Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Knowing When To Take Your Clothes Off

The blogging ranks are regularly pressed by readers for advice. Those posting on the Paris Blog get emails asking for travel tips. Catherine Sanderson gets ten-page recaps ending with "so, do you think I should leave him?"

This is what I get:

Hi
In France do women having gyn exams have to take off all of their clothes at the start of the exam with no gown or drapes provided by the doctor?
Thanks
(name withheld to protect the vagina)
What an email! It's direct and to the point without any verbal foreplay. A lot, in fact, like a French gynecologist.

Here's what to expect when you go for ze Exam:
Doc - Mme Blagueur? [offers ungloved warm hand] Please follow me.

You - Bonjour! [sits in chair at office desk] I am here for my annual poke.
Doc - Congratulations. Now take your clothes off [indicates table and returns to typing].
You - What here? Yes? Erm... [stands, removes everything south of waist, drapes clothes hastily over office chair while hiding bits behind computer monitor].

Doc - The top, too.

You - Even the bra?!!

Doc - Your bra cannot save you, American.

You - I see...

Doc - Let's begin. Do you mind if I smoke?

So that's mostly how it happens. After parting your red sea, the doc will ask you to replace your pants behind the monitor while she types something into her records/blog. There will be a quick exchange of insurance cards or, if you're paying in cash, 28€.

As unnatural as that might sound to Americans, let's consider the reverse situation. I have a French friend who was living abroad and went in for her annual inspection at a Chicago teaching hospital. She was led by a nurse to the exam room, handed something that looked like a napkin, and told "the doctor will be with you shortly."

Now, an American knows that this napkin is actually a paper dress that opens at the front. It ties at the neck and protects her dignity.

Caroline, of course, knew nothing of this. And so the young American doctor, when he returned after a suitable interval, found a very hot French woman sitting buck naked on the table, a paper gown in her hand.
"Bonjour!"

The take home message: it is important, when traveling abroad, to know when to take your clothes off. Local bloggers are an excellent source of advice in these matters. Be advised, however, that we may use you as material.

To the terrified reader who sent in this question: an apéro before the exam always helps. Bon courage!

12 comments:

Nicole said...

I can confirm that this is all true. However, I am a bit baffled as to where, in Paris, you can find a gynecologist that charges under 80 euros a visit. Just goes to show that everyone, even old expats, can learn something on this informative blog.

Une Russe à Paris said...

It can happen, but most of them have their office (for "typing") and another separate room for the exam, where you can take off your clothes while the gynecologist is not there. And usually, only the bottom! As for the price, in Paris, the good ones charge between 80 and 100 euros. You get more or less half of it back if you have social security and "mutuelle".

maitresse said...

LOL!
My OBGYN has her office in a fancy schmancy building in St Germain des pres-- with a waiting room that makes you feel like audrey hepburn before a ball (as opposed to you, before a pap smear). Moral of the story: I don't mind taking my clothes off if I get to do it in an hotel particulier.

Anonymous said...

Meg,
That is hilarious and so true. My French friend moved to the states many years ago and was handed the "napkin" at her first exam. She assumed it was a pillow and laid on the table buck naked with it under her head!
Thanks for reminding me of that!

Jenrigg said...

I'd forgotten all about this! Here in the UK you don't even get to SEE gynéco unless you have something seriously wrong "down there"... On a funnier note, one of my doctors in Paris was called Dr Ben Lolo - and "les lolos" is slang for breasts so it was quite appropriate really (that was his surname, not Benjamin Lolo, if you see what I mean).

Nutmeg Reports... said...

This is akin to le French massage, where one is handed a paper thong to wear and given nothing to cover oneself with, like a sheet or blanket (which happens in the puritanical US). Then, after rubbing down one's enormous, naked, blindly white ass, the masseuse says, "Tournez," and kneads one's doughy abdominal region before surprising the client with a mammary massage. At length.

But there was no digging in the Jay-jay. I hope, at least, the French gyno offers you a cigarette when she/he is finished with you.

idée cadeau said...

Bon article, très interressant, je vous félicite vivement pour votre blog.
je vous souhaite une bonne continuation et longue vie à votre site
à bientôt

frank

David F Keller said...

You're very funny. I've already told you that..

Anonymous said...

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Iheartfashion said...

Very funny.
Thanks for the warning!

In Other Words said...

Funny! Some things will always get lost in translation...

Anonymous said...

It is true!
I am just coming back from a gyno exam and I was told to undress myself totally!
It happens for the first time in my life!I think this is typically FRENCH!Nohere in the world the women lie nude while they have their gyno check up!!!

I am disgusted , the doctor(a lady)was extremely rude and impolite!