’s on the air in Dubai, Latvia, Sri Lanka, Kenya, France, Iran, Indonesia, Poland. It’s a global phenom. It has out-lasted presidents, wars, pop-stars, marriages, countries, prison sentences and hundreds of prime time shows that bit the dust after two episodes.

For thirty years this show has been a bigger weekday Valentine to Los Angeles than LaLaLand will ever be.

Technically, due to the absurd number of commercials, a half-hour episode is never longer than 19 minutes and 4 seconds. But the aerial shots of LA before the show, during the show, after the commercials – shots of Downtown, Beverly Hills, The Griffith Observatory, Malibu – gobble-up about 5 minutes of air-time reducing the running time to about 13 ½ minutes per episode.

It’s on five days a week, pre-empted only by basketball, elections and car chases. That adds-up to approximately 4,900 minutes watching this stupid soap; time I could have done something, anything – or nothing better with my time.

I could have taken a nap. Read a book. Written a book. Cleaned my house. Cleaned somebody else’s house. Taken a shower. Taken a walk. Meditated. Anything but watching that show would have left me with higher self-esteem.

I knew by the Summer of 2016, that if I were still enmeshed in the little big 2-D lives of Brooke and Katie, Eric and Bill, Ridge and Steffy, Liam and Wyatt and  comic relief Pam  and her  signature “lemon bars”  – in 2017 (AKA today), when the series would celebrate its 30-year anniversary, I would be The Biggest Loser.

But I am happy to say that I broke-up with the show. It’s over. I won’t go back. Even though it’s tempting to find-out who Brooke Logan Forrester, Forrester, Forrester, Forrester might marry next. It would be her 8th, 9th or 10th marriage.

“Brooke Logan” is a poor girl from “The Valley.” In 1987 the San Fernando Valley was like it was a trailer park in Barstow. Brooke is the eldest daughter of a single mom – a caterer – majoring in chemistry. Her dad abandoned his wife and four kids.

Brooke’s one of two characters in the almost 30 years of the series who went to college. One night, in 1987, Brooke’s life changes forever when she takes a break from studying to become a bio-chemist to help her mom and be a server at a fancy, formal party at the Bel Air mansion of The Forresters where she meets “Ridge” the handsome, privileged playboy son and heir to the Forrester Creations empire – a world-renowned fashion house. It’s a 20th century Cinderella story that has survived the turn of the century.

Oh! – And in the first episode of the series – Brooke’s been raped on her way home from school and makes her little sister, Katie, vow to keep it a secret. Forever.

Even though she looks like a Victoria Secrets model, Brooke becomes a brilliant chemist. She’s a Central Casting prom queen blonde who’s treated like an angelic, virginal goddess of goodness by everyone except Ridge’s domineering, manipulative mother, Stephanie, the Forrester matriarch who calls Brooke “The Slut from the Valley.” Stephanie says this around 600,000 times before the actress who plays Stephanie quits the show.

Stephanie was furious that slutty Brooke and dreamy Ridge fell in love, but Ridge is her favorite child – which is no secret to her other three children. Brooke and Ridge get married for the first of many times and all they do is make love in an oversized twin bed in a tiny bedroom filled with enough candles to light-up the Grand Canyon; nearly-naked, a soundtrack of sultry saxophone music and tight shots of their lips, his abs and her yoga-toned legs.

The slow-beating heart of the show is Stephanie’s murderous hate for Brooke and Brooke accidentally – due to FATE: sleeping with, marrying, and being impregnated by ALL of the Forrester men – along with a few randoms. She marries Ridge 3 or 4 or 5 times. They have a son. Marries Ridge’s father, Eric, Stephanie’s husband, has 2 kids with him, seduces her daughter’s husband, has a daughter by him. And after all these births, continues, three decades later, to have a stomach as flat as a desert.

She marries Ridge’s brother. No kids. Has sex with Ridge’s son from his marriage to Taylor, whom Stephanie adores and is the only other college graduate – a brunette psychiatrist. She may have been written off the show because that beautiful actress had so much plastic surgery, she looked like her face was melting and her lips were going to explode if they were touched.

But although Ridge and Taylor have three kids, Ridge can’t keep it in his pants and is always swimming up-stream to Brooke. Why she is irresistible to men is never explained, but the spell Brooke casts upon the Forrester men is something out of a Grimm fairy tale.

