Friday, January 9, 2009


One day, when I was in the fifth grade, our school nurse came around to my classroom and announced that all the girls in my class should form a line at the door and the boys should all stay put. I proceeded quietly down the hall with my female classmates into another room where I found every other 5th grade girl in my school. We all crammed in together and of course the whispering began. What was going on? Why were we all here? There were those among us who already knew. You see, one or the other of their parents worked in the school and had forewarned their daughters of what was going to happen that day. There were murmurs around the room that we were about to learn about having our periods and S-E-X!!


A very distinct atmosphere filled the room, half excitement and half terror.

The nurse proceeded to the front of the class and, as she passed out booklets, confirmed our worst fear. They were indeed going to tell us all about or menstrual cycles. Then someone turned out the lights... thank God. For about the next half hour we learned all about our bodies and how they worked. At least as much as the administration would allow a school nurse to tell a room full of impressionable girls. As far as I remember we didn't talk about S-E-X (that didn't happen until 9th grade), but we did, very briefly, go over the diagram of male reproductive anatomy. At which time my face turned about twenty different shades of red. Along with everyone else's face in the room, I'm sure, including the adults. But, like I said, the lights were out... thank God.

I left that room thoroughly enlightened. My mother had discussed certain things with me, but I'd never had it projected on a 10'x10' screen and given a full color illustration book. I shared that book with my mother when I got home that day. She was horrified - no - pissed that the school took it upon themselves to tell me about the birds and the bees. I don't remember any follow up discussion about what I learned. I'm sure I told her all about it and she corrected anything that I had gotten mixed up. What I do remember is that she was so upset that she took my book to work the next day to show her one an only female co-worker so that they could commiserate in anger against the school board. I never saw my full color illustration book again. She lost it. She lost it in a building full of men. Men I'd grown up around and who I didn't want knowing that I was about to go through puberty. It didn't matter that they probably could figure it out on their own. What mattered was that I didn't want them knowing that I knew what was coming. Clearly, I've never forgiven my mother for this misstep.

But, I digress.

None of this is the point. What I'm circling around to is that in that classroom they failed to mention that your body never, ever, ever stops changing, ever. They lead me to believe that puberty would only last for a short time and I'd come out of it with boobs and a menstrual cycle.

I'm sure all of you are getting very uncomfortable at this point. You're wondering if I'm about to tell you all about my girlie bits right here and now. Well, no I'm not. I'm just a little disgruntled that I had to figure out so much on my own. The "changes" they told me about came and went, but new ones set in. I guess you could call it aging.

If you're a woman you know all of this. You know that your hips spread. Not just once, but several times, and I don't mean they get fat, I mean that your hip bones literally spread apart in preparation for the babies you may or may not be having. Your body gets curvier. The acne never really goes away, it just lessens and changes. And your metabolism slows. None of this is true for men. Except the acne part.

That slow metabolism thing is what really gets you. One day you wake up and realize you should have changed your eating habits about 10 years ago in order to accommodate the metabolism that you will have, not the one you do. I'm a creature of habit and I'm used to giving into my every whim. If I get a hankerin' for junk food I've got to have something. Cravings kind of take over my brain and I can think of nothing else until I've satisfied it. Pair that with a mouth full of sweet teeth and you've got yourself an ugly picture, or at least someone on their way to something ugly. Namely, me. I do try to not buy junk food. Andy and I have always been on a strict "junk food is too expensive" grocery budget. I plan our meals very carefully and rarely allow myself to stray from my list in the grocery store. I'm not denying the occasional late night trip to satisfy a craving. As a matter of fact, just last Wednesday we kind of went over board on a quick trip to the grocery. That couldn't have been good for my midsection and it definitely wreaked havoc on my dreams, think M. Night Shyamalan.

Do you know what is totally and completely unfair about all this?

Andy put on a little weight after college. He has kind of yo-yo'ed up and down about ten pounds ever since then. Until last spring. He decided that he wanted to cut down on his alcohol intake. Not to say that he had a problem, he just decided that it wasn't very good for him and he wasn't going to drink very much anymore. He didn't change anything else about his dietary intake but that. He is now down to the weight he was when he started college. When he was 18.

I could get really upset about this, and the only thing stopping me is my other blog. This is the year of gratitude and I'm working hard not to be bitter about anything. Bitterness makes it hard to find the beauty in life. So Andy can drop weight without trying. So what? I've put on some weight since I was 18. Ok, I've put on a lot of weight since I was 18. Look at me here:

Who the hell is that stick with Andy?
Oh, yeah. That's me.
Sweet holy Moses, this was taken a long time ago.

At least now I've got some curves to show from all that sugar intake.

Something else they don't tell you in 5th grade? Men's ears and noses never stop growing. So when we are old and gray, my hips are all spread out and I've lost the ability to make any babies, my face will still be in the same proportion as it is now. A little saggier? Yes, but still in proportion. Andy, on the other hand, will have giant features with gray hair growing out of them.

So, God really does make everything balance out after all.

1 comment:

  1. o how i enjoyed reading this post and reliving that beautiful horrible day in 5th grade! i remember the class exactly as you described it and i also remember hiding in my room that night and slipping our new book inside a Seventeen magazine so i could study the male anatomy picture :)