First Time by Angee Ferris
Just…remain…calm. Mom promised this is not going to be as horrible as I’m imagining, but I don’t know if I believe her. What else could she say? Is that my heart pounding in my ears? Wow. Even if I make it through all of this alright, she might very well drive me crazy in the meantime. I wish she would stop asking me how I’m doing. She acts like this is some kind of a privilege. My arrival into womanhood. Well, I’d like to get off the bus here, please. Would that be okay? The joys of being a girl. I wonder if I’m dressed alright for this “special occasion.” Can’t go on a real date ‘till I’m sixteen, but I have to do this?
She sure is driving a bit fast for someone who never speeds.
By the way, mom, thanks for passing all your “female issues” to me.
‘Preciate it. First girl I knew to get a bra, first girl to start my period, now all this mess. “Aunt Flo’s” first visit was sure a lot of fun. Of course I just had to be wearing a white skirt that day. The entire fourth grade knew about it within seconds, it seemed. Then, just to make sure everyone in the whole school would know what a freak I am, I got to wear my gym clothes for the rest of the day. Go, Tigers!
Why is everyone so worried about me, anyway? I just passed out a few times. Is that so strange? Suddenly I’m some experimental rat in a lab or something. What if something’s really wrong with me? What if I’m broken inside? What if nothing’s wrong and I just have to deal with this for the rest of my life? No “sanitary napkins” for me, no sir. I’ll take a beach towel in my panties, please. Oh, yes … I feel very feminine and pretty. What’s that? My, my… feels like someone is twisting my insides and juicing them like an orange. All of this for about fourteen days a month – well, I must be very lucky, indeed! I should play the freakin’ lottery.
Huh. So, maybe I need to be checked out.
Here we are… Dr. Burnell, Gynecology. Gynocology, what a stupid word. It should be Girlocology , or Femicology or something. Humilicology would also be appropriate. Deep breath. Sign in and sit down, just like a dental appointment. Except for the inevitable nakedness.
Oh my God, I think I’m going to be sick. This place smells. What the heck is that, anyway? Right. Potpourri. Oh, please, oh, please… don’t anybody look at me. Crap. They are looking. They probably all think I’m pregnant or something. I could just die right now and it would be okay. I wish I could scream at them - If you’re thinking I’m here because I’m pregnant, you’re wrong! – but that would really freak my mom out. My next appointment would be with a therapist, and I don’t really need that in my life right now. This is enough. I can just imagine the stories they’re going to tell all their housewife friends about the kid they saw at Dr. Burnell’s office today who got herself in trouble. Whatever. That may be the only thing they have to entertain then in their boring lives.
I don’t ever want to get old.
Paperwork, fun. No, you go right ahead, mom. Looking a little fidgety over there. Symptoms? Sure, let’s go over the list of symptoms. Cramping? Check. Heavy bleeding? Put two checks on that one. Dizziness? Check. Nausea? Check. Passing out? Check. Mood Swings? Well, I’m feeling a strong urge right now to take that clipboard and throw it against the wall as hard as I can. So… check. Just check the whole damn page, mother, and leave me alone about it! Geez. She knows what I’m going through as well as I do – can’t she fill out some forms?
Right. Mood swings. Are “bitter” and “hateful” on there? How about “scared?” They should add those.
Holy crap, that lady is huge. She looks like she’s hating life right now. I wonder if she’s due soon. Oh, man what if her water breaks right here while she’s waiting. Gross. I don’t want to see that. But I’m staring. Yes, I’m staring at her and I can’t stop. That huge thing is going to come out of her. I can’t … I can’t stop staring. I wonder if she’s scared. What if I never get to know what that’s like? I mean, I don’t feel like I ever want to know what that’s like right now. But, I might want to know what it’s like… someday. I hope they can just figure out what’s wrong with me and fix it. Fix it with the least amount of nudity as possible. Please.
Could this room be any pinker? Geez, I’ve hated pink since I was about twelve. Am I supposed to like it again now? Hearts and flowers and birds. Gag.
What’s going to happen? How long is this going to take? Liz said you have to be totally naked and they touch you everywhere . Her sister, Lisa, had to go a few months ago. They stick something cold and pointy – oh, God. Is this what a panic attack feels like? I feel so dizzy. That sick, dizzy, queasy feeling you get right before you puke. Maybe I’ll puke on the doctor before he can do anything. Why can’t I at least have a woman doctor? Mom said she wouldn’t trust anyone else with me, and, besides, Dr. Burnell delivered me. So what? Things have changed just a bit since then. What about who I trust with my own body?
Perfect. Yes, a cone of water is just what I needed. Thanks, mom. How did you know?
I shouldn’t be so critical. I must look awful, and I know she’s worried about me. She’s hiding it pretty well, but I see that look. I’ve seen it plenty of time. Huh. I guess I was thirsty and didn’t even realize it. I think I’ll have another.
