The Flippo Files

Reflections on life, motherhood, fashion, eating, eccentric families, Argentine tango, horses, and Texas. Possibly menopause.

The Mean Tanguera

There is one in every town. A grown-up version of the prototype we all knew in junior high or high school. Amazing to witness or experience in an adult social environment. Recently I ran across one who gave me an unsolicited and punishing critique of my wardrobe. As a helpful cautionary guide, these are the characteristics of a Mean Tanguera:

  1. Usually beyond middle age. In Spanish, “Ya cruzó la frontera.”
  2. Not happy.
  3. Rigid.
  4. Gratuitously nasty.
  5. Always in the right, on any subject (organization, etiquette, music, appearance, clothing, dance, etc.)
  6. Assumes one is interested in her point of view.
  7. Goes after women, although men can also come to grief.

For those who see Tango as a microcosm of life, this information probably comes as no surprise. Still, an encounter with a Mean Tanguera never fails to startle. So, in commemoration of this experience, I have listed some favorite literary and theatrical characters. Sort of a “Regina George All Grown Up” concept (my favorite character from the movie Mean Girls). ANY of these could inspire a wonderful Halloween costume,  just in time for the holiday.

I have pictured some below. See if you can recognize them.


Caroline Bingley in Pride and Prejudice

The Evil Stepsisters in Cinderella

Mrs. Clennam in Little Dorrit

Mrs. Danvers in Rebecca

Ursula The Seawitch in Disney’s The Little Mermaid

Endora in Bewitched

Miss Elmira Gulch in The Wizard of Oz


Myrtha, Queen Of The Wilies in Giselle

Odile in Swan Lake

Carabosse in Sleeping Beauty

The Dressmaker

Stella has all the secrets.  She can transform a hand-me-down beaded dress that’s in tatters into a garment worthy of any red carpet function. She can take two yards of material and turn them into a beautifully fitted piece of art from any era – without a pattern.  Her expert eye can make a thrift store “maybe” into a gala “It” dress.  All out of her little trailer house in Sequin.

In her younger years, Stella headed up the alterations departments of various high-end boutiques and exclusive department stores.  At some point, she broke off and began working on her own.

That’s when she came to learn the real secrets.  The secrets of her clients.

In Stella’s heyday, a dressmaker was everything.  To the fashionistas and the ladies-who-lunch of the 60’s and 70’s, a dressmaker was as important as today’s personal trainer.  Or, dare I say, psychiatrist. Well-to-do women flocked to Stella for something special – like a Jr. League luncheon ensemble or bridal gown.  Maybe a mother-of-the-bride dress, and certainly that glamorous gown necessary for a big charity event.  In Texas cities like Dallas and Houston, it was very important that one not be seen at a gala function in the same dress twice.  Ever.  And certainly the dress had to be an exclusive.

So the women came, and Stella sewed. She ordered luxurious fabrics from the east coast or Europe. She searched for hand-made sequins from Hong Kong.   She scheduled consultations and fittings, and second fittings.  During all of these sessions, the women talked. They talked about the details of their privileged lives. They let slip the sorrows and frustrations (and perhaps the boredom) of their daily routines. They talked about their marriages and their children. When they gained weight they went to Stella.  When they grieved and lost weight, or went through “the change” they went to Stella.  When they celebrated something important they went to Stella.   Stella was probably one of the first people to learn the details of any major life event, because it always affected the clothing – and to these women clothing was everything.

Not long ago, a long time client of Stella’s passed away. According to the family, the woman kept every dress ever made for her by Stella.  Her closet was a virtual time capsule of the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s with each dress marking an important occasion in her life.  So much of Stella went into those dresses, and so much friendship, trust, and love between the two women was sewn with each stitch.  Stella still yearns to see the carefully preserved dresses, because in many ways the collection represents a microcosm of her life’s work.

