Bill and I are a lot closer now that I've reached a certain age. I’m not particularly happy about this. The guy thinks nothing of commanding me to lay naked before him, back to front, on most every occasion we come together. He’s a lot smaller than me, you know. I’m sure I could take him. And yet Bill manages to invade my body effortlessly, and in ways that no man ever has.
It’s not like I don’t try to fight the guy off, you know. “Put that stuff away and leave me the hell alone,” I argue every time Bill reaches for the K-Y. “Unless you want me to kick your ass, I mean. Which I’m gonna do one of these days, I swear.” On one occasion, as Bill was approaching the ever-feared latex glove dispenser, I discovered my inner Crazy Al Pacino from “Dog Day.”
“Kiss me,” I barked at this unwanted invader, albeit from a hopelessly vulnerable horizontal position. “When I’m being fucked, I like to get kissed.”
It’s a good thing that Bill has a good sense of humor. I wouldn’t want to have to shop around for another physician right now, what with how he and I have gotten to know each other so well, and how doctors who take on new patients around here have become so rare.
Besides, nobody could know the state of my prostate as well as this guy does. He’s had his finger on it more times than LiLo’s skipped out on rehab. The last thing I need is for somebody new to get acquainted with this particular gland of mine. Given its GPS coordinates, if you catch my drift.
I will never in my life fully appreciate the latex glove-initiated indignities that women have long endured at the hands of both men and women in the name of medical science. Believe me, ladies. I do not need to be told that I don’t know jack about your lifelong plight with these jokers. But now that I am in my fifties, I am getting a little taste of it, I think. And I don’t like it any more than you do.
This whole sorry mess actually started when I was around 40, right about the time that I moved to Maine and met Bill. It is widely recommended that prostate (or prostrate as Andy Sipowicz and my cousin Vito refer to it) screening examinations begin at age 40, with follow-ups to be determined by, well, guys like Bill. Bill, I should mention, has determined that he must probe my prostate at least once every year, which means that he has had his gloves on (and in) me around fifteen times since the day that we first met.
I know. What in the hell am I complaining about? Fifteen times? Big whup! Females have long been encouraged to start seeing a gynecologist when they are 13 to 15 years of age. And so a woman with the same amount of miles on her as I have has stared down the dreaded glove-lubricant combo a hell of a lot more times than guys like me have.
In a couple weeks I have a date to see Bill again. I’ll show up at his office with the usual bagful of bribes, in hopes that they will sway him to keep his filthy hands off of me: a pound of freshly roasted coffee beans from my guy in Brooklyn, red sauce made with ripe tomatoes from my garden, a package or two of my favorite dried pastas from Italy, maybe some fine grating cheese to go along with.
But it won’t matter. At some point during our visit I will find myself horizontal and on my side again, naked from the waste down and squirming like a goddamn six-year-old. I will suffer paralyzing anxiety in the moments before Bill puts his paws on me, then writhe (literally) in discomfort and pain once he is in there. As for those minutes just after the procedure is over, well, that all depends on how Bill describes what he has discovered. Most times he simply says that everything is just fine, get dressed and, oh, thanks again for the coffee and the sauce, I’ll let you know where the PSA comes in as soon as the blood work comes back.
These are good, soothing words to hear after suffering such a horrible ordeal, and if I am very lucky Bill will utter them again to me soon. The odds of this happening are good but not great. This year an estimated 29,720 people will die from prostate cancer; one in six men will be diagnosed with it. I don’t know about you but in things medical I really am only comfortable when hovering around the one-in-a-thousand range.
Whoever said that these are the good and carefree years was just plain full of shit.