The Life and Times of Florence Knitingale

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Malibu Barbie and the Man with the Velcro Genitals

Okay, I am guilty of teasing you mercilessly. And not entirely fairly, if it comes to that, because the truth is that Malibu Barbie and the man with the velcro genitals have little to do with one another, besides having come into my life via my CNA class. In fact, the man with the velcro genitals cannot truly be called a man, if I am honest, in that he has two sets of genitals, one of each type and therefore can only really accurately be described as a little gender confused. With spotlessly clean private parts. Allow me to explain.

For those of you blissfully unaware, CNA stands for Certified Nursing Assistant (not Certifiably Nuts Afterwards, as I have come to believe) and although CNA's can work in hospitals or doing home care, the vast majority of them will work in nursing homes. The training, therefore, is aimed at teaching all of them how to do this and how to pass the test to get the license to do this. This means that much of our time has been spent learning how to feed people, move people from bed to wheelchair, take vital signs, etc. And, in the absence of real patients upon which to practice (because being old and infirm is challenge enough), we practice these skills on one another. We take turns ambulating one another, doing fingernail care on one another, etc. However, no matter how dedicated we might be, none of us are particularly interested in being the "patient" for such things as catheter care and peri care (the cleaning of the....private area on a patient who, typically, is incontinent). And, if I'm to be honest, if anyone in the class actually was interested in having 20+ giggling girls staring at their delicate area in a room with huge windows, I not only wouldn't touch them without gloves--I'd demand a shark cage. And maybe a cattle prod.

ANYWAY, this is where RJ comes into the picture. I do not know what RJ stands for, but he is a lifesize mannequin with molded plastic hair in a distinctly male style, no breasts, and two sets of extremely lifelike genitals that attach to him/her via a strip of velcro. The teacher, a long-suffering woman named Debbie, informed us the day we met RJ that she could not leave the male portion of his anatomy on him because it kept getting stolen. Leaving aside for the minute what anyone would want with a lifelike plastic teaching penis and testicles (okay, okay, I know--but remember me saying that there's a "marital aids" store right next door to the school? I guess I should be more understanding, having never been so broke that I had to steal my fake genitalia...but still), there really is no punchline I can possibly add to the reality of our middle-aged teacher--who happens to be a grandmother-- wandering around with a fake member in the pocket of her cheerful, flower-print scrubs. It would just be gilding the lily, wouldn't it?

That same day, she started with the female parts and carefully demonstrated all the steps necessary to perform peri-care. Then she gently loosened the velcro, whipped the penis out of her pocket (see? I told you it didn't need a punchline), stuck it firmly onto AJ, and proceeded to demonstrate the technique with this new plumbing. Then she went on to demonstrate proper urinal placement (seems obvious to me...if something yellow is dribbling out, put something under it--yes?). We all watched dutifully, and listened as she explained that "you have to watch these old men. They'll sit there with the urinal for two hours and never pee a drop." And then proceeded to grab urinal and organ with one hand and yank them off the mannequin with a ripping sound that had even us female students crossing our legs in sympathy. Which is when I learned that it is a bit disruptive and not as funny as I think it is to say loudly "Is that why you ripped his johnson off?"

To be fair, Debbie earned my everlasting affection at that point by holding the misappropriated manhood aloft and saying loudly "Well, he said he couldn't go....I'm going to go empty it for him!"

Besides the obvious lesson of "don't let Debbie remove your urinal for you if you're a man or, if you have no choice, pee as quickly as you possibly can", I have learned many other things in these five weeks. For instance, it can be fun to torment Malibu Barbie and her assorted henchgirls.

(A note here: I am aware that most 20-somethings--certainly all of them who read this blog--are in fact intelligent, pleasant women whom it would be my privilege to call friend. I am not referring to those types here, as few of them managed to make it to my CNA program. Clearly, they were smarter than I and found a way around it.)

I know you know the girls I mean. I'm referring to the ones who came to learn about caring for the elderly wearing oodles of sparkly make-up, tons of expensive jewelry, and an up-do sculpted meticulously into place with the addition of some glitter gel. The ones who, at the end of a very moving film about HIV, have nothing to show for the experience but a pile of fingernail polish that they peeled off in little strips because they evidently found it significantly more compelling--" I wonder what's under this pink stuff here....oh, look! Another fingernail!" . The ones who--and with my stash as my witness, this is a true story--had the following conversation:

1st girl: "Gee, after hearing all this stuff, I don't EVER want to grow old."
2nd girl: "Yeah, but, you know, I guess it's, like, a privilege or something to grow old. 'Cause, you know, some people like, die young and whatever....."

This was the moment when I started praying for a rain of brain cells, secure in the knowledge that we had plenty of empty receptacles in which to catch them, and there would not be a single puddle on the floor about which to worry once the heavens cleared. One of these women turned to me after the peri-care demonstration, twisted her face into a pretty mask of "eww-ness", and asked worriedly "do you really have to DO that? It's not very often, is it?" I will likely burn in hell for the pleasure I took in pointing out that if you work in a nursing home, you will likely have 10 patients all by yourself, most of them (if not all) will be incontinent, and you will need to check and change them every two hours. I'd have asked her at that point to do the math...but I feared her pretty little head would explode.

