I have a gynecologist appointment this morning and quite possibly, as you read this post, I’m wearing an ill-fitting hospital gown and my bare legs are strung up in stirrups as my OB-GYN’s head disappears out of my field of vision, down there beyond the edge of the examination table. Meanwhile, I’m feeling compelled to keep up an endless patter of small talk as she does things that I normally don’t allow until the third date.
“Did you redecorate?” I might ask after noticing a change to the examining room wall color since my last appointment. Or I might say, “Have you read any good books lately?” Or, “How about those Phillies/Eagles?” (depending on the time of year).
My OB-GYN will chat with me, as if she isn’t doing what we both know she’s doing, as she describes everything she is doing, even though I know everything she is doing, because it’s the same thing she’s been doing every year at my annual exam.
“We did redecorate–can you scoot down just a little bit?–because we just got tired of that dreary beige color–you might feel a little pressure here–and we think this warm yellow brightens up the room. Now, when was your last menstrual period?”
It’s an odd intimacy that develops between a woman and her gynecologist, and, I think, it’s unlike any other relationship between a patient and doctor. Sure, your primary physician may have seen you naked, they might know about that weird heart-shaped birth mark on your left hip that you were certain was cancer but turned out to only mean you were destined for a life full of love. Your primary may even know you suffer from psoriasis, or hemorrhoids, or acid reflux.
But your gynecologist . . . Well, your gynecologist sees inside you, while you’re lying there prone, vulnerable, wearing only socks and a johnny coat that doesn’t quite close, both of which would impede a dignified escape across the shiny waxed floors.
Once, late last year, I stopped at the supermarket that’s near my gynecologist’s office to pick up cat food. One of our cats had become a picky eater, and like the nervous mother I am, I’d begun to fret over her, and decided to get an assortment of different canned food to see if there was one she liked better than the others. I got into the checkout line with a few different varieties and put them on the conveyor belt.
While I stood in line, I became convinced that my selection of groceries, limited to different brands of cat food, would lead the cashier to believe that I was eating all this cat food myself. She’d think that I didn’t have any cats at all; rather, she’d believe that I was doing my weekly grocery shopping and all I needed to stock my kitchen were these cans of cat food.
(Let me stop here to say that I
occasionally sometimes often get contacted by readers asking whether what I write is factually true. For the most part, it is, though I do change names and sometimes chronology for the sake of a better story. This part about standing in a check out line and thinking the cashier would assume I’m eating cat food? It’s absolutely true. I really am as crazy as you’ve suspected).
I was about to sweep all the cat food into my arms and head back out into the aisles to grab random human food off the shelves (Kashi®? That’s made for human consumption, isn’t it?) when the customer in line ahead of me touched my arm.
“Hi, Karen. How are you?”
If she hadn’t touched me, I might not have recognized her, but the touch was familiar, intimate. I looked up to see my gynecologist in front of me, her purchases spread out behind the small plastic bar that created a barrier to my cat food. She gave my arm a little squeeze, the same way she squeezes my shoulder at the end of an appointment, right before she leaves the examination room so I can get dressed. Then she took her hand away.
“Oh, hi, I’m fine. How are you?”
“I’m well. You’re buying a little bit of cat food there, aren’t you? How many cats do you have?”
“Just two,” I answered, and think about sending her a link to a blog post I wrote long ago that explained the number of cats you can have before you’re considered a Crazy Cat Lady (my answer is, unsurprisingly, two) just to prove that I am not a Crazy Cat Lady, despite the insane amount of canned cat food I’m buying.
She smiled and made a comment that I didn’t quite catch (something about treating our pets better than we treat ourselves, I think) and then paid for her groceries and gave me a little wave as she exited the line.
I could make any one of a number of tasteless jokes here about pussies, and tuna, and gynecology but I won’t. I trust my readers will be able to come up with their own.
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This post was written in response to this week’s Discover Challenge: In this week’s Discover Challenge, publish a post that appeals to one of the senses: hearing, sight, touch, smell, and taste. You’re free to interpret this in any way, and publish in any format: prose, poetry, photography, audio, video . . .