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  • My sophomore year in high school I was chosen to turn the film projector during our sex education section of my health class. I made it through the male anatomy just fine; in fact, I was a bit talented. Every time, the film would ding, I was able to turn the frame synchronistically. My health teacher was so impressed that she granted me the privilege of turning the film for the female anatomy section. This is where the problem began.

    Somewhere in the fallopian tube, I turned green. I helplessly looked from the film to my teacher who made the fingers across the throat sign at me and mouthed, “Get out of here now!” I ducked and waddled out of class as I heard the teacher say, “Richard, you take over.” As soon as I got out of the classroom, I leaned against the wall for support. However, it was too late. I passed out upon the floor.

    This was not an isolated incident. If I was that way with a film, just think how I was when I had to get my own plumbing checked?

    I would try to warn the docs.

    “Look, doc, I really hate this.”

    They wouldn’t listen. They’d give me the canned reply.

    “None of us do.”

    I’d want to reply, “But you’re a man, sir.”

    However, I didn’t need to prove this. My being would go spotty and my best guess is that the doctors began to take me seriously as my body fell out of the stirrups and sprawled upon the floor.

    They’d wake me.

    “Do you want some valium?”

    “No, I’ve tried that. Doesn’t work,” I’d blink my blues eyes, “Perhaps a Xanax would do?”

    “Yes.”

    So, sedated I went through my yearly check up for year upon year, and although it was a great way to get drugs, I felt like a fool. Then, one day, I was given an opportunity.

    I was sitting at a coffee shop when my pregnant friend, Meghan, asked all of the coffee shop crew.

    “Do any of you want to be my partner at La Maze class?”

    Her husband couldn’t do it as he worked nights. I was thirty by then. It was time that I faced my plumbing square in its face and not begin to hyperventilate. So, I jumped at the chance. I volunteered.

    Meghan and I walked into our first Monday class. It was boy, girl, boy, girl, boy, girl, boy, girl, boy, girl, then us, girl, girl and our leader, the nurse. The nurse looked like Snow White might look after a few years of swimming in Whiskey Rivers and naps in the sun. Black, black hair, white, white skin, but with a look that let us know that she knew things. Yet, from the look of her extremely pursed, red, red lips that had wrapped themselves around a Pall Mall or two, she wasn’t going to tell us. Her life had left her very uptight. Her name was Eileen.

    “Let us introduce ourselves,” Eileen began.

    So, we went around the room.

    “I’m Greg,” a big man said and then he grabbed his little wife’s hand, “and this is my beautiful wife, Christie.”

    “Welcome,” we all chimed in. And so it went until the room met us. I wrapped my arm around the back of Meghan’s chair and leaned in.

    “My name is Renee and this is my partner Meghan.”

    Not all chimed in. The more conservative part of the crew wrinkled their noses in that way that they do to try to look sweet, but it is obvious there is much more going on underneath. Meghan, always a good sport, and I smiled at them real big. I wasn’t going to be alone in facing something that I feared and didn’t know too much about. I thought to myself, “This is going to be so much fun.” I leaned back with my arm still stretched across the back of my partner’s chair and the class began.

    During the second week, we learned how to breathe. In, in out, in, in, out. I was glad for this. This is how I survived the next several weeks. Anytime that talk of the plumbing came about, there I would be. In, in, out, in, in, out. Meghan would grab my hand in support. Then, the other couple would see this, wrinkle their noses so sweet, clasp hands and then, they would begin. In, in, out, in, in, out.

    This was how we all made it for the entire nine weeks. Breathing through our fears. Before I knew it, it was our last class. Eileen walked in five minutes late and it looked like she had been sweating. She patted her white, white brow.

    “Our theme this week is post-natal concerns.”

    “Phew,” I thought, “I don’t have to spend three hours in fallopian tubes.”

    Eileen patted her brow.

    “We will start,” she leaned forward and grabbed her lectern, “with…” she grabbed the lectern even harder and then she said it.

    “Birth control.”

    Then, I heard it. Plain as day. Eileen did a breath. In, in, out, in, in, out.

    Then, she snapped her fingers and two younger nurses walked in carrying crates.
    “I’ve hired assistance,” she announced and then, in, in, out, in, in, out.

    The assistants started walking around the room, passing out condoms and cucumbers.
    At this sight, Eileen announced, “Now if you will excuse me, I need to step out. These nurses will help you figure this part out.”
    I had a giant cucumber in my hands and I looked Meghan who held a Trojan in hers.
    I had to say it.

    “Don’t think we’ll need that thing, but I sure do like the look of these,” I admired the cucumber for all of its traits. I could hear the couples around us, in, in, out, in, in, out.

    When the class had demonstrated for the nurses that we could prepare the cucumbers for safe serving, they gathered up their wares. Eileen appeared again before us looking much more relaxed. In fact, she looked downright enthused.

    “Now, I want to talk to you about post-natal exercises.” Her heavily mascared eyes got big, then small and then fluttered.

    “I bet you can’t guess what I am doing,” she said and then did the weird thing with her eyes again.

    It looked like post-natal exercises involved going to a rave. The class was silent.

    “KEGELS!” she said delight, “ I just did 102 KEGELS and you didn’t even know.”

    I looked around the room. Everyone was clueless. Did no one in here know what a kegel was about? I looked around the room again. Everyone’s head was turned to the side and they were smiling so, so sweet. Nope. For all these people even Meghan knew, a kegel was something that was served with cream cheese.

    “A kegel,” Eileen said so pleased, “is when you squeeze your pee muscles together. Like this.” Then, she did that damn thing with her eyes again.

    Her assistants re-appeared and this time they brought gym mats.

    “I want everyone to lay down and practice,” Eileen nearly shouted.

    “Men,” she beckoned at them, “You’re not immune. Lay down. You can kegel too.”

    The sweet, sweet couples laid down in an unsure manner and looked at the ceiling so, so sweetly. Eileen morphed into at the Jane Fonda; she turned on an album, I think it was “Sweating to the Oldies.”

    “One, two, three…SQUEEZE.”

    I lay on my mat. To keep from getting kicked out due to laughter, I breathed, in, in, out, in, in, out. As Eileen began to talk about walking down the kegel elevator, I nearly peed. But I didn’t. Why? Kegel, of course.

    Yes, I know that I need some hardcore therapy; however, after those nine weeks, I know that I am not the only one in the need of psychiatric help.
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