Every winter he tells me I’ve gained weight, and every summer he tells me I’ve lost it. Could it have anything to do with winter clothes and summer clothes? Then after he weighs me, he tells me to take my clothes off.
“If you’ll stop practicing medicine without a license, I’ll promise not to write about you,” he snapped as he stuck a stethoscope that felt like it’d been pulled straight from a freezer on my back.
“Take a deep breath.”
“If I could take a deep breath, I wouldn’t be here.”
“Hey, I paid for your yacht.”
“No, you paid for Junior’s medical school. Your wife paid for the yacht.”
“Would you shut up? I’m trying to hear your death rattle.”
“I don’t understand why I’m here. I eat quinoa and chia seeds. I take acai supplements. I go to the gym. I do tai chi. I drink coconut water and practice the paleo diet. I should be as healthy as a horse. Then again, coconuts and paleo are popular in Hawaii, and I never see any really old Hawaiians.”
“Ah-sigh-ee? Is that how you pronounce that? I see it everywhere, but never heard anyone say it before. One week I’ve never heard of acai, now it’s in everything. And when did people start eating chia seeds? I think they put it in my dog’s food now. If we eat all the seeds, will there be enough chia seeds left over to make Chia Pets?
“If you’d said ‘chia seed’ to my father, he’d have said ‘Gesundheit.’ The reason you don’t see really old Hawaiians is because really old people die. Even in Hawaii. Just like really old people who live in North Carolina, or China, who never ate an acai in their lives. You know where you can see a lot of really old people? In a funeral home. You know who didn’t live very long? The cavemen who ate paleo diets. I think their average life expectancy was 24. So what if you’re not as healthy as a horse? The good news is that you’re as smart as a horse.”
This guy has no bedside manner whatsoever. But then, I’m not paying him to be charming. I’m paying him to find out why everything seems much harder to do than it used to be. Like, why do I suddenly have to Google who sang “Blueberry Hill”? Why did I show up at the gym without my gym bag? Why can I only keep track of what day it is by checking my pill dispenser? One day someone will ask me what day it is and I’ll say “Lipitor.”
“Whaddaya think, doc, will I live?”
“The way you drive? I’ll only give you a 50/50 chance of getting home alive. After that, as long as you use Uber, you may have a few more good years.”
“Don’t pretty it up, doc. Just tell me truth. Why do I forget everything?”
“I just told you why you forget everything!”
“No, I’m just pulling your leg. You don’t forget everything. You forget the same amount of things we all forget. The difference is, you worry about it.
“Think about it: There are people much, much younger than you who forgot their baby was in the backseat of the car. We only hear about the tragedies. You don’t hear about all the people who suddenly remember something they’d forgotten two minutes earlier.”
“Can you still remember all the stuff they taught you in medical school?”
“What makes you think I went to medical school? I just like to tell people to take their clothes off.”
Contact Jim Mullen at firstname.lastname@example.org.