November 29, 2001
Running Hot


"I'm wearing two sweaters and a jacket," I announce -- to no one in particular -- as David and I settle into the Subaru for the morning commute. 

This isn't me making a fashion statement. This is me issuing a clear and direct warning: Turn on the car heater while we're driving to work ... and I will kill you totally dead. David, shivering in his thin broadcloth shirtsleeves, nods agreeably and rolls down another rain-splattered window.

Message received.

I'm not ordinarily so oppressively-layered -- especially first thing in the morning, when I tend to run hotter than a 7-11 corndog sweating under a heat lamp -- but the Bay Area is currently experiencing its annual four minutes of winter, and I have no idea what to expect later in the day. (More wind and rainstorms? Occasional sun breaks? Or perhaps a nice malfunctioning office air conditioner?) I figure that with a sweater set and a raincoat, at least, I'm pretty much fixed for anything. I'm not ordinarily so cranky and demanding, either, especially first thing in the morning ... David: "Oh yes she is" ... but I'm plunk in the middle of The Bad Time -- although I must say that this time around, it seems to be more like The "Ever-So-Slightly Crabby/Mildly Inconvenient/Mostly Just Sort of Sleepy and Stoopid" Time -- and that means that my internal thermostat is even more out of whack than usual.

I'm perfectly comfortable as we set out for work. In fact, I'm wondering if maybe I should have gone with fullblown pantyhose under the suit pants, instead of those dorky little nylon knee-hi things. What if my thighs get cold?

Ten minutes later, I can feel a thin line of perspiration breaking out above my upper lip.

Fifteen minutes into the ride, my scalp is starting to itch.

By the time we reach The Dirt Company, twenty minutes later, I am like an ear of sweet corn wrapped in three layers of Reynold's Wrap, roasting gently over a bed of coals. My armpit skin is sticking together, what's left of my Marlo Thomas 'do is flopping into my eyes, and my Maybelline is dripping off my forehead in rivulets.

"I love you," I pant, as David and I kiss each other goodbye.

"I l-l-l-l-l-love y-y-y-you t-t-t-t-tooo," he replies, teeth chattering. I can see his breath.

After spending the first forty years of my life crawling out of a warm sweaty bed and braving the frigid cold of morning, it's really strange to be doing things the other way around. It makes me wonder what other lovely hormonal surprises Mother Nature has in store for me, further down The Menopause Trail. Acne? Insomnia? Thinning hair? Will I suddenly start being a Morning Person -- one of those weird little old ladies who actually enjoys getting up at 5 a.m.? Will I have a nicer moustache than David?

(Oh wait. I'm experiencing all of this stuff ALREADY. Never mind.)

As soon as David drops me off at the office, I head immediately for the ladies' room, where I begin what will become a day-long process of rearranging layers according to the rise and fall of my internal thermostat. Most of the day I'm OK. It gets a little warm in my part of the office, come mid-afternoon, but as long as I keep the portable fan running -- and the Calistoga bottle refilled -- I am comfortable.

When we get home from work in the evening -- after a long, nasty freeway commute that takes four times longer than normal, thanks to crappy weather and crappier California drivers -- the apartment is dark and chilly. David gazes longingly at the gas furnace, which has languished, unused and forgetten, for almost a year. Then he looks at me. I have already shed the raincoat and the first layer of sweater set, and I am struggling wildly to pull the bottom-most sweater over my head ... and I'm not even all the way inside the apartment yet.

"I'll crack open a window," he says meekly.



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