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Published on September 29th, 2013 | by Richard Black


Give Me a Cough and Other Phrases I Look Forward to Hearing from a Doctor

So I’m looking forward to my annual physical appointment tomorrow. There’s really nothing like a prostate exam in the morning to put the day into perspective.

Sure my three year old daughter will want to try on five different outfits before I can get her dressed and scream like a shaved cat after I’ve wrestled her into each and every dress, pair of shorts or shirt she claims she wants to wear.

Afterwards we get to go grocery shopping which is about as fun as it sounds. Wrangling a toddler through a five billion square foot store that has strategically placed Dora the Explorer videos and cages full of bouncy balls at every turn is always a delight with a young one.

But I can handle it because I’ve just paid a man I see only once a year to give my prostate a once over. It all feels a bit dirty now that I think about it.

My doctor isn’t a bad guy but he’s a young, younger than me. It’s the first time I’ve had this experience and I can’t say that I like it. There’s nothing inherently wrong with him. As far as I can tell he doesn’t sport an erection when he’s looking for a hernia and asks me to cough

Before he gets to the fondling and poking he primes me up with the same sorts of questions my old doctor used to ask. There’s probably a class in bedside manner that both of them attended at some point but it really just feels like foreplay.

“So you’re still a stay at home father?” he asks. I know the question is meant to break the ice and find out if I’ve embarked on a career in mining lead or some other hazardous profession but it still grinds my gears.

“Yes my daughter is still alive God willing, after my mental breakdown and the cutting incident I’m no longer able to practice the level of ninjitsu I like,” is how I answer, waiting for a response.

We move quickly into the health questions, the same ones I’m used to lying about regarding my diet, drinking habits and my favorite…smoking and drugs.

“I enjoy the occasional snifter of brandy a few times a week.

“I use a pipe to relax but only after a really stressful day, perhaps once or twice a month when I can’t take the occasional Quaalude.”

“You take Quaaludes?”

“Only when I can find them,” I say and nod seriously wondering who in the hell takes Quaaludes these days.

Once the medically dictated conversation is over he checks me out, jams a tongue depressor in my mouth, gives the inner workings of my ears and nose and, presumably, my brain a good going over before he asks me to take off my shirt. Suddenly I’m reminded of so many college hook ups gone wrong.

I breathe deeply when he places the stethoscope against my chest and do my best to gaze longingly into his eyes just to make him uncomfortable. He gingerly touches my midsection in search of a bowel obstruction, cirrhosis or an enlarged pancreas and then comes the moment of truth.

“Please take off your shorts,” he requests.

“I thought you’d never ask,” I reply at which point my new doctor’s cheeks turn a violent shade of red and I’m relieved of having another man’s hands on my tenders or up my rectum.

Of course this will never happen. At least most of it won’t.

I’ll answer the young doctor’s questions about my habits somewhat honestly. I won’t imply that I drink a bit more than I’ve let on. Instead of smoking a pipe I may mention that I bum a few smokes off the neighbors when they’re awake at 2:00 in the morning.

For the most part though it will go like any other physical encounter I’ve had in my twenties. The only difference is that this time it’s with a man.

I’ll lie like crazy in the hopes that he’ll touch me. He’ll nod tediously and go through with the encounter and after it’s all done we’ll both feel a bit cheaper for the experience.

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