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28 January 2010 @ 10:26 am
PMS & Caffeine  
Walked to work this morning.

On my way, stopped at Stumptown for a soy mocha. The only coffee in Seattle I like (from Portland, heh).

There is a beautiful barista there who is the center of my current barista crush (a well-established tradition in which all Seattleites must engage).

This morning she was uncharacteristically cranky. And then I noticed - so were the other 2 girls behind the counter. I smiled to myself, realizing all three girls had swung into cycle and were at their (emotions x 50) PMS peak. It might look like crazy on the outside, but having long experienced PMS woes, I know that it's just a stronger-than-usual amplification of normal emotional reactions. 50 times more irritated, but also 50 times more sentimental. I also know that exposure to caffeine makes it worse, and these girls have their hands in coffee beans and espresso all day long.

Whether consciously or not, the three men in line in front of me were extra gentle with all three women, which kept the women at an even keel of functioning and staying focused on the work. So familiar. It was interesting watching this from outside, knowing from too much experience what it's like to try to hide it from the public when this is happening - I also didn't realize how incredibly transparent it is.

I interacted slowly and quietly with the cashier and my crushee barista, finding that balance between being engaging without interrupting their pace, requiring their focused attention or making them feel impatient (it helped that by then, there was only one customer behind me). When the cashier dropped my change all over the counter, I touched her hand and said, my hands are tiny, it happens all the time. I watched her shoulders visibly relax. She closed her eyes, took a deep breath, shoulders down, opened them and smiled. When the barista handed me my cup, we both held our hands there for a moment and let time freeze, I gave her a half-smile, my "yeah, girl, I know this sucks" smile I reserve for such occasions, and watched her shoulders do the same thing.

Afterwards I wondered ... by projecting my own experience on to these girls (this is the primary way in which I attempt to relate to others, which means it fails fundamentally sometimes when people experience things differently from me), did I do just the right thing and indeed perceive a calming effect, or did projecting my negative experience on to them also color my perception of their response? Human interaction. I could spend my life studying it, and still never really understand it.
Cantakerous troubadoursonder on January 28th, 2010 06:52 pm (UTC)
Females are weird.
Varnvarn_ix on January 31st, 2010 06:14 pm (UTC)
1) Our math teacher was known for controversial assignments, but when the homework was "You are horny. Calculate the probability that none of your three girlfriends is available, given the lengths of their cycluses and within them, the times when they are actually useless.", he was dismissed from the school.

2) The incident you describe also reminded me of Left Hand of Darkness, where the hermaphroditic population has a (staggered) estrus cycle and the ones not in estrus are especially considerate. I imagine you'd have read it, if not, a worthy read.