When I first met John, the man who would become my partner, I told my mother that I was going out with a handsome doctor. She was delighted, and immediately asked, “Is he Jewish?” When I said no, she looked puzzled and then asked, “Is he smart?”
This is one of those stories which would make my mother howl, “Don’t make me sound like a Jewish mother!” But I rest my case.
When I first told my friends about John they were also very excited, because they assumed that he’d immediately write them prescriptions for whatever they wanted. “500 Ambien? Sure! Let me get my pad!”
John, as an ethical man, would never do this, but my friends liked him anyway.
Both my friends and total strangers also have no problem asking John for free medical advice, and revealing truly unattractive, diseased body parts. “Is this a rash?” a friend will ask, over dinner, rolling up his pants leg.I always encourage John to say, “That looks like Ebola. But you have another leg.” John, because he can be way too generous, will always sit and listen.
I like to torment John, by constantly asking him deeply stupid medical questions. When we’re watching a TV show, and one of the characters gets poisoned with a green, glowing substance, I’ll ask John, “So what do you think the antidote would be? Would it be a red, glowing substance?” Detective shows always like to invent a name for, say, a dangerous street drug which kills an unwary teenager at a rave, in the opening moments of an episode. The detective will head over to the dead student’s prep school, to ask the other kids, “So, was Zachary using KTR?” That’s when I’ll turn to John and ask him, “Have you ever used KTR, which is also called K-Blast?”
My goal is to make John yell, “It’s a TV SHOW!”
Yes, I did once try on John’s white doctor jacket, and I slung his stethescope around my neck. I felt very powerful. I wanted to stride through a ward, barking orders at nurses and worshipful interns. “Get me fifty CC’s of oxycoagulate! Prep this woman for orthoscopic knee surgery, and get her a better haircut! This patient is going into sepsis! Bring me a sandwich, and explain to me what sepsis is!”
As a child, I loved my toy doctor’s bag, which was filled with plastic bottles of brightly colored sugar pills, and oversize syringes containing a delicious purple syrup, which I would squirt into my mouth. Who thought up the idea of giving children toy medical equipment? Probably whoever invented candy cigarettes and Hasbro assault rifles. I still love candy cigarettes, especially the ones which are painted with food coloring or dye to look like they’re lit.
John refuses to watch most medical shows, because they’re so inaccurate. He does enjoy the most grisly docu-shows on the Discovery Channel, the ones which feature maggot-infested wounds. We both liked a genuinely inspiring documentary called A Trash Can Full of Skin. This was about a determined Englishwoman who had lost several hundred pounds, leaving her with a massive amount of loose skin. Only a surgical team in Kansas would agree to remove the skin, and the woman titled the documentary herself.
We also loved Getting On, the recent and very funny HBO series set in the geriatric ward of a hospital. John declared it extremely truthful, and not just because the doctors and nurses on the show spent a lot of time discussing stool specimens.