It all went down exactly like he thought it would.
The constant barrage of pharmaceutical commercials were wearing him down. They created fear in him, a fear he hadn’t known before. Were his bowel movements regular? And if he couldn’t properly figure that out, were they regular enough to avoid drugs? Did his heart beat rapidly? When was the last time he held his hand over his heart? Being an anarchist, and a woefully apathetic one at that, he couldn’t remember the last time he placed his hand over his heart; for instance, in saying the pledge of allegiance. These commercials had generated too many unanswerable questions, so he decided to see his doctor. Or at least go to the doctor’s office. He understood the misery ahead, well before he actually sat down on that ice-cold cot.
He bet he’d have to rush in a panic to get there on time, weaving his way through traffic. He bet his nerves would be on edge as he shoved open the door to the building. He bet his trepidation would cause him to snap at the receptionist saying hello as he signed in. He bet he’d regret not hitting the sheets earlier the previous night to help make him a slightly friendlier fellow.
He bet he’d be asked to fill out an information form. I just filled one out six months ago, he bet he’d say. We like to keep our records updated, he bet the office assistant would reply. Nothing had changed. Every single bit of information you require hasn’t deviated one iota since my last visit, he’d say. Nonetheless, we need periodic verification with a signature, she’d say. He bet he’d be sitting in that large waiting room filling out that form. He bet the large fish tank would fail to sooth his frazzled state of mind.
Ed Nigma wasn’t a betting man, but there were certain life experiences he could bet on.
He certainly was not a good-looking man, which he bet fucked with his karma throughout life. He’d also bet, and win every time, that as soon as he began filling out that goddamn form, or shortly thereafter, a nurse would shove open the entrance door leading to the examination rooms shouting his name. Once past the door, standing in the hallway feeling like reusable commodity, he’d bet his ears would be poked with a temperature gauge, and he’d wonder why he hadn’t cleaned them the night before. He bet he’d hand the ridiculously incomplete form, thoughtfully fastened to a clipboard, to the nurse after she asked him to remove his shoes to get weighed. I haven’t finished it yet, he bet he’d say. Don’t worry, he bet she’d answer. You can fill it out later. He bet he’d never see that particular form again.
Now left alone on the ice-cold cot, Ed waited for the fake doctor, or the nurse practitioner, as they were called. It felt like centuries since he’d been examined by his real doctor. Sure, there were fleeting glances of him, head down, immersed in paperwork. But no contact. Ed had watched him age rather gracefully over the years from the spot he worked, and meant to tell him so if he ever got the chance.
There was nothing to do but be alone with his thoughts. Since that was always problematic, he stared at a few Norman Rockwell copies decorating the walls. They all had white, distinguished looking doctors in them. And white goofy kids. The images were meant to create a sense of comfort for children. One child checked his thermometer reading with an arm draped trustfully over his doctor’s shoulder. A girl sat holding her doll at arm’s length while her exasperated doctor checked its heartbeat. A boy stood, awestruck by his doctor’s college degree, his pants still dangling just below his butt while his doctor prepared a needle. The boy’s exposed bottom made Ed wonder at what age in life doctors decide to hand out rectal exams to their patients. If he had a dollar for every rectal exam…
The fake doctor came in. Fake pleasantries were exchanged. His blood pressure was high again. The fake doctor listened to his heart. He held an ice-cold stethoscope to various areas of his chilled upper body. He took a toy mallet and tapped his knee to see if it jerked up like it was supposed to. It didn’t.
Experiments of this nature took place over the next fifteen minutes, much longer than he ever remembered them. Ed was tired, and super hungry due to the fast they ordered him to labor through because of blood work. There was a long way to go.
“Something just isn’t right with you,” the fake doctor said. “It’s hard to put a finger on it. Call it doctor’s intuition.”
Ed didn’t know what to say, so he said, “But you’re not a doctor.”
The fake doctor grinned. “No, not technically, but I might as well be. Yes, there’s something run amok. I’d bet my reputation on it. Maybe the blood work will tell us. How do you feel? Is there something you’d like to ask that’s been on your mind concerning your health?”
Well, as a matter of fact, there was. “I’d like to know if my heart is healthy enough for sex.”
The fake doctor grinned. “I think you’ve got more pressing issues to think about.”
“Really? Like what?”
“Like, is your face attractive enough to get a woman in bed in the first place.”
“Don’t take offense. Studies have shown that our patients are tired of the usual PC they get from their doctors. So we’re bypassing that, and hitting them between the eyes with the information they really need.”
“I’m sorry, I don’t get why…”
“You’re ten pounds over your ideal weight, and therefore, clinically obese. I’ll note that in your records. Now drop your drawers. It’s jolly time. Unless you want your real doctor to do it.” He used air quotes when saying the word real.
Ed’s brain suddenly got creative. Yes sir! My real doctor! Let’s put that lazy bastard to work. Even though Ed had a rectal exam six months ago, he would gladly have another right now.
“Please. Send him in.”
Ed waited. And waited. So this is his game, he thought. Just because I asked specifically for him to do his job, he’s going to make me wait. But unbeknownst to everyone in that office, Ed didn’t mind waiting. In fact, he was having such a good time, he just might stay longer than he intended.
Ed’s doc finally opened the door, gloves already on. “Ah, sending for me to do the dirty work!” he said with an irritation that made Ed glad. The doc stopped abruptly. Ed had already assumed the position, drawers dropped, facing the wall, torso bent, arms pressed against the ice-cold cot. By jolly, Dr. Whatshisname was going to do whatever it took to find something wrong with him, even if it took all day.