YOU CAN ALWAYS spot women who are going through menopause by our fans, which we pull out of purses or coat pockets, unfurl, and wave wildly in the general direction of our faces. The low-tech, folding variety haven’t been in popular use in the States since the early 20th century, and a woman with a fan stands out like a screaming child in line at the checkout stand. Still, the relief fans offer is worth the furtive stares. I ought to know, as I have suffered with up to five or six flashes an hour for over a year, in spite of myriad natural herbs and supplements I’ve tried.
In addition to instant hot flash relief, I’ve found other uses for fans. They are handy devices for getting sympathetic murmurs from other women, making new friends, and gaining opportunities to show off pictures of your grandchildren. Just the other day, I stopped by the local yarn shop to buy a new pattern book. While the clerk rang up my sale, I felt the familiar rush of blood followed by the also-familiar sheen of perspiration. I retrieved my fan from my purse and began waving it, sighing at the relief. Instantly, the six or so women who were gathered at the front of the shop for their weekly get-together began commiserating. Since I was the youngest of the bunch, I got to hear all about how “it just gets worse,” and “they never really go away.” Thanks, ladies, I needed some encouragement.
But the encounter gave me an idea: Fan Wavers International. Our mission would be to distribute free fans to menopausal women around the world who suffer from hot flashes. We could even develop special distress signals. For example, a twist of the fan to the right could mean, “Intense flash, bring ice!” Or waving it overhead could mean, “One fan isn’t working, bring a second!”
Okay, I have to admit the idea is a little crazy, but then crazy is exactly how this time of life feels. In the meantime, fan anyone?