Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Pause for thought

I think I had my first Menopause Bonding Moment last week, but I'm not sure.

My workplace is predominantly male, and of those females that are present, very few are over 40. Those that are tend to work in HR, catering and admin, and not the awesome hot-house of Science and Nerdery that is my department. Consequently the only (other) woman over 40 actually in my open-plan office of about 150 people is the nice admin lady who sits in the furthest corner of our floor. She is pleasant and friendly, though we've never had much of a chance to chat. I do know that she fraternises (sororises?) with her opposite numbers in the other offices; I've often seen what appears to be all the admin staff - that's to say, half a dozen middle-aged women - lunching together in a local restaurant, doubtless to discuss the travails of work and Life Outside Work.

But I've never have a chance to bond with any of them myself, until now. Maybe.

What happened was this. I happened to pass the Nice Admin Lady in the office one morning last week. I was a bit out of breath from rushing in late, and she may have seemed a little overheated herself. I think I probably made some sort of nonsense 'Phew it's a bit warm' comment, probably blowing my hair out of my eyes to punctuate the remark (What is that called, when you stick your bottom lip out and puff straight up your forehead? Does it have a name? I'm calling it fringe-puffing until someone comes up with something better). And she came back with something like 'Yes, it is warm, isn't it? It's probably just my age'.

And I thought, wait - does she mean she's having a hot flush? Is this a menopause conversation? Is that what we're having? OK, not a conversation, as it just consisted of one sentence apiece and a fringe-puff, but still. Had I just had my first Menopause Bonding Moment?

If I had, that begged the further question: did she say that because she assumed that I'm of the right age and gender to be a bit menopausal myself? Had I, for want of a less insecure term, passed? Was she automatically thinking 'That Nice Middle-Aged Ocelot over there is probably prime menopause material, much like myself. I will confide my hot flushiness to her'? That'd be cool, right? Her totally accepting me as the gender with which I present? Not so cool for her with the hot flushes, but still.

But wait a minute. Maybe I hadn't passed. Maybe she would have said the same thing to one of the younger women in the office, or the younger men? Maybe she's just the sort of person to overshare the every tick of their biological clock. Maybe I had just missed her confessing to one of the 20-year old grads in long shorts and an ironic Pac-Man t-shirt that she'd had a really good poo after breakfast. I don't know.

Or maybe she just confided in me on account of my being a friendly person who she thinks she can relate to, me being the only person even vaguely the same age and gender as her in the entire office. Maybe I should've come back with something supportive like 'Oh poor you, have you tried Menopace(tm) and a nice bag of frozen peas on the back of the neck?' (medical note: I know nothing menopause relief). Jeez, maybe even as we speak she's writing a blog about the unsupportiveness of that Not So Nice Middle-Aged Ocelot across the floor from her. I don't know. I can't know.

Or maybe she just made some bollocks up on the spot and was just saying it was hot. Apparently some people just talk nonsense and don't analyse the crap out of it later.

Gah! Why can't I know what she meant? I'm in neurotic trans-limbo here (note: first appeared in Giant Size Man-Thing #6, 1975). Am considering emailing her a post-encounter survey:

Dear Nice Admin Lady,

Thank you for taking the time to speak to me earlier. As part of my ongoing efforts to improve understanding in the office, I would be grateful if you could spare a minute to respond to this simple questionnaire.

When you said 'Yes, it is warm, isn't it? It's probably just my age', did you mean (select the response that most closely matches your feelings):

A   I did indeed feel warm, and I attribute that sensation to the onset of the menopause and thus tacitly imply that you too are biologically susceptible to this stage of maturity. Please join me and the rest of the ladies for lunch.
B   I simply felt warm on account of the weather rather than the menopause, and though I have correctly deduced that you are not susceptible to that condition yourself nor will you ever be, I am maintaining the illusion that you are biologically so susceptible, because I am a Nice Admin Lady.
C   I may or may not feel warm, but it seems appropriate for women of our age to make an ironic comment about the menopause. I liked how you did the fringe-puff.
D   I was just making some shit up to pass the time of day.
E   None of the above (please supply your own response in less than 50 words).

The Ocelot