My Worm

I don’t think I’ve ever called a doctor’s office and been able to actually SPEAK with a live person, much less a doctor.  (I’m not counting the bazillion times I’ve dialed Lew to confirm that my headache/stuffy nose/cramp/itch was not Ebola and that death — or even worse, barfage — was not imminent.) This is particularly aggravating and unsettling when it’s the doctor who called YOU in the first place and you’re trying to find out why.

Earlier today, the office of my trusted internist, Dr. O,  left a message saying that I needed to get in touch at my convenience.  While the receptionist did say it was not an urgent matter, there was no question — in my opinion — that there was pity and alarm in her tone.  It was pretty clear to me she knew I had something bad and just didn’t want to scare me. Now, I haven’t seen Dr. O in more than a year, so the possibilities were somewhat limited. I might very well have Ebola, but given the speed at which that particular filovirus kills its prey, I was reasonably sure I’d caught it more recently than last summer. It was probably more like one of those slow-moving parasites or Guinea worms that just set up camp in your body, eventually bursting out through a blister on your ankle and and needing to be removed one inch at a time.  Blech!

Prepping for the bad news, I knew I’d be a medical mystery. I could hear the “Dateline” teaser: It’s a disease that afflicts sub-Saharan Africans with no access to clean water. So how did this Manhattan woman end up with a 76-foot tropical worm in her foot? Friday at 10.”

Alright. So I had a 76-foot worm living in my intestines for the past year. No biggie.  I’ve heard worse. It actually explained a lot.

Unfortunately, I tried three times this afternoon to get in touch with Dr. O’s office so I could hear this diagnosis. All three times, I  got the same recording telling me it was either during lunch (it wasn’t) or the office was closed (presumably). There wasn’t even a “leave a message” option, unless this was a medical emergency.  Bravely, I chose not to classify my worm as an emergency.

So of course, I sent an email to Lew, asking him how worried I should be.

“Not at all. It’s probably  just a reminder to schedule your annual physical.”

Hmm. Hadn’t thought of that.

Suddenly I knew exactly how the conversation with Dr. O’s office would go.

Me, in concerned tone:  Yes, this is me. I’m returning your call.

Office Person, in sympathetic voice:  Oh hi. Thanks for calling. Look,  we are REAAAAAAAAAALLY sorry about this … but it seems there was a mistake with your blood work the last time you were here.  And as it turns out you ARE crazy.

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My Worm

Freak Magnet

That, apparently, describes me.

This morning, a bright and unseasonably warm Thursday in New York, I was walking down 24th Street on my way to work when I was accosted by a man I’ll call “Freak 1.” From the looks of Freak 1’s very natural orange skin tone, I surmised that he’d spent the better part of the week in a spray tan booth.  He was sporting a snazzola purple polyester button-down, open to his bellybutton. How generous of him to share his chest with all of Chelsea! Freak 1 had paired the purple polyester button-down with shiny black pants and of course, a ginormous medallion on a heavy chain.  His well-groomed and not at all dyed jet black hair resembled that of one Silvio Dante, official consigliare of the Soprano crime family.  

Freak 1 appeared to be gainfully employed as a perfume salesman.  He was toting a cardboard box packed with such coveted designer fragrances as Channel No. 5, Ralph Lauren Rolo and Mallomar by Guerlain.  

As he jumped in front of me and shoved the box in my face, he instructed me to try some perfume today.  Having already sprayed some lovely, aromatic and AUTHENTIC Pink Jasmine by Fresh just 45 minutes earlier, I really didn’t feel it was necessary, so I declined politely.

Freak 1 was insistent. “Come on! Try a spritz. You’ll love it!”

I looked straight ahead and ignored him as I continued down the block.  As I neared my office building, I heard him yelling, “Fine! Keep stinking, bitch! It’d kill ya to smell good for a change?!”

Naturally, this prompted me to sniff my pits just to make sure he was an irrational nut job. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize that I was being watched by Freak 2, who was waiting for the elevator. Freak 2 was wearing carpenter jeans that sat on his knees instead of his waist, a quintuple XL Giants t-shirt, work boots, and, it was clear to see, navy blue boxer briefs. 

“Nice day tuh-day, huh?”

I nodded, not wanting to engage him and still worrying that perhaps I reeked a smidge.

“Ya gotta love dis weath-uh,” he said as he stepped into the elevator and pressed the Floor 3 button.

“Oh silly me. I woik on duh fiff floo-uh. Guess ya gotta spend suh moo-uh time wit me.”

I hit the 7 button and tried to appear pleasant but not at all interested in conversing. 

He moved closer to me, invading my personal space.

“Ya know wuh? You got boo-tee-ful eyes.”

I thanked him.

“Can I touch ’em?”

Um, EW!

Naturally my first thought was not, “What a sick fuck” but rather “THAT IS SO GERMY! WHO KNOWS WHAT KIND OF RHINOVIRUS HE’S CARRYING ON HIS GRIMY, PERVY PAWS?”

I wasn’t sure how to respond to a question like that, so I simply said, “I’d reeeeally rather you didn’t.”

Safely at my desk, feeling violated and smelly, I wrung my hands with Purell and tried to kill the freak molecules.  Now, I feel violated, smelly, sticky and 62 percent ethyl alcohol.

Freak Magnet