In four years as a screenwriting major, I’ve learned a little about TV comedy. There’s no guaranteed way to make people laugh, but there are certain elements that tend to create humor. You can use them a million different ways. One such element is the idea of a fish-out-of-water. When a person who is the extreme opposite of the type of person who should be in a certain situation is placed in said situation without any assistance, laughter tends to be a byproduct.
I thought about this as I sat on the exam table at the gynecologist’s office last week. See, other than the rare, impulsive moments of harmless, collegiate exhibitionism, I am what I like to call “shy.” I like to meet people, I like to talk to people, I don’t even mind changing in front of certain people. But I don’t ever want to talk about any aspect of physical self that could be categorized as “personal.” Even in intimate, romantic settings, I dread any moment where anything or anywhere “personal” might be scrutinized or discussed. If it were possible to convince rational adults that between my bellybutton and upper thighs I have the anatomy and inner organs of a Barbie doll, I would do so. With that in mind, I guess you could say that I am exactly the type of person one does not picture going to a place where all that happens all day is the discussion and examination of all things “personal.”
I know, I know. We all have bodies, and, the argument always goes, maybe if we all didn’t feel so weird about our bodies there wouldn’t be any number of social ills. I agree with all of that. That is, I agree with all that in a sort of sweeping, general way that doesn’t involve me actually participating in any sort of widespread liberation of the human form. I also rationally know that doctors are there to help, and that they are looking at me from a scientific standpoint. However, on an emotional level, the shyness still remains.
As a child, I was taught: there’s nothing to be ashamed of, but certain parts and matters are private and only for certain settings. The same little girl who was taught not to lift her skirt up and flash her undies at people grew up to be a woman who was really not looking forward to doing the same for a medical professional. But, for the sake of my health, I went.
I told the doctor everything about myself (probably more than even necessary). I made weak attempts at modesty when the time came for examination and all I could cover myself with were pieces of flimsy paper. And that was it. I still felt shy, but at least it was done. It’s worth stating also that, like so many other vaguely unpleasant experiences, it seemed like it was over before it even started.
I guess that’s the answer that works for me. The answer for me is not to just “get over” not wanting to reveal myself to people. It’s just to make sure that my dislike of doing so doesn’t get in the way of taking care of myself. I walked out of that office relieved because I had done the only thing that would give me peace of mind about my health, and, of course, because I had my clothes safely back on.