I am up two hours before dawn.
My nightshirt is damp, my heart is racing, and I am really mad.
I am mad because this is the third time this week I have been up before the paper boy. And I wonder if the paper boy is really a young boy. Who knows? I've never seen him. Because I HAVEN'T BEEN UP AT THIS HOUR SINCE I WAS 27!
And I think, wouldn't a menopausal paper carrier make so much more sense? Like menopausal bakers or dairy farmers? Because you really ought to have something constructive to do when you're up at 4:30 in the morning, even if it means milking a cow.
I grab the remote and turn on the TV.
There are infomercials for acne products and exercise equipment and cleaning supplies and "Girls Gone Wild" videos.
I stop to watch the girls going wild. I am amazed and appalled and envious of their perky breasts, even though they are covered up with red rectangles that say 'UNCENSORED.' I am mesmerized by the dangling belly button jewelry and tattoo placement. And I hope their menopausal mothers aren't up at this hour watching their baby girls behave like blond poodles in heat on top of a bar in Cancun.
And I think to myself, how can there be that many wild girls in the universe? And wasn't that the little red-haired girl down the street? And I thank heaven I have a son.
But wait, I have a daughter, too!
So I thank heaven my daughter lives in the Northeast, where it is too cold for tube tops 11 months out of the year.
I can't stop watching the girls going wild, posing on hotel beds like amateur porn stars. And now I WANT their mothers to see because the wrath of a menopausal mother is like no other wrath on earth, and these girls deserve some serious fury.
I hear the paper hitting the porch. I leap up to get a glimpse of the person who threw it, but the sudden movement drains the blood from my head and I get dizzy and sit back on the couch.
It is 5:30 now. Too late to go back to bed. I hear my husband snoring from the bedroom. I vow to take a sleeping pill tomorrow night. Dependency be damned.
There are more infomercials and QVC and the Home Shopping Network selling jewelry and jogging suits in animal prints, and there are loud-talking hosts with cheesy smiles who talk to old ladies on the phone and call them "Hun" in sing-songy voices and say "take care now" when they hang up, and I think this is worse than the girls going wild because at least the wild girls didn't speak.
And just when I think I'll end it all by consuming a 23-year-old bottle of Ipecac from the cupboard, I switch the channel to "Morning Yoga," where a handsome and limber man is calmly guiding a roomful of handsome and limber people through positions like lotus and sun salutation.
They breathe, and I breathe with them. And I think there might be something to this yoga business.
I get off the couch and assume the downward dog position. The blood rushes to my head. My calves scream in pain. But I keep at it and refuse to quit my downward dog until the handsome and limber people on TV quit their downward dog. My head is throbbing, my face is flushed, and I wonder if this is what a stroke feels like.
The handsome limber man is telling me to walk my hands back up to my feet and place my palms flat on the floor. And I want to hurt him, but I know this is not Zen thinking. I attempt the maneuver, which causes my hamstrings to cramp violently. I fall to the floor and crash into a table, bringing my grandmother's Ming vase to a tragic end.
"I'M OK! I'M OK!" I scream in case my husband has just woken to what he thinks must be the apocalypse.
I cannot move.
Eternity passes, and then there are bedroom-slippered, flip-flopping footsteps followed by a familiar voice. My husband rounds the corner, and he speaks:
"You mean, you've been up all this time and you didn't start the coffee?"