Now in her late 70’s, Stella has slowed down considerably.  She no longer takes on the big projects – the giant tulle and beaded gowns, or the extravagant Fiesta dresses.  What most interests her are the smaller, high quality projects. These days, Stella loves to take a vintage dress with exquisite hand work, make a few changes, and salvage it.  She can even guess the designers. Once I unknowingly bought a Dior from the late 40’s and took it to her for a simple alteration. The tag had long since fallen out, but she recognized the work. Certain details in that dress left no doubt in her mind that it was an original and she was thrilled.

I recently took a chance and bought an old Scala off the internet. The measurements and proportions were decidedly strange, but I figured Stella could probably fix it.  When she saw it, she identified its era, told me exactly how it would have been custom ordered, and showed me where it had been altered. Then she revealed a surprise – all the original pieces were sewn inside the seams. The dress had kept its secret well over 30 years.

So she continues, sewing and still dreaming of the latest fashions in her house trailer out in the country. A “pet” horse grazes lazily around the edges of the lawn.  Various cats come and go.  Birds sing on the back porch – a significant contrast to her previous clientele.  Maybe they too are telling Stella their secrets, because it’s their turn.  And Stella is listening.


The Young Maestro

I met the Young Maestro on a trip to Los Angeles. He had come highly recommended and was teaching tango at a private studio near Beverly Hills. If nothing else the neighborhood sounded interesting, so I decided to give him a try.

This was very early in my tango education.  I hadn’t taken many classes at all, and had no idea what to expect.  Until that point, the conversation about tango had been more about what I couldn’t do, versus what I COULD or MIGHT do.  It was full of limitations.   As in, “You aren’t ready for this,” or, “You probably can’t do that,” and (my personal favorite) “It will take X number of years for you to arrive at (fill-in-the-blank) level.”  (Yes, this dance takes time, but there seemed to be a rigorous schedule enforced by a mysterious and inflexible God Of Tango.)

This all took a dramatic turn when I met the Young Maestro.

When I first saw him, I thought I had mistakenly walked in on a Los Angeles Lakers training session.  A very young guy about 6’4 in a jogging suit came bounding across the studio to greet me.  He covered the room in two strides.  There wasn’t a hint of formality about him and he seemed overcome with enthusiasm about the lesson.  This was going to be no ordinary tango encounter. 

Teaching at a furious pace, he did not appear to worry for one second about my “level.”   A relentless ball of energy, he did not let me stop or get bogged down, and progressively led more and more intricate steps.  For a solid hour I did things I thought possible only on YouTube.

It was a complete out-of-body experience.  When the lesson was over and it was time to pay, I was so rattled I could hardly count my money.  I stared at the bills and tried to give the illusion of composure.  As I drove home, it began to dawn on me that it just might be possible to do this dance after all.  In one session, the Young Maestro had completely shifted my internal dialogue and expectations.

Several months later, by chance, I saw him at a milonga.   Despite his heavy performance and travel schedule, he remembered me right off the bat.   I seized the opportunity and asked, ”Do you realize what I experienced in your private lesson?  Did you have any idea that I was completely thrown off-guard?”

He responded thoughtfully. “Yes,” he said. “I had a feeling I needed to shock you, so I did that intentionally.”  He continued, “This dance isn’t for everyone, but I thought it might be for you.  So I decided to show you what you could do – to let you know what was possible.  For some people it’s better to start that way.”

So it wasn’t a fluke – the strategy had been very deliberate.  His wisdom was remarkable.  Here was a guy half my age who perceived (correctly it turns out) that the way to encourage someone like me was to “shock” me – and shock me he did. An impressive call.  One which I will never forget, and for which I will always be grateful.

The Codes

This will not be one of those carefully constructed blogs in which I clearly make my point and then end on a positive note.

This will be a rant.

I am not in the habit of asking men to dance at milongas.  It isn’t my style.  It just so happens that I broke ranks the other night and did so, with disastrous consequences.

I was traveling and in an unfamiliar market. I had been there about ten days, over the course of which I attended eight milongas.  It seemed like a great way to experience a lot of dancing with many different people.

