What a woman’s gotta do

  • Lifestyle
  • Monday, 19 Nov 2012

All uptight over an impending gynaecological check-up? Well, just sit back and read on.

THERE comes a time, when a woman’s gotta do what a woman’s gotta do, even if there are a million other things she’d much rather be doing instead. These were the thoughts running through my head last week as I sat in my doctor’s waiting room, anticipating the rigours of my annual gynaecological check-up.

Even after having two children, I still get uptight during these visits.

“You shouldn’t be so nervous about such things,” said a friend the day before my appointment. “The doctor probably sees a million vaginas everyday. It’s nothing to him.”

When the doctor’s nurse finally ushered me into the examination room, I was feeling quite jittery.

“Take your panties off, lie on the bed and cover yourself with the sheet. The doctor will be along in a minute,” she said, before rushing out the door.

I hate the word panties. The first time I heard the word, as a teenager in my native Scotland, it was as if someone had smacked me on the face with a wet fish. I can’t say the word without sounding like a five-year-old, or hear it from the opposite sex without thinking that the person sounds like a dirty old man.

Sentences like, “Now be a good little girl and put your panties on, and Uncle Tim will get you a nice drinky winky,” pop unbidden into my head, and I begin to feel all icky wicky.

I once had a serious talk with my partner about the word panties, and asked him if he wouldn’t use it in my presence. Not that the

word crops up that often in our conversations, mind you.

But I remember him rounding up the laundry one day shortly after that talk and calling

out to me in the shower: “Are these things on the bed for washing?”

“What things?” I shouted back.

“You know, the underwear things?”

“What are you talking about?”

“The things that I usually call panties.”

The man so obviously needs to get himself a good thesaurus.

Talking about which, why is it that men have dignified words for their undergarments, words like underpants, boxers, Y-fronts – good, solid tell-it-as-it-is words – while mere females have to contend with absurdities like panties, knickers, drawers and the like?

But I digress.

Back in my doctor’s examination room, I lay under the flimsy sheet and let my mind wander.

I recalled a newspaper article that I’d read some months before that told the sad story of a woman in her early fifties, who was fed up with her husband’s monotonous love-making techniques. Seemingly, while being subjected to his nightly demands, she would pass her time not by picturing herself with George Clooney or Clive Owen, but by imagining that she was in a supermarket doing her weekly shopping.

In her mind’s eye, she would start off in the canned food section, move on to poultry, then dairy products, and finally fruit and vegetables, loading up her trolley along the way. By the time she got to the checkout counter, her husband was usually done, too.

I decided a similar approach might help me relax, both while waiting for the doctor to make an appearance and during the examination proper.

As I was lying there, trying to decide whether I needed two or three tins of baked beans, the doctor walked in. He greeted me cheerfully and then got down to work.

He chatted while he examined my breasts and carried out an ultrasound of my retired ovaries, and all I could think about was getting back to my abandoned shopping trolley.

A few minutes later, his head disappeared behind the sheet draped over my bent legs, so I closed my eyes, headed for the poultry section and tried to decide whether to have chicken thighs or wings for dinner.

Further along, in the dairy section, I was loading up on fresh milk when the doctor mumbled a few more niceties.

I grunted in response, headed over to the vegetable section, and began inspecting the salad stuff.

Just as I was selecting a lettuce, the doctor announced that he was through.

Then he began asking me about the menopause and my sex life. And all I could think about was the cucumber I needed.

For the first time during a gynaecological exam, I felt relatively relaxed.

As the doctor headed out to look at the next woman on the vagina conveyor belt, I congratulated myself on my achievement.

Then the nurse went and spoiled it all by asking me to put my panties on.

So icky wicky. 

Check out Mary on Facebook at www.facebook.com/mary.schneider.writer. Reader response can be directed to star2@thestar.com.my.

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