Aunt Flo: Exposed

Aunt-Flo-350x245By Lisa Sugarman

I don’t use the word ‘hate’ very often. I mean, it’s so powerful and harsh and cold. Plus, it just conjures negativity, and you all know how much I hate negativity, as a general rule. So then you know when I use it, I’m not mincing words. I’m being deliberate.

All that being said, I hate my Aunt Flo. I know that makes me sound like a terrible, awful person, but it’s true. And I think, after 30-plus years of dealing with her unannounced visits and disruptive nature, I’m finally ready to expose her for the nasty biatch she really is.

Clearly I’m personifying here, both for dramatic effect and to help you be able to better visualize something that’s historically difficult for people to describe. But yes, in case there’s any doubt, I’m talking about the hateful visitor us girls get every month. You know her, she’s the one who renders most of us incapable of living normal emotional and physical lives one solid week out of every month. The one who makes the men in our lives want to fake a business trip every three weeks that ‘coincidentally’ coincides with our Aunt Flo coming to visit.

If you haven’t guessed by now, I’m talking about periods. Yes, periods. You know, “code reds,” “cousin Claudia,” “communists in the summer house,” “time of the month,” “the curse,” “having the painters and decorators in,” “lady days,” “nature’s gift,” “the misery.” And I’m doing it right out here in the open, where everyone can see me, with no veil of modesty whatsoever. But that’s probably because I have relatively no fear when I’m typing words onto a two-dimensional computer screen. It’s not usually until Thursday afternoons, when I read the paper and see what I wrote in print, that the reality of what I might have said hits me like a brick in the face.

Now my teenage daughters would be emotionally ruined if they knew I was writing about this publicly, but since they’re both so completely absorbed in their own lives and barely, if ever, read my columns, I figure the over under on them reading this is low. So just do me a favor, be a pal, and don’t mention my column if you happen to see them anywhere.

Actually, I’m talking about this with a real purpose, as I try to do most things. And I feel pretty confident that most people out there can handle a conversation like this. You’re adults, after all. And it’s not like I’m swearing. I’m just using harmless little euphemisms. So before you write me off as a complete shock jock, just hang in there til the end. Because I’m confident (or at least hopeful) that you’ll walk away with some kind of higher understanding of why I felt like this was an important thing to talk about.

It’s because I try so hard to write about global issues that seem to be the most mainstream at the moment, that I just couldn’t let this subject go unaddressed. I like to start dialogues that might somehow be useful on a global level. Things that have mind-shifting capabilities. And while I know that the chances are good that this subject has never been addressed here, like this, I figure if not now, when? And if my talking about it can give people a greater sense of calm and control over an otherwise volatile issue, then I’m compelled to forge on.
So let’s forge.

I feel like lately, I’m hearing a lot of ranting out there from girlfriends (and even some guys) about how upended they feel whenever ‘that time’ of the month comes around. It seems like this one thing impacts nearly everyone, and not in a good way. I mean, most of us are just trying to get by on a good day, so when you factor in a full week of the month feeling bloated, ravenous, irritated, anxious and moody on top of all the regular junk we deal with, it makes it a little tough to function normally. And I’m writing to the guys here as much as I’m writing to the girls because this affects you almost as much as it does us. So I guess I’m thinking it might be beneficial for the guys to really understand what’s going on under the hood every three weeks so that you have some shot at being able to survive the undertow.

Now I’m talking directly to you, guys…

Three weeks out of the month, we love you. The other week, we want to stab you in the throat. I’m sorry, I know that’s tough to hear, but I’d rather you know the truth than be misinformed. Also, forget everything you’ve ever heard or read about how to handle a hormonal woman. Here are the top survival points, so focus: Do not speak unless spoken to. Because anything you say can, and will, be used against you. Hold all compliments until she’s smiling at herself in the mirror again because that means the bloating has officially passed. Give her anything and everything she asks for. Do NOT ask questions. And for God’s sake, no touching! Touching a menopausal woman is bad. B-A-D. And keep your fingers away from her mouth at all times. I know guys who’ve lost an index finger up to the knuckle because they got too close during our feeding time. And I call it ‘feeding time’ because that’s what it is when we have our period. Our eating turns very primal. If there was a carcass on the side of Atlantic Avenue and we were desperate and without kids in the car, some of us might actually stop to feed. Don’t act overly happy around us; we hate when other people are happy when we feel miserable. Don’t ask for anything. But that goes back to the not speaking, so if you remember that then you’re covered. And keep the kids away, as much for your sake as for theirs. No interaction between a child and a hormonal mom will end well. There have been studies done, I’m sure. Oh, and did I say no sex? Or was that implied? Otherwise, that should about do it. Follow these instructions, boys, and you’re home free.

Finally, to all my sistahs out there…

Didn’t your mother ever tell you, you get what you get, so don’t throw a fit? Well, that’s really all I’ve got here. Remember, we can give birth, and that’s super cool, right? Otherwise I’ve got nothing’. Sorry. Guess it just is what it is. And thank god Midol is over the counter.

Lisa Sugarman lives in Marblehead. Read and discuss all her columns at OR follow her blog at


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