“And so then they slid the camera up there…”
I closed my notebook and clicked my pen back inside itself. I wasn’t going to be taking any notes in this meeting.
“It was about the size of a pen…”
I placed my pen quietly down on the table and looked at the clock. I had a deadline to meet in three hours and I was listening to a middle aged man describe having a camera pushed up his penis.
He wasn’t even being funny about it. I mean, there’s loads of scope to be funny with hospital stories, isn’t there? Especially if they involve genitalia. If you’re really struggling, go for the classic – “He asked me to drop my trousers. Then, the doctor walked in!” IT WAS THE CLEANER.THE CLEANER ASKED HIM TO DROP HIS TROUSERS. The joke has been made, we’ve all a polite little laugh and now we can get on with talking about literally anything else that has ever happened in the world at all.
So, as I listened to the Cystoscopy Chronicles and practiced my “I’m not thinking about your penis being kebab-ed by a camera” face, I began to think about what would happen if the situation were reversed – if I was to open a meeting with an over-rehearsed anecdote about an intimate medical procedure.
“Before we get into things, I want to talk about something that happened to me last week. Stick with me, it’s relevant, I promise. So, I was having my smear test, right…”
“Right, I just want to kick off this meeting with something that I think is really going to put things in perspective and have a huge impact on the results of this discussion – my period is, like, super heavy right now. I mean, really, I’m scared to move…”
I can’t be one hundred percent certain, but I’m definitely in the eighties when I say that someone, most likely the guy with penis problems, would have repeatedly spritzed me with water and put me outside, before vomiting down his shirt.
I think it’s widely acknowledged that men’s bodies have to be funny and women’s bodies have to be sexy. If it’s not then please, let’s all acknowledge it now so that it becomes, er, wide.
Women’s bodies have to be sexy – they cannot be gross. I mean, obviously, they can and often are, take it from someone who has one, but that grossness is supposed to be contained and never spoken of, let alone used as an opener to an inconveniently timed meeting. Weird blue alien blood is used in tampon adverts, because red liquid would make people want to press their thumbs into their own eye sockets, but I’m having to listen to a guy tell me about the stretching feeling he felt when a camera got pushed into the end of his dick? At work? I have to say ‘smear test’ on an in-breath, or with a comically exaggerated mime, when discussing my nerves with a girlfriend in a coffee shop, so as not to put someone off their poorly filled panini, but graphic descriptions of the end of this guy’s knob is judged as an appropriate…anything? If my body is anything other than small and quiet and contained then it’s going to make everyone uncomfortable. Much more uncomfortable than whatever was happening in this meeting.
Now, I’m not getting all down on the fellas, here. It must be hard having to accept that your body is, usually, nothing more than a comedic prop. I’m sure it’s hard when you want to be all sexy and stuff, and is even harder when you’re worried that something is wrong with it, something that could actually kill you dead.
Over the last couple of years, I’ve been privy to numerous discussions in which men have recounted somewhat personal medical procedures, one of which was my own grandfather. Prostate examinations, vasectomies, I’ve heard it all (two, I’ve heard about those two things) and the man telling them always peppers the story with unimaginative, thin jokes. I don’t blame them for trying to be funny, I mean, if you can’t laugh at a stranger putting two of his fingers up your bum then when can you? I also don’t blame them for failing to be funny, I mean, if you can’t feel a little off your game when you’re going through invasive tests to see whether there is a tumour is in your body then when can you?
So, in short, it’s a bit shit for all of us. We’re all gross and we can all be nervous about uncomfortable medical procedures. And, in the time it took me to think about all of this and come up with pretty much no conclusion, the camera had still not been removed. He was still going. He was still going on with the story.