Oh, my gosh, everyone’s going to ask me about this when I get back to school. Maybe I won’t be able to go back until after lunch. Then, maybe they’ll forget about this tomorrow. What time is it? Oh, way cool. I’m missing Math right now. I think I’d actually prefer to be sitting in front of Mr. Hines right now instead of sitting here. Do they think these chairs are comfortable? It’s freezing in here! I gotta’ get out of here. Just a moment away from mom and all her reassuring words and comforting pats – and worried eyes – will give me a chance to breathe!
At least it’s warmer out here. Oh, crap, did he see me come out of there? What the heck is Todd doing here, anyway? Now all the guys are going to know! Oh my God. I know he did. He’ll tell Josh and the whole freshman class will know by the end of the day. I’ll be “gyno girl” forever. Shayna will make me the newest super-hero on her gossip website. I’m sure I saw him smile when he walked through that door. What office is that, anyway? Just a dentist. I’m so screwed. Maybe I could just self-combust right here and then it would all be over. Can you self-combust from embarrassment? Probably not. I would have blown up several times over by now. Damn. Move, move, move. Get back inside before he comes back out for some reason.
I’m actually happy to be back in this pepto-dismal room. I can’t believe it. I guess the threat of certain and eminent annihilation from your peers is enough to change your perspective of a pink waiting room.
I still feel sick.
It’s what’s beyond that door that really bothers me. Okay, the pink is seriously nauseating, too. The women who come out don’t seem terribly traumatized, though. They’ve done this a few times, I guess. Most of them are coming out with little bags of stuff. Goodie bags? Condolence prizes? I wonder if they have t-shirts, like for an amusement park ride. “I survived the stirrups!” But I bet it’s pink. Apparently, that’s what the things are called where you put your feet. “Stirrups.” Like I’m a freakin’ cowgirl or something. Ride ‘em … yeeeeehaw!
No, mom … I don’t care to look at People magazine right now. What is she thinking? Like we’re on a flight or something?
Was that my name? Let’s get this the heck over with. Yeah, yeah, yeah… weight, height, blood pressure, yadda, yadda, yadda. I don’t even care that I’ve gained ten pounds. Do whatever you gotta’ do to get me outta’ here.
A video? I have to watch a video first? Oh, for cryin’ out loud. Sure, mom and I enjoy watching movies together, but come on. Stop yammering about it and hit play, lady. I understand the doctor is concerned about my nervousness. Great. This is sure helping.
Okay, okay. Stirrups. Got it. You’d think this lady would get a pedicure, knowing her toes would be in a movie. Geez… toes and everything else, apparently! Oh … my… gosh. This is like gyno-porn. Do I really need to see all this? Hey – let’s go get Todd from the dentist’s office and invite him to watch with mom and me! Deep breath. Right, so the pointy metal thing is called a speculum. Duly noted. She doesn’t seem like she’s in pain. That’s good. Pap swear. Okay. That looks a lot like Biology class. Did he just say “anal exam?” What – Holy God in heave. What the crap does any of that have to do with bleeding and passing out? Okay, mom promised that part’s not going to happen. Excuse me very mush, but was this video supposed to calm me down? Whose idiotic idea was this? Deep breath.
Alright, looks like we’re winding down here. Feet are out of the stirrups, she’s sitting up. And those ... would be her breasts. Come on, I don’t even like to see my own boobs! I’ve had enough. Either mom feels the same way, or she knows I’m about to lose it, because she turned the tape off in a huff and went to go find the nurse. She’s alright.
I gotta’ have a piece of gum. I can’t stand it anymore. I know it drives her nuts – the way I chew it so hard and snap it … she really freaks out. But, I gotta’ have … something else to focus on, I guess. I’ll have a headache by the time I leave here from chewing so hard, but it will help me get through this. She’s just gonna’ have to deal.
I can’t get that lady’s boobs out of my head. Great.
Oh, good. Another field trip to another room. I guess this will be “the” room. The staging area for my … what, arrival into womanhood, right? So … this is like the portal? A portal with stirrups. There they are. Looks like somebody knitted some stirrup cozies. That’s very thoughtful and yet, somehow disturbing. Yeah, the gum is bothering her, but she’s not saying anything. She’s alright.
The nurse is talking to me, I think. What the heck is that wicked thing? Looks like an alien Mag-Light. I need to sit down.
Time to “disrobe,” apparently. She said I can keep my top on, so that’s cool. No need for a breast exam. I’ll take whatever I can get. Wait. Change into … this? What? This isn’t like the video. This is a slightly oversized napkin, lady! The chic in the video got to wear a soft drapy cloth outfit. This is just like the litle napkin thing the dentist clips around your neck for your tooth-gunk – only slightly larger. Did ya’ borrow this from the guy down the hall? Whoa. It really is like a dentist visit with more nakedness. The dentist doesn’t seem so bad right now.
