Playing Doctor

Initial Visit?

Friday, July 15

What’s the difference between God and a doctor?

You wonder why doctors are such smug assholes? Why we think we’re gods?

It’s because of you. You come to us as you would approach a god, beseeching or angry, demanding or plaintive.

Blaming your inability to breathe, not on your smoking for fifty years, but on the price of the medications that I prescribe.

I can watch your heart rate go up—or down—when I walk into a room, can see the fluctuations in your breath. My presence alternates between creating comfort and anxiety. But it isn’t love that’s affecting you.

Desperate for the words ‘everything’s fine, you were silly to be worried,’ instead you hear other words fall from my lips. You close your eyes and pretend to pray. Pretend you believe in a power greater than mine. But, mostly, you don’t. Not really.

When you get sick enough, you come back to me, fearful and repentant. Hopeful for a benevolent, forgiving god.

And there I am, restarting your medications, pushing the hopeful science into your veins, and lo! Your pain stops. You rise and walk. And you believe! Hosanna! You sing my praise. You take my hand. You kiss my ring.

Or the other.

You are just too sick. And your angry, pleading eyes try to haunt me. As surely as the man who died within three hours of telling me ‘If I die tonight, I will come back and haunt you.’ Your daughters and wives and sons gaze at me with—not sorrow—but anger and confusion. Their eyes convey a vendetta prayer against the god of science who has let them down.

And I return to my empty home, read my medical texts, and do not believe.

Do not take your praises or prayers seriously.

I let your words fall empty—and shatter?—onto the floor. Sweeping them out into the trash.

But everyday they seem to stick a little tighter. Like sand burrs, I find myself now having to pick them off sometimes. I find one-here on my elbow-how long has that been there? It’s dug into the skin. And it hurts to pull it out.

But I’m merely a man, clever to be sure; maybe even smart, but merely a man using the tools of his trade. Stop believing in me. The hubris is gaining mass. I don’t want to feel the fall that I know will logically follow.

From the stereo speakers, I hear the wail: ‘Please stop loving me. Please stop loving me. I am none of these things.’


Blogger jamesdamian writes:

I'm worried about you, E. Time to turn-off The Cure and maybe listen to something happier?

How bout some B-52s or They Might Be Giants? Or some dandy synth-pop like Erasure? Or some showtunes! Nothing like homosexuals and women singing about life and love.

I'm enjoying the new Missy Elliott CD. Why don't you give that one a try? Dope beats and vicious rhymes always cheer me up.

Love always,
James (still unemployed)


Anonymous Anonymous writes:

This is one of your better essays. Very provocative.


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