Image via Heather LeMay on Pinterest

The words have become synonymous.

Annual. Mammogram.

No biggie. Because in my mind, this little ritual has absolutely nothing to do with my age, but rather the distant connection of breast cancer in my bloodline. It's a completely non-age-related formality to put my mind at ease and that's all it is. The fact that this became an annual tradition the year I turned 40 is neither here nor there. I mean, come on, their first question to me when I check in is always "Do you have breast implants?"  Not yet, but that's so sweet of you to think I might.

So my 3rd annual mammogram last year, pushing my 43rd year on this earth, was not a big deal. I teach Zumba, I run, I lift weights, and I still buy my clothes in the Kohl's Juniors Department, whether my teenager likes it or not. I mean, really. Nothing has changed.

Granted, half of my children are married and moved out, we have 2 grandchildren, our 3rd child is starting college this summer and our baby has an adult tooth pushing through her gums that we fear might be larger than her face, but other than that, no change. Nada. Everything. Same.

I showed up to my mammogram with no dread...and no deodorant and no lotions and no perfume and no powder and no jewelry...and no dread. I'm going to put on a gown blouse, a very nice lady is going to throw me the complimentary implants question, I'm going to feign surprise and humbly thank her, then she's going to unapologetically invade my personal space, place each boob between 2 pieces of Plexiglas, flatten them to the approximate shape and size of raw chicken cutlets, while I tap into my socially adequate side and attempt small talk, which I suck at, thus making this process much more awkward and uncomfortable for her than for me. This ain't my first rodeo.

But when the technician came into the room and I couldn't tell if it was a woman or man, let's just say I was thrown off my game. As quickly and as casually as I could, I glanced down to the name on the smock.   

Holy crap, I've stumbled into a Saturday Night Live skit, and the theme song started through my head. 
While my mind sang, "a lot of people say what's that?'s Pat!..." I realized I was being asked a question.
Um, could you repeat that? Barely hiding frustration, Pat repeated, "Do you still have menstrual periods?"

What. The hell is that supposed to mean?

My socially inadequate side that is my comfort zone wanted to say, I'd like to ask you the same thing...aaaand, if I had on my Victoria Secret push-up bra, these things would be standing 6 inches higher and you'd be asking me about implants right now. Boom.

But instead, I half-screamed, "OF COURSE I DO!" because I've been working on the Fruit of the Spirit of self control. You're welcome, Pat.

What followed were 15 of the most awkward minutes of my life and that says a lot because I've had an awful lot of awkward minutes in this life.

If you know me at all, you know I was dying to ask. I had to clamp my teeth on my tongue to keep not asking. Fifteen long minutes, face to face, while I was man-(woman?)-handled when all I wanted to do was ask Pat one question. The question. I wanted to know. I needed to know. How could I leave there without asking...


In silence, I let my flattened boob roll off the Plexiglas and smack back into place before jerking my gown closed.

Now if you'll excuse me, Pat. I have a new grandchild next door in the birthing center.

Good day, sir...or whatever...