While my recent trip to the gynecologist would not normally be anything I would willingly share here - much less in real life - I am forced to make an exception in this case.
I had not been in - ahem - a while, and for whatever reason, had made a string of appointments I had been avoiding : phleobologist, cardioligist, etc., but please, no applause, I did not go so far as to willingly make an appointment with the dentist. I have my limits. Anyway, my gynecologist is a very efficient, fast-talking, no-nonsense blonde woman in what I would guess to be her late fifties, but, in true Parisian fashion, she could pass for younger. Her "offices" are in an old Haussmann style apartment building, and it still feels like an apartment, so much so that just before jumping onto the table and putting your feet into those dreaded stirrups, it wouldn't be surprising if she asked you if you wanted a cup of tea and a friendly chat. All of this to say that it is all a bit disorienting, especially, if, as in my case, you have just come in rush hour metro traffic from the business district with its very officey offices and fluorescent lighting, to arrive out of breath and about to get naked in a room with curtains and oriental rugs that just happen to be accompanied by a examination table.
I also preface by saying she does speak very rapidly in French doctorese and is so very wham-bam-thank-you-maam about the proceedings that you are still awkwardly hopping around the oriental rug trying to put back on your shoes and not falling over before she is telling you the amount of the check you need to write and handing you slips of official paper. And it is also important as far as context that I explain my lingering feeling of guilt and apprehension that she would ask me about that mammogram I never ended up having. The last time I had seen her she had given me lord knows how many slips of paper and instructions for mailing various forms to various institutions (it is France, after all) and there was one heavy envelope with forms and mailing instructions and all kinds of things I didn't quite get but decided I would figure out later when I finally got around to scheduling that mammogram. I had understood that part of what made that envelope so heavy was some kind of x-ray type slide that the clinic would use and send somewhere else where she would eventually get word if anything strange came out of it. So I dutifully took that heavy envelope and put it on my desk so I would know where to find it when I needed it for the mammogram.
All of this I am expecting to come up as I am finishing putting on my shirt and simultaneously trying to find my checkbook, when she takes out the exact same kind of envelope and says - for once - clearly to my ears, "This you send on to the lab for the pap smear results with a check for 27€, and they send word to me if they find anything."
And then I realized. Oh god. For at least two years - I'm copping to the real time here - I have had a pap smear slide buried under a pile of papers on my desk.
Only me. Oh good lord, only me.