I hope your culture is normal.



I thought I knew culture, or at least the average ‘normal’ person’s understanding of its meaning. But nothing surprised me more than when I got acquainted with a different, totally new form of culture, never experienced before. I also know that many people take rests on chairs, chaise lounges, settees, fauteuils or even the simple piano stool. There is nothing odd about man’s need for the occasional rest, even on a stool. But.., I am getting ahead of myself; This tale of surprise and  discovery of a new kind of culture needs time to ripen and mature. Ecoutez svp and get a little closer to your screen.

Over the last week or so I have been busy with domestic things, paying bills, emptying the dish-washer, putting bins on the street and even doing a thorough vacuum with the hand held one instead of the robovac. As readers might remember,  some weeks ago I gave in, relented,  bought an  automatic vacuum cleaner that roams the rooms and ferrets around corners and underneath book shelves in between beds and saucepans.  I find it fascinating to watch, seeing how it sends signals out to avoid obstacles and dead corners. The Robovac does a fair job but with rough coated Milo one needs to do a hand-held in between. On top of that I had to prepare myself for working this Saturday handing out ‘how to vote cards’ for the Green party of which I have been a member for just a few months. The state of NSW is having an election with everyone at fever pitch. The dogs are howling and swallows are flying erratically. They know it too. I also fitted in a quick visit to the Moss Vale medical centre  to check on a persistent pesky stomach bug.

Here it comes!

The good doctor from Indian background, whom I had not met before, did a good job, asking me all the relevant questions. History if any, of stomach problems, family background, dodgy genes, fainting spells, giddiness, what job I did, smoke, drink etc.? He finally prodded around my stomach a bit, but nothing painful or abnormal, and suggested I do some kind of what I understood a ‘culture test’. I agreed and thought any culture in Australia will do me, even if it is just the usual blood test. He wrote out the pathology note and as the pathologist outfit is next to the medical centre he suggested I do it straight away. The sooner the better, he smiled and shook my hand.

Helvi and I always go together to doctors as we do to shops or just walking around with Milo. In fact, we are probably noticed on our walks as a couple who are inseparable. Helvi glanced over to the lady behind the pathology counter and smiled. I too smiled and handed over the pathology request form. She read the doctor’s  note and smiled encouragingly. “Have you done a ‘stool culture’ before, she asked”? The penny dropped. I knew this culture were no ordinary culture, let alone a B’s ninth symphony or viewing of the pyramids of Cheops. Of all of life’s foibles, how did it come to this? I used to play in a sandpit and dreamt of castles.

h464B99F8 stool sample

No, I haven’t done ‘that’ before I answered.”I’ll get you the necessary kit”, still smiling by nurse! I wasn’t smiling. The horror of what was to now come became clear. I looked back and Helvi was smiling broadly. For some reason women seem to find this a really amusing procedure for men to undergo. Nurse said: “There are ‘just’ two small containers you need to fill with a small scoop fitted on the back of each lid”, ” you fill the two small ones from the ‘big’ container, she added. I sunk below vision, and meekly said something like ‘far-out’ or ‘can’t wait. Nurse’s eyes met mine and a moment of some embarrassment  was acknowledged and with a smile she winked. It helped.  She had seen all this before and she understood.

By now, nurse was really being encouraged by Helvi having to keep her mouth covered hiding her mirth and smile, and yet nurse had the nous to further explain; “the large bowel is for putting it in the toilet bowl to catch your stool”. This last remark should have reached its zenith of  relevant stool culture information. It did not.  More was yet to come.  “You can use the scoop on the back of the smaller containers’ lids to fill each of them them”, she said. “You must also give details of date and time of each time of your ‘stool production’ on the label, and number them as a 1 or  a 2”. “Don’t forget to wash the big container or use a new one each time. “AN ICE- CREAM container will do”, she said. By this time nurse was openly smiling and I was beyond caring. It would have been far worse if it had all been done in all seriousness. I mean, how could this possibly be a serious issue?

Even so, I hope that the future doesn’t hold anymore  medical cultural events like this one. I would much prefer to see Wagner’s ‘ring cycle’.

Ps. I played along  wanting to be seen as suffering the ultimate crestfallen male with his fragile ego, hitting the very lows of the absurdity of his idea of masculinity. The very idea of a ‘real’ man scooping his own faeces is unlimited material for comedy and laughter.  It was very funny and a bit of a show for the other patients sitting in chairs waiting their turn while listening in.

Life gets complicated but you have to face up to it, even when it includes strange cultures.

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39 Responses to “I hope your culture is normal.”

  1. rod Says:

    I’m beginning to wonder about the meaning of the phrase ‘to fall between two stools’.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. bkpyett Says:

    I hope your ‘culture’ is ‘normal’ Gerard! Life is full of surprises! 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  3. kaytisweetlandrasmussen83 Says:

    I’m intrigued by the broad smile on Helvi’s face. Is she saying “It’s YOUR turn now, Gerard, or something even more mysterious.

