Aud: “All golf players look the same to me. I mean, they just look like this guy, or the other guy. And this guy is going to look like the other guy when he gets older.”
It turns out I am comfortable enough in my own skin I won’t mind emitting a quiet burp halfway through a voicemail to a parent I barely know, accepting a playdate for my child.
My body is a wonderland. Except, like one that closed down sometime in the late 90s, w/rusted gates, dangling signs w/letters and bulbs missing, abandoned, broken-down rides, and foreign weeds sprouting in strange places.
Went to see my orthopedic surgeon today, in search of relief for my aching feet (double foot surgery last summer, osteoarthritis, blahblahblah). As usual, things went swimmingly. Standing in the absolute center of a morning-packed elevator, I suppressed an urge to cough. Out of nowhere and into complete silence, I wound up doing one of those horrifyingly violent, wet, involuntary spasm coughs that happen when your drink goes down the wrong pipe. Aside from a few nearly imperceptible shudders and subtle leanings away, everyone ridiculously pretended they hadn’t noticed and stared straight ahead. So then I felt compelled to fill the awkward silence with a description no one wanted of what had just transpired: “Oh my GOD! Sorry about that, y’all!!! I was trying to hold back a cough and then it choked me up and I kind of spazzed and did that thing where it just surprises…so I…sorry about that…” Total silence. For a second I thought maybe I was invisible, but then from behind me a young woman in scrubs and an elaborate perm quietly squeaked, “That happened to me once. During the SATs.” I nodded gratefully as we all filed out, except I was on the wrong floor and had to ride all the way back down to the lobby so I could look at the board to figure out my doctor’s office was four floors above the place I’d exited the first time.
Signing in late, the receptionist began to organize forms in a manner that made me feel like I should ask permission, in a voice that came out louder than I intended, to pee: “I have to go to the bathroom, okay? I’ll be right back. Is that okay?” She gave one of those heavy-lidded, bureaucratic stares, clipboard suspended just out of reach for a beat too long, and said, “That will be fine.”
So they took me back and I’m waiting and waiting and getting that nervous freezing-cold-but-sweaty feeling I always get in exam rooms and finally it got so bad I decided to take a stiff paper towel from the stack on the counter next to me and really quickly stick it under my shirt to pat my underarms dry and of course at that very moment the doctor doesn’t even do the little cursory knock thing but just walks right in and I act like a kid caught masturbating, pulling the towel out of my shirt and balling it up and talking excitedly all at once to try and cover up what I perceived as our mutual embarrassment.
He does the x-rays and checks my feet and I lose the genetic lottery, turning out to be the 1 in 10 for whom surgery doesn’t wind up helping but actually accelerates the arthritis, or maybe I don’t have that exactly right because I can never take in but about 1/2 of what the doctor says because I’m so busy trying to nod in all the right places and frown to communicate solemn understanding that I can’t actually concentrate and figure I’ll just google it later. He suggests cortisone shots, but says he’ll only do one foot because “it really hurts.” He asks which foot I’d prefer.
Me: Mmmm, no. Can’t do one. Gotta do both.
Dr: I won’t do both. Too painful. Just pick one.
Me: Um, no. Nope. No, ‘cause then it’ll just make the one you didn’t do feel like it hurts worse and then I’ll just be all mad that one feels good and the other one hurts and I’m still limping around and what’s the point. We’re gonna do both.” I nod, as if encouraging a reluctant child, the matter settled.
Dr: Well, look, most people can’t—”
Me: HONEY, I CAN TAKE it!!!! Just DO IT!!!!
Dr: […] Okay. We’ll do both.
He leaves to get the shots and I begin to process that I’ve just screamed “Honey I can take it! Just do it!” to an impressively pedigreed specialist with years of experience under his professional belt.
So he comes back in, knocking first and pausing behind the cracked door this time, and I’m leaned back on the exam table and warning him I’m going to talk a lot to distract myself from the pain, and the assistant asks if I want to hold her hand and I say “No. I don’t want to do that.” a little more aggressively than I mean to, and as the needle pierces my right toe joint, the doctor muses to himself as he tries to wiggle it in that there sure is a lot of scar tissue in there, and he tells me to let him know if I can’t take it anymore and suddenly I hear myself yelling “I’ve had FOUR BABIES NATURALLY, I can certainly DO THIS!!!” and I breathe through my nose as the burning lava flushes up my leg and then recedes, adding, “I mean, sorry, I’m good though, thanks.”
Then I’m back at the front desk, doing my co-pay, and I’m signing the credit card receipt when the ball point pen inexplicably leaps out of my hand and flies over the receptionist’s head so she has to scoot her rolling chair around and back and lean down under the counter so far her shirt comes up as she retrieves it, and I notice she seems miffed, as if I’ve said something to offend her, when she returns the pen to my hand.
“‘Kay then, thanks. See y’all in two weeks.” I mutter. She stares before answering, one eyebrow cocked, tamping down the disheveled pile of papers against her desk until they form a neat stack. ”That will be fine.” she says to my retreating back, as I hobble away to the elevators.