Hot flashes are real, people. Last Friday evening, Stephanie and I were in the checkout line at Fred Meyer and noticed the cashier had what looked like was the earliest prototype of an iPod hanging around her neck. Stephanie glanced at the woman’s name tag. “Kathy?” she said. ” What is that thing around your neck?” Kathy didn’t miss a beat. ” It’s my menopause fan,” she replied, bringing the fan to her face to allow the breeze blow her hair back like she was in a fashion photo shoot. We laughed and Stephanie grabbed an Idaho Spud from the impulse shelf. She’d never had one before and there were mixed reviews between Kathy, myself and the customers ahead of us in line. “They used to be a lot bigger,” said Kathy. “I liked those in college,” I chimed in, “but then one day it’s like I suddenly tasted all the chemicals inside and was repulsed. I’d try one again, though.” The woman in front of us looked at the ingredients. “This is disgusting,” she said. “There’s nothing of value in here. We’re getting the good chocolate and it’s on sale!” She put the candy back and looked at us as if we’d be personally violating the planet by eating the weird, sugary mound. We bought one anyway, unwrapped it right there at the cash register and enjoyed every succulent bite.