Hi Julia Wagner!
I’ve decided it’s about time I went on birth control, as I recently discovered an abortion in America costs $600–not free like on England’s NHS—meaning I should probably stop considering it a casual form of contraception.
Because I don’t have insurance, I don’t have the money for a real doctor and have to go to Planned Parenthood instead. It doesn’t really make a difference to me; I’m not fussy. However I recently walked past the clinic nearest my house in Brooklyn, and it’s potentially the bleakest Planned Parenthood of all time–bulletproof glass covered in spiderweby gunshot wounds, crowds of pregnant women smoking at every entrance, a wilted flower memorial for the victim of a stabbing, etc.–so I opt to avoid this specific branch and instead visit the one close to my parent’s house upstate, which I assume will be pleasantly quaint, with flower pots on the windowsills and a staff possessing all or at least most of their teeth.
I don’t have a license so I suck it up and ask my mom to drive me to my appointment. She reluctantly agrees. Being a devout Catholic, my mother has been in denial of the fact that I have sex ever since I shattered my hymen nearly ten years ago. It’s always been very “don’t ask, don’t tell” between us. I guess I’ve opened the floodgates.
“So, you… you want to start taking the pill…” she fumbles. “Does that mean you’ve found “the one”?”
“The one what?”
“Karley, do you indulge in multiple partners?”
“What, like at once?”
“Just remember,” she says, her eyes fixed in a weighty stare, “the safest sex is no sex at all.”
The parking lot of the clinic is swarming with protesters. My mother turns bright red as we zigzag though hand-drawn signs saying things like ‘Unborn Does Not Mean Undead’ and ‘Honk For Life.’ In the waiting room I fill out a questionnaire about my sexual history, lying about my past number of sexual partners and the frequency with which I get tested. It’s stupid, I know, but I want to make a good impression. I scan the room and realize that though I’m by far the oldest patient here (everyone else looks about sixteen), I’m the only one with a parental chaperon. I become paranoid that the teenage sluts are judging me. I exchange multiple dirty looks.
In the exam room I undress and put on a pink paper gown. Minutes later the doctor arrives–a plump, fifty-ish woman with offensively large hair. She smiles wide and shoves what appears to be an eggbeater up my vagina, then wiggles it around a lot. It feels sort of good, which is slightly worrying. I’m actually relieved when the pleasure turns to pain.
“How many sexual partners do you currently have?” she asks, her fingers deep inside me.
“Just one I guess,” I say. “Well… actually, does group sex count?”
“Yes, group sex counts.”
“OK so more than one.”
“Are you currently the victim of sexual abuse?”
“None that I don’t ask for.”
“So you want to go on the pill. What methods of birth control do you practice now? Do you use condoms?”
“Always during intercourse?”
“Well, no. Sometimes I use the pull-out method. Does that count?”
“Do you use condoms during oral sex?”
“You do realize you can contract HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases through oral sex, don’t you?”
“Yes, I do, but come on. It’s social suicide.”
The doctor shoots me a disapproving glare, then yanks out whatever was inside me in one quick, hostile motion. As I dress she hands me two months worth of anti-baby pills, as well as a bunch of blueberry flavored condoms which I promise with feigned sincerity to use during fellatio. On the car ride home I open one of the packets and curiously lick the fruit flavored latex, gagging almost instantly. “For blow jobs,” I say to my mother, holding the condom out in front of us for inspection.
“Is it just me,” she says, pensively, “or does that seem a bit small?”