There is a saying, backed by science, that women living together tend to “cycle” together. There is nothing camaraderie-like about this, in the way of men shaving collectively, for instance. Women cycling together are women facing the onslaught of PMS together. Wars, I say, have been begun for far less reason.
It seems extremely fortunate, then, that all my previous flatmates and I have proven to be exceptions to science. In the interest of preserving world peace, Divine Providence has seen fit to equip us with biological clocks belonging to different time zones. Never before in the history of unarmed conflict have hostilities been so temporally regulated.
For the uninitiated, unenlightened, or simply unharmed, PMS stands for premenstrual syndrome—the combination of physical and emotional symptoms that occur one or two weeks prior to menstruation. According to my health guide, these symptoms include aches, anxiety, bloating, depression, fatigue, irritability, lethargy, mood swings, nausea, skin disorders, swelling, weight gain and tension. The guide’s prescription to this Pandora’s Box? “Cope with it.”
It is possible that the existence of PMS may have been recognized by the Jews as far back as the 13th century B.C. In Leviticus, it is forbidden to so much as touch a menstruating woman for a period of seven days—a prime example of the kind of wisdom that merited the Jews their designation as the Chosen People. (Isolation can be prudent if the only palliative you can offer to a woman stranded in a desert in extreme pain is “cope with it.”)
Fortunately, or unfortunately, PMS may not be an exclusively female phenomenon. Robert Louis Stevenson, in his 1886 thriller The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, appears to have made a case for a male version of the condition. Although less sophisticated readers will insist on interpreting the novel as an allegory of the good and evil that exists in the hearts of men, the story’s ending corroborates the PMS reading. Why?
Because in the novel’s end, the monster wins.