At the eighth milonga (oh, why did I have to go?) I came a cropper.   I had been observing an older man (let’s say, mid-70’s, closely resembling my father) nearly all week, and noticed that he seemed like a very nice dancer.  In particular, a nice dancer of milonga.  Now, I had spent the entire time in this market NOT dancing milonga, because no one knew me, and it seems that few men want to risk inviting an unknown person to perform what is perceived to be a difficult and faster dance.

I was dying.  Ten days in these beautiful venues with no milonga tanda.

This gentleman appeared to dance with other people – in other words, he seemed to circulate amongst his friends.  I took a chance.  About two hours into the evening, a milonga tanda started and I noticed he did not invite anyone.  I decided to introduce myself, say I was from out of town, and ask if he would be willing to dance with me. 

At this point, my evening took a turn for the worse.

A woman seated next to him stared at me with rage in her eyes.  The kind of rage you might see in the eyes of Lord Voltemort from the Harry Potter movies.   She said that I should be asking for her permission instead of his, and by the way it was my responsibility to verify his marital status.

His marital status??   

“The Codes, oh no, The Codes,” I thought.  “How could I have missed a Code? “

I am familiar with the practice of men requesting permission from other men if a woman is accompanied at a dance, but was not aware of any Code that worked in reverse.  A reverse Argentine Code!  One that favors the women!  This did not seem possible…

I quickly turned to her and apologized saying I was not from the area and didn’t really know anyone (least of all marital status).  Furthermore, how lucky she was to be married to a man who danced so well.  I did not mention the fact that the man reminded me of Father Christmas, and that I just wanted to, over the course of ten long days, dance one stinkin’ milonga tanda.

As the man got up to dance with me, she raised her voice and said to him pointedly that he would eventually have her permission to dance with someone else, but not before an entire year had passed.

Que momento de mierda!

I smiled ingratiatingly, while searching furtively for an emergency exit.  I was then put in the horrible position of turning this very nice man down, while no doubt everyone in the milonga looked on.   How must he have felt?  My Texas ranching mind turned quickly to scenes of castration, but I don’t want to dirty up this blog with descriptions of cowboys and livestock.

I returned as jauntily as possible to my seat and quickly told my companion (a man from England) what had happened.  (May I note here that no one at the milonga was asking his permission to dance with me?  Can I just say that?) 

“There’s clearly nothing for me to do but find a back door and call a cab,” I said to him.  He didn’t quite understand, but it was obvious that I was done for the evening.  He suggested an exit strategy and out I went.

I will never attempt this again.  Anywhere.  Unless I know the person really well. And he obviously can’t be married.  Or possibly dating.  Or sitting next to anyone else.  Or even sitting next to an empty chair with a purse on it.

And, like a character from The Godfather, when entering a milonga, I am going to always identify an alternative exit.

Horse Crazy

“I’m calling from the Emergency Room,” my father’s voice came over the phone.  “Your mother has fallen.”  He sounded tense and solemn – as if announcing the end of the world.

My mother had indeed fallen.  Once again, off her horse.  This time, her friends at the barn felt it was serious enough to warrant a trip to the emergency room.  Aside from a few dings and bruises she was fine.  In the typical manner of a horse-obsessed woman, she was most concerned with the whereabouts of her tack and the “post-fall” condition of her mount.  An accident at the barn usually means someone else takes care of these details while the victim is hauled off to the emergency room.

This news did not alarm me.  My mother had a green horse, and it was not that unusual for her to take a tumble every now and again.  Cowboys called it getting “piled.”  My father passed the phone to my mother.  I calmly suggested that she add 20 minutes of vigorous lunging with side-reins to her training program.

 A few weeks later she called with an update.  The lunging seemed to help, she said.  Inspired, she set a new goal.  “This coming year, I want to limit my horse accidents to five.  Five falls sounds about right for someone my age.”

 My mother is 77. 

