Boy, you know you’re getting old when you go to the dentist, as I did the other day, and you don’t have to pay because your chipped tooth is “under warranty.”
Also had my first physical examination in ten years yesterday, with a new doctor. She didn’t ask me why it had been so long. And so I didn’t have to tell her how the doctor put his finger up there and I actually hollered, in the embarrassing confines of a very small exam room, “Jeepers creepers!” and also “Wowsers trousers!”
No, the new doc asked me instead what was the occasion for the prodigal decision to “take care of business,” as she put it. I said I’m 53, and when I was getting immunizations for a motorcycle trip in South America at 50, none of the doctors could believe I hadn’t yet had a major surgery, cancer or any other disorder. At this age, if something wasn’t wrong with me, then something was wrong with me.
I felt like telling them what my old man always felt like telling people, into his 80s, based on how he felt inside: “I’m just a boy!”
At the same time, you realize you long ago became what my pal Suzanne and I call, “old and gross.” You got stuff wrong with you, because you’re old and gross. Stuff building up, stuff hanging off, stuff crusting over, stuff pointing in the wrong direction. Q. How long have you had that? A. Oh, I don’t know. Thirty years?
My old buddy Bill Lavicka renovated houses for a living; when work got slow once, he had his crew tear all the wires out of his 1880 house and replace them with new ones. “Murray,” he asked me plaintively, “why can’t they do that to me?” Yesterday, I wrote here about the No Drip Club my plumbing company invited me to join. Why can’t my doctor offer that, too?
My bloodwork isn’t in yet, but already my doctor is sure that I should: drink less (she’d prefer I smoke dope if I want to wind down, a prescription I told her I did not see coming), eat more fruits and vegetables, lift weights and meditate. Somehow I feel most hopeless about the meditation. She thinks I am not depressed (which cheered me up) nor particularly anxious (which came as a relief), and she’s pleased that I wear a helmet when I ride my motorcycle.
I agree with the doctor on all of the above—though it seems to me she could have given me a little more credit for napping regularly, running every day and playing baseball on Sundays, which I know is good for what my mother used to call, my “corpsuckles”—and I do like her style. At one point, we were talking about a family member who has cancer, and she gingerly referred to chemotherapy as “a real mind-fuck.” Did I want to take a drug that would slow my hair loss, “or do you not give a shit”?
My mother should have gone to someone like her.
And of course I’d love to have a few drinks with her.
“Is this going to work?” she asked as she gathered her things to go on to the next patient. “Me and you?”
“Yeah, it’s going to work, Doc. Thanks.”