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October 2nd, 2009


Dubious Monkey
“Have you taken this medication before?” The clerk asks, and the perimenopausal woman indicates that she has not, so the pharmacist is brought over for a consultation.
The pharmacist is young and fresh faced. He barely looks old enough to be a college graduate. He does not really look at the woman as he hurries over to the counter and picks up the box of birth control. He begins his clearly standard introduction to the product.

Looking up, he blinks with surprise as he finally takes in the features of his listener, and comes to a stuttering halt. Then he asks, with clear incredulity, “Is this for you?”

The perimenopausal woman gives the chipmunk-cheeked pharmacist a thin, tight smile and replies with an icy, “Yes.”

The pharmacist hesitates. “Is this for regularity?” he asks.

“No.” replies the perimenopausal woman. The medication is, in fact, prescribed to help her with mood swings. Specifically, it is intended to help her with the fury. These days a fuming temper requires her focused control two weeks out of every month. She does not want her three year old to have to reach nine before she learns that Mommy is not by nature a raging lunatic. Her doctor suggested that birth control might help.

But, of course, she’s not yet actually taking it. So she has to exert some effort to resist the urge to reach over the counter and rip the pharmacist’s dewy lips from his youthful face. She has to remind herself that the effort of dressing down the pharmacist with a detailed reminder that, yes, middle aged women do have sex and can, technically, still become pregnant would undoubtedly raise her temperature. The tongue lashing would not be worth the hot flash and all the sweating; no, definitely not worth the sweating.

So she stares at him with the disapproving gaze that only a matron can truly deliver and allows him to falter and stumble through the introduction that he would clearly prefer to be giving to a teenager. She remembers the time many years ago when the grocery store clerk looked at her askance as she bought an over the counter early pregnancy test and whispered to her, “Do you think you’re pregnant? What are you going to do?” She considers the locked cases of spermicide, and the smirk on the store manager’s face when she requested the privilege of buying one of these precious commodities. No one had to die over those callous humiliations. The perimenopausal woman can suffer a few more. Still, the vision of the reckoning plays out in her hormonally homicidal mind, and she smiles at the pharmacist just a little more warmly.
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