Thin section

I was at the Farmer’s Market the other day and happened upon a mammogram trailer.   I know. I mentioned to someone, how you’re just walking along, looking at the peaches to see if they’re ripe, and you think, huh, when was my last mammogram? And lo and behold, you look up, and there’s a mammogram trailer. She said, no, it’s more like you notice a peach smashed on the concrete under the leg of a table loaded with heavy stuff.  That's what reminds you of the mammogram.

So anyway, I did purchase tomatoes and peaches before I noticed the trailer. It’s kind of like the bookmobile or a taco truck, but with vice grips where the books and salsa should be. No appointment needed.

I was overdue for a mammogram, because it takes so long between when you make the appointment and when it occurs that I never have the same calendar around, and forget to go. For a while, I had the reminder card on the bulletin board, but R. asked me to take it down when some people were coming over because it was decorated with a giant picture of breasts, not in an artistic way.

So I walk into the trailer, and I’m the only one there (imagine that), and the two women working are really welcoming and excited to have a customer. I fill out some paperwork, and then sit down for a second, but she comes over and asks, “Um, so what religion are you?”


“No, I mean what religion are you?”

“That is a religion. That’s what religion I am. Why?"

“Well, we like to have that on record in case we need to provide comfort. We want to know what would be comforting for you in a difficult time.”

I wasn’t sure what sort of comfort would be good for when your boob is smashed between two pieces of plexiglass, and I’m pretty sure that the Unitarians don’t have much comfort to offer anyway -- just a whole lot of questions.   But I spelled it for her, and she wrote it down. I got a weird feeling, though, like, do they expect me to die in here?

She directed me into a tiny closet, told me to put the little smock on, and gave me a tote bag to keep that I carefully packed my tomatoes, peaches, and clothes into.

When I came out, the technician appeared and told me where to sit, and did the mammogram thing. For you people who haven’t experienced it, it goes like this:

The technician takes her gentle, but freakishly cold hands, approaches the breast by sliding one hand from the top of the chest and one from the bottom such that she can spread the boob onto a large piece of plexiglass. At this point, it seems reasonably gentle, but then she twists some sort of a screw mechanism so that another piece of Plexiglass comes down from the top, and she tightens it with all her might. She seems pretty strong.

The sharp edge of the plexiglass presses into the skin in rib area, and the vice clamps down, pinching something that formerly was three dimensions into just two.  If it weren’t so excruciating, it would be amazing to see how much volume things take up when spread out and squished to the width of one cell.   It’s similar to how, when you see a cup of water, it looks like one size, but when you spill it, it implausibly covers the entire counter-top.  It’s just like that. The entire counter top.

“Oh, the girls are very photogenic,” the technician comments.

Does it seem odd to you to have a random stranger at the market calling your intimate body parts, “the girls”? Yeah, me too, but she kept at it, “the girls this” and “the girls that” for a while, until she was done. “We got some great pictures of the girls today. The radiologist is going to be delighted.” I wasn’t sure if that was creepy or not, so I decided to go for “not”.

I was feeling mingle-y, the way I do when I don’t die doing something I didn’t really want to do in the first place. “I wish I had brought my friends along, and we could walk across the street and have a margarita together now.”

“Oh, that’s a great idea!” she said. “You should come back on the 9th!” I don't think I'll come back to do it again in two weeks, but I would recommend it if you’re in the area buying peaches.


  1. I will be at the Farmers Market in Seattle in a few short weeks. I just know I will revisit this post in my head in the middle of a tour and start giggling and then people will look at me. But I won't try to explain. Thanks for providing more than a laugh.


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