I have had five children. I understand how the reproductive process works. I can, as I've demonstrated several times with my boys, explain it in a fairly straightforward manner. And yet the Captain and I are still surprised and annoyed every twenty-eight days when I get my period. I hate the hemorrhagic blood flow, and he can't believe he has to stop trying to have sex with me for five days.
This general irritation has spawned an entire backstory for my period based on the quaint custom of asking if one's "friend" has come to town. My period has never been my friend, so I imagine a man coined this euphemism as a fervent prayer that his girlfriend wasn't pregnant. Seeing as how the only times I've missed my period are when I've been good and knocked up, I get the misnomer.
Thus, Patrice was born.
Patrice is my "friend." I've known her since middle school. She's always been a little loud and needy, but tolerable in short bursts. We went to college together, but I tried to put a little distance between us when it became apparent she wasn't a great influence. I usually regretted my behavior when we were out together. But she cleaned up her act after graduation, and when I got married I'd invite her out to visit once in a while.
Ten years of steady child birthing took a toll on our relationship. Life with newborns is all consuming, so we'd lose touch for months. Patrice resented our on-again, off-again status, and would drunk-dial me in the middle of the night to complain. More than once she showed up, unannounced, at an important event to demonstrate her enduring power. I would spend half the wedding/reunion/vacation trying to control her as she refused to be relegated to the fringes of my life.
I'll admit, lately I've wished Patrice would just go away for good. My hand has hovered over the phone, debating whether to answer her midnight call from the train station. I've spoken to medical professionals about the best way to handle our increasingly toxic association. But I just haven't been able to cut her out of my life. Even though our friendship is painful, it's familiar. A lot is forgiven when you've known someone for thirty-five years.
This week I attended a Bat Mitzvah and took a mini-vacation with the boys. Naturally, I expected Patrice to show up. I've been ready, but she hasn't called. I'm not pregnant, although I can't completely dismiss the idea that the Captain's uber-competitiveness may have inspired his stranded sperm to swarm, like the Borg or those Matrix attackers, and repair his severed vas deferens.
I've grown more worried for Patrice's safety with each passing day. Most likely, she's passed out somewhere, hopefully with a hunky guy. But her absence has made my heart grow fonder. As much as she interferes with my life, our bond is unique.
I'll miss her when she's gone.