If I wasn’t so paralyzed with fear, I could probably laugh out loud. I can’t believe they have this little curtained-off area for me to change. The irony is beautiful. Like, someone walking in on me changing clothes is somehow more of a violation that what Dr. Burnell and his friend the happy speculum are going to do to me. Thank GOD I’m spared from the embarrassment of someone seeing me step out of my jeans!
Yes, please mom, stay in the room.
Okay, I’m thankful to keep my top on, but I feel ridiculous. Fully clothed on top, sitting here barely covered by this napkin on bottom, and my feet are cold. Mom’s chattering on and on about something, trying her best to help me relax. Nothing short of a sedative will accomplish that.
Why do doctors always have all these posters of cross-sections of parts of the body and stuff? It concerns me. Do they need a reminder? Wait. That one’s kinda’ cool. I can’t believe a baby looks like … looks like a little person so soon.
Okay, I’m scared. What the heck is wrong with me? I don’t want to miss out on all that. Crap. Oh, yeah, I want to be crying when he gets in here. I’m so glad mom is here. Yes, hold my hand and don’t let go. Please, please, please God. Let everything be okay.
Well, it is about freakin’ time, Doctor. Let’s get this show on the road. Fine, fine … personal questions. Get to it. Oh my God, no I’m not sexually active. He’s still talking, and I don’t even know what he’s saying. I think more questions, but my brain has shut down from the “sexually active” thing. No, no no … . I hope “no” is the right answer.
Ok, this is it. Laying back. Right. Feet in stirrups. Please hurry. Studying the ceiling. Just get it over with. What? Scoot down? Scooting down with my feet in stirrups. I think this takes a little more coordination and athleticism than I possess, good doctor. You really should advise people of this. There should be some kind of training or something. Maybe a “PEP” section of gym class. “Pelvic Exam Preparation.” All the girls would lie on their backs and have to scoot down to the other end of the gym with their legs up in the air. What’s he doing, anyway? Oh, getting all the paraphernalia ready. Great. Scoot down further? Further? Further? My butt is hanging off this table, dude! Far enough? Thank goodness. I feel like I’m a car in a movie – teetering on the edge of some cliff. Ooohhhh, this is worse then I imagined. Okay, where’d mom’s hand go? Oh, there she is. Okay.
Here we go. Drop my knees? What the heck does that mean? Relax? Are you kidding? Relax and let my legs fall. Deep breath. I get it! I’m trying! Geez, if he would just shut up for a second, maybe I could relax. Okay, dropping … my … knees. Miracles do happen. Moses has nothin’ on me. Now, go, go, go.
Wonder what Liz is doing right now. Biology, I guess. That’s appropriate. Maybe I could get extra credit. I gotta’ work on that project that’s due next week. And what else? Ummm … ummm … . A,B, C, D, E, F, G, … .
Is he talking to me? Yeah, thanks for the play-by-play, Doctor, just keep working. Mom, keep talking to him and don’t let go of my hand.
I think I want to change the color of my room. That red is too dark. Yes, pressure. I feel it. Maybe I could go with more of a taupe. That would be nice. Maybe I’ll keep one wall red. What should Liz and I do this weekend? I really want to see that new chic-flick. No, no pain. I’m okay. Yeah, we could do that and spend the night and do pedicures. Maybe we’ll call some boys. Maybe Lisa will have friends over and let us hang around if we stay quiet and don’t bug them. After all, I’m a woman now, supposedly. No, nothing hurts there … or there.
Did he say “sit up?” Huh? Oh my gosh, it’s over? Have the results in a week … okay. Doesn’t see anything alarming. Right, I really should be paying attention to this. Mom is crying, but smiling. Good news. Hormonal … birth control pills will regulate … . Birth control pills? Oh my gosh. No one can know about that. Not even Liz.
They’re talking still. I’m changing in my haven of privacy behind this curtain. Now, I guess it makes a little more sense. I’m happy to have it. Even though the curtain is an ugly pinkish color. My jaw hurts and I have a headache. Stupid gum habit. Doctor’s gone. Mom is chattering away about the good news. I’ll have to ask her later about it when I can understand English again. I catch a few words, but it’s like she’s talking to me on a cell phone that’s cutting out.
Now, get me outta’ here, mom. It’s over. I’m alive. I’m going to be okay. I’m going to be better than okay, apparently. Thank you, God. I can hear mom talking to the ladies at the desk. She really is alright.
I feel like I should jump through this doorway into the hallway. Maybe this experience has kind of propelled me into womanhood in some ways. Womankind: bound by humiliation. Beautiful. So, maybe this is kind of a portal. At the very least, it was horrific, and I survived. That deserves some kind of recognition, some kind of ceremony. Yeah, I’m gonna’ jump. Ha. No one was me. Now, where’s my stinkin’ t-shirt and goodie bag?