 “Mom, are you nuts?  Your “accident goal” for the rest of your life needs to be ZERO,” I shouted into the phone.  Could she possibly be serious?

(“If you’re writing about me, just say I’m in my 70’s,” my mother insisted upon learning the subject of this blog.  I suppose she thought this would make her sound younger and better equipped to withstand multiple instances of getting “piled.”  I will make no further comment.)

Horses have had a fairly regular presence in our lives.  About 15 years ago, things reached a fever pitch.  First, I finally decided to get on with the plan of having a permanent horse of my own.  Then, luckily, I had two girls, equally interested in horses, which reinforced the family craze.  My mother followed suit by buying herself a horse.  And we were off, as they say.

My father’s take on this pursuit, with its endless hours of training, lessons, expense, and compulsive behavior, had always been somewhat dubious.  He viewed it only slightly more favorably than our brief attempt at scuba diving. He hated the idea of scuba diving, and with each excursion thought it highly probable that he would never see us again.  He considered the horse hobby equally foolish, but conceded it had one advantage.  “At least when the worst happens you can find the body,” he remarked one day.

I suppose to my father closure and a proper burial means everything.   But “finding the body” will never explain our behavior.  My father is perplexed by our absolute devotion to horses – the sheer determination and exhaustive effort that horses require is not logical to him.  Nor does he see much of a reward for all this work.

We can’t explain it.  It appears to be something you are born with – you either have it or you don’t.  It can skip siblings or even generations, but once entrenched there is no remedy.

Ralph Waldo Emerson probably said it best:  “Riding a horse is not a gentle hobby, to be picked up and laid down like a game of Solitaire.  It is a grand passion.  It seizes a person whole and once it has done so, he/she will have to accept that his life will be radically changed.”

I’ll drink to that. In fact, should one of us – heaven forbid – end up again in the emergency room, I plan to use the entire  Emerson quote for the section of the medical form where they request “Reason for Accident.”  Or, I can just write “Horse Obsession” on the line.  If there is a section entitled “Annual Accident Goal,” I will write “Zero.”


The Argentine Folklorista

Until I developed an interest in tango, I had never considered Argentine folkloric dancing.  To me, folkloric dancing was used for filling time in various 19th century ballets, or was something you did in character class at the ballet studio.  I had always dismissed it as something less challenging that old people performed at state fairs and festivals.

And then I took a class.  From a serious and brilliant professional.  The kind of professional that extracts every last ounce of physical effort and artistic expression from you, along with a lot of sweat.

I took my first class from The Folklorista on a whim.  I had a free afternoon and it seemed like it might be interesting.  I had no idea what was coming.  In my adult life, I have never worked so hard in the period of 1 hour, nor been subjected to so much physically demanding and technical instruction.

I brought home a video of my class.  I lost 5 pounds just practicing parts from it in the backyard.  My feet literally beat a path into the grass.

Foolishly, I went back for more.

I committed to 5 private classes of folkloric dancing.  This was about what I could afford, but I also figured 5 sessions would be plenty of time to learn another dance.  “It will be so much fun to do something different.” I thought.  “I’m sure with my ballet background I can pick this up easily.”  Looking back, I think of this as one of those impossible timelines for a huge project – like trying to tour Europe in a weekend.  ALL of Europe.

Each day I would drive with The Folklorista to the dance studio.  He was always very casual and cheerful about what we were going to do.  And then the session would begin and I would be pushed to the extreme of my physical and mental abilities.  On the second day, as if reading my mind, he remarked “Well here you are, and most people at this point ask themselves, ‘this seemed so easy and it’s not, so what have I gotten myself into?’”  He was quite amused by this and burst out laughing.  The class continued.  My mind was a jumble, and I began to wonder if I was perhaps suffering from a deficiency of some sort.  Maybe potassium.  The Folklorista acted like this was all a walk in the park.

