I noticed that Ben and Jerry’s has a pun-intended ice cream flavor called The Tonight Dough. If I were to create a frozen treat, I would call it Ice Cream Tonight: Dough, designed to be eaten upon a 3 am, PMS-fueled awakening. The ratio of dairy to dough would be an inversion of the usual cookie dough ice cream, with just enough slow churned ice cream added to make the dessert pliable upon direct exit from the freezer. When one awakens in the night with pressure of such a hunger, there is not enough patience to wait a few minutes for ice cream to thaw enough to keep spoons from bending or to find an ice cream scoop in the darkness. When I was a teenager, all of the spoons in my parents’ kitchen looked as if they’d been lent to an Uri Geller spoon bending summer camp.
Now that I am entering the territory of perimenopause, the periodic fire of my early days is waning. Over the years, I have written so little about this subject. I don’t know if I was caught in worrying that I would sound sexist in talking about how deeply my cycles have affected me, or if I was giving into a social taboo on menstruation. What I do know is that there is a great degree of variation in how deeply these cycles affect individual women. For some women, the differences in their moods are so insignificant as to merit no reflection. For a few women, like me, the experience was more like a periodic natural disaster. Since for every occasion or topic there is a song lyric that can be bent to usefulness, I will quote a line by The Killers and tell you that my PMS was like riding on the back of “a hurricane that started turning when you were young.”
My ride began on July 3, 1984. A couple of my cousins claimed that anyone who flipped off the haunted house in their neighborhood would bleed within 24 hours of that offense. We hopped on our bikes and dared that haunted house to make us bleed. The timing of this ritual was impeccable for me. I remember riding home the next evening from the fairground fireworks and singing along with “All I Need” by Jack Wagner with my friends, pleased that there was no silence to fill with the news of my first change of life.
Thirty-two years later, I am easing into the end of all of this commotion. I can still imagine a perfect PMS snack and know that this is another endeavor in which perfection cannot be attained. If I actually had PMS, I would not have the patience to make such a meal. My perfect 3 am snack would be a plate of hot french fries that have about half the potato skin peeled before frying, topped with crumbled bacon, beer cheese sauce and lowbrow Mexican restaurant salsa. Scattered on top of all of this would be a dusting of cold romaine lettuce. My dessert would be Ice Cream Tonight: Dough, with a few butterscotch and semisweet chocolate chips sprinkled on top.