The Glistening: Adventures in Aging Ungraciously

I'm trying to embrace the “no sweat, no glory” adage, but for right now, getting older sucks.

by Patricia Boyd-King • Member { View Profile }
Photograph: iStock

I will celebrate the 30th anniversary of my 29th birthday this year. No way! I’m getting older, but still holding on to every morsel of youthful exuberance I have. At one time or another, I have fallen prey to the notion that getting older was a badge of honor, a woman’s true rite of passage to age graciously with finesse and style. I have, however, developed a new view of getting older and it ain’t pretty. Aging has misled us with the oh-so-beautiful Diane Carroll or Lauren Bacall.

My body and mind are currently at odds with one another on this issue of aging. This conundrum began innocently enough. I was sitting in a mixed gender meeting and started to feel some heat coming from my undercarriage, up through my back to the tips of my ears, like the sun was way too close. Then there was moisture, and lots of it coming from some unknown source. My fellow womenfolk, as I have discovered over the last several months, my issue, and many of yours as well, is hot moisture, a.k.a. “hot flashes” and/or “night sweats!” How does one control it and/or stop it, and is there anybody out there, anywhere out there who can just make it go away? I’ve embraced my beautiful boy cut hair being gray. I’m even o.k. with the few stray hairs I find on my chin and lip area that I have to pluck every now and again. I’ve tolerated my thyroid not working, the aches and pains that come and go at will, needing a tune up here and there, as well as suddenly becoming vision impaired according to my optomologist. Not so blind that I need “prescription” glasses, just blind enough to need readers. Did you know readers can be purchased anywhere? A 7-11? A gas station? I’ve become a collector of readers, but can never find a pair when I need a pair.

But this sweating business has me verklempt. I was moving along pretty good with my life I thought−no real legitimate complaints, no real aches to speak of, a few worries here and there. Then I celebrated the 25th anniversary of my 25th birthday, and the day after that birthday a nuclear eclipse happened to my body. My “aha” moment, and shock and awe was my reaction! I’ve resorted to carrying around collapsible fabric Frisbees so that when I feel the radiating heat, I can pop it out to ward off the waterworks that accompanies the heat before anyone notices and I hear “are you hot?” But that only invites more conversation and that dreaded question “are you hot”? My response “I’m enjoying my own private summer in the Amazon." Between the radiating heat and the water showering down my body, I’m my own personal sauna with 100 percent humidity. I feel like Washington D.C. in July. With the amount of water coming out of my body and the radiating heat, I should be the size of a super model.

Needless to say, that is NOT the case. I feel the way the Human Torch from the Fantastic Four looks, except I can’t flame on/flame off at will like he can. Men make it even worse because they don’t know what to say or do. I guess they want to help in that way men do, but this is way beyond their purview of knowledge. They cannot fix this. My husband asks me every time I break out a fan, “you’re hot?” My male boss looks at me as if he fears for his life, and I always think people are staring. I know they are. Maybe it’s just me, self conscious about feeling like a pot of boiling water about to boil over — in the middle of the street —in public! YIKES! As women, we must endure having or not having boobs, menstruation, husbands/significant others, childbirth, children, having a job or a career, and a home with all the accoutrements. We are expected to maintain all these things in pristine condition with the grace and dignity handed down to us by previous generations. Don’t let them see you sweat.

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