‘Nature’ Makes ‘Unnatural’ Things ‘ Natural’
S. Q. Lapius would overlook much that was normally disagreeable to him in anyone who could regularly put him to the wall in chess. Gretschen was such a person.
She studied the game with ferocious intensity, knew all the openings from Nimzowitsch to Kings Indian Defense and wore blue jeans of the same vintage that gave execrable offense to Lapius’ sensitive apparatus.
“Gretschen the wretch,” he called her. I suspect more because of her victorious flourishes at the board than for her sartorial appearance.
But she also took advantage of Lapius’ post-game courtesies, usually in the form of cognac, to procure medical advice. Her major problem was recurrent urinary infections.
Lapius threw up his hands.
“Not again, young lady,” he said, thoroughly distressed. “You have been through a complete kidney work-up; you have been cystoscoped. We are assured that there is nothing clinically wrong. I can only conclude that you haven’t followed my advice to prevent recurrence.”
“But I have,” pleaded Gretschen.
“The letter?” Lapius asked severely.
“Almost,” she answered.
“What does ‘almost’ mean? For example, are you still taking birth control pills?”
“Yes, but I don’t see how that would matter.”
“Well, their use does alter the normal bacterial flora or the vagina and permit contamination that would increase your chances of urinary infection. I’ve explained how vulnerable the short female urethra is, Gretschen.”
“But I can’t stop taking the birth control pills. That would …”
Lapius concluded the sentence for impatiently. “… interfere with your social life. You have told me that before. Of course, Gretschen, we must guard your social life at all costs, mustn’t we? Incidentally, you do douche, don’t you?” Lapius asked.
G looked crestfallen. “I guess you will think I’ve let you down, Dr. Lapius, but as a matter of fact, I don’t.”
“Why not, for goodness sake. It is a simple hygienic measure.”
“My doctor told me it isn’t natural to douche. And you know that I am a firm believer in nature, and natural events,” she said.
“You brush your teeth, don’t you?” Lapius asked, quite cocky that he was proving a point, and was astonished to see Gretschen shake her head.
“No, I feel that nature will take care of things. And I have never had a cavity either,” she boasted. She parried Lapius’ thrusts as expertly as she blocked his pawns.
“Well, the pill isn’t natural, Gretschen. And I reject the argument in it entirety. You can’t suddenly pluck a single hygienic measure such as douching out of thin air and deny its worth because it is ‘unnatural.’ Civilization is itself unnatural and creates imbalances never intended by ‘nature’ for which we have to compensate. For instance, animals and primitive peoples squat to evacuate themselves, whereas we use toilets, which, albeit, more comfortable, cause soiling that necessitates the use of toilet paper. Thus a bidet and occasional douching with acidic solutions are hygienic, and might help you avoid these repeated infections. Hopefully, Gretschen, you wash your hands with soap and water, instead of licking them clean as do the animals in their natural way.”
Gretschen started to reply, but Lapius held his hand up. “No – please Gretschen, I don’t think I want to hear the answer.”
After she left, Lapius asked,” Harry should I permit her touch the chess pieces?”