When I go to the doctor’s, inevitably something strange is said – or at least, I choose to hear something said strangely. For instance, one time, my lady doc was inspecting my nether regions, and I felt the need to apologize.
“I’m sorry,” I said, looking at the ceiling, hands folded across my chest like a dead body’s at a wake.
My doctor glanced up. “For what?”
“Just sorry that, you know, you have to be down there, looking at my, you know,” I said.
“Oh, I’ve seen worse, don’t worry,” she said, then continued inspecting.
I’ll spare you the most graphic of all my gyno visits (it’s a good story, but I don’t need my coworkers and/or future dates visualizing this). Here are a few doctor tidbits to tide you over:
1. The summer after my senior year of college, I interned at a magazine in New York. I was wearing disposable contacts, but my eyes were turning red from irritation. At lunch, I popped into a Lenscrafters near my internship’s building to get checked out. The doctor on duty was an Asian guy who didn’t seem to be much older than me. At first, this put me at ease – and hey, he was kind of cute. He wore a skinny tie and hopped around the exam room, readjusting knobs and asking me borderline-flirtatious questions about my time in the city (because, really, what better place to get my flirt on than in an office where someone is paid to talk to me).
For the examination, he moved in close, which felt semi-hot in that shadowy, enclosed environment, flipped my lids inside out, then squeezed dilation drops into my eyes (no, seriously, how sexy can I make this sound?).
“Wow,” he said, taking a step back to appraise me, “you dilate fast.”
I blinked. The room seemed very dark now.
“Isn’t that a pregnancy term?” I asked.
2. This next story also takes place at an eye doctor’s. Maybe that’s because in intimate, isolated spaces, these doctors really feel comfortable expressing themselves? I don’t want to know. My optometrist was a middle-aged, balding white dude who wore wire-rimmed spectacles and a lab coat.
In the middle of the exam, he abruptly asked, “What are you?”
“Job-wise?” I said. “I work in media.”
“No,” he said, marking something on his chart. “No, I mean, are you Filipino? Korean? Japanese?”
I contemplated responding with something inane like “Mongolian barbecue!”
“I’m Chinese and Japanese,” I said.
“Ah, yes,” he nodded. “Yes, I detected that in you.”
Detected. As if he owned some sort of racial detector device that he could hover over me that would beep louder the more chop suey it detected. Thank you, Harriet the Eye Spy, for including me in your study.
3. Lastly, a good ol’ gyno tale. The week before I moved from South Carolina to New York, I dropped by my gynecologist’s to refill my birth control prescription. This was supposed to be a routine in-and-out appointment.
My physician assistant was a sweet, Southern woman with a blonde bob and a lazy eye. We chatted about my upcoming move. At the time, I was experiencing some eczema/dermatitis on my hands and around my eyes, so I asked her if this was a side effect of birth control. She assured me that that wasn’t possible. After the five-minute visit, I rose to leave, but she stopped me.
“Can I ask you a personal question?”
I thought we were going to go through the usual are-you-sexually-active-oh-you’re-not-well-good-for-you talk, so I agreed.
“Do you believe in God?” she asked.
This threw me for a loop. I’m agnostic, but because I was raised in the South with friends who tried to convert me throughout childhood, my gut response to this question is to politely deflect and get the eff out of the conversation.
“I don’t go to church every Sunday, but I’d say I’m, uh, spiritual,” I sputtered.
She tilted her head. “Would you mind if I prayed for you?”
I breathed a sigh of relief. Great, she’d include me in her prayers before bed. Totally fine. I could use all the help I could get, right?
“Sure, of course,” I said, looking for my purse.
But then she took my hands, sandwiched them between hers, and closed her eyes. “Dear Lord,” she began.
I did not close my eyes. I just stared at her, and then at her hands, and then at her mouth as she proceeded to pray for (God knows) how long.
I’m not entirely sure what she said in the beginning because my brain was chattering ohmigodmygynoisprayingforme, but I tuned in near the end: “…and Lord, may you protect Malia as she journeys to a new city to live and work. May you watch over and guide her as she meets new people and makes new friends and protect her always…”
And then, the kicker: “…and Lord, that you might help heal the rash that afflicts Malia’s face, and wherever else on her body that it may be.”
I’m sorry, what now?
Wherever else? ECZEMA, woman, I said it was ECZEMA. Did I say genital warts? I did not. Homegirl, G-dawg knows all about my eczema, okay? He gave it to me.
“In Jesus’ name we pray, amen,” she said, then opened her eyes and smiled.
I pulled my hands back like they’d been burned.
“Thank you,” I said, then moved up North.