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Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2003
I think the first time I experienced it was at 7 years, not exactly a preferred age to be analytical about anything more profound than the breaking in of baseball gloves or the current condition of bicycle tires.

So when my normally sweet and demur mother slammed the mashed potatoes on the supper table and huffed at Dad and hissed “Sit up straight!” to me, I was perplexed. Where did this come from? And what had I done wrong? Some overlooked transgression?

(Even at 7, the word transgression wasn’t completely unfamiliar to me. Let’s just say I read too many religious tracts for my own good. Way too many Archie comic books and novels about frontier life for that matter.)

Or the time when a long ago girlfriend shrieked “Just get away from me! Away, away!” in response to a hello and a first-thing-in-the-morning wave. “It’s cramps, I’ve got cramps real bad today!”

It probably didn’t help matters much that no one ever pulled me aside and let me in on the whole thing. Set me straight, so to speak. Dad wouldn’t have done it, I can’t even imagine the embarrassment both of us would have gone through. I never got the big talk, the one that would’ve revealed the Big Secret. I had to learn it all for myself, form my own opinions, be my own counsel.

But now, for the edification of the male world at large, Outfoxed is prepared to reveal the results of over 40 years worth of diligent research. Trust me, I am experienced. I’ve been subjected, willing or not, to the Big Secret at least once every month for an interminable amount of time. The Big Secret never talked about by the male contingent. The time has come to publish. For the benefit of my fellow man. I’m gonna blow the lid off the whole ugly affair.

And I emphasize the word “Man”. You women can just run along now.

First off, get familiar with the concept that PMS does not stand for Pre-Menstrual Syndrome. Not at all. This is a medical phrase applied by some doctor long ago which has no relevant bearing on a condition borne by women 12 times a year, a doctor hoping to gain notoriety by making some sense out of the whole thing. Probably a male doctor, which means he didn’t know what he was talking about in the first place.

No indeedy. PMS stands for Preventing Male Slackerdom.

That’s the Big Secret.

It’s really a simple concept, and it’s been a carefully guarded one for centuries. Stay with me fellows, it gets worse before it gets better. Remember, this is an expose’, you’ll thank me later.

See, when a girl-child is born, she runs around and plays with the boys and generally has as much fun as they do. Remember that guys? When you were young there must have been some girls in the neighborhood. They might not have thrown the ball farther than you or did wheelies on their bikes or been the first to cuss. But I’d be willing to bet they did one thing.

When they were, say, 11 or 12 they disappeared for a week. Heck they might have been 10 or 13, the age isn’t the issue here. The point is they disappeared and when you next saw them, they were ever so much different. Like changed people. They’d gather in groups with others of their kind and point and whisper and giggle at us, right?

And they’ve been doing it ever since.

“It’s like they were in on some Big Secret,” you might say.

You betcha. They were in on it all right. Preventing Male Slackerdom. Their mothers or older sisters or some Aunt from Toledo had gotten hold of them and spilled the beans, empowered them with the knowledge to keep males in line for the next millennia. Just as the first woman, sitting in a cave somewhere and fed up with the whole idea of a husband who was out hunting and carousing with the boys and coming home to sit in his Laz-Y-Boy and make unruly demands was empowered.

I don’t know how they’ve managed to keep it a Secret for so long, but that’s secondary to the story. I suppose if you’re going to ask a woman to keep a Secret, it better be a pretty good one. But like I say, I’m here to spill the beans. I can give you a running commentary about that speech the girls got at age 11. I’ll keep it simple, I won’t run on about it. Let’s just stick with the highlights, shall we? Here’s what Mom told little Bridget, or LaKeesha, or whatever.

1. “All men are evil and need to be kept in line. Given half a chance, they’ll be quite content to park their asses in a chair all day and expect you to rush in with chips and dip and frosty libations in the middle of your laundry run, dishwashing attack or food prep.”
2. “All men are evil and expect sex 24/7. Now you may or may not enjoy it, but I mean really. Are we going to stand for this for a whole month?”
3. “All men are evil and have short attention spans. Therefore, you can only be nice to him 3 weeks at a time. After that, he starts getting complacent. Expects you to act that way all the time. The hell with that.”
4. “Knowing all that, we’re gonna take a week for ourselves once a month. Kind of a girls week, if you will. And we’re gonna make sure he won’t dare mess with us in any way during that week. We’re gonna make it so awful he won’t even think about it. We’re gonna bitch and holler and throw things. We’re gonna talk about cramps and pains and blood, for Godsakes! We’re gonna make it so bad he won’t even want to be around us! He won’t even mind if we disappear for an hour or two, that’s how bad it’ll get. And that’s the best part, you do your disappearing thing and come on down to the bar, with all the other girls, and we’ll have a hoot.”

I’ve seen you girls there, at the bar or restaurant, and you get all quiet when I walk by on my way to the john. All that laughter and conversation? Stifled behind hands to the mouth, then a big snorting guffaw. You think I didn’t notice, did you?

Well it’s all out in the open now.

And all that stuff about OB/GYN doctors? And how men aren’t allowed in the place, how you always go alone, sans male company? All that stuff about stirrups and speculums and breast exams? I’m on to you. There’s a poker table in the back, right? (Ally’s note: Bet your ass there’s a poker table, you dope. But it ain’t for playing cards . . .) And a ‘fridge filled with mimosa’s and a cupboard filled with bonbons.

I mean, how else can you girls explain how, after a week of personality change bordering on the fringe of psychosis, you come back to your significant other and treat him like a king. Hmmmmm? Bet you didn’t think we noticed that, either.

It’s appreciated, don’t get me wrong. I mean, after those train wreck weeklong slumber parties with all the other girls, just about anything is appreciated. That’s exactly my point. It’s guilt, isn’t it? It takes about a week to build up the guilt in the man, to take him to the point of madness where he’s ready to buy flowers and hover anxiously and slobber and cajole. Driven to the point of despair, facing the prospect of another night of warmed over pizza and another day of dirty socks, he might even take the plunge and start doing housework. Or heaven forbid, laundry.

I hate doing laundry. It’s possibly the most un-slacker-like thing anyone could ever do.

It’s what led me to expose this whole sordid Big Secret thing. I didn’t want to do it girls, but it’s for your own good.

Now the rest of the male population can join me, in a happy brotherhood, as we revel in our newly found knowledge. That once a month, we can recline contentedly in the Laz-Y-Boy, pop another cold one and sing “La-la-la!” as the bitching and throwing of glassware commences. We can smile and give twittering little waves of the hand at our spouses, secure in the power of knowledge that it’s all a scam. A scam that, thanks to Outfoxed, has been revealed for all the male world to know. A scam that will eventually be eradicated as the word spreads. A scam that will disappear in years ahead, when all men will knowingly and sagely gather and nod heads as one, saying “Remember when we used to have to pull laundry duty once a month, remember that ugly time?”

That will be so satisfying to me.

It will be my contribution to history, a thing fitting for sainthood or enshrinement. A nice statue, perhaps. Something in a marble I should think, a profile of me with a distant and noble gaze, holding one hand wistfully in the air and the other down in palm-out supplication, gathering the men to the cause. “He was the first,” they’ll say. “He let the Truth be known, and led us from the laundry room to the den by his own example.”

(Ally’s note: Forget it boys, it ain’t happening. He’s still getting over all that lumpia and hot wings and beer he had while watching the Super Bowl. I think it gave him some sort of delusional nightmare. And he hasn’t done laundry for years, I can tell you that for a fact. Why, if all that Big Secret stuff were true, I’d have told him years ago. Heh.)

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