Brooke is Ridge’s destiny – except when she’s whoring around. But it’s all because Brooke is a romantic with a heart as enormous as the Forrester’s net worth. Ridge has a few short-term marriages when he and Brooke are on the skids.

It’s all so inane – it could be high camp –  Daytime DYNASTY but it’s so hypnotically repetitive that watching it day after day, month after month, year after year, can actually lower your I.Q. It did mine.

They never use the word “sex” – maybe it’s a CBS Standards & Practices legality that an actress can wear a thong and a bra or maybe just a bed sheet, while the camera’s fixed on her cleavage or a butt cheek, however the word “sex” is not allowed to be spoken during lunch.

Instead they say, “Cross the Line.” ALL the time. As in, “I swear! It was just a kiss! We didn’t cross the line!” Or, “Please believe me, Ridge, Bill and I never crossed the line.” Or, “Tell me the truth! Did you and Brooke cross the line?” “I would never lie to you, Ridge, so yes… we crossed the line.”

When a character goes away to work “in “International” it means they’re working out of a  Forrester office in Milan or Paris. It’s handy when the actor is on vacation to send them “to international.” In the case of the Prince character, “Ridge” – the actor had been on the series for 25-plus years. In the storyline (that lasted almost a year) Ridge is furious when Brooke “crosses the line” with someone. This happens all the time because Brooke always follows her heart. She can’t help it. It’s because “her heart is so big.”

“It was an accident, Ridge! Please! Don’t leave L.A. and go to International! We can work this out! You’re my Destiny! Ridge? Ridge! Come back, Ridge! O… Ridge……”

Ridge returns to Los Angeles (from “International”) a year later and he’s a new Ridge. A different actor is now playing the lead role after two-and-a-half decades and everyone calls him Ridge, is thrilled that Ridge has returned from Paris, and in the flashbacks of all his previous weddings and “crossing the line” scenes – they either shoot around the original, old Ridge, or digitally remove his head. OMG!!!

All the women on the show want to be the Forrester Matriarch now that Stephanie’s dead (the actress quit the show), and all the men want to be the CEO of Forrester Creations. You rarely see a dress or a runway show or the Forrester Boutique on Rodeo Drive. Once in a blue moon you get to see a sketch of an evening gown that looks like a drawing on a Simplicity Pattern. Everyone “Ooohs & Ahhhs” over the sketch like it was the Shroud of Turin.

It’s just yak, yak, yak – characters re-hashing what happened 2 days ago for 2, 3 weeks. There’s a wedding every month. A food fight 3 times a year, a fashion show every 9 months, a plane crash, car crash or motorcycle crash once a year, a pregnancy twice a year, a miscarriage once a year, and in-between a LOT of Martinis and Wine and Crossing the Line.

The most egregious omission is that it’s about the fashion industry and it takes place in Los Angeles and there is only one gay character on the show: a neutered British fashion journalist who shows-up in an episode three or four times a year.

Saint Brooke – touted as being BEST MOM EVER – sends “RJ” (Ridge Junior) her 7 year-old son off to boarding school in Ojai. Why? “Because RJ wanted to go to boarding school.” Are you f-ing kidding me? So now it’s Christmas and the entire Forrester family’s together but no RJ. Why? Because RJ “wanted to stay at school over the holidays.” Really? Sooooo low-budge!

The show created headlines right before I went to BOLD AND THE BEAUTIFUL Rehab last year when a character turned-up as transgendered. Maya, a beautiful girl with a mysterious backstory falls in love with Rick Forrester and although she’s had a rough life in Chicago, ran away from home, has served time in prison, and lived on the streets – Rick falls for her — hard. He’s in love. Maya becomes the lead Forrester model and is soon engaged to Rick: a Forrester!

Before the wedding her much-younger sister Nicole shows-up. There’s tension. Bad blood. A secret. Maya doesn’t want her there. Turns-out Nicole knows Maya’s secret and threatens Maya that if Maya doesn’t tell Rick THE TRUTH before the wedding – she will. Maya begs, protests, pleads, “Please! Nicole! Don’t! Rick can NEVER know my secret. My Life is a fairy tale. He’ll never forgive me – I’ll be out on the street again – or worse. RICK. CAN. NEVER. KNOW. MY. SECRET! Nooooooo!!!!”

Nicole is ready to implode. “You HAVE to tell Rick. Be honest. Tell him who you really are, Maya. Tell him you’re NOT “Maya” my sister – you’re my brother, MYRON!”

