Saturday, February 24, 2007

Maybe I'll just get him a Playboy subscription

Kevin's teaching his first class, on collage and mixed media, at the Sugarcreek Art Center today. He had to work last night, so he was up late gathering supplies and going over his notes for the intro. I can tell he's nervous because as he was leaving, he said "I wish you were coming to the class!" Fine time to tell me, pal, when I'm sitting here with crazy bed head and wearing pajama pants. Oh, don't feel sorry for him. I think he wanted me there more to boost participant numbers than for moral support. Only five people signed up ahead of time, but the center does get walk-ins for classes. I think the weather and time of year affected the number of sign-ups, too. He's planning to teach a class on rubber stamping later this spring, and I'm sure more people will sign up then. Keep your fingers crossed the class goes well for him, will you?

Oh, and I must say something snotty about his cousin Sam, who's heading up the foundation that Kevin's the artist in residence for. Sam blathers a blue streak about how "marvelous" Kevin's artwork is and how "supportive" he is of Kevin's artistic efforts, but is he attending the class today to support Kevin? Why, no. And Kevin wonders why I snipe about Sam being all talk.


That damn Greg (heh) suggested a Playboy subscription for Daniel's 18th birthday. He was kidding, of course (RIGHT, Greg?), but his suggestion reminded me of something I know about Daniel that I'm not supposed to. A while back, Kevin was putting away laundry and went into Daniel's closets to hang a few shirts. (He doesn't usually put Daniel's clothes away FOR him, just for the record. He was carrying a bunch of shirts up and decided to hang Daniel's up so that they wouldn't wrinkle or fall off the doorknob. Anyway, end of unnecessary explanation.) A stack of magazines on the shelves in there caught his eye, and when he took a closer look, he saw they were Playboys. Here's what's funny, though: They weren't current Playboys; they were from the late '60s, early '70s, and quite tame by today's standards. We figured someone brought them in to the bookstore with a box of books to sell, and Jon offered them to Daniel and the other male employee more as a joke. Apparently Daniel took him up on the offer! I had to laugh when I looked at a few issues. I mean, the pictures are almost sweet. If that's as far into porn as he gets, fine with me.


I was more upset than I let on by Kevin's touchiness over getting stuck in the snow last weekend. See, when I met him nine years ago, he was one of the sweetest, most laidback men I'd ever met. Frankly, that quality was a huge part of his attraction for me, as it was a diametric opposite to my ex-husband's personality. Over the past couple of years, I've been surprised to see outbursts of anger, irritation, and defensiveness from him. He's not a psycho, but the change has been noticeable. I tried to rationalize it by attributing it to depression (and his moods did improve a little after he started antidepressants) or frustration over being out of work or working in jobs that gave him no opportunities to use his creativity. He's had a lot of problems with his daughter, and Lord knows problems with kids can make you angry and frustrated as hell. I've had some ups and downs in moods, too, what with occasional depression and perimenopause and idiot salesclerks and theater employees (heh), too, so I thought maybe he was reacting to MY moods.

Greg mentioned male menopause after my entry about Kevin's snit fit, and I thought it might be a possibility, but with my usual laziness, didn't look into it any further. Then I got an e-mail from Kathy (more famous as The Millionth Reader at Jane's) talking about dealing with men's midlife crises, and I thought "Second mention in a week: Someone's telling me to look into this more."

So I Googled "male menopause" and lo, there were more than a million hits. I started clicking around, looking for descriptions of symptoms. This WellnessMD article, among many others, listed "dwindling libido and impotence" (which I first typed as "importance"--ha! Freudian, much?) Uh, NOT A PROBLEM. And I'll leave it at that (you're welcome).

I kept looking, and found this article at MSNBC, which also mentioned decreased interest in sex but added increased irritability and feeling "down and discouraged." What's interesting is that the article said testosterone levels start decreasing gradually as early as 30 and continue for many years, whereas woman have a sharper decline in estrogen levels starting at 50, on average. So men do go through menopause (or, more correctly, andropause), but the transition is usually a hell of a lot easier for them because it's more gradual.

I was feeling somewhat put upon, all "Men! And if they had periods, instead of cramps, they'd have soothing, tingling waves of contentment wash over them. Hmmmph!" And then I found the MenAlive site. According to the author, male depression can mimic andropause symptoms, making diagnosis more difficult, and depression often manifests itself differently in men than in women, as anxiety and irritability. Then I hit on irritable male syndrome (IMS), which at first I was tempted to dismiss with "I think that's called just being male," but I don't know. A lot of what I read sounded familiar. IMS is sometimes called Jekyll and Hyde Syndrome because of how drastic the behavioral changes can be, and that certainly fit Kevin. If you're involved with a middle-aged man, I recommend checking out the information. I don't know whether the guy writing the stuff on this site is a crackpot or is making up all these theories or what, but what I read made sense to me.

Now I need to read more about what to do about IMS. I did see something about testosterone supplements, and hell, no. That's the last thing Kevin needs, in my Google M.D. opinion. More testosterone in him? I'd never get anything done!

Edited to add: Y'all should pay attention to the lovely Miz S, if you go check out that site! I'm oblivious to advertising most of the time and didn't notice all the stuff this guy is hawking. That makes me suspicious, but I still think the descriptions of behaviors are interesting, and to be honest, I'm relieved to think there might be something wrong with Kevin, whether it's physical or psychological. Not that I WISH an ailment on him, but that's better than resigning myself to him becoming the world's crankiest old man, right?

Oh, and no worries: He doesn't read anything here. I'm not hiding it from him on purpose, but when I switched sites, I just never gave him the new address. Even at my old journal, he didn't read that often because I think he was afraid of inhibiting my "self-expression" or some such notion. Self-expression, heh. More like aimless babbling, but still, it was sweet of him. See? He is sweet when he's not being Mr. Crankypants.