The Frogmarch

"I've got to pull up my stakes and roll, man." --Jean-Jacques Libris de Kerouac

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

A Visit to a French Gynecologist


OK, it sounds like a setup to a dirty joke, but it's true: we went to the "English-speaking" OB-gyn yesterday. French doctors' offices are in plain old apartment buildings, in plain old converted apartments. Ring the buzzer, go past the mailboxes, first apartment on the left, open the door, and there are five pregnant Frenchwomen sitting around a former living room not reading golf magazines. Check in with the receptionist (in the former kitchen) and go back to the living room, er, waiting room.

Eventually the docteur emerges from the back bedroom, er, examination room. I don't recognize him at first as the OB because he's wearing black jeans and a white shirt unbuttoned to the sternum, and he's got a suntan that suggests he spends a lot of time lounging poolside at St. Tropez in a black Speedo. He's accompanying a pregnant woman, to whom he gives a bisou-bisou on both cheeks and a farewell pat on the ass. (I may have imagined that last part.)

He invites us back into the office, where we quickly establish that his English is only about as good as my French--we can communicate, but there's a lot of back and forth as I translate half of everything to V. He flips through V's records and takes a few notes as he gets down the basics of our case.

There is a large glass ashtray on the desk with two butts stobbed out in it. And an open pack of Marlies, helpfully printed with the words Fumer Tue ("smoking kills").

He takes V. back to the examination room, and I am pointedly invited to stay where I am ("Ce n'est pas comme aux Etas-Unis") so Boog and I race Matchbox cars on the floor. We're eventually called in for the ultrasound, where Boog peers at the screen trying to make sense of the patterns. The baby's fine and looks healthy.

The OB isn't such a bad guy, really, charming in a Eurotrashy way, a la Christopher Walken as "The Continental" on Saturday Night Live. (V. later expresses her doubts about being able to communicate with him when the time comes, though she does note that he understood the word "pain".) He's heard of Caroline du Nord and asks if I've ever played Pinehurst.

We leave with a fistful of scripts for urine test sticks, prenatal vitamins, pain relievers, and so forth. Next we will brave the pharmacie, sure to be another jarring example of culture shock.

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