    I really like that you, Helvi and Milo are always together—-so are we, although Charlie stays home a lot.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Helvi normally carries a smile which is genuine. In this case she smiled well above her normal smile as she knows me better than I do. The anticipation of a kind of absurd theatrical reality of life. I mean, what else could she do?

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Master of Something Yet Says:

    Having endured the same icky procedure for myself and two of the children, I feel your embarrassment.
    My first response to your post title was “No culture is normal” (mainly because I am currently immersed in a weird American one) but I’ll make an exception in your case. May normality rule in your own personal culture.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Lottie Nevin Says:

    Wouldn’t it be so much easier just to pluck it out of the lavatory with Milo’s poop-a-scoop? 😉

    Liked by 3 people

  6. petspeopleandlife Says:

    Welcome to a new reality of crap, Gerard. Now you know what the term stool really means. I have to admit that I laughed at your new found knowledge. You really do not need to feel embarrassment. It’s something that millions of folks have to been subjected to. Just be grateful there is a test that can likely pinpoint what is wrong with your belly. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. bkpyett Says:

    When we were living in a family group home, a bug went through the place and I had to collect 13 stools!!! It took me three days and three deliveries!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. auntyuta Says:

    I very much like this Stool Sample picture. Had to giggle! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  9. auntyuta Says:

    I hope the Greens are going to make a difference in the Upper House. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      I received this from John Kaye today; MLC Green
      Something extraordinary has happened in NSW.

      The Greens have won three Lower House seats — Newtown, Balmain and Ballina — and a fourth, Lismore, is still too close to call.

      We have held our Upper House seats and Mehreen Faruqi and I will be comfortably returned to Parliament. We could win a third seat there too.

      You have made history.

      We now have three Greens MPs elected to the NSW Lower House, representing communities that stretch from the North Coast to the inner-city of Sydney.

      This is a victory for every Greens supporter and for progressive politics. We have shown that a party can stand up to vested interests and still win Lower House seats.

      Liked by 2 people

  10. auntyuta Says:

    It looks like that their stand on CSG did win the Greens some of the seats at the North Coast.
    And Newtown is definitely a very interesting seat!
    Good to know that Mehreen Faruqi and John Kaye held their Upper House seats, and maybe one more to come!
    Congratulations, Gerard, on working for the Greens! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Carrie Rubin Says:

    Gives a whole new meaning to the phrase ‘mining for gold.’ 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Andrew Says:

    Am I the only one to share your profound embarrassment, Gerard? How on earth did this become ‘culture’? I think the poop a scoop idea is excellent and might save a lot of messy effort. I hope the results are uneventful.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Yvonne Says:

    Thanks for the late Sunday afternoon chuckle! I do hope it turns out you are cultured, or something like that.

    I was following the NSW election results over here in Italy. Nice result, really.


  14. hilarycustancegreen Says:

    Here in the UK the NHS sends everyone over the age of 60 a little kit with instructions through the post every two years. It is very civilised and manageable when you have worked out a good modus operandi. You post back the resultant package (with five days of test samples on little windows), and a few weeks later they send you a letter to say (you hope) nothing sinister discovered. Don’t know what all the fuss is about!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. stuartbramhall Says:

    Congratulations on joining the Green Party – and immediately pitching in and volunteering. I’ve been a Green Party member for more than 13 years.


  16. Big M Says:

    Gez, I share your embarrassment. I had to supply a semen sample, some monthspost vasectomy. The receptionist took the pathology container fromme with glee, proudly anouncing, “Oh, good, a semen sample!” In front of the crowd in the waiting room.

    As for the Greens, they, and perhaps the cyclists party, are the only ones making any sense. The other two seem hell bent on their own superannuation, investments and post parliamentary business carreers.

    Cheers, Gez and Helvi.


    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes Big M, the giving of a semen sample post vasectomy I too experienced. Totally different from a stool sample although from the same general area.
      The semen sample had to be done in one hour at the pathologist’ special ‘room’. As the time ticked away I had to somehow arouse myself reclining in a green cushioned Parker chair looking at some awful magazines full of plucked chickens. Of course the idea that many men had already perused those same chicken magazines wasn’t helping either.
      I fnally relaxed by concentrating less on the magazine and more on doing something about birth control, and floppy rose to the occasion. I did it for my partner and Australia really.


  17. Charlotte Hoather Says:

    😀 I could just imagine my Grandads face, I’m going to figure out how to ask him if he gets his packet every two years like Hilary said just to see if he blushes lol 💩


  18. M-R Says:

    Mein gott ! – it must be truly indescribable if you’d rather sit through the Ring Cycle, Gerard ! The mind boggles …
    Not a fun thing to have to do, I agree entirely.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. gerard oosterman Says:

    I watched a small section of Wagner’s Ring Cycle at Sydney’s Opera house many years ago. I thought it wonderful and exciting.
    I was already steeped in ‘culture’. 😉


  20. bkpyett Says:

    No discount!!


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