There are a thousand reasons to become an ob/gyn. But one of the best is not having to deal with dirty old men. I was reminded of this pleasant part of my job today during one of my interactions.
I mean, its not really that flattering to have a 70 year old (actually probably older, but it’s hard to tell age here) hit on you. Today, walking home from church, an old man who I have met before came riding his horse to greet me. He said he had come to my house previously but I had not been home. He said that he would come by today again. Another woman missionary doctor was walking with me and asked if I felt comfortable with him coming to my house, since I lived alone. I sized the man up as he rode ahead on his horse and responded that I was pretty sure I could take him on physically if I felt threatened. That’s generally the way I decide if I let someone in the house. It’s frail and wimpy men only in my home.
I was trying to be nice, so when I got home I semi-reluctantly heated up some of the only leftovers that I had to offer him. It’s always culturally appropriate to offer visitors something to eat. He dropped his horse off in some grass before reaching the house and dismounted. He wore a long, pink, embroidered typical robe, a “man-dress” I would call it, along with a little Muslim type hat squeezed onto the top of his head. Now, I know that it’s probably just a cultural difference, but that kind of appearance just doesn’t do anything for me, doesn’t make my heart beat faster. He sat down and ate. Then he got to business. He said that he would like to marry me. He smiled a near toothless grin, his wrinkles totally encompassing the rest of his face, seeming to believe that this was a great offer. I told him that he was too old. His response was that he was still strong. That, however, did not counteract the 40+ year age difference in my mind. He only has one other wife (a huge perk, who wouldn’t want to be a second wife?). Then he went on to tell me about how I look fine to him. That too, initially may sound nice, but since he seemed to have the appearance of cataracts on both lenses of his eyes, it negated any compliment on my appearance. He also listed the other benefits – he would let me live at my house and I wouldn’t have to move to his compound, and he would give me children (I had to hold the laughter back on that one, I know more about the inadequacies of his reproductive system than he does). When he grasped my arm and my hand, I knew it was time to go, visit over. So, I walked him to the door and graciously told him goodbye. But inside I was rolling in laughter to think of how those chili beans I gave him to eat are going to give him the worst, most terrible gas ever! That is why they were the only leftovers in the fridge, I couldn’t handle them. That is also why I was reluctant to give them to a guest, but in hindsight, I was glad that he was the recipient of those terrible beans. That will teach him to come to my house for dinner and a marriage proposal!
As he left, I was reminded of my training in medical school at the VA hospital. I used to laugh and say that if you ever felt bad about yourself, you should go there for a few days. For a short time, it is relatively flattering. Constantly comments come such as “where were you when I was a young man?”, "you sure are looking good this morning", and “you’re the prettiest thing I’ve seen all day”. I mean, initially you think, look at these sweet old men, they are so cute and kind. If you really took the compliments to heart, you would leave work believing yourself to be a top supermodel, pretty much a magnet for men. And then you realize that they are almost all visually impaired as they comment on your beauty, and often have a strange combination of loneliness and perversion that would find any female on the planet attractive. And so, you just smile and nod, and learn to pass off the comments while keeping far enough away that they can’t reach out to touch you.
Oh, the joys of ob/gyn. There may be raging hormonal waves with postpartum depression on top of jealous wives, etc, etc - but thank the Lord that old men aren’t trying to seduce me, lie to me, or grab ahold of me in my clinic.