"Is this your condom? We found it in your car."
Imagine your high school boyfriend's mother asking the two of you that question at the kitchen table as she waves a foil Trojan packet in front of you. Did you just lose your neck into your shoulders and cringe with embarrassment?
I sure did.
Three decades ago, my boyfriend's Mom asked us that very question. I'm not sure what she was doing in his ancient Opel Kadet station wagon. Perhaps looking for condoms ... Smart woman.
To this day, I thank her for her care and audacity. At her command, we went to Preterm, a Planned Parenthood clinic in Brookline, Mass. There, I had my first gyn exam, pap smear and learned about proper health care for a sexually active almost-a-woman. I was old enough that I was no longer seeing the pediatrician, instead, I saw my parents' doctor. He was also my Dad's golf partner. He had no interest in performing a gyn exam on me. I have a hazy, sweaty armpit, heart thumping memory of him saying something about, "Not until you're married." I'd had a major crush on his son the summer before, and the thought of him examining me "down there" was more than I could bare (misspelling intended). So thank God for old school doctors.
And thank God for my boyfriend's Mom, Fran.
I left Preterm with a prescription for the birth control pill in my wallet. For some reason, the thought of taking the Pill scared me to death. It seemed too grown up, which was ridiculous since I had deemed myself old enough to become sexually active. No one ever said young love is logical. I didn't fill it for months. And when I did, I can remember taking the very first pill, standing in my boyfriend's downstairs bathroom, off the laundry room. He stood to my right, filling the doorway and holding my hand as I swallowed that small, peach colored miracle. We didn't grin or high five each other. We looked like two scared kids in the mirror. But we were two scared kids with a very smart parent who looked out for us, and who had access to an affordable Planned Parenthood clinic. We were two scared kids who never became a terrified pregnant couple with a major choice to face.
If Fran had said, "Kim, get your mother to take you to the doctor," would I have had the nerve to ask my own mother for birth control? Are you kidding me? I had hoarded tampons from the school's bathroom dispenser for a solid year before I got up the nerve to tell her I was using them. I have a fantastic Mom, and she did ask me if I was using birth control when I was in college. But I would never have broached the subject with her.
De-funding Planned Parenthood is cutting off the nose to spite the face. In fact, it's a "Magnum" sized mistake.