I've been accused of not understanding what happens to women when they go through the change of life. It's not that I don't want to understand. It's just that I'm too busy dodging pots and pans to give the matter my full attention.
That's a joke, and probably not a very good one, but if we're to come to an understanding about the issues of menopause, a sense of humor is absolutely essential.
So let's first consider the fact that it's called men-o-pause, and not women-o-pause.
Why is that? Because in the midst of the madness, men can only pause and wonder: what the hell is going on?
It's a dramatic, turbulent time in the life of a woman, but it's not as if I can't relate to what's going on. Hot flashes, mood swings, crying jags -- jeez, I experience these things every time I check on the status of my 401K retirement account.
"You have many wonderful qualities," my British wife Kim tells me, "but expressing sympathy for medical or hormonal issues is not one of them. Suffice it to say that if I called you from London to explain I was in the hospital following an emergency leg amputation your response would likely be, 'Well, you can still hop, can't you?'"
My wife also tells me how good men have it. "You're lucky," she says. "Men go on and on. You can father children well into your seventies!"
I saw one of those "lucky" men once. It's one of my most harrowing memories.
Back when my son was ten years old, he was accepted into a private school on the Upper West Side. There was a get-to-know-each-other meeting of the new students and their parents, and in the midst of the usual yuppified Manhattan couples was a couple that really stood out.
"Stood" is actually the wrong word here, because I'm not sure the dad was actually able to stand. He had white hair and a face like a walnut. Beside him sat his trophy wife -- in truth, this trophy was a bit tarnished, but as she was forty or fifty years younger than her husband, and his eyesight wasn't what it had been, she probably looked pretty good to him.
Between them sat their son, a curly-haired ten year old who'd certainly never played soccer or tossed a baseball with his father. Their idea of father-son bonding probably involved playing a game called "Find Dad's Teeth."
As the principal chirped on about the school's exceptional qualities, the father's chin actually came to rest on the table. He'd obviously been through this sort of meeting before, back in the 1950s, when he'd had his first family.
Something had gone wrong in his first marriage, or maybe his wife had died, and like many an old prizefighter, he probably thought he was good for one last bout. His swimmers were still swimming (though they probably wore life preservers), and he went for it.
So instead of resting on a beach in Florida, this guy was looking at eight years of private school tuition, with four years of college to follow. Ca-ching, ca-ching, make that cash register ring! Whatever that old boy did for a living, he wasn't going to stop doing it any time soon.
But he did do something amazing at that meeting -- he took a nap, God bless him. When he started snoring the principal wrapped up her remarks and the rest of us were careful not to wake him as we had coffee and cake.
Ideally, husbands' and wives' reproductive functions would cease and desist at the same time. As an act of solidarity I've thought of having myself snipped, but I've been in the news business way too long for that to happen.
Non-essential surgery? Please. I've bolted at the sight of hospitals ever since I covered a story for the New York Post back in the early eighties, when some poor guy was on life support at a Manhattan hospital, and they accidentally hooked him up to the air conditioning system.
(I believe the Post headline was "THE BIG CHILL," a popular movie at that time.)
Anyway, things happen. The wrong leg is amputated, a fat man goes in for liposuction and comes out a thin woman... I realize that more than 99 percent of the time everything goes smoothly with surgical procedures, but I've made a living out of covering the things that don't go right, and it's left me with a suspicious nature.
So considering my nature, I will allow Mother Nature take its course with my boys, and I'll continue to stay away from hospitals unless I'm in a life-threatening situation.
Like if my wife's aim improves, and one of those pots cracks my skull. Only kidding, honey. Please, put the pot down.
Charlie Carillo's latest novel is One Hit Wonder. His website is www.charliecarillo.com. He's a producer for the TV show Inside Edition.
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