Danielle, a minute ago at the stove playing air guitar to Jeff Beck’s “Blow by Blow” wafting from the living room stereo, was suddenly genuinely forlorn as she asked me this while standing in the archway connecting the kitchen and breakfast nook of our West Hollywood love nest.
Sitting at our tiny table, I looked up from the scrambled eggs and hash browns she had lovingly prepared, puzzled. “The heel,” she said, pointing to the slice of wheat toast on my plate. “You know I don’t like the heel.”
“I know, baby, that’s why I took it. I don’t mind eating it.”
“But I was WILLING to eat it this time because you always have to,” Danielle said, now clearly upset. “And you got it before I could. Will you ever open up and allow yourself to…RECEIVE??”
With that, she burst into tears, stormed out of the kitchen, into the bedroom and closed the door–leaving me sitting over breakfast, pure dee mystified as to how I could have missed any signposts this morning advising that I’d wandered into the Twilight Zone.
That evening Danielle thoughtfully explained that her emotional sway was brought on by “Hell Week,” her delightful reference to her menstrual period.
It was the ’70s, I was 21 and had eagerly handed my virginity to Danielle, several years older. In the first year we lived together, I did notice she’d occasionally become moody and weepy, but I never connected it to her period.
Then again, aside from knowing they had ’em, I was clueless regarding a woman’s period. I only knew the name Kotex because as a kid Mama would dispatch me to the store on the dreaded mission to buy the big purple box.
I’m not sure many men know much more today. Thus, many years later, I feel compelled to share what little I’ve learned.
Fellas, first understand just what a period is: blood that flows from the lining of a woman’s uterus, lasting for several days and occurring in sexually mature women (who are not pregnant) at intervals of about one month until the onset of menopause.
The second thing you should understand is that I got that definition from somewhere online.
The third thing, which really should be the second thing, is to concede that you will never fully understand it.
Sure, you can “get it” scientifically. However, you’ll never quite grasp what goes on emotionally with a woman during that magical time of the month.
And realize that there is no winning against Period Logic. P.L. is reasoning and deliberation on another level, unreachable by man and not attained by women themselves until their period. Don’t attempt to argue with a woman under the spell of P.L. You’d have better odds in the ring against a young Muhammad Ali. It’s easier to walk between rain drops.
For a man, the most risky period of the period is usually the week before the actual period. That’s when conversations get ultra sensitive and occasionally downright surreal. Be careful.
Well, you say, you can always make yourself scarce during that time of the month, right? Wrong.
See, a woman on her period is anything but crazy; it’s just that the hormonal thing magnifies her emotions. Avoid her and she’s going to sense it. That could lead to a really emotional conversation, and if that discourse wanders into Period Logic, not even the most savvy defense attorney would be able to make a case on your behalf.
I guess what I’m saying–at the risk of sounding chauvinistic; God knows that’s not where I’m coming from–is that there isn’t much a man can do during a woman’s period but ride it out.
Be patient. Give her space if she wants it, but counter that with plenty of affection and understanding what you cannot possibly understand. Cuddle with her if she allows it. And count the days.
Besides, the idea that all women somehow alter emotionally on their period is a fallacy. At least this is what women tell me.
Find solace in the miracle of it all. I mean, unless you arrived here by spaceship or were harvested in a field, you got here the way the rest of us did, through a woman. That’s pretty amazing. Look at it that way, and it all balances out.
And if it’s any consolation, Danielle taught me something else about a woman on her period: they get horny. REAL horny. And she said a little blood never hurt nobody. Not a real man, anyway. Hey, I’m just telling you what she said.
Steven Ivory, journalist and author of the essay collection Fool In Love (Simon & Schuster), has covered popular culture for magazines, newspapers, radio and TV for more than 30 years. Respond to him via [email protected].