At night I would go to tango.  I thought this would be low-pressure because at least it was familiar territory.  I was wrong, because The Folklorista had a brother who took it upon himself to correct me mercilessly in tango.  At no point in any 24 hour period was I in my comfort zone.

In fact, I was barely mobile.  I was exhausted and all I could think about was how I had to get up in the morning for my folkloric dancing class.  The dancing I had previously believed to be for “old” people.

At the end of five days, The Folklorista had somehow managed to pound this dance into me.  I don’t know how he did it.  He seemed very upbeat and told me to work on things at home, every day.  “There is probably a repetitive stress injury waiting for me here,” I thought, “but I cannot forget what I’ve learned at this point.” It would mean disappointing The Folklorista, and who knows where THAT might lead?  Possibly to several remedial classes, where he could add more technical details, and make me work even harder.

I feel lucky to have met The Folklorista.  He is one of those rare birds who is always ON when it comes to dance.  He’s on when it comes to just about anything, but that’s what makes him so good at what he does. He is the Real Deal, as we say.  As I write this, he is probably busy thinking of another aspect of the dance that I somehow missed, an aspect which will require additional precise and rigorous instruction.  He’ll probably break it to me by saying, “I’d like to address something…just a minor, small detail – most people wouldn’t notice – but I think we need to correct it immediately.  We don’t want you to develop any bad habits.”

Planning my next trip to see The Folklorista now…


Holiday Home Safety

Recently Consumer Reports released an article on holiday home safety.  This is their annual effort to ensure our well-being, and it is usually accompanied by a video link to a Christmas tree catching on fire and burning within 30 seconds.  As I reviewed the helpful tips, I reflected on various errors and disasters of holidays past: 

1.  The year my grandmother, who claimed to know horses, casually hitched the relatively new (and unknown) Welsh pony to a cart and took some of us for a holiday ride.  The pony had his own ideas, and took off with the pony cart careening behind.  After a brief but harrowing ride, the cart overturned and the passengers spilled out screaming onto the ground.  A holiday hazard for sure.  The pony cart was never used again.

2. The year that I launched a spy operation on Christmas Day and broke into the servants quarters to conduct some sort of investigation.  I inadvertently locked myself in, and sat for hours while the family enjoyed their eggnog and Christmas dinner in the main house.  The servants quarters was not the first place anyone would look for a missing child, and strangely enough no one noticed I was missing.  I might still be there had someone not stepped outside and heard my shrieks and sobs.

3.  The year that, due to a high level of rain, it was determined that the tractor should be on hand by the river to pull the Land Rover out in case it got stuck while making a crossing.  Now, a disabled Land Rover would have been a novel event, since it crossed the river frequently with water up to its hood. Nevertheless, we drove the tractor down to the river for this very contingency.  Ironically, but in full keeping with holiday home safety rules, the tractor got stuck instead.  The Land Rover had to make the rescue, and this operation took most of Christmas Eve.

4. The year that my sister and I played “bartender” with a holiday bottle of wine.  With no real customers for our bar, we jumped in and played that role too. We managed to drink the entire bottle. I was 10.  My sister was 8.  A good time was had by all.

5. The year that my grandfather mistook a pressure cooker for a Dutch oven and blew a pot of artichokes to smithereens.  This occurred two days after Christmas.  Throughout the holidays we found fragments of artichoke on the walls and ceiling of the kitchen.  A classic home safety disaster.

6. The year that we decided a 13-foot Christmas tree was an absolute must, but never worked out the physics regarding height and weight relative to the Christmas tree stand. This tree, in direct violation of holiday home safety protocol, toppled over a total of three times during the Yuletide season.  First it fell directly on top of my daughter during a holiday decorating party.  It then fell over on two more occasions in the middle of the night, for NO APPARENT REASON.  There is nothing more dramatic – a crash like that at 2 or 3 am and your sleep is over for the night.

