The woman behind me is ordering breakfast and she tells the waitress she wants her sausage patty flattened between paper towels to squeeze out all the grease and the waitress, poor thing, is writing all this down. The young girl puts her pencil behind her ear and with a little wink towards me says, "How about I bring that little sausage patty out here and put it under your big old bingo-playing butt and all that nasty grease will go somewhere else real quick?" I know, I know, do you want live in my world or the real one?
My sinus infection has a grip on my sanity and any slight discrepancy exhibited by a person or small animal will result in a caustic reaction on my part. My symptoms do not respond to aspirin or beer so I am at my clinic prepared to spend an enormous amount of time in the shuffling process. I sat at three different counters and talked to three different people and none of them were interested in my medical symptoms but they did type endlessly on their computers whenever I answered a question yes or no.
I could have been inducted into the army and gone through their medical examination process in less time. There is a large red textbook on the desk of the middle-aged fellow copying my insurance card. Someone studying anatomy? I ask. "Neuroscience, actually," he said. Not your usual kind of hobby, I say. "I'm hoping to promote it into something more than a hobby." said he. Everybody in the medical field wants to be a star. If he can navigate the complicated maze of insurance companies and federal and state medical programs he is well-equipped for this branch of science.
When I was six years old I got the mumps and I was the last kid in the neighborhood to sport swollen melon-shaped cheeks. In the 50's vaccines were rare, smallpox was it, so we traveled childhood with many halts and stops including chicken pox, mumps, whooping cough and three strains of measles. Baking soda was bought in containers the size of cereal boxes to alleviate those itchy red welts. After two weeks I showed no sign of recovery and I decided to stop eating because it just hurt too much. Dr. Merritt, our sturdy pediatrician, stopped at the house and I'm not sure what kind of magic he performed but by nightfall I was sucking on jello and white Wonder bread squares spread with braunschweiger.
It is strange to me that in 1958 - thirteen years into the infamous baby boom era - there were physicians available to make house calls. And today our smaller, less populated families must stand at the end of a very long line if their babies need help.
And if we follow the rules and remain in our chairs the system will swerve its huge blinking head (like the alien in War of the Worlds) our way for a couple of minutes and give us its opinion. We will walk out with that special piece of paper and over to the pharmacist where we will wait again. And six hours later I am rewarded with an orange plastic jar full of black and pink capsules. Ah, Amoxicillin, curer of children's ear infections, my boss's strep throat and so many other things, I salute you.