The Thin Blue Line not in this case a reference to a 80s TV Police Drama nor the thin line of Earth’s atmosphere and the setting sun (as photographed by the crew of the International Space Station). I refer to the ultimate decision maker the Pregnancy Test. The deliverer of both bad and good news depending on your circumstances and or your point of view. As part of my work on the Women in Pregnancy project I had cause to consider the history of the pregnancy test as background to a provocation for workshop participants.
Women in Pregnancy is a collaborative project using creative movement to explore the impact of pregnancy on women’s creativity. A Serbian Choreographer, a Spanish Theatre Director/Film Maker and I are working with professional dancers and pregnant women to develop a creative movement (gentle dance) methodology. The three of us (and the Project’s photographer) met at the Magdalena Project Legacy and Challenge Festival in 2011 and this collaboration has come from there. The pilot stage is being documented through a wordpress blog so do have a look and contribute your thoughts (http://womeninpregnancy.wordpress.com/ ).
The History of the Pregnancy Test site http://history.nih.gov/exhibits/thinblueline/index.html is fascinating. Along side a timeline from the early Egyptians to the present day is a whole swathe of information about the appearance of said test in film and television; everything from the Simpsons to Sex in the City! The idea that some poorly paid intern has sat down and trawled film/television archives for storylines involving the procedure somehow amuses me. I wonder where the handling of the script line is considered; was the character demonstrating the appropriate emotional response? How realistic a portrayal of real life was it? How many are actually picture in situ administering the test? Coincidently its curious how one seldom sees characters on television (or in film) sitting on the lavatory; eating, drinking, procreating (or practicing procreation) even showering but this bodily function almost universally omitted from the viewing public. Hmm.
As a Contemporary Spinster one might assume that the requirement for this pharmaceutical product would be purely an academic one. But rather like keeping antihistamine in case of a bee sting I prefer to be prepared, (a hangover from the days of Brownies perhaps). Generally speaking I am averse to being stung however this manifests itself! So I am confident that I’m not the only one who tends to keep a test in the bathroom cabinet along with spare toothpaste and disposable razors. It is somehow reassuring that should the occasion present itself I wouldn’t find myself overwhelmed in a well know supermarket weighing up the pros and cons of a pack of two or three; its common sense surely that one never purchases one.
The range of tests available is ever increasing when surely any intelligent marketer could tell you that this is an emotional influenced purchase with an element of impulse. By this I mean I tend not to be found reading the small print in the aisle! Make the packaging stand out and the furtive fugitive on the run from the product of her ‘risky’ behaviour will grab and go (swiftly). Is an establishment’s own brand a wise move or false economy (ha ha); assuming one would avoid the Value range even in times of austerity the Taste the Difference Premium range may be still be a step too far! Even in a height state of anxiety I blanche at the price of this plastic stick containing, by now, outdated school child level chemistry. And once used can one put it in the recycling? Disposal of the evidence needs to be approach with some caution for fear of being found out before one is ready to reveal the news. Student days in shared houses were particularly high risk although nothing in comparison to the parental home (when below the age of consent). It’s a bl**dy minefield!
The prose poetry piece below was the outcome of my creative research driven musings. And no before the real writer’s amongst you raise an eyebrow I do not purport to be a poet; for the moment your craft remains unscathed by the dalliance of the Contemporary Spinster (I should warn you I have plans so who know where the scratching of this particular itch may take me)!
The Thin Blue Line or The Fertility of Seeds
A line between the Earth
And the sun captured by NASA from the shuttle space centre
A significant observation it seems
Scientists congratulate each other
High fives; back slapping
A typical masculine response
As territory is established.
1350 BC ancient Egyptian papyrus
Described a test for a possibly pregnant woman
Urinate on wheat and barley seeds over the course of several days.
“If the barley grows, it means a male child.
If the wheat grows a female child.
If both do not grow, she will not bear at all “
Destiny decided; conclusive proof of progeny!
Ages later still we pee for a sign
Contemporary comparisons rely on clinically proven outcomes
A window of opportunity on a plastic stick
An early morning test is recommended
Greater concentration of the hormone
With the power of ‘silent speech’
99% accuracy guaranteed.
Waiting wet stick in hand
Better put it down; flat surface required.
Lip biting elongates seconds into minutes
Walk away; stop starring the process
Can’t be rushed!
Anxiety meets anticipation
Whatever the desired outcome.
A thin blue line horizontal or vertical
Appears not once but often twice
Safety window activation required
Confirmation of chemical action
Science beyond you in which you place
Trust beyond reason. Cautious ones
Repeat to make sure