Making Practical Use of Chemistry
My mother was always very fastidious about things and liked to boast that I was toilet trained by the time I was one. Personally I have no recollection at all but it sounds about right to me. In any case, she has since but seldom even allured to or mentioned much about the baser bodily functions. And since my father was at sea most of the time, that effectively left me to my own devices.
I was however taken to hand by my aunts when we went to Belgium on holiday, my mother’s native country. Actually they were my mother’s aunts even though they were around her own age. Consequently they liked to take charge of things and act the older, wiser and more experienced parent.
One of them was named aunt Lisa. She had a live-in housekeeper/companion called Josephine. To me they were both ‘aunts’, by virtue of age alone I suppose. In any case these two were, as opposed to my own mother, very concerned about the condition of young children’s bowels and urinary functions and not at all phased by doing some very personal and detailed checking. They were also delegated, or maybe they eagerly volunteered to give me my baths. This entailed the two ladies approvingly observing me take a pee while the bathtub filled up and then having them clean my penis with a cloth. While they were at it, it seemed they always needed to carefully check my uncircumcised prick for any bits of lint or dirt that may have gotten entangled in the foreskin.
I can’t really remember what I thought of all this at the time. I suppose I must have been partially mortified by these odd goings-on, but thinking about it in retrospect I suppose I was titillated in equal measure. Whatever the case, I know that however embarrassed I might have been after one of my two ‘aunties’ baths, I never complained or mentioned anything to my parents about it. Which goes to show how my proclivities were evolving, even at that youthful age.
Another thing my aunts regularly checked was the regularity of my bowel movements. Needles to say, strange cooking, homesickness and travelling upset my metabolism and I must have been constipated quite often.
I did not experience it as a problem as such, but my aunts apparently did. I remember very clearly being dragged along to an old-fashioned pharmacy where one of my two ‘aunts’ would ask for glycerin suppositories, preferably in a very loud voice so all the customers could hear. The pharmacist would grin lecherously at me as he placed a box with wicked looking objects on the counter, or so I perceived it at the time. I hardly dared look anyone in the face. The thought of all those older people knowing that those suppos were going to be used on my behind was disconcerting.
My aunts also liked to use a slang word when asking for suppositories. In rather a proletarian Flemish dialect they asked for ‘little candles’. Even now, 40 years later I can’t help linking a normal everyday word like ‘candle’ (little or not) with those trips to the pharmacist’s. When my wife asks me to set the dinner table for guests and add some candles for atmosphere, there go my naughty thoughts back to 1958 and bathroom cleanings with my aunts.
Oddly, I don’t have such clear cut memories of getting the suppos administered. They are more generalized and diffuse. My aunt would have me undress completely and face her, or even hug her waist, while she bent over and parted my buttocks, slipping a ‘little candle’ up into my anus.
Sometimes this was done by the two of them, aunts Lisa and Josephine working together, though I have no clear memories of how the setup was. I am fairly certain that one of my aunts would at times strip down to her (voluminous) undergarments and I would embrace her petticoated hips while she slipped the suppo up my fanny. I doubt that I got an erection while that young (8), but it seems I can still hear the rustle of her silken lingerie and feel it brush against my little prick.
At times I wonder if I haven’t imagined this last part but I doubt it. While bathing me, my aunts would as a matter of course not want to get their clothes wet and they removed their cumbersome outer garments.
What their real intentions were, of that I have no inkling. Maybe they were generally concerned with hygiene and cleanliness, maybe it tickled their fancy in a vague erotic manner. I have no real way of telling. Ladies undergarments in the 50s were so voluminous and large that they revealed but little. It was more in the build, cut and fabric that they were designed to arouse and titillate men’s fancies. I know it tickled mine. I still have lots of naughty imaginings and reveries, even at my present age.
Enemas as such were something I never experienced at the hands of my aunts. With them it was suppos and more suppos, always of the tingling and irritating glycerin variety.
I learned about enemas a few years later, also while on vacation in Belgium. The second time over in 1963, I stupidly only brought along one English language book to read. That was meant to last me for almost 2 months. I should have known better. By the time the boat docked at Le Havre I had finished it and so had nothing left to read.
Luckily my deceased grandfather had had a large library full of mainly English books. I liked to nose around even though most of the books were rather uninteresting for a 13 year old. One little volume however caught my attention. It was called ‘The Pocket Doctor’. It had been published before the Great War in Britain and was meant to be a self help medical publication. Maladies, afflictions, illnesses, diseases and complaints were listed alphabetically along with remedies and treatments.
I don’t know why, but I got an unbelievable kick out of browsing through the book and reading about such outlandish treatments as urethral catheterisation, removal of kidney stones through the penis and the administration of enemas to relieve constipation. What a wondrous and yet embarrassing treatment. I had never heard or conceived of anything similar, and yet I remember the idea intrigued and aroused me to no end.
Maybe it all had to do with the onset of puberty, my aunts still fusing around me when I took a bath, one of my younger female playmates doing her best to get me alone to kiss and other things. In any case, all of these things together endowed enemas and certain medical treatments with an aura of eroticism.
