Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Terry Castle and the Aging Actress

I don’t know if it is just me or if all woman remember the first time they felt a menopausal rage explode from the deep and very dark recesses of their being. I will never forget mine. A few years ago my son asked me to read an English assignment of his. I sat down and tried to edit the worst essay I have ever read. There was no way to help this thing. I was completely at a loss and then suddenly the anger came. This was unacceptable.

I have never felt anything quite like this. My anger spewed out of me and onto my undeserving son. He stared at me, wide eyed, in disbelief. He had never seen me so angry before and he looked so confused. His confusion turned into tears. My anger dissipated as quickly as it came and I was left to feel only guilt. Had that just cost my poor son years on a couch? What had I done and why?

I was quick to blame it on menopause. I had never experienced anything like that before. It was such a powerful emotion that just took over so quickly. I couldn’t react rationally. Since then I have experience these tantrums more regularly but now I know them for what they are so I can warn anyone around me not to take me seriously. And to take cover. I just can’t help it.

So, instead of shock and awe my family finds my fits like theater. I’m surprised they don’t make popcorn and watch mom act like a loon. They actually laugh at me. I have to admit, it is kind of funny, especially when you see it for what it is.

But come on. The symptoms just keep continuing.

Last night I couldn’t sleep. Another wonderful symptom of this precious time in my life. And then I woke up with a horrible headache. Headaches are also a symptom. Then I began to think about Kyle leaving for college and I started to cry.

So I sweat, cry, scream, and don’t sleep for days. I must be a blast to be around. And they say this lasts for years. It seems like I'm finally in one of my Dad's horror films.

I must reference Dad's film STRAIGHT JACKET here. It starred an aging Joan Crawford who whacked her husband and her husband's lover to death while her young daughter watched. My Dad, William Castle, decided to give me my big break. I was to star in the film and play a young Diane Baker who co-starred with Joan in the film. I was supposed to watch my mother give those "seven whacks" to my father and his mistress. Needless to say, I choked the day I was on set and left the sound stage crying.

All I remember about this day was I was a 'scaredy cat' and that the set was unbelievable cold. Now, I know why. Joan had insisted on subarctic conditions for the set. She not only wanted her aging skin to stay tight from the frigid air but she was probably afraid she was going to have a hotflash! She must have looked around her and saw her leading man careening around the sound stage without an aging care in the world. Perhaps she had enough of her handsome leading men complaining about the slight gray hairs appearing on their temples and the two nose hairs the makeup person might have had to pluck that morning.

I would love to tell Joan, "I get it now. You had to appear forever young." I know I get pissed off when I have to tweeze the gray whiskers careening out of my chin and I have to add extra deodorant for my overabundant B.O. that has appeared again. And nobody is watching me on the big screen. Can you image that? It is enough to explain poor Joan's tantrums about those wire hangers we have all heard so much about

I have one question? If I am miserable should everyone around me suffer too?

Perhaps they don’t need to be tortured, however, I sure don’t have to pretend to be happy for their account. And you know that there is a certain liberation in that. It sounds puny compared to what us woman have to endure. But it’s really not.

I love being in a bad mood and not having to apologize for it. This is who I am so accept it and accept me. I am kind of like an aging actress.

Maybe this will finally translate to other aspects of my life.

Maybe there is a reason for everything.

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