Just say “no”…

Take a moment to read this*.  Go ahead.  i’ll wait.  It’s important…

It instantly transported me to my mid-30’s.  The years i was an active volunteer, and member of the Board of Directors, for the local Planned Parenthood affiliate.  In a medium-sized town (about one million people in the metropolitan area), we provided free, or low-cost, reproductive health care to about a thousand individual women per year.  Very few of the patients could pay much.  Subsidies came through Medicaid, or state funding for low-income women.

We noticed a disturbing trend.  Each month, an alarming number of young girls between the ages of 10 and 13 were coming in for free pregnancy testing – the same troupe of girls would be there virtually every month.  Of course they got a medical check-up, education, and an opportunity for free birth control (condoms, as a minimum). 

But they weren’t looking for birth control.  They were disappointed to get negative results.

We had an intern** on staff, and she studied the troupe.  More than gathering demographics, she interviewed many of them.  What we found was heart-breaking.

The short version:  The girls wanted to be pregnant.  They were being fucked by 15-18 year old man-boys.  Pregnant girls got attention.  Presents.  A seat on the bus.  All their sisters, aunts, cousins, friends had babies and they wanted one too.  It opened the possibility of housing subsidies – a ticket out of a bad situation.  Their boyfriends might stick around.  The grandmothers?  They were effectively encouraging the girls — Grandma liked having grandbabies: “Oh, honey, you are WAY too young to be a Grandma”.  Grandma wanted attention, too.

This was in the era of Nancy Reagan’s “Just Say ‘No’ To Sex” campaign for abstinence.  Right.  Let’s replace ALL of the medical and educational work we do with some pamphlets on “Saving Yourself for Marriage”, and “Respect Yourself”.  Oh, and throw in some mindless folksy wisdom – “The man isn’t going to buy the cow if he can get the milk for free” – just for good measure…

Never mind the 21-year old married mother of three who KNOWS she can’t afford to get pregnant again.  “Just Say ‘No’ To Sex With Your Husband”.  The party line:  Well, poor people really shouldn’t have children, should they?  What’s wrong with them?  They breed like rats… We would much rather spend our tax dollars teaching them morality and catchy slogans than actually providing factual information and medical testing.

So i have to ask myself:  When did i stop trying to do something useful?  Why did i give up?  Sure, my own family and career started to consume more of my time and energy.  Life happens…

i have dedicated this particular phase of my life to ‘farting around’.  It’s where i need to be at the moment.  When asked what i will be doing in the future:  “i can retire in 7 years and 14x days.  Plans?  Tend bar, play in a band, and fuck off as much as possible”. 

Maybe…

photo found here

* Thanks to rob for the link…  i always try to go where he sends us.  Usually either makes me laugh my ass off or think harder than i’m used to…

** Through AmeriCorps… a domestic version of the Peace Corps…

Bad TV Show: Upscale Emergency Room

The Girl provided an unplanned opportunity to make another emergency room (ER) run last week.  All’s well, but the experience provided a dramatic contrast to another recent venture into a hospital ER in the middle of the night.

Somewhere around 4:30 am i was awakened by The Girl, standing in my bedroom saying “Mom, my heart is messed up…”.  I don’t care how old your kid is, that’ll get ya moving…  Her heart was racing, and she was experiencing palpitations.  As was i at this point… Started around midnight, but settled down enough for her to go to sleep, but it had woken her up again.  A visit to WebMD was enough to sufficiently terrify her, so there we were…

Having had a run of my own heart palpitations* a few years ago, i knew the drill.  With heart issues, a visit to the ol’ Doc In a Box at the local Urgent Care facility would only get us shipped to the hospital.  Quickly checking on-line, i found that the new suburban hospital, just about 8 miles from home, had an “Emergency Room and Trauma Center”. 

ZZ, her boyfriend, joined us for our adventure in after-hours emergency medical care.  Arriving, there were barely any cars in the parking lot – wasn’t even sure they were open.  The waiting area, complete with modern Scandinavian furniture and a salt water aquarium, looked more like the lobby of a four-star hotel — the atrium was at least three stories tall!

Oh, and there was absolutely no one else in the waiting room.  At 5:00 am.

The Girl was processed in, and we were whisked back to a treatment room.  Mentioning the level of ‘quiet’ to the triage nurse, she said “oh, you should have been here earlier… it was hopping!”   The nurses quickly got her wired up for an EKG while ZZ and i waited outside the room.  We made silly small talk to pass the time while waiting for the doctor.  Politics, life, trailer parks and the universe to pass the time.

The doctor arrived shortly.  And i mean “shortly”.  She was about 5 feet tall, and a rather masculine 50-something woman, spiked gray hair, no make up…  What’s the word i’m looking for here?  Stereotypical Dyke? No-nonsense.  She was very friendly, very nice… and after going over the results of the EKG, ruled out anything really scary, suggesting that it might have been an anxiety attack.  Offered some Xanax (to The Girl only, damn it…), and after patting The Girl affectionately on the arm, left to take care of the meds…

daisyfae:  Well, that’s a relief.  Nothing serious!  Oh, and i think the doc liked you a bunch… 

The Girl:  What?

ZZ:  Oh, yeah.  She was totally giving me the stink-eye….

We were back home by 6:30 am, and The Girl hasn’t had any further issues.   Other than watching an older woman make hairy-eyeballs at my daughter, nothing painful or traumatic.  I’m thinking this would make a fairly shitty TV series… Not nearly as much fun as “Appalachian Emergency Room”.

Cletes loses another sharpie....

Cletus loses another sharpie....

* Premature Ventricular Contractions, PVCs, which were cleared up by about 3 months on beta blockers.  Cause?  Working for a Knuckle-Dragging Caveman, KDCM.