It happens once a year.
Sort of like Christmas.
Minus all the happy, feel-good thoughts, the holiday Oreo truffles, and reruns of the original Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer with Burl Ives.
(Also? Once you graduate from college and have the privilege of working to pay off your student loans, you can type in SENTENCE FRAGMENTS. It’s your graduating right. No English professor is going to mark your blog up with a red marker, because that is a thing of the past. The ability to FLAT-OUT ENJOY a $5 pizza from a greasy pizzeria is also a thing of the past, because, as an adult, your tastes will have matured beyond such culinary garbage. Or rather, your INTESTINAL TRACT simply cannot handle $5 pizza going through it successfully any longer. THAT may actually be the culprit.)
People, an entire year has passed, but today was the day for MY SECOND MAMMOGRAM EVER. Perhaps I should feel some shame and embarrassment for actually… you know!… writing about a mammogram, but once you’ve had one (or two, even) all of your modesty flies out the window with the cheap hospital gown that never ties properly and exposes more than it covers.
One of the VERY BEST differences between girls and boys is simply this: If a guy had to have something squashed flat between two ice-cold sheets of metal for a photograph to be taken of it, he’d do it alone. I can’t think of a single member I know from the Male Tribe who would call a friend and say, “Listen, Bob… I’ve got to have ONE OF THOSE THINGS done, and I was wondering if you’d like to meet for coffee beforehand, just to encourage me?”
Because Bob would simply shout, “WHO THE HECK IS THIS? DO I KNOW YOU???” into his phone, right before he slammed the DISCONNECT button to end the call.
And then Bob would shutter and shake and go wash his hands in the sink.
Not us girls, though!
Like a sixth sense, girlfriends simply know when a mammogram in their group has been scheduled. And then THEY call YOU and say, “Listen, honey… We are meeting for coffee before the boobies are flattened out for the holiday pictures.”
And that is how I came to be sitting at a table in a coffee shop with Becki and Amy this morning, at the crack of 8 AM.
Except Becki was late. Becki is NEVER late. And Becki tried to call and inform me that she was going to be late, but, for the third time this week, I walked out of the house and left my cell phone sitting on the kitchen counter. In all the mammogram excitement, I managed to forget my phone. When Becki hadn’t arrived by 8:10, I told Amy to text Becki and ask if she was stuck in a ditch somewhere, and whether we should come rescue her because of SEMPER FI. Becki then texted Amy and announced that no ditches were involved, but that she was safe and ON. HER. WAY.
That’s another thing about guys. If Bob hasn’t shown up by 8:10, Tom and Earl are NOT going to send out a DO YOU NEED HELP? sort of text message. Tom will tell Earl, “Wow. Bob is late.” And Earl will say, “Mmm-hmm. Did you watch the Bears game this weekend?” And then Tom and Earl will be hard pressed to even remember who Bob is.
By 8:15 this morning Becki had arrived, and we were a cozy trio, laughing out loud over coffees and chai teas, and sharing stories about Mammograms Past.
Which is a lot like the ghosts of Christmases Past.
I had more fears this year that CB — a boy who grew up with us in our subdivision, and who then became a radiologist, and who works RIGHT THERE WHERE I WAS GOING! — would walk into the waiting room and say, “Hey, Mama! How’s it going? Go right ahead and put that gown that won’t cover ANYTHING up on, and meet me in front of the big camera.”
And then I would have simply walked outside, crawled into my Suburban, and drove off into the sunset at 9:00 this morning.
Thankfully, CB wasn’t even working today. I know this because I saw him at the boy’s school before 8:00. He was dropping his daughter off, and when he waved at me while he had on CIVILIAN CLOTHING (as opposed to hospital scrubs), I waved back like a complete lunatic and cackled out, “YOU’RE NOT WORKING TODAY! WHA-HOO!!!!”
Which made coffee time with Becki and Amy so much more enjoyable.
Eventually, though, like it always does, the clock reached the appointed hour, and I donned the scratchy gown. The nice FEMALE radiologist who did my exam talked nonstop and did everything within her power to put me at ease. And it WAS easy, because I actually knew this radiologist, too; we used to play volleyball together. She had an amazing, very powerful serve that left us all awestruck.
Apparently, the strength in her bicep which slams a ball across the net at the speed of sound is also very good at grabbing a boobie and yanking it onto the cold, sterile tray, right before she cranks the machine down and says, “Now you may feel some pulling on your neck.”
Because the pulling is actually so bad, I think my neck may be a guest in the photograph.
The tray had a grid on it, and Stephanie (the radiologist) cranked that thing hard enough to stretch my little boobie out to the green line.
Don’t ask me what the green line indicated. I have no idea. I was just amazed that my girl had gone that far. I knew she didn’t have it in her to go any further, but I was dead wrong, because Stephanie suddenly put her weight into the cranking, and we reached THE BLUE LINE, some fourteen yards further away from the green line, which nearly made me pee down my leg and pass out.
Thankfully, with a clamp on your chest that tight, when you actually DO pass out, you can’t fall down. You’re sort of just an unconscious blob, with your head lolling around, while you’re held firmly in place by a vice on your boobie.
She then asked me to PLEASE HOLD MY BREATH.
Like I had the ability to actually breathe right then.
The camera whirred, and then Stephanie released the crank, and the boobie snapped back like a rubberband, to hit me in the face.
And then we did it again.
And one more time.
And a fourth and final time.
And then, bruised and battered like I’d been in hand-to-hand combat with Braveheart himself, Stephanie said, “Go ahead and get dressed.”
How’d y’all spend YOUR day?