That Special Time Of Life
By Margaret Van Every
Egg cells peak numerically during the embryo’s 20th week of gestation at around 6 or 7 million, after which they dramatically degenerate and decline in number throughout a woman’s life. Only about 500 cells are actually used for potential fertilization, and at menopause only a few thousand remain.
Since peddlers caught wind that menopause
is a market, they’ve coined a pretty phrase for it—
“that special time of life.” What’s special about it
is that a woman runs out of eggs, and her body
runs amok when all the eggs are gone.
Does she miss the eggs? Hell no, she never
saw one unless the thing was zapped.
For forty years she’d see the bloody wash
that flushed the eggs away, the corks and rags.
Nonetheless, some say she grieves when all
the eggs are gone—grieves she’ll see the bloody
messenger no more, grieves for lost potential.
But this is a special time of life, they say. Could this
be what they mean: for want of estrogen her bones
will thin, her back bow, her privates atrophy,
and she may be incontinent, a fancy word
for needing diapers. Flashes, sweats, and migraines,
too, make this a special time, but not to worry,
she’s not sick, she’s changing. Hairs on her head
may take a mind to go and leave her bald; those
hanging on, lose luster, turn gray. Whiskers will sprout
where never seen before. Wrinkles, wens, and spots
will force character on this woman’s face, before so bland.
Her arteries will harden, mental functions blur, and
equal at last with men, she’ll be at risk of heart
disease in all its forms. During this special time,
if husband or lover views The Change with patience,
sex could be a blast, there being no concern
for pregnancy or prophylaxis. Children grown
and gone, the bedroom’s finally safe for sex,
the sanctuary dreamed of all those years. The problem
is, the lady out of eggs may be out of something else—
desire, because ‘t was hormones all along that made
her like it so and now she can’t seem to give a fuck,
plus the prick in question may not find the sagging
flesh and shriveled parts appealing. So, what’s
a prick to do that has its own depletion woes,
running out of juice and jazz, running out and down?
Take heart. You see, it’s his special time of life,
as well. This simultaneous coming apart is part
of nature’s plan for golden years. How sweet it is
to come of age together and fall downhill like
Jack and Jill, hand in hand, and laugh the whole
way down—that is, till someone breaks a crown.