I look forward every year to the Consumer Reports advisory and video, but the events described above clearly illustrate that a Christmas tree can be the least of your holiday problems.  I’ve thought about issuing my own video, but the re-enactments could be extremely dangerous.  I would also need the original characters and machinery.  My video would turn the holiday season on its head.

On Ladies Foundation Garments

“That’s it,” I declared, as I stuffed my bra down the paper towel disposal next to the wash basin.  I was in the ladies room at a milonga in Austin.  “I’m not putting up with this anymore, and never want to see this bra again.”  A woman passing by looked on as I worked furiously.  Horrified, she leaned against the bathroom wall.  She may have been laughing – I’m not sure.  It took some considerable strength to stuff the unwieldy pushup bra down the hole in the middle of the counter, but I managed to get the job done.  As I returned to the dance floor I felt “carefree,” and this describes more than just my mood.

I have a true appreciation for the magic of Ladies Foundation Garments.  I am fascinated with their versatility and power to transform a woman’s body.  Just hearing the word “Intimate Apparel” evokes the thought that anything is possible, as long as I enter that department soberly and with some serious money.

 This time, they had gone too far.  Yes, the ladies in Intimate Apparel had managed to hornswoggle me into buying something that looked and felt terrible.  Beyond the bad fit, the device featured glue on the sides. On top of which, I was supposed to apply a set of expensive stickers to affix the dress to the undergarment.   This took more than just a few minutes of my time, and required more than just a few stickers.  I was a walking Post- It Note.

 As I pushed the bra into the trash, I thought about the other Foundation Failure waiting for me at home. The ever popular girdle pants, which some intimate apparel specialist sold me with the claim I would look 10 pounds lighter.  Trust me when I say that “10 pounds lighter” is not a viable goal for me, nor should it be.  I looked as flat as a pancake in those pants and furthermore could not breathe or move.  Dancing was out of the question.   This rubberized set of underpants gripped me like a vice and cost $70.  I spent good money to look like an ironing board.

 I went home determined to rid my closet of all plastic and rubberized undergarments. I resolved to change my buying strategy at the thrift stores where I shop. There’s no point in buying a $5 dress that requires a $30 investment in Post-It Notes, with an additional glue-in device priced in the $50’s.  Not to mention the uncomfortable Christmas Package feeling and cartoonish silhouette.  One cannot go out in public feeling that, at any moment, one’s entire ensemble can fall apart like a house of cards.

Men don’t have this problem.  They go around without a care in the world and certainly don’t fool around with glue or stickers.  Their “intimate apparel” – IF they wear it at all – can be found right next to the socks in most department stores.  I often imagine their biggest preoccupation is whether or not they’ve put on enough deodorant.

Lucky men.  They never experience a Ladies Foundation Disappointment.  On the other hand, they don’t ever enter the wonderland of Intimate Apparel, where no fashion choice is ruled out – where everything is possible – where Hope and a Cinderella Moment perch on every hanger.  No matter that my particular fantasy ended with an ugly struggle that night in the ladies room.  At least I believed, if only for a few hours, that I could be completely transformed into a Perfect Woman with glue, stickers, and a tiny bit of foam.

Family Disorder

“I’ve finally done it.  I’ve started a blog,” I told my sister.

 “Oh, yes. Let the blogging begin,” she responded.  “No one will believe it, though.”

“What won’t they believe?” I asked.   “You mean the entry I’ve planned about dieting entirely with pie?  Or the fact that Dad planted the bushes in the front yard upside down?”

“Yes.  All of that AND Last Potty.”

 Last Potty?  I would never write about Last Potty.  I have so much material that’s better.

 Of my family, my sister is probably the most practical.  Fully aware of the general hereditary quirks, she moved to Omaha hoping (I think) to distance herself from our odd tendencies.

She was wrong.  When you’re talking about this family, there is no geographic solution. We grew up in an environment where our father built an airplane – the kind you CLIMB IN AND FLY – from plans in the garage.  He made his own airplane parts and regularly baked them in the kitchen oven.  Occasionally things got out of control and he set fire to the back fence.  For years – decades – pieces of the airplane were suspended in the garage and we used the frame as a clothesline.