I kept that book for myself and took it back home to leaf and browse through in solitary moments or while taking a bath and fiddling around where I shouldn’t have. I still had it when I last moved, but during the years I must have mislaid it, or hidden it too well. In any case I don’t know where it is. I still regularly browse through second hand bookshops hoping to find a copy. In the meanwhile I have built up a nice collection of similar medical volumes, most from the same period. These are all generously and profusely illustrated, mostly with etchings and line drawings of embarrassingly intimate procedures. What a wealth of material one can find if only one is diligent (or stubborn) enough. And what naughty imaginations physicians must have had in previous times.
But even so, the lost volume of ‘The Pocket Doctor’ has assumed for me the aura of a lost book of apocryphal wisdom.
As to getting an actual enema, that would have to wait for several years. In the meantime I had to content myself with the occasional suppository or (daringly) a soapy finger or Q-Tip up the behind. I had no idea where one could buy enema equipment. And besides, even if I had, I would not have dared to purchase it on my own anyway.
As it happened, a few years later in chemistry class in school of all places, I found a solution. I must have been around 16. The chemistry lab at school was more or less decently equipped. One of the standard little accouterments we all got to use were plastic water flasks with protruding thin tubes. I have no idea what the technical name for them is, but it took but little imagination for me to envision such a plastic squeeze flask used as a rudimentary enema bulb.
And best of all, students of my age could buy as many as we wanted at chemistry supply shops, no questions asked. In fact, I think that we were even admired for our diligence in pursuing the quest for scientific knowledge on our own. If only the proprietor knew what I intended to use my plastic flask for !!
All in all, the water flasks worked admirably well as enema bulbs. I purchased a number of them and have never been without, even though I now have a nice collection of the more classical type of enema devices.
The plastic flasks served admirably well for purposes of plausible deniability. When my later wife moved in with me she would at times find one of my makeshift ersatz enema bulbs/flasks and ask me what I used them for. I would usually reply that they were for use in my darkroom, for rinsing photographic prints and such. She believed me too, until several years later when I finally admitted to my quaint predilection. But that’s another story.
Maybe I should entitle that account something like ‘Enemas Denied’ or ‘The Quest for the Elusive Enema’.
Without going into morbid medical detail, it will be enough to say that some years back I was admitted to the hospital for some rather serious surgery.
It wasn’t planned, though but for my own inexperience I should have foreseen what might happen to me. In any case, one fine Sunday I was rushed to the emergency ward and told that I was in serious and deep shit. My wife, who worked as a lab technician at that very same hospital, told me the surgeons had been undecided about operating immediately or waiting the outcome of further tests. I predictably wanted to stall things but it was all to no avail. A few days I was operated on.
All went well and I had to spend a further 6 weeks in the hospital, recuperating. That was my first real hospital experience. Also my first and only experience with receiving pain medication.
One of the side effects of receiving pain-killers is constipation. I got a case in spades, or so it seemed to me at the time. Ten days after my surgery I had still not been able to go and I was beginning to feel the discomfort.
I had begun to ask the nurses for some form of relief but it seemed they preferred to ignore the issue. Twice I was given a pill to take, but my wife later told me they were placebos. The nurses hated having to take care of bedridden patient’s bodily functions and tried everything to get out of attending to it. I was usually told to just ‘let nature take it’s course’ and wait, ‘everything would work itself out in the end.’
Now just before being rushed to the hospital, I had hurriedly packed a set of toiletries and prudently taken along one of my old chemistry flasks/enema bulbs. However I hadn’t taken into consideration the difficulty of trying to self-administer an enema right after surgery. I couldn’t manage it on my own.
A few days after my surgery my wife was rummaging around my hospital wardrobe and found the flask. Needless to say she wondered what in the world I was doing with a piece of ‘darkroom equipment’ in the hospital. That’s when I told her what I really used it for. This didn’t phase her much, though she did roll her eyes heavenward wondering why I went to all the trouble concealing things.
Though not exactly put off, she has never been able to see the erotic side of receiving or administering enemas.
Though relieved my wife didn’t make an issue out my predilection, it didn’t resolve my discomfort either. She declined giving me an enema (and has since never changed her mind either) but she did inquire with the attending nurses. None of them were inclined to give me an enema either, even though I expressly asked for one. Finally I begged one of the doctors and he, rather reluctantly it seemed, agreed to prescribe one.
The next day, one of the nurses gingerly administered a lousy Fleet. It tingled a bit and that was that. No effect, nothing, nada.
I complained and asked for something more effective but only got some more pills. They produced no effect. Finally a few days later one of the male nurses, probably fed up with my complaining, gave me a glass of vile tasting laxative oil to drink. That worked and two hours alter I was two kilos lighter.
But the point of this experience is that it appears to be very difficult to get an enema in a hospital in this country. I don’t know if this is a general practice or not, or just one of the roads modern medicine has taken.
Whatever the case, ever since I have appreciated a good cleansing enema like never before and shudder to think should I never have a device at hand.