The nun’s story – walking a religious minefield
A FEW Fridays back, I found myself required to make one of those difficult calls that, more and more, seem to comprise the bread and butter of general practice.
“Sorry to bother you, Doctor. I know how busy you are.”
It was Sister Blogg, a member of the Order of the Little Company of Prudence.
She seemed ill at ease, her face colouring up with a combination of communion wine and embarrassment.
“I want to go on the pill.”
I searched her serene visage for signs of either humour or acne, but found neither. “Who’s the lucky guy?” was what I was tempted to ask, but I restrained myself and opted, instead, for a more measured, cautionary and, dare I say it, patrician tone.
“Before we get onto the pill, sister, I’d like to satisfy myself that you’re up to speed with the notion of safe sex.”
“Sex?!” Her cheeks were the colour of a Heinz tomato sauce bottle. “Nothing safe about sex!”
“Not if you’re doing it right...”
“I’ve heard that the pill could reduce my risk of breast, ovarian and uterine cancer.”
It takes me a moment to assimilate the unglamorous motivation.
“Does that mean you’re not going to have sex?”
“I’m a nun!”
“So what? Jack Benny was a comedian. Didn’t stop him playing the trumpet.”
I’m not sure why I said that, but it did sound good at the time.
“It was a violin.”
“Jack Benny played the violin – not the trumpet.”
“You sure about that?”
“And he did it badly.”
I struggle with the unhappy news about Jack Benny.
“Why should that stop you from having sex?”
“So who’s the lucky guy, then?”
Damn. I wasn’t supposed to say that.
“Just give me the prescription and I’ll be out of your way.”
“Are you sure it’s legal?”
“It’s the pill – not heroin.”
“Maybe I’d better check with my rabbi.”
Somehow, in spite of the fact that I’m a practising atheist, I have Rabbi Mendel Hirschbaum on speed dial. Go figure.
“What do you want, Saperstein?” the rabbi answers.
He seems unduly curt, habitually confusing me with Sol Saperstein, a man to whom he loaned money at the time of the GFC, only to see it end up around Saperstein’s wife’s neck in the form of a set of deep sea pearls.
“Can a nun have sex?”
“I’m not having sex!”
“Are you with a woman?!” the rabbi asks.
“Not a woman – a nun.”
“Saperstein, you’ve sunk to a new low.”
“She wants me to give her the pill,” I say.
“Better that than see a whole new generation of Sapersteins run amok in the world.”
I hang up.
“He says you can have the pill.”
“Can you put some Panamax on with that? I need to make it look authentic when I tell him I’ve got a headache.”