Saturday, June 30, 2012


Thinking we know about feminine hygiene, yet only resorting to now-and-then care may make all the difference in marital bliss, as our trusted family practitioner Dr. Cummington pointed out so many winters ago when I blossomed into womanhood right here in Swoyerville, PA.   By the time Dr. Cummington retired, he had treated all three generations of our family at his busy medical practice.  Dr. Cummington would go on to keep my secrets, and for this he proved valuable.  I was so desperate to hide, and he was willing to falsify certain items of my medical records to preserve my esteem within the community.   But his gruff manner and bryl-greased hair was something we all tolerated only because he was so very discreet.  I guess it took him having to die before I re-evaluated some of the possible harm he may have done to me and to my children.  As a child, he frightened me with the notion that my teenage body would change, and that noticeable things would start happening to me.  He made me ashamed of my breasts and curves.   Did he do this to my daughter too? 

Once upon a time, Dr. Cummington prescribed Lysol brand disinfectant for my (how-shall-I-say-it?) personal cleansing.

Well, we are obedient,  here in the NePa, I suppose.  Just tell us anything, give us a set of rules, and some of us will go about following those rules, still others will go on to break them!  I certainly am a rule follower.  I developed the skill of not questioning authority early on with my Catholic education right here in the Wyoming Valley.  I know my rightful place in Heaven awaits because of this devotion and faith, groomed since childhood.

But alas, those good intentions were tested by the particular application of a Lysol solution that quite burned my tender parts with each and every attempt.  Maybe I should have diluted the chemical with more water?  Maybe my enthusiasm for a more wholesome cleanse drove me to add extra Lysol on the basis of more-is-better?  I didn't question authority.  Lysol was deemed viable for useage "down there" and at a certain point in our Good Christian Exuberance and Zeal to get to Heaven, women everywhere tried it for intimate cleansing.

Dr. Cummington warned me that freshness was imperative 24 hours a day, especially for the woman, should a happenstance tragedy of some sort occur amid our daily bustle, necessitating the removal of clothing by medical personnel.  Now, if during such emergencies, the gotchies are wilted, or stained, or if they produced odors of any kind, it could stave off vital medical treatment while the paramedics were overcome by shame at the inkling of our uncleanliness.   A careless risk, he explained, and I quickly agreed, but this agreement was very short lived.

All of the strange psychology of Dr. Cummington may have had a deleterious effect, and if it did, I was none the wiser.  Until now.  We were rigorous with our fingernails, hair and body grooming, and the stakes always seemed so high when the male authority figures counseled us about feminine freshness.  Who was I to speak up and defy them?  I was just a woman, and they were authority figures.  This is how many of us were raised, you see. Certainly my family...all ten of us brothers and sisters were poked and prodded and made to feel dirty by our family doctor, and we never stood up for ourselves because we were too afraid, and didn't think we deserved it.

The familiar brown Lysol bottle became a staple in each and every one of my sister's feminine cabinets except for mine.  I guess there's something to be said for a Fresh Holy Flower, but thankfully, women know better these days.  I am certain that almost every gal in the family drew her own conclusions the hard way, but we never spoke of such matters.  The same way I now realize that Dr. Cummington often gave terrible recommendations and always made me feel very uncomfortable. Come now, Dr. Cummington!   Lysol is for bathroom tile, not our delicate jewels of femininity.  If only I didn't need his discretion regarding my eating disorder!

Father Olexy later echoed similar recommendations about God's Lysol Douche, and at one point he too inquired about my womanly cleansing rituals during my Confessions.  This advice always came during those familiar periods of indifference in marriage to my Walter.  And let me tell you over the years Walter and I had several periods of indifference.  Olexy cautioned me, "If your man is not attentive, maybe the fault is yours?"

Father Olexy's well credentialed opinion seemed to echo Dr. Cummington's, and both men warned me to never run a careless risk with dainty feminine freshness.  Problem is, they were men and I was woman, and their Lysol had burnt me.  I finally began defiance of this so called God's Lysol douching, and simply concealed that sin from the Confessional.  Certainly the men in my life were none the wiser.  Once Lysol was omitted from my daily toilette, I stayed equally fresh by other means, and thusly cannot be held accountable for any Christian Cleansing rules that may have been broken.   If either of these men had happened to me today, I would have slapped both and shouted, "Get GOING!!"

I shall end my story here.

Yours in the Love of Christ, 
Mrs. Walter J. Katsellas, Jr. 

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