In the end, though, I can honestly say that RJ has the cleanest genitals in town, I know how to make a bed you could bounce a quarter off of (even if half the students in the class would have to rack their brains to figure out what the shiney silver thing was), and it is very nearly over. The class is throwing a party/potluck tomorrow. I am bringing brownies. Then, I am going home and quietly sobbing with relief.

p.s. They also don't think it's funny when they tell you that you're going to "practice these skills over and over until you're sick of them" and you respond by waving your hand wildly in the air and shouting "Ooh! Oooh! I finished early, then! Can I go home?" Go figure.


  • At 6:02 PM, Blogger Marianne said…

    This story just never gets old, it's every bit as funny....and sad as the first time...
    Truthfully though, I really kind of feel for the instructor...having to deal with some of those folks, you were probably a great 'break' for her.

  • At 6:19 PM, Blogger ccr in MA said…

    "They" never seem to think those comments are as funny as we do, do they?

    My mother was sitting through training on her company's new policy on everyone wearing ID badges, and when the drone asked what you should do if you saw someone without a badge, she said, "Shoot them!"

    I come by this attitude honestly.

  • At 7:44 PM, Blogger Kali said…

    Many moons ago (many, many moons - sigh ) I used to work as an aide in a nursing home. One resident had a double-barreled johnson (I kid you not) who delighted in scandalizing the Barbies-in-training on staff.

    The other thing I remember was seeing tattoos from their youth, now withered and wrinkly, on various parts of their anatomy. None of the tattoos aged well. Many were totally unrecognizable. Can you imagine today's Barbies-in-training reacting to those visuals?

  • At 7:49 PM, Blogger Lynn said…

    Oh Ms. K, I have missed your raucous sense of humor. So good to have you back again! I sat here eating what was *supposed* to have been a chicken fajita quesadilla, hooting and snorting in a most unladylike manner. LittleBit asked if I'd read it to her, and I declined.

    Malibu Barbie is probably a cousin of the kid in Fourthborn's high school class who thought Elton John was singing "buh buh buh Benny has Tourette's."

  • At 11:35 PM, Anonymous angie Cox said…

    I definately met some of those Barbies on Jeff's ward "Bognor Barbies " . Anyhow the nurse in charge was a great South African lady who sounded like one and forced cricket conversations on any Asian or West-Indian patient. One day I needed to ask her something and went up to a Barbie and she said dopily "ask Michelle". I said "the South African lady"? as I didn't know her Christian name "no she's not African" was the response . I sighed as I presume she thinks all Africans are black. There were about three grades of nurses by the time you got to grade 4 they could just about answer the security buzzer.
    That story had Jeff snorting as I read it to him.

  • At 7:05 AM, Blogger ambermoggie said…

    Yeah you're back and as funny as ever:) My keyboard had only just recovered from last time's hot chocolate onslaught and here we go again:))

  • At 8:36 AM, Blogger Kitty Mommy said…

    OMG. This was just hilarious. I couldn't stop laughing and Bug wanted to know what was so funny!

    I hope RJ learned his lesson and goes quicker next time! Yikes!!

  • At 8:43 AM, Blogger Karen said…

    Too funny!! How many were blonde (no offense to those who are blonde and intelligent and/or have common sense)? "They" never want to get old? I wish them luck on that! Did they seriously think they would never come in contact with bodily fluids when they went into this profession? Let's hope they never become moms (lots of messy situations there).

  • At 9:01 AM, Blogger Dana said…

    You're tagged! (Please see my blog for an explanation). Cheers, Dana

  • At 10:10 AM, Anonymous Em said…

    That is just hysterical! I mean, I knew that the medical professions used dummies, but I didn't think they'd be the ones in training... (sorry, that was ia bit low, but still, from your descriptions of these girsl, I think that the mannequin has more sense than they do!). The removable hardward makes for some pretty interesting mental pictures, and to distract my brain for other thoughts (ahem!) I'm imagining the stolen parts are off on roaming-gnome-like adventures (if a picture-postacrd arrives, I want to see it here!).

  • At 11:45 AM, Blogger beckie said…

    Oh, Mrs. K, how I have missed you and your humor...

  • At 2:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Hey, Ms.K! I'm so glad you are back, I've missed your humor. I'm cussing out the idiots that didn't accept your application. I can't belive that they would let Barbie in but not you. They will miss out on a great nurse.
    In my CNA class someone actually actually asked me if we really had to change briefs and do peri care, I don't think she had any idea what a cna actually did. Unbeliveable. Once I recovered from the shock, I had to also tell her to be careful she didn't surprise one of the residents uh, "enjoying themselves"
    She didn't really belive me, "their to old for that!"

  • At 5:08 PM, Anonymous Kathie said…

    I'm new here (hi) and catching up on my blog reading, so I'm a little behind on this post, but I just had to thank you for making me laugh myself to tears. That was just too too funny.


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