Okay. Stick a fork in me: I was DONE. As shocked as Rick was when he discovered that Maya was transgendered – even though they had CROSSED THE LINE in many, many episodes – he was STILL shocked. AND he married her. But redemption in cheap in Daytime. He also killed Steffy’s twin sister while driving drunk. After a long time in Paris, in “International” Rick returned to L.A. a new and improved man proving that a couple of years in Paris is the magic cure to all character flaws and expired contracts.

So why did I kick the habit? Why did I walk-away after an almost three-decade investment? My son walked-in on me watching it and casually, with zero judgment said, “watchu watching.” I was ashamed – like he’d walked-in on me watching THE REAL HOUSEWIVES OF BEVERLY HILLS – which isn’t that different than THE BOLD AND THE BEAUTIFUL.

As he settled-in to watch with me he started asking questions like “is she sleeping with him?” – Yes. And “is she the evil one?” – Yes. And why is she hiding the wine bottle? IS she a drunk?” – Yes. And as we watched and bonded and I explained each dumb character’s backstory I felt worse and worse and worse.

I knew everything about every character. It was sad. “Who’s that?” – her? That’s Brooke. “Mom your nail polish is the same color as Brooke’s!” And I look at my nails and he was right. Brooke, THE SLUT FROM THE VALLEY and I were wearing the same color nail polish. And that was all it took for me to quit. Cold Turkey.

Since I’ve freed-up those 18 ½ minutes a day, Monday- Friday, I feel like a new woman. I get out into the day, walk in the sunshine. I never wear red nail polish – the color Brooke Logan Forrester Forrester Forrester Forrester Forrester was wearing the day my son busted me. And who knows – I might start dating again – I may be ready to meet someone and “cross-the-line.” I may not be beautiful, but goddammit – I AM BOLD!

 

“The Height of Flashin'”

In Uncategorized on October 15, 2016 at 8:02 pm

It starts with a WHOOSH like an unseasonal arctic wind. You grab that ratty cardigan that’s always within reach. You can’t wiggle into it quick enough. It’s eighty-five degrees, but you’re shivering. Your heart sinks, your smile turns upside down. You know what’s coming. O, the dread. Before your arm is in the second sleeve your body begins to turn into your own private rainforest. You are Jeff Goldblum in THE FLY. You tremble. And…it’s here! Ice turns to fire. Is it malaria? The tsunami of sweat starts at the top of your head. Gravity drags rivulets of perspiration through your scalp and down your forehead. Your face turns from a semi-life-like flesh-tone to CGI pink neon. Wetness drips down your face. Splat. That book you were reading looks like it fell it the toilet. Lucky you learned that waterproof mascara keeps you from looking like a cheap hooker after a sixteen-hour shift.

There’s a flash flood in your cleavage and puddles in your armpits. Is it dengue fever? Scarlet fever? Yellow fever? You don’t have a fever. You’re not dying. You’re not even sick. You’re having a hot flash. You rip tissues out of the box: one, two, three, four, five, six. Dab, dab, dab, blot, blot, blot; dab, blot dab, blot. You’re moist. You’re a mess. You blame it on the weather. On the halogen lights. On the broken thermostat. But it’s you that’s broken. YOU. And that flash is called a flash because it’s gone as fast as it came. Like a stealth graffiti artist it sneaks in, tags you with a gallon of sweat, then disappears. But it will be back. O, yes. It WILL be back.

You will have approximately fifteen to fifty more hot flashes in the next twenty-four hours and for the next fifteen years. You will donate your collection of gorgeous wool sweaters to GOODWILL. You will never wear wool again. And no turtlenecks until you’re at least seventy years old. Cheer up, Dearie. It could be worse: you could have 5,000 hot flashes a day for the next 1,000 years. I’m being silly. This hormone hell won’t last forever it will only seem like eternity.

I’m an adult female woman person. I have three children and pets and a job. I have a mortgage and pay taxes and still get my period every month along with the cable bill, electric bill, gas bill and phone bill. I have insurance for health, cars, property and my life. I know how to drive an SUV and use a computer. Now I’m crying for no reason! And I have pimples! I haven’t had a pimple since the 80s. And what the hell is that? A pine needle is sticking out of my chin. It’s… it’s… a hair! WTF????

