I had a bad gynecological visit. More than bad. Terrible, really. I mistakenly thought that I would be more comfortable with a female physician than with a male physician. She would be more sympathetic, or more gentle, or maybe commiserate with me about how hard it is to own a vagina.
Nope. This new doctor made me wait for an hour and a half in her stuffy waiting room. The waiting room where the reading material consists entirely of parenting magazines from 1990, birth control pamphlets, and one copy of Fishing Weekly. Because, husbands. All husbands like to read about fishing while waiting for someone to explore their wife’s bits and pieces.
I finally made it back to the inner sanctum: a cold, sterile examination room with an anatomically correct poster of the female reproductive system taped to the ceiling. Interesting. The doctor rushed in and frowned at me. She glanced at her watch and told me I’d better take my clothes off so we could get this over with before 5:00.
No introductions, no hand shaking, no laughing about how dumb the word vulva sounds. I stared at her for about 30 seconds, picked up my purse, and walked the fuck out of there. And I stole the Fishing Weekly. Don’t judge; she deserved it. There need to be more angry bored men in that office. Maybe she will work faster.
I immediately called my mom to complain. I thought she was going to laugh when I got to the part about vulva being a stupid word. Instead, she told me she is in love with her 60+ year-old male gyno. Not just loves him, but is IN love with him. The same man who delivered me 30 or 40 years ago. Not what I was expecting. She went on to tell me why. I will admit, her reasons are compelling.
He flirts with her. They have been together for so long that he doesn’t even have his nurse do the routine vitals. He does them himself. He tells her to take her clothes off, and she tells him that he is the only man she will take her clothes off for that early in the morning. He laughs and tells her she is “so bad, Annie, so so bad.” (Say this in your head with a slight Italian accent. Somehow it is less creepy that way).
They are on a first name basis. Alessandro. His name is Alessandro. Think about what a man named Alessandro might look like. Add 10 years. Put his face between your freshly shaven legs. I bet you are not complaining. You are already half in love with him too.
He asks her what she needs. “You are feeling down, Annie? What do you need? You are a vibrant woman, you don’t need to feel anxious. Do you need an upper? A downer? I can take care of you.” I try to erase the sound of my mother’s imitation of his accent and imagine the real thing.
He compliments her. He told her she has the vagina of a 20-year-old. Yes, my mother, having birthed two children through that vagina and old enough to have five grandchildren. She has the vagina of a 20-year-old.
He is gentle. Non-latex gloves. Warm lubricant. Soft lighting. Music. He has the scene set up properly before he rubs on her breasts, palpates her uterus, and manipulates her lady garden.
He makes her care packages. If she runs out of whatever he prescribed for her, she calls and his nurse tells her to come on in and pick up a care package. That’s right. She hasn’t paid for medication for years. She’s been stopping by once a month to pick up a little brown paper bag full of samples.
He doesn’t believe in periods past a certain age. A few years back, she started complaining to him about symptoms of peri-menopause and the trouble she was having with her period. He looked her in the eyes, took her hand, and told her, “you are done having kids. You do not need to bleed every month. Regular bleeding is for cavemen when they needed to have babies to keep the human race alive. If you don’t need babies, you don’t need to bleed. Let’s get you some birth control and you just take those pills back to back. Skip that bleeding week. It won’t hurt you. I promise.” When Alessandro promises, you believe him. She told him he is not allowed to retire until her vagina turns to dust.
I live across the country from my mother, but I’ll be visiting for two weeks this summer. I already asked her to make me an appointment. Yes, Alessandro may have been the man who caught me when I shot out of my mother’s vagina 30-something years ago, but I’m suddenly nostalgic. And I am re-thinking my quest for a female gynecologist.