Ah, the familiar feeling of cold metal stirrups against my naked, delicate toes. The nurse practitioner congratulates me on the healthy color of my vagina—a pink somewhere between “blush” and “bashful.” She soothingly tells me about the pressure I’ll be feeling from the plastic speculum. Visiting the gyno at Callen-Lorde Community Health Center in Chelsea is almost as nice as getting your hair done at Bumble and Bumble. They practically give you a glass of wine while you wait for your test results. Not really, but once when I was hyperventilating in the waiting room, the nurse told me to quit the dramatics. “Trust me I’ve heard worse,” she said. “I’ve seen a dick stuck in every orifice a human can imagine.” Her assurances worked pretty much like a shot of tequila to my soul.
My annuals weren’t always this positive. I was 18 and just lost my V card to a guy named Rocko with a DUI from Canada. Clearly, I win the bad girl/idiot competition. Thank God I made it out of that relationship without a tattoo—it wasn’t easy.
Rocko was a big fan of condoms—except NOT. There were a lot of limp dick situations just from pulling out the tiny foil square, and his flag would lower to half-mast before I even got the sucker open. I decided to be responsible and visit a gyno. I knew I didn’t want to be on birth control because I didn’t want to get fat before I even made it to college and put on the requisite 15 lbs. My head was spinning with all the options for non-hormonal birth control (that’s sarcasm). After a lot of internet research I came to the conclusion the best thing was to get fitted for a diaphragm. That’s right, because even though it was 2003, in my heart I believed it was 1954.
To prepare for my first visit to the lady doctor, I watched David Cronenberg’s Dead Ringers. A movie about twin gynecologists (both played by Jeremy Irons) who slowly go insane from prescription drug use. They commission a metal artist to develop gynecological torture instruments to operate on their “mutant” patients with abnormal genitalia. To this day, before any doctor’s visit, I have nightmares about this movie. Even if it’s just an appointment with my Ear, Nose and Throat guy.
The next morning I was sitting in my paper gown trying to count backward from 100 to calm down. I kept thinking, “What if I’m a mutant woman? Or, what if those instruments actually inspired some kind of trend in the gynecological field and are about to be used on me?” I looked around the room for any clues I was about to be disemboweled. All I could find were some tongue depressors and a plastic model of fallopian tubes that quickly came apart in my hands. I shoved them underneath the exam table and hoped she wouldn’t notice.