Although this question is addressed to my women readers particularly, I will welcome the responses of all.
Imagine a doctor, male, say 67 years or so old, riding the tram in the Central Business District on a summer day in Melbourne. The old gent is surrounded by partially dressed women, most of them a good deal younger.
The doc’s eyes rest upon a patch of skin on the back of the shoulder of a younger female. At the centre of that patch, the doc catches sight of a pigmented area. He, the doctor, can see this. She, the spotted female cannot.
The doctor wonders about that spot. He peers more closely: is the spot pigmented uniformly? Is it black or merely brown? Are its borders regular or does it stretch its pigmented claws, crab-like, into the surrounding pink?
He cranes, then, conscious that he must appear to be exactly what he is – an older male scrutinizing an unwitting person, younger and female – he straightens. And wonders a bit and worries a bit. The skin spot is situated posteriorly, the lady’s eyes anteriorly.
This is what marriage was made for. When the Bible advises (as it does in Genesis) that a person leave the home of origin and take a spouse and become one flesh, it must be for the purpose of checking the spots on the spouse’s back. And vice-versa. The Bible does not specify any specific number of mole-kibbitzers, nor their gender. Clearly de-facto spouses (such as Adam and Eve were) are perfectly approved for mole patrol. Nowadays with marriage in flux and many settling for serial monogamy (with or without serial infidelity), the mole role loses continuity. This is regrettable. Hence the need for alertness on the part of tram-travelling mole watchers.
But what is the etiquette here?
This particular 67 year old gent has noted suspicious naevi on any number of female backs. One of those looked fairly innocent but not quite typical. The old gent advised the young woman to see a specialist who duly removed the mole, thereby saving her life. The naevus was a malignant melanoma.
Australia is a warm and sunny country where lots of women expose lots of skin. We have the highest incidence in the world of melanoma, a terrible killer of the young. Strictly observant Moslem and Jewish ladies are saved by their faith and their mandated modesty. The remainder take their chances.
So, what should an old doc on tram or train say or do?
Should he offer advice? How?
Should he go home and offer prayers? Unlike medicine and surgery prayer causes no side effects or complications.
On occasion I have left the tram early, passing a slip of paper as I descended, on which the spotted one would read: please see a doctor about the mole on your right shoulder – a word of advice from a passing doctor.
I have no doubt the young person felt rattled. And obscurely invaded.
Another time I approached a young woman and spoke the same words discreetly and diffidently. She jumped, looked alarmed and about as happy as if I had performed a pap test on the tram.
You might wonder how it is I know the outcome of the malignant melanoma story. The mole lady is my daughter.
For all those spotted persons who are not my daughters, (both female and male) guidance is sought.