It’s prostate exam day!
My small-town doctor is feeling the pinch like everybody else in
this tiny hamlet where it seems like every third storefront is for
rent these days. In the examining room to which the nurse has
directed me – number 2 – I see a small set of risers has been
erected with a dozen or so metal folding chairs about half of which
A very large woman with her runny-nosed son are on the top
row. She’s fanning herself with a copy of Marie Claire and he’s
absorbed in a handheld video game. Bottom row center is an
ancient couple dressed very smartly in brand new uncomfortable-
looking clothing. He patiently leans his ear toward her frequently
for explanations, bits of gossip and random musings she needs
to share. My neighbor, Mr. Dent, is up there checking phone
messages, enjoying this respite away from his wife who is out
doing the grocery shopping. A teenage boy with a terrible case
of acne and filthy hair falling into his eyes, clad in ripped jeans
and a KISS t-shirt, rounds out the group.
The doctor enters the room, cheerful as always, wearing the
same wide smile he sports in the numerous snapshots Scotch-
taped to the walls showing him decked out in state of the art
fishing outfits, triumphantly holding up a prized catch in each.
“Hell-ohhh,” he greets me. “Now, you’re here for the prostate
today, am I right?”
“Alright. Let me just take a quick peek here….” He cracks open
my file, flipping through pages of printouts, lab reports, and his
own notes from prior visits. His forehead wrinkles when he asks
as he always does, every visit: “How are we doing with the smoking?”
“I don’t smoke. I used to smoke pot. A lot. Every day for fifteen
years. But that’s like sixteen years ago. Clean and sober.”
“Oh, that’s wonderful,” he says genuinely surprised. “That’s
“Oh, I know, believe me. Nothing like a good joint thrice daily.
that’s all in the past….” I let my voice trail off to add a little gravity.
The nurse arrives, wheeling in a small cart stacked with programs
and loaded with various candies and refreshments. Immediately
the large woman buys four Twix bars while her son bitches
about there being no black licorice. He gets a Mountain Dew and
The people on the riser have grown impatient. They’re here for the
show. Various coughs and chair squeakings bring the doctor’s attention back to the issue at hand.
He snaps on a rubber glove, applies lubricant of some sort and instructs me to drop my pants and underwear. “All the way down, please.”
“Now I need you to lean over on your elbows and breathe deeply."
The nurse uses a dimmer switch to lower the lights.
I exhale and the show begins.