 That’s just for starters.  My mother was a ballet dancer and managed to impress us with her art and pull us into the world of fantasy.  In support, my father constructed a proper stage for us in the backyard.  My sister and I composed and performed what we believed to be a serious opera.  The house was festooned with dance clothes.  My mother had a leotard covered with chicken feathers hanging in her closet which I tried on regularly (I longed to be a chicken).   I once played a tomato, and that costume was hanging alongside it.  There was a purple velvet number with a pink sash in which I would occasionally practice my tour jete’s.  The memory of these costumes is so vivid I can close my eyes and almost touch them.

With a background like this there’s no escape route through Omaha.  My youngest nephew has already shown signs of the family disorder. There’s no mistaking it. On a recent trip to Williamsburg, Virginia, in plain view of every tourist crowding the street, he demonstrated a remarkable ability to perform a high kick while simultaneously farting.  Reliably.  Yep, the people in Williamsburg just LOVED that.

 On this same trip to Williamsburg, my mother at some point suggested that it was finally time for everyone to get into their costumes. My nephew, BECAUSE HE KNOWS THIS FAMILY, considered this seriously and declared he was not doing it.  He was adamant.  My mother was joking, but my nephew knows that any one of us is fully capable of a stunt like that at a moment’s notice.  No matter the proposal -whether it’s dressing in character or building an airplane, he knows that with his family anything can happen. Life in Omaha has not relieved him of this anxiety.

 My sister may laugh, but the blog will continue.  As for whether it’s believable?  I have one credible witness in Omaha.


Menopause Manor

“Ms. Flippo,” said the doctor, “you are peri-menopausal.” This was delivered in the Concerned Medical-Professional Voice that certain doctors adapt when they think you might be unhappy with their diagnosis.

This was hardly news to me. After all, I was hearing this pronouncement in a medical facility called “The Menopause Center.”  I hadn’t made an appointment there because I needed help with back pain or bunions.

 “Allow me to suggest some reading,” the doctor continued.  “It’s important to educate yourself on this topic so you can deal with it.”

Deal with it?  I looked down at the pile of pamphlets and the reading list she handed me.  Lugubrious titles such as “Accepting Menopause Gracefully” and “Menopausal Women, Harmony, and The Universe” flashed before my eyes.

 “I’m not really interested in any of this reading,” I replied.  ”That’s why I’m relying on you.  The only things I want to read are the prescriptions you will be writing for me, because I plan to take every medication possible.  Starting with estrogen, because I could fall off my horse any day and don’t want to break a bone.”

Deal with it indeed.  I couldn’t be in better spirits.  I wasn’t thrilled when all this business started in the first place, and was only too happy to hear it was coming to an end.  I thought of all the horse shows I could enter – AT ANY TIME – without looking at the calendar and worrying.  As for my tango, I could schedule a performance and wear any costume I wanted.

 Not that I am performing in Argentine tango, but if I WERE, the sky would be the limit. Costume-wise, anyway.

 I think the doctor was truly disappointed by my lack of interest. Probably most of her patients are actively engaged in their menopause, dealing with it, going through the 5 stages of grief, or whatever it is you do when you hear this news.  If you’re normal, that is.  If you’re not me.

 “Let me give you the number to my pharmacy and you can call these suckers in,” I said brightly.  I tried to seem friendly and interested as I said this.  I desperately wanted those prescriptions, so didn’t want to alienate her or seem hostile.

 Nor was I feeling hostile.  I felt happy and relieved.  I remember the times when my grandfather, confined to the farmhouse over the holidays with my grandmother and two wacky great-aunts, would open the front door with the greeting, “Welcome to Menopause Manor!”  You could hardly hear him for all the cackling going on inside.  The house positively reverberated with their shrieks of laughter.

 Welcome to Menopause Manor indeed.  Let the good times roll…


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