Calm down. Take a breath. It’s not menopause. You’re only forty-three. It’s peri-menopause. Shut up. Just shut up! You’re not done. You can still get pregnant. It’s a fact. So what if your oldest child is leaving for college? Google, Google, research, research. You will take Black Cohosh. Done. Phew. Homeopathic is the way to go. No chemicals. Pharmaceuticals are poison. Relief is a bottle of Black Cohosh away. Sweats-Be-Gone! A month later, Black Cohosh: go fuck yourself. Black Cohosh is like a capsule full of nutmeg. Supplement scam. You’re Old Faithful. Why is it so humid? There’s zero humidity. It’s you. You cry at ATM machines. You yell at telemarketers. Your SPANX feel like a haz-mat suit. You walk-around with a fistful of Kleenex. Dabbing, always dabbing. You look crazy. You use that Flamenco fan you bought in Madrid. Ole. Fan, fan, fan. You’re getting carpal tunnel from fanning. You’re a peri-menopausal Willy Water Bug.

Tomatoes! You read an article that swears that fresh tomatoes stop hot flashes. Fat red tomatoes! Eat them. Eat a dozen a day. You hate tomatoes. And you’re flashing and growing a beard. Pluck. Pluck. Pluck. What’s with the fucking hair on your chinny-chin-chin? And the zits? You’re using Clearasil again for the first time since tenth grade. Pluck. Pluck. Pluck. Weep, sweat, pluck, dab, blot, fan. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.

You are a greasy, sweaty, steamy mess. Your hair is no longer a ‘do. It no longer has a style. You pull it back, up and high in an industrial clamp – you’re ready for the next Category five hurricane that’s headed for your head. You wear cotton T-shirts under everything and wear nothing when you go to bed. You wonder if they still make dress shields. Your grandma used to use dress shields. SON-OF-A-BITCH MAKE IT STOP!

Every morning your sheets are damp. You haven’t peed in bed. You know this for a fact because you haven’t slept. You flashed the night away, naked. You’re exhausted. You’re cranky. You wish you’d been born a boy. You give-up coffee, red wine, Indian food. This Equatorial rollercoaster of blood, sweat, tears, whiskers and pimples is the cruelest hoax Mother Nature has ever played. When you cry, it’s like your eyeballs are having their own mini-sub-hot flashes.

The doctor! You have a doctor! God bless your fabulous, darling doctor. She is a genius. She went to medical school and became a doctor. She will fix this (minus the chin hairs; laser hair removal will fix that. And the pimples; a dermatologist will fix that).

Dr. Darling knows your misery. She has a chart full of misery with your name on it. She prescribes a little patch that looks like a tiny square of Scotch tape. Your insurance doesn’t cover it. Of course it doesn’t. You don’t care. It’s a cure! You’ll sell a kidney for a cure. It’s called The Vivelle Dot! How great is that? Even its name is adorable – it should be the fourth Power Puff Girl. Sorry horrible hormones, you nasty bastards. You let me down and I am replacing you with The Vivelle Dot.

Alas, still no wool sweaters, no turtlenecks (maybe when I’m seventy?), no silk shirts or scarves – it’s cotton, cotton, cotton my life is all about cotton. The touch, the feel – it’s the fabric of my life until this nightmare is over. The Vivelle Dot works! It’s a miracle! Thank you, darling doctor. Thank you, V.D. (that’s its nickname)!

It has been a year. I’m occasionally schvitzy and my hair, when I wear it down, feels like a Navajo blanket – but it’s great in the winter, I don’t need a hat. And it’s like wearing a pashmina when a room is a balmy 46 degrees. What a relief! No more unwanted facial hair (which seems redundant when you’re a woman because other than eyebrows isn’t all facial hair “unwanted?”). My skin is glowing and pimple (and for now, wrinkle) free.

These are happy days. My fabulous forties. I put the Flamenco fan away. It’s a souvenir, again, not a necessity. I won’t chance it and wear SPANX. Belly fat: come to Mama. Most of the time I sweat when it’s appropriate. On my terms. I glisten, instead of looking like a hairy, zitty, blubbering flood victim. And I could still, if I wanted to, get pregnant. I guess. It’s not too late. Besides, this is only peri-menopause. This is just the coming attraction, the teaser, the appetizer. I must prepare for the real deal; the main course. The full-length feature. Sometimes it’s hard to be a woman. Like all the time.