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June 12, 2011

A Stranger is Just A Friend You Haven’t Met

by Prue Miller



The thing about nursing is that you take the unusual in your stride.

So I didn’t think twice earlier in the week when I found myself towelling off a 80 year old woman, in a cramped and badly grouted bathroom. (When you spend a lot of time in odd bathrooms showering strangers, one automatically and sometimes thankfully becomes distracted by minutiae. You become critical of the small things in a bathroom; cracked grouting, misaligned tiles, and the stupidity of plumbers who put shower heads at the height of an NBA basketball player when everyone who uses the damn shower is of a normal height, but bandaged, stitched, dismembered or strapped into a commode chair you dummy!) Sorry, stream of consciousness thing.

It was my third showering of the morning and I was trying awfully hard to get it over with expeditiously when my patient asked me to ‘dry off Mary Anne’. Being upside down at the time I thought perhaps someone else had entered the bathroom, and stood bolt upright, but no one else was there. “Sure,” I said obligingly, deciding agreement with hallucination is always the best course to traverse before 9am.

“I’ll get to her as soon as we’re done here”.

“Thank you dear, but you’d better give Mary Anne a good dry off now, she hates it when she’s damp.”

I stood back and looked at my 90% dried patient and realized the only un-dried part was her vagina, and then it dawned on me: Prue, meet Mary Anne.

Naming body parts used to be the genteel way of talking about genitalia without actually saying, well, genitalia. Men of my father’s generation often referred to their penises as “the old fella” – and what woman wouldn’t have found that a seductive pseudonym? Today’s penis roll call is no great improvement; Admiral Winky and The Bald Avenger  being two recently mentioned in a website dedicated to all things dangly. Yes, someone has taken the time to create a website that lists hundreds of alternate names for those sad souls lacking any trace of imagination…but with clearly too time on their hands between bong hits.

I read the whole list and I admit to giggling way too much for a lady of my age. But then I read a comment from a reader in Arizona, who wrote “Most of those aren’t even names.” Seriously?

It was Oprah Winfrey, the queen of TV herself who made the nickname ‘va jay jay” a (kinda) household name. Well, enough of a household name that it featured in a South Park episode. (Again I laughed when I really should have been indignant, offended and absent from the lounge room). It was Jerry Seinfeld and Kramer who, during a sketch about borrowing underwear, made famous the testicular familiar “The Boys”. Almost every woman refers to her breasts as The Girls – while men refer to them in a less jolly-hockey-sticks kind of way – with names that I won’t go into here, because they are not as amusing as the penis ones.

When did we start doing this cutesy thing – was it born out of embarrassment or seduction? Was it born out of some sort of familial code? Or is it to de-sex our bodies? Some have suggested that by giving sexual parts pet names, we are dismissing their function, thus making them non-threatening. (While at the same time whack job mothers dress their five year olds up to look like hookers in baby porn pageants. I just ca’t even begin to imagine what names they are teaching their kids)). The mind boggles what names my generation will come up with by the time someone else is doing the showering.

I shall sign off with my nickname from many years ago,  bestowed upon me by the film industry – Cheers, The Schoolie.

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