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PMS: A Safety Guide for Men

The Prickly Premenstrual Pony


To the males in my household and all the rest of you:

We have arrived, yet again, at that odious interlude of each lunar cycle when there is a small chance that I will throw something heavy at your head. There’s also a chance that during the next three days I will snatch something out of your hands because you are doing it wrong, shriek “WHO ATE THE LAST BROWNIE?” at a pterodactyl pitch, and begin weeping inconsolably because you set the table and gave me that fork I don’t like — that one freaking fork that is so easy to avoid in the utensils drawer and that you know very well I dislike, but you just had to put it at my place, didn’t you? You never have respected me, not for one minute of our lives, and this is how you choose to show me.

Starshine Roshell

Welcome to hell, fellas.

Because I am kind and generous for 27 days of the month, I’m going to offer you advice for surviving this bumpy patch with me, and any woman who is riding the prickly premenstrual pony. It is dangerous to be you in this situation; I won’t lie. Your wife/mother/girlfriend/sister is a porcupine who has swallowed a hand grenade and doesn’t want to die alone. But with a steady supply of wine and simple carbohydrates, she might — might — be able to keep The Beast shackled in the basement of her soul.

All you need to do is give her a wide berth. For example, this is not the time to let her know that you prefer to have your T-shirts folded differently than the way she folds them. Unless you’re curious what your T-shirts would look like with the words “HOW’S THIS?” written across them in Sharpie.

Most importantly, though, do not under any circumstances utter these three letters, in this precise order: p, m, s.

Don’t even think them.

I’m sure you’d love to be able to dismiss our emotional extremes as the hormone-fueled flare-ups of an estrogen-addled lunatic rather than have to consider whether you’ve actually done something wrong (HOW HARD IS IT TO PICK A DIFFERENT FORK?). But it’s not like we’re schizophrenic, possessed by the devil, or on a bender; we’re still us, reacting to genuine feelings about real things.

If our reactions make you uncomfortable, howzabout we trade places? Because here’s what’s making us uncomfortable right now: throbbing skull, exhaustion, the urge to howl ourselves hoarse, aching back, sore breasts, the urge to sob like a 3-year-old, bloody underpants, crackling nerves, the urge to pound on something until it breaks, acne, jeans that suddenly won’t button, the urge to consume a family-size bag of Cool Ranch Doritos, insomnia, and a uterus that’s being wrung out like a wet chamois. Plus we’re working hard to keep The Beast restrained.

It’s worth reminding you that men behave unpredictably and unpleasantly from time to time: The teenaged boy who roars from sulking to rage in 60 seconds flat, the grown man who grows despondent when we’re out of coffee or snippy when he misses his morning workout … Those chemical surges’ll mess with your mind!

But if empathy alone won’t keep you from playing the condescending “You’ve got PMS” card, then do it for your own safety. Because when you dismiss our concerns — deranged as they may seem — as the bogus byproducts of a biological function, it belittles our distress and defines us as poorly engineered, malfunctioning freaks.

Once we’ve been labeled with the scarlet P, we can no longer be heard; even legitimate worries and reasonable frustrations are ignored as involuntary theatrics. And we have no option but to cash in that free pass, stop trying to tame our tempers, and erupt in a delirious streak of long-overdue, blame-my-uterus, full-volume flipping freak-outs.

Gentlemen … meet The Beast.

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Starshine Roshell is the author of Wife on the Edge.

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