Monday, August 26, 2013

It's All in the Name

When I was a young teen, I met a young woman who was a nurse with  the Department of Health and, to me, she was the most interesting person I ever met (at least up to that moment). She planted the seed of nursing in my heart and mind that I carried until my retirement in 2008.

Working for the Dept of Health, she had some stories to tell! One hot summer day, she and I shared lunch and she told me a story I found hysterically funny, but at the same time bizarre and worrisome.

It seems there was a woman who frequented the nurse's office because of issues of, shall we say, an intimate nature. This particular time, she came in because she was expecting and couldn't quite figure out how that happened. The nurse said she stared at her from across the desk thinking perhaps her client was just pulling her leg. When her client didn't say "gotcha" or "I'm just kidding" she explained to her how these things happened and. as a final thought, handed the young woman a pamphlet and instructed her to take it home and read it carefully.

"All right, Miss Nurse," the woman replied. The meeting was over; the client went home.

Several months passed and the nurse found herself wondering what happened to the young expectant mother. A week or so later, as things happen,  the young woman wandered into the health department with two babies in tow.

The nurse greeted her, congratulating her over the birth of her twins, oohing and ah-ing over how cute they were. The woman beamed. Then she said, "I read that paper (pamphlet) you gived me and I liked it so much I named my babies after it."

The nurse was confused. "You did? How so?"

"I really liked the names in it?"

"Names?" she asked, still not connecting the dots.

The nurse said a look of exasperation passed over the woman's face as she took a deep breath. "Sue Phyllis and Gonorrah." ( She actually spelled the names Syphllis and Gonorrhea on the birth certificates but pronounced them as I spelled them.)

The nurse felt a little blank and then the light went on over her head. "I see. Are you sure about that? I mean you really want to do that?" My friend said her voice reached new heights in the soprano range as she questioned her.

"Sure, I do. Why wouldn't I?"

I asked the nurse if she explained to the woman that she'd just named her baby after raging STDs. She admitted she tried, but the woman was insistent. "So," she said, shrugging her shoulders at the lunch table, "what're you gonna do? A birth certificate's a birth certificate." CAN YOU IMAGINE!?!?!?!?!

 So....if in all your worldly travels you run into someone named Sue Phyllis or Gonorrah, please try to hold it together as you tell them you heard the story of